Hue Dimmer Switch is a great way to add physical controls to your Hue lighting system, but it’s a little rudimentary. However, thanks to a handy little app, you can teach Hue Dimmer Switch new tricks like setting any scene with the touch of a button.
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What you need
To follow along with this tutorial, you’ll need a few things, most of which you probably already have if you want to do something like this.
First of all, you will need the necessary Hue equipment. At a minimum, you will need a Hue Dimmer Switch and a Hue system (bulbs + bridge). If you’re just getting started with a Hue system and need a dimmer, Philips sells them for $25 each or you can buy them in a bundle ($35) that includes one Hue White bulb. This kit saves $5 when you buy the switch and bulb separately, so we highly recommend going down that route. If you need help setting up the dimmer, check out our guide here.
While you can set up the Hue Dimmer Switch from the Hue app (which we’ll show you), it’s quite limited compared to a third-party app called iConnectHue ($4.99). iConnectHue lets you do a lot of cool stuff with your Hue lights, including customizing the Hue Dimmer switch.
It’s currently iOS only and requires iOS 7.1 or higher, and while five bucks is a reasonable price to reprogram your Dimmer Switch to do exactly what you want, iConnectHue is more than just a switch programming tool — you can view the full list of features on their website.
Using the Hue app
Your Hue Dimmer Switch can be set up and configured from within the Hue app itself by first tapping on the settings gear icon in the top left corner of the screen.
From there, select «Accessory Settings».
Then choose the Hue Dimmer Switch you want to customize.
You will then see a mockup of your Hue Dimmer Switch and you can click on each of the four buttons on the switch to see what it does. Unfortunately, only the «On» button is configurable.
Select the «On» button, if not already, scroll down and then click «Where?».
Select the room you want to control. You can select up to two rooms to control at the same time. Once selected, click the back button in the top left corner to go back.
Scroll further down and you will see that you can set specific scenes for the first button press, the second press, and so on.
Click on the button you want to change and select a scene or recipe from the list. The tint switch supports up to five consecutive button presses.
Once you’ve set your desired scenes, click «Save» in the top right corner and your Hue Dimmer Switch will be set up and ready to use right away.
Using iConnect Hue
If you’re looking for more customization options, iConnectHue is the way to go as it allows you to customize any from the buttons on the Hue Dimmer switch to do just about anything you want. Plus, there are tons more features you can check out, including creating your own animations.
RELATED:How to create animation with your Philips Hue Lights
While the process of setting up your Hue Dimmer Switch on iConnectHue isn’t difficult, it does take quite a few steps and is slightly different from the usual Hue setup process.
First, you need to link the new app to the Hue Bridge hub and manually recreate all the scenes (unfortunately, you can’t import scenes from the Hue app). Then, if your Hue Dimmer Switch has been set up before, you’ll clear it to start over and remap its buttons.
Step One: Link the Hue Bridge
Launch the iConnectHue app and it will immediately start searching for your home network for your Hue Bridge. When prompted, press the physical button in the center of the hub and then select «OK, you’re done» when you’ve done so.
You’ll be prompted to familiarize yourself with the features of the apps — given that there are a lot of features and you want your five bucks, we recommend checking them out. After the tour, you will see the main control screen as shown below.
It is important to note that while the general user interface will look the same for everyone, the actual content of the control panel depends on your Hue lighting system. In our case, we are using a simple three light bulb system where all three light bulbs are located in the same room and are controlled by a tint switch.
Even though they are correctly grouped with a dimmer, «Dimmer 2» is not a very intuitive group name, so we’ll change that immediately. You can rename any group by pressing and holding its name.
Step Two: Import Scenes Manually
The next line of business is getting your scenes from the native Hue app to the iConnectHue app. While it would be nice if we could just click a button and import them all, the manual import process is actually pretty painless.
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You don’t have to re-create all the lighting scenes from scratch — you just need to run them with the Hue app so that the lights are on and in the correct brightness/color state, and then give that current configuration a name in iConnectHue.
