Skip to main content

Philips Hue lights: A guide to what each bulb does (and costs)

Philips Hue lights guide
(Image credit: Future)

Philips Hue lights are iconic and are well known as some of the best smart light bulbs on the market. They offer a huge range of colors and patterns all of which can be controlled remotely.

They’re at the top of the list for the best Alexa compatible devices and best Google Home compatible devices, but they work with other smart home systems too, like Apple HomeKit.

This Philips Hue Lights Guide will breakdown what each bulb can do along with its cost and value. Philips are constantly adding new lights to the range, so it’s good to stay up to date with what they have to offer when deciding which to buy.

It’s worth bearing in mind that, aside from Philips Hue starter packs, most of these lights don’t come with a Philips Hue bridge ($59.99), so you might have to purchase one separately if you’re a new customer. A bridge is useful if you’re planning to own multiple Hue lights and want them to correlate.   

If you already own a bridge, make sure you’re regularly updating your software when new downloads are available. Malware can connect from your bulbs to your bridge and then to your network, meaning you can be hacked through your Philips Hue system. To update your Philips Hue bridge, go into the Philips Hue mobile app, open Settings and click Software update.

Philips Hue lights: Starter kits

Philips Hue starter kits include both bulbs and the bridge that's required to connect the lights to your home Wi-Fi network. If you don't have any Philips Hue lights yet, a starter kit is probably the best way to begin. After testing hundreds of smart home products, we believe Philips Hue Starter Kits is among the best smart home devices.

The original Philips Hue Starter Pack is designed to replace traditional A19 bulbs and can change to more than 16 million colors. The starter pack includes three lights plus a Hue bridge. Philips also sells a version of this kit with four lights.

Philips Hue White Ambiance Kit
The White Ambiance kit lets you adjust the color temperature of the bulbs, so you can go from intense blue-white to a soft yellow-white.

Philips Hue Smart Bridge
If you don't buy a starter kit, which includes the smart bridge, you'll need to purchase one separately. It plugs into your Wi-Fi router and connects with the Hue lights in your home.

MORE: How to Connect Philips Hue Lights to Amazon Echo

Philips Hue light bulbs and light strips

You can expand your lighting options through a number of different Philips Hue bulbs. These include everything from plain white bulbs to multicolored light strips and other bulbs that fit smaller sockets.

Philips Hue White A21, 1600 Lumens
This is Phillips Hue's newest and brightest smart light bulb. It works without a hub, meaning you can control it via Bluetooth in your home.

Philips Hue White Ambiance A19
This single Philips Hue White Ambiance bulb requires a hub, but it once it's connected you can control its brightness.

Philips Hue Ambiance BR30 Floodlight
These LED bulbs, which can produce thousands of shades of white — from warm to cool — and color, and are designed for recessed ceiling fixtures.

Philips Hue E12 Candle
The Philips Hue E12 Candle is a smaller bulb, designed for chandeliers and light fixtures where a full-size A19 bulb won't fit. Each candle light bulb is a 40W equivalent. It comes in a White Ambiance and Color Ambiance, too.

Philips Hue Light Strip
This 6-foot color LED strip has an adhesive backing, which lets you affix it underneath kitchen counters or shelving — or anywhere you’d like — to provide some nice accent lighting. You can add this 40-inch Philips Hue Light Strip extension for $30, too.

Philips Hue entertainment lights

(Image credit: Best Buy)

Another category of Philips Hue lights is entertainment enhancers, like the play light below. The Hue Play HDMI Sync Box is the next evolution the light bar. It syncs your smart lights to your on-screen TV content, including games and movies.

Philips Hue Play HDMI Sync Box
Surround sound makes watching movies and video games in your home a more immersive experience, but what about surround lighting? The Philips Hue Play HDMI Sync Box sits between your TV and your cable box and gaming console, and analyzes the content going to your TV. The Play Sync Box cues your Hue lights, changing their color to match that of what's playing on screen. 

Philips Hue Play Light Bar
The Philips Hue Play light bar is a 9-inch color-changing light bar that can sit horizontally or vertically next to your TV or computer monitor, or be mounted as a backlight.

Philips Hue standalone lamps

Standalone lights can be placed anywhere in your room, and are generally used to help create accent lighting, rather than as a primary light source. None of these come with a bridge, so you'll need that to sync, too. 

