The Philips Hue system was one of the first unified smart lamp systems on the market and remains justifiably popular despite the cost. Keep reading as we show you how to include cheaper 3rd party smart LED bulbs in your Hue system, giving you the ease of use of Hue at a lower cost.

Why do I want to do this?

Even with the introduction of the economical Hue Lux system (a white lamp that is significantly cheaper than the original color-changing Hue lamps), Philips Hue lamps still cost more than third-party lamps on the market such as Cree Connected and GE. Link.

When it comes to furnishing multiple rooms, the $5 difference between Hue Lux ($20) and more economical bulbs like Cree Connected and GE Link (both $15) is significant. At these prices, for every three lights you wear with a third-party lamp (compared to Lux lamps), you are essentially getting a fourth lamp for free.

Plus, given the quality and ease with which you can add third-party bulbs to your Philips Hue Bridge and control them with the Hue software, there’s little reason not to expand your smart bulb capabilities in such a cost-effective way.

What I need?

In order to extend your Hue system with third-party lamps, the Hue Bridge must first be properly configured and running. If you found this article by searching, there is a good chance that your system is already up and running. However, if you’re reading about smart bulbs in general and want to get started with the Hue system (and expand it with third-party bulbs), we recommend that you take a look at the Philips Hue Lux starter kit review here. ,

RELATED: HTG reviews Philips Hue Lux: Frustration-free smart bulbs for the modern home

In addition to a customized Hue system, you will also need 3rd party smart LED bulbs. Wish we could just ask you to go and get any certified ZigBee lamps (ZigBee is a radio system that is quickly becoming the standard for smart lamps), but alas, this is not so simple due to the way manufacturers have implemented logging and binding devices only to their own smart home bridges (or those with with which they cooperate).

For example, Belkin’s WeMo Smart LED Lights only work with the WeMo Link Hub and cannot be paired with Hue. Same story with LG wireless LED lamp. Both of these lamps are based on ZigBee but will not mate with the Philips Hue Bridge. It’s really not a big loss for us though; both lamps are $5-10 more expensive than the two we had success with.

Even better, you can find Cree Connected and GE Link right on the shelf at major retailers like Lowe’s and Home Depot.

Note: consider the Amazon links above for comparison, but be aware that at press time GE Link was at the normal price ($14.97) and Cree Connected was oddly upped ($27.83) from prices that you immediately found. shelf at your local Home Depot.

How to connect third-party lamps

In our review of the Philips Hue Lux starter package, we highlighted how easy the setup process was. Philips ships its Hue starter kits pre-wired, and installing them is as easy as plugging in all the components, turning on the lights, and pushing a button.

We were very curious to see if this ease of use extends to third-party light bulbs; after all, if other companies investing in the burgeoning smart home lighting market are blocking people (and investing in them) with their systems, then it’s not out of the question that Philips (with such a huge and early investment in the smart lamp market) will do the same most.

Luckily, adding light bulbs to the system was incredibly easy and didn’t even require running back and forth between the Hue Bridge and the light bulb to press any buttons or toggle any switches.

Let’s look at how to add Cree Connected and GE Link (because the mechanism for adding them is identical) and then look at some device-specific troubleshooting methods in case you do run into a problem. ,

Conjugation of bulbs

Once your Hue Bridge is set up, adding lights should be a breeze (but don’t worry if things don’t go as planned, as we’ve got some troubleshooting tips in the next section). If you look at the instruction sheet that came with the Cree Connected, it’s quite long (the list includes the entire length of the insert that holds the bulb in the package). You can completely ignore all instructions in the box. Go ahead and do the same for GE Link.

Both lamps contain instructions for pairing devices with common smart home centers, instructions for downloading device-specific applications for lamps, etc. We can ignore all of this because Bridge and Hue offer a much simpler and more elegant interface.

We recommend connecting bulbs one at a time to avoid identification issues or hassle in the app by renaming them. The same goes for grouping light bulbs: before moving on, make all the light bulbs in the same fixture or in the same room, so if you want to create a light bulb group or scene based on that room, it’s easy to test and tweak them before cluttering your light menu with additional bulbs.

The following instructions apply to both brands of lamps. When you’re ready to pair the lamp, simply plug it in and turn on the power (again, we’re ignoring the instructions that come with the lamps, which indicate you must complete a few steps before turning the power on).

With the light on, open the Hue app, tap the Menu button in the top left, and select Settings.

From the main settings menu, select My Lights.

At the top of the My Lights list, select Connect new lights »; the screenshot below ignores the «Lux» entries as these are existing lamps already connected to the Hue bridge.

Turn on the smart light bulb. When the Hue app asks you if you want to search automatically or manually, select Automatic. Lamps outside the tint system appear with generic names such as «Light Dimming 1». The appearance of an ordinary lamp entry in your lighting list should correspond to turning the lamp on and off several times to indicate which lamp it is and what it is connected to.

Feel free to press and hold on an entry to rename it or otherwise interact with the lamp as it is now part of your Hue lighting system. Repeat these steps for any other Cree Connected or GE Link bulbs you have.

Troubleshooting Lamps

Although it took only 20 seconds to pair the Cree and GE lamps used in this tutorial, it is always possible that you will run into some kind of error. Let’s take a look at how to manually add bulbs to the system (outside of the automatic search function) and how to reset bulbs if they misbehave and show erratic behavior (or don’t connect at all).

How to manually add bulbs

This particular trick is quite useful, but unfortunately not applicable to both lamps we tested. Each of the Cree Connected bulbs has a tiny serial number that allows you to have the Hue Bridge look for the bulb even if it can’t automatically detect it. The serial number is located at the base of the flask, as shown in the photo below.

There’s a lot going on with the label, but the alphanumeric string you want is just below the «LED LAMP» brand and above the IC/FCC codes.

To add a light bulb manually, simply repeat the steps in the previous section, but select manual search instead of automatic search.

Enter the serial number, turn on the light bulb and press the search button to manually find the light bulb on the network.

Unfortunately, as mentioned above, while the GE Link has a unique address like any other networked smart lamp, there is no evidence that the serial number can be used for manual assignment on the lamp or the box in which she was.

However, this is a rather minor consideration. If you really like the stylized look of the GE Link bulbs or they’re the only ones your local store has, we’re not likely to recommend you skip them due to the lack of a manual serial number. We only used the manual function to make it work, not because we ever needed it.

How to reset light bulbs

If there is a possibility that something will go wrong during the installation process and you will not be able to get the bulbs to appear (or if you make a pair of them, they will not work well), then your best bet is to reset them.

The first time we encountered the reset process for smart bulbs, we tested the Belkin WeMo Smart LED Bulb system. We thought the process was stupid then, and we’re not going to lie to you, we still think it’s stupid.

What’s so stupid about this? As far as we know, the reset process for smart bulbs is universal to quickly turn them on and off several times in a row. I am not kidding; if you need to reset the light bulbs, just turn the lights on and off several times in a row, like you are a child, trying to make your big brother go into a blind rage.

Actual frequency and timing varies slightly from manufacturer to manufacturer (GE says turn the Link lamp on and off five times at three second intervals, while Cree says do it four times at two second intervals), but we found that actually it is not. it’s sensitive. Turn the bulb on and off a few times until it flashes (to indicate a reset) and call it good.

That’s all there is to the process: when all is said and done, you’ll likely spend more time learning about smart bulbs, reading this tutorial, and deciding how many bulbs you want to get than you actually spend. for their installation.

Do you have a question about smart homes, home automation, or the IoT genre? Send us an email at and we’ll do our best to help!

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