Philips Hue is a really cool Wi-Fi enabled lighting system that lets you turn your lights on and off right from your smartphone (or other smart home control devices like Amazon Echo). This is one of the first steps in transforming your home into the chic home of the future. Here’s how to set up your Philips Hue lights with the new Philips Hue app.
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Hue has been around for a while, but they recently released a brand new app with a brand new interface that makes it easy to manage and control your smart bulbs. There may be a bit of a learning curve compared to the old app (which you can still download for iOS and Android), but once you get the basics down, you might find that it’s a lot better than the old Hue app. (However, the old app is missing some features, which we’ll talk about later in this guide).
You can download the new app here, and if you already have your light bulbs set up, skip ahead to the customization section of this guide. If you’re new to Hue, let’s talk about what Hue can do and what you get in the box.
What is Philips Hue?
Lighting has come a long way over the past few years, especially with the introduction of LED lamps, which use far less energy, last longer, and cost less to operate in the long run.
However, smart lighting takes it one step further and Philips leads the way with Hue’s smart light range. These are light bulbs that work with any standard outlets you already have in your home’s lighting fixtures, but they have some additional internals that allow them to be controlled wirelessly from your smartphone.
Philips offers several different Hue bulbs. However, its most popular is the $199 Hue White and Color Starter Kit, which comes with the necessary Hue Bridge as well as three Hue bulbs that can change colors and do all sorts of neat things. You can also get the cheaper $79 Hue White Starter Kit, which comes with a Hue Bridge and two Hue White bulbs, which are nothing more than adjustable soft white bulbs.
Since the lamps cannot directly connect to the Wi-Fi network in your home, Hue Bridge is a kind of intermediary. Your light bulbs are connected to a hub, and the hub is connected to a router.
This includes a little more settings than you might expect, but actually setting up your Philips Hue light is very easy. Here’s what you need to do to make it all work.
How to adjust your Philips Hue headlights
When you unpack your Philips Hue headlights, you will receive a Hue bridge, power adapter, ethernet cable and two or three bulbs, depending on which starter kit you bought. The Hue White and Color Starter Kit comes with three bulbs, while the Hue White Starter Kit comes with two bulbs.
Start by screwing the light bulbs into the lights you want to control wirelessly, and be sure to turn on the power to those lights. The Philips Hue lamps will turn on automatically, indicating that they are working properly and are ready to be paired with the Hue Bridge.
Then plug in the Hue Bridge by plugging the power adapter into the Bridge and the other end into an available power outlet. After that, connect one end of an Ethernet cable to the bridge and the other end to an available Ethernet port on the back of the router. You have to connect it directly to your router with an Ethernet cable — Hue Bridge doesn’t have built-in Wi-Fi; instead, it uses the Wi-Fi in your router.
Wait for all four lights on the Hue Bridge to light up, and once it does, you can begin the installation process.
Then download the new Philips Hue Gen 2 app for iOS or Android. Keep in mind that there are plenty of third-party Philips Hue apps, so if you’re looking for it on the app store, you’ll need to make sure to download the official app in order to set up the light first.
Once you open the app, it will automatically search for Hue Bridge.
Once it finds yours, click Customize.
Then press the push-link button on your Hue Bridge. This will be the big round button in the center.
Once connected, click «Accept».
Then it’s time to set up HomeKit and Siri if you’re an iOS user. Click on «Steam Bridge» at the bottom.
Click on «My Home» at the bottom and say the name of your home. «Home» usually works just fine in this case. Click on «Create a House» when you’re done.
You will then need to scan the Accessory Setup Code found on the back of the Hue Bridge. Hold your phone near this code and it will detect it automatically.
Now it’s time for your Hue Bridge to detect all your Hue bulbs, so click on the «+» icon in the bottom right corner.
Click on Search.
It will take a few minutes to find all of your bulbs, but when it’s done it will tell you how many bulbs it has found at the top. If it doesn’t find all your lamps, you can click on the «+» icon again and then select «Add serial number» to manually add lamps to the settings. Don’t worry, this is a fairly common need.