For example, to copy our existing «Movies» scene that we use to watch movies (where all the lights in the bedroom are off except for the offset lights behind the TV), we first need to open the Hue app and call up that scene. Make sure the lights are in the state they should be in (because iConnectHue will just copy what the Hue bridge tells you is the current state of the lights).
In the iConnectHue app, click on the little circle that says «Presets» in the top right corner. Note that the control panel lights shown below reflect the lighting configuration just described (the night table lamps are off and the TV offset indicator is on).
In the Presets menu, click Add as New Preset in the group you want to add the preset to.
Repeat the process as many times as you need for your scenes. Remember that you don’t need to import every the lighting scene you created — only the ones you want your Hue Dimmer Switch to trigger.
Step Three: Wipe the Switch Clean
Once we’ve imported our lighting scenes, the next task is to clear the dimmer switch presets. To be clear, you don’t need perform this step. However, if you don’t delete the previous presets from the Switch, they will show up as «Unknown Presets» in the iConnectHue app. They will still work the way they did before you started this project, but this is annoying in two ways: First, you don’t really know what a preset is. Secondly, you cannot customize them. It is much better to wipe the switch completely clean, and then, if you want the old presets to exist alongside your new fancy button configurations, you can easily add them back.
To erase existing Switch presets, we just have to go to the settings menu. To do this, click on the menu icon in the upper left corner and select «Settings».
Select «Bridges and Devices» at the top of the list.
Select your switch from the device list as shown below.
Here’s the interface where all the magic happens, and where we’ll spend the rest of the tutorial.
To reset a switch, click the Wizard icon in the top left corner and then select Clear Switch Settings.
Step Four: Remap the Buttons
Now that we’ve cleared the path for our new configurations, it’s time to start assigning buttons.
Before we dive into setting up the dimmer switch to do the new tricks, let’s first look at how to get it to do all of its old tricks. By default, the switch turns on the light with the top button, brightens and dims the light with the middle buttons, and turns the light off with the bottom button.
If you want to restore this functionality to default and then add more tricks to it, simply activate the setup wizard as we did in the previous step and choose «Setup New» instead of «Clear Switch Settings» in the wizard.
This will automatically set up all four buttons the way they worked before we reset them, but with the added bonus that they are now correctly labeled and you can edit their configuration.
In the screenshot above, you can see how what was «Unknown Preset» when the setting was inherited from the original dimmer switch setting is now labeled «All Groups On» with a fade time assigned.
Now let’s see how to add a new and unique feature to the dimmer. Since there are so many potential combinations, we’ll just show you how to create one (that teaches you how to access the menu) and then share a little worksheet you can use to keep track of all your other buttons being filled.
To add an action, simply select the button you want to edit in the interface, for example:
Select the button function «Initial Press» for a light click and «Hold» for a press and hold.
Then select «Add New Action» under «Button#Actions» to associate an action with pressing that button. You can also add an extra feature in the «Button should do more next time it’s pressed» section. So you can assign one function to the first press and one function to the second press.
When you select the Add New Action entry, you are presented with the following options:
You can load a preset, switch the lighting group controlled by the dimmer switch, turn off the lights, change the color to another color, adjust the brightness of the group, or make the group blink.
Select «Load Preset» and then choose which preset you want to link to the button press you previously selected.
And here it is: the new function (in this case, pressing and holding button 1 to start the «Movies» scene in the bedroom) is linked to the dimmer switch button:
To really maximize the button magic, you need to associate different button presses with different scenes, colors, or whatever your heart desires. While entering all the button combinations is fairly easy, keeping track of them all while you’re working in the application can be tricky (we admit that halfway through our configuration, we immediately forgot one of the combinations we intended to enable). With that in mind, we recommend printing out this handy little list that fills in the blank to help you brainstorm which buttons you want to assign to which.
We labeled the buttons with the name used in iConnectHue as well as the symbol/function presented on the physical buttons.
Button 1 (On):
Button 2 (lighten):
Button 3 (dim):
Button 4 (Off):
You certainly don’t need to use all 16 possible options, but the list above will certainly help you decide and plan what each button should do (and how many functions you want to assign to it).
With a handy little app, a handy little switch and a little planning, you can charge your Philips Dimmer Switch to handle all your lighting scenes and functions.