Philips Hue Bloom
This accent light measures about 5 inches in diameter, and can change to millions of colors. It’s best used to bounce light off a wall behind fixtures like a TV or plant to help set the mood.

Philips Hue White Ambiance Wellness
Inside this lamp is a single Philips Hue white ambiance bulbs, which can be changed from cool white to warm white. You can also replace the bulb with a color bulb if you like.

Philips Hue Go Light
The Go is a splendid accent-lighting piece, and glows from both its circular 4.7-inch base and its flat top. The 300-lumen Go has a built-in rechargeable battery that lasts up to 3 hours while unplugged.

Philips Hue light fixtures

While limited to a few options, Philips light fixtures have the bulbs built directly into them. That means that when the LEDs burn out—which should be at least 10 years, if not more—you'll have to replace the entire fixture. These also require a bridge (sold separately) to control them via Philips' app.

Philips Hue White Ambiance Fair
This ceiling light can either be flush-mounted, or purchased with a small or large extension to drop it down a few inches. It has a brushed aluminum finish, and the LEDs can be tuned to a cool or warm white light.

Philips Hue White Ambiance Being
The Being is similar to the Fair, but has a clear panel running around its midsection. It also can only be flush-mounted with the ceiling.

Philips Hue outdoor lights

(Image credit: Best Buy)

Philips has several large, weather-resistant outdoor lights for illuminating your garden, lawn, patio, and driveway. 

Philips Hue Single PAR38 Outdoor
These aren't just for Philips Hue products; you can screw them into any outdoor fixture that fits a PAR38 bulb and make it a "smart light." You' can control and schedule the bulb remotely.

Philips Hue Calla Outdoor Pathway
Place this LED-integrated bollard along your driveway or front walk to light your guests' way. The base pack includes one bollard and a power supply, and extension kits are $109.99.

Philips Hue Inara White Outdoor Lantern
The Philips Hue Inara is a traditional wall lantern for lighting your porch or the area outside your door. It uses a white bulb, meaning you can't change its color, but you can control it remotely.

Philips Hue Lucca Outdoor Wall Lantern
The Lucca wall lantern is very similar to the Inara, but it has a smaller, more modern design, and is $10 more expensive.

Philips Hue Ludere Outdoor Security Light
This floodlight contains two bulbs and is perfect for lighting your driveway or the area outside your garage. Like the Lucca and Inara, it doesn't change color, but it does deliver 1,350 lumens.

Philips Hue smart lights accessories

Philips also sells accessories which allow you to control your Hue lights without using the app. 

The Philips Hue Smart Dimmer Switch with Remote is one such accessory and is one of the best smart light switches for Philips Hue owners. Having said that, if you want routines and timers, everything will still need connecting through the Philips Hue Bridge. 

Philips Hue Smart Dimmer Switch with Remote
This product looks like a typical wall switch, but it connects directly to the Hue lights, meaning you don’t need to rewire. The switch can even be removed so it doubles up as a remote.  

Philips Hue Smart Tap Switch
This device can be preprogrammed to remember three different light settings. You can then activate each at the touch of a button, which is great for movie nights or entertaining guests.   

Philips Hue Smart Motion Sensor
This turns the lights on in a room when it senses movement. It detects varying levels of sensitivity, keeps lights on for a period after a person exits, and alters brightness based on the time of day.

Philips Hue Dusk-to-Dawn Outdoor Motion Sensor
The Philips Hue Dusk-to-Dawn Outdoor Motion Sensor is a wireless, battery-operated motion sensor light. It also keeps track of the light outside, and makes sure your inside lights don't switch on until nighttime.

Philips Hue Sync app

Finally, Philips has an app, Philips Hue Sync, which allows users to synchronize their smart bulbs with multimedia content on their Mac or Windows PC. For example, you can set your lights to flash and change color in time with music, video, and movies being played on your computer. Hue Sync, which runs on your notebook or desktop, connects with the Hue app on your smartphone. Users can also modify the color schemes, brightness, and themes to suit their tastes.

  • d.christian
    Good article, Mike - thank you !
    Does Philips plan to extend this Hue network / architecture to commercial and industrial illumination?