Philips Hue 2nd gen smart bulbs are long gone and 3rd gen bulbs have only just arrived, but you can still buy 1st gen Hue products in some stores. Here’s what you need to know about Philips Hue 1st and 2nd generation hubs and the new 3rd generation bulbs.
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Philips Hue launched its second-generation Hue line late last year, ahead of the holiday shopping season, just three years after the world’s first smart bulb release. However, despite the fact that most older products quickly go to the dust when a new version is released, Philips Hue has become an exception, mainly because the improvements in the 2nd generation line are not incredibly significant, and you can still find 1 th generation Hue goods in stores, sometimes at cheaper prices.
So if you’re wondering if you should go with a 1st gen bridge and lamp, or upgrade to 2nd or even 3rd gen, here are the big differences between the two.
The biggest difference is the bridge
The Hue Bridge is the hub of the Philips Hue, the central point where the Hue lamps are connected. With the advent of the second generation of Hue Bridge, the device received a completely new design, as well as support for the SmartHome platform from Apple HomeKit.
HomeKit simply provides a way to more seamlessly integrate your SmartHome products into iOS, and also allows the various HomeKit-supported products to work with each other in ways they normally can’t. For example, I could set up an automation rule that turns on my Philips Hue indicator light whenever I turn on my ConnectSense (HomeKit enabled) smart plug.
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However, HomeKit’s biggest feature is Siri support, which means I can use a voice-controlled virtual assistant to control my compatible SmartHome products. With the second generation Hue Bridge, I can tell Siri to “turn on the living room lights.” The first generation cannot do such things.
Of course, if you don’t like HomeKit and Siri or are an Android user, the new 2nd generation Hue Bridge features are pretty much useless. In that case, there’s nothing wrong with getting a 1st gen Hue Bridge, especially since the newer 2nd and 3rd gen Hue bulbs work great with the 1st gen Hue Bridge.
1st gen sets go a little cheaper
If the new features of the 2nd generation Hue line make you stop getting 1st or 2nd generation light bulbs, chances are the prices of the 1st generation product line will help you make a quick decision.
In fact, this is probably the main reason Philips Hue 1st generation products are still popular right now. You can usually find a 1st gen starter kit on sale, and Philips recently discounted it for just $99 (although it’s listed as sold out), giving you a 1st gen Hue Bridge and three 1st gen colored bulbs. This is half the price of the 2nd generation starter kit.
You can get the 1st gen starter kit for $170 on Amazon, but we’ve seen it for just $135 on Amazon. Of course, if you’re going to spend $170, you can also just get the 2nd gen starter kit for $199, but we recommend waiting until the 1st gen kit comes out, as they tend to go on sale a lot more often than 2nd generation Hue products.
2nd generation bulbs are slightly brighter
The 2nd generation Hue lamps are a slight improvement over the 1st generation lamps, but not by much. One of the most notable improvements is that the 2nd generation lamps are 200 lumens brighter than the Hue 1st generation lamps.
New lamps have a maximum light output of 800 lumens, while older lamps can only get up to 600 lumens at maximum brightness. This means that the new lamps are 25% brighter. In the world of light bulbs, this is a noticeable difference, but with Hue bulbs, the bulbs only achieve maximum lumens at certain white color temperatures, and every other color on both bulbs is pretty much the same, including brightness levels. For example, red is limited by how bright it can be, so the brightness of red on both bulbs is pretty much the same.
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In addition, 2nd Generation Hue LightStrip Plus headlights are 10 times brighter than the previous 1st Generation headlights and deliver an impressive 1,600 lumens. Also, you can connect extensions to the new model to make longer strings of light. The newer LightStrip Plus also has more vibrant greens and blues, while other Hue bulbs have a hard time getting nice, crisp greens or blues (with the exception of 3rd generation bulbs — more on that below).
2nd gen bulbs may shrink to a lower level and turn on a little faster than older bulbs, but the difference is probably negligible and you probably won’t be able to tell the difference unless the two bulbs were next to each other.
3rd generation lamps come with brighter colors
Philips has recently updated its Hue White and Color Ambiance lamp and introduced it as a 3rd generation lamp. In terms of brightness and functionality, no big difference, but big the difference in colors that the new light bulb produces compared to the previous generation bulbs.
The 3rd generation light bulb now produces much better greens, blues and blues. Previously, green on a 1st or 2nd generation bulb would look like a dull yellow, cyan would look white, and blue would look more like purple.
However, the 3rd generation lamp is very similar to the 2nd generation LightStrip Plus where you get much better color reproduction in certain parts of the spectrum. Other than that, there really aren’t any other differences compared to 2nd generation bulbs. There is also no new 3rd generation Hue Bridge, and no other Hue lamps have been upgraded next to the 3rd generation color light bulb.
After all, 2nd and 3rd generations are an upgrade, but it’s almost certainly not worth replacing all the bulbs you already have. And if you don’t care about HomeKit, you can save a few bucks by purchasing a first generation starter kit.
Image by Maximusnd/Bigstock, Philips, Jason/YouTube