Introduce connected lighting to your home with this low-cost Philips Hue starter kit

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phillips hue starter kit with 4 bulbs

For Christmas 2013, I received a Philips Hue starter kit with three color-changing LED bulbs and a bridge to connect them to my home’s WiFi network.  I was thrilled by the thought of having lots of light “recipes” to change the color and mood of my living room.  But I found that I really didn’t use the color changing ability of the Hue bulbs.  I always set them to white and used the Hue app to turn my lights on and off.  Over the years, I’ve replaced almost every bulb in my house with Hue bulbs, and every one that I’ve added has been the less expensive white-only bulbs once they became available.  That starter kit with 3 bulbs I got was about $200 at the time.  The new Philips Hue White Smart Bulb Starter Kit has four bulbs and a bridge for under $90.

The White Smart Bulb Starter Kit has four A19 bulbs (fit standard sockets) and the second-gen bridge that’s compatible with Amazon Alexa, Apple Homekit, and Google Assistant.  You can create lighting scenes and schedules with the Hue app or with IFTTT, and you can use the app to control your lights real-time from anywhere with an internet connection.

Once you have the Hue bridge, you can expand your system with up to fifty bulbs (I’m up to 40 bulbs) and 12 accessories like the Hue Tap on/off controllers and motion sensors (I’m up to 7 of the Taps).  Soon your entire house can have automated lighting.

The Philips Hue White Smart Bulb Starter Kit with four bulbs and a bridge is $87.99 at Amazon.

11 thoughts on “Introduce connected lighting to your home with this low-cost Philips Hue starter kit”

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  2. I am about to delve into smart lighting – probably Phillips Hue. We have just bought an older house that would require significant wiring additions to get lights and switches to where we want them. Yes, the app will be used, but more the physical switches such as tap, and the battery powered dimmer switches. So it was great to see this article from someone who is using them.
    A question. Can you say control a group of three standing lamps on one hub with one tap/dimmer remote, and then separately in another room the ceiling lights on the same hub with a second tap/dimmer switch?

    1. Hi Richard,

      Your plan is what I am doing in my home. I live in a 55 year-old high-rise with cement ceilings, walls, and floors, so re-wiring would be expensive and time consuming. I have 40 Hue bulbs and light strips and 7 Hue Tap buttons in my setup, all on one Hue bridge, and I could add another 10 bulbs and 5 more Taps to that same bridge. You use the app to connect your Hue bulbs and devices to the bridge, and then you use the app to define “color recipes” to turn on the color-changing bulbs to the color and brightness you desire or “scenes” to turn on color-changing and white bulbs in the combination, color, and brightness you desire.

      For example, I have 7 Hue bulbs in my bedroom, and I have scenes that can turn them all on, turn on just the ones near my closet, or turn on just a bedside lamp. I have one Tap button at the front door that can turn on most of the lights in the condo and another that turns off everything in the condo except the ones in my daughter’s room. I have a lot of these scenes to turn on everything from the kitchen lights to TV-viewing lights, to a couple of hallway lamps set very dim as nightlights.

      I use the Taps, the app, and my Amazon Echos to control everything. It was a big investment, but we spread everything out over 2-3 years. I think it was money very well spent.

      Oh, and I did buy some plastic covers for my regular wall switches to make it difficult to flip that switch off, which would prevent controlling the Hue bulbs on that switch.

      1. What happens if the power cycles and your physical switches are in the ON position but you had the lights turned off via the app? Do the lights automatically come on? That’s what happens with the one Lifx bulb I have in the bedroom. We frequently get power cycles and I’ve woke up in the middle of the night with the bedroom light shining in my eyes.

        1. Yes, they will all come on when the power comes back. If they wake me in the middle of the night, I just tell Alexa to “turn off all”. Before I got the Echos, I used the app and hit the all-off button.

  3. Not sure why folks use hub-based smart light when there are lights out there with built-in WiFi. Personally I’ve had good success with LIFX lights – each bulb is a stand-alone device that you can control using the LIFX app, Google or Amazon’s things or most importantly HomeKit with your Apple hardware. Interropt perfectly with other smart switches as well (I have iDevices and iHome smart outlets).

    Nicely if you have them on a switched outlet they retain their setting (color and brightness if the bulb has that feature) when power is restored.

    1. I think a hub might be a better solution because I don’t want separate Bluetooth connections to 20+ light bulbs vs. 1 connection to a hub.

      I have a LIFX bulb and as I already posted in a previous comment, it does have one bad “habit” of turning on in the middle of the night if the power flickers/cycles and the physical wall outlet switch is in the ON position.

      1. LIFX use WiFi to connect not Bluetooth.

        I will have to try power outage on LIFX now – they just got a new firmware about 2 weeks ago.

        1. Oops, that’s what I meant…

          I’ve been just turning the lights off with the physical switch lately because it’s going into the rainy windy season here which means the power goes off fairly regularly. The joys of living in a rural and wooded area.


    I assume that if the internet connection goes down, it does not affect the operation of the Hue lights, since they are connected to the Hue Hub. It is just that you cannot control the lights via the app? Or remotely (i.e. out of the house) via the app?

    1. I’ll admit that I haven’t tried operating the lights during an internet outage, but you should be able to control the lights through the Taps and even through the app with your device on the same WiFi network. You wouldn’t be able to control them from another network.


        Found this on the Phillips Hue site – they still work without the internet:

        The answer is yes. The bridge works as a standalone device and does not require the internet to work. The app on your phone works with your network and not over the internet, the same goes for all the bulbs too which uses the ZigBee Light Link (ZLL) protocol.

        Although the internet is not required, the bridge must be connected to a wired router, this is because the hue bridge itself is not wireless, and so uses your router it can connect to your network be it in the internet or not.

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