Once all your Hue bulbs have been found, the app will prompt you to group them into rooms for easier management. Therefore, click on the «+» icon in the lower right corner on the next page.
Click on the text field at the top and give your first room a name.
Then click «Room Type» and select a room type.
Then, in the Light Selection section, check or uncheck any light bulbs you don’t want to associate with this room, and then click Save in the top right corner.
Unfortunately, this part is pretty badly designed: if you’re using the new lamps, they’ll all have generic names like «Hue white lamp 1» and you won’t necessarily know which one is which. Go ahead and guess — if it doesn’t, you can go back to the settings and change it. We will discuss this later in the guide.
Add more rooms if you like by clicking on the «+» icon at the bottom. Otherwise, click «Next» in the upper right corner.
You are all done with the initial setup process. Click on «Let’s go» to start managing your hue lights.
How to rename and rearrange lights
Now is the time to make changes if any of your bulbs are in the wrong room. If so, click on the gear settings icon in the top left corner of the main control screen.
First select Lighting Settings.
On this page, you can click on the name of any lamp to see how it flashes. Then click on the little round «i» icon to rename the light to any location.
Click in the text box and give the light bulb a new name of your choice. This will make it much easier to tell which bulbs are which.
Once you’ve renamed all of your light bulbs, go back to Settings and select Room Setup.
You can then repeat the room creation process as described above, but with your lights properly named.
How to control your Philips Hue headlights
On the main control screen, you can turn the room on and off using the switch on the right. You can also adjust the brightness using the panel below the room name.
You can also click on a room to control each light bulb individually.
Clicking on the circle of an individual bulb will bring up a color selector where you can change the bulb to any color as long as you have the more expensive Hue White and Color bulbs. You can also click «White» to select a white color temperature.
There is also a «Recipes» section that can change the color temperature depending on the mood and scenarios.
Control your lights from afar with remote access
If you want to be able to control your Hue lights while away from home, you need to create an account on the Philips website (if you don’t already have one). You can do this by first clicking «More» in the lower right corner of the main control screen.
From there, click Sign in to My Hue.
Select «Login» at the bottom.
The Philips Hue website will load in your web browser. At the bottom, select «Create an account» or enter your email address and password to sign in if you already have an account.
Enter your name, email address, password and agree to the terms. Then click Next Step.
Next, you need to press the Push-Link button like you did before when you first set up Hue Bridge.
The website will check the hub and it should test the connection. Click Continue.
On the next page, you’ll want to select «Yes» when it asks you to access your bridge to control your lights when you’re away from home. You will then be returned to the Philips Hue app and remote access will now be enabled.
What you can do with your Philips Hue lights
Turning your lights on and off from your smartphone can be awesome, and turning them on and off with Siri is super convenient. But there are a few things you can do that don’t just turn the lights on and off. Here are some of the main features of Philips Hue lights that you can turn on in the Philips Hue app.
In the world of Philips Hue, «scenes» is the buzzword for presets. If you like a certain color or a certain brightness that you use often, you can create a scene for it. So, instead of changing the color of each individual lamp, you can change the entire room to your favorite preset with a single tap. Even if you don’t have the fancy color-changing Hue bulbs, you can still create scenes with white-colored bulbs only for certain brightness levels (like «daytime» and «nighttime»).
On the main screen of the Philips Hue app, select a room and tap Scenes at the bottom (or at the top if you’re an Android user).
There will be several ready-made scenes, but if you want to create your own, click on the «+» icon in the lower right corner.
From there, the Hue app will let you create a scene from a photo. The app has some built-in images, but you can also use the photo that’s on your phone.
Alternatively, if you want more granular control, you can create a scene by going to the room management page and setting the bulbs the way you want. Then click on the «+» icon.
From there, give the scene a name and click Save. You can then access the scene from the Scenes page and turning it on will put your lights in that exact state.
Turn off the lights when you leave
The new Philips Hue app lets you use geofence to turn your lights on and off when you leave and return home, so you never have to hit the light switch again.
We’ve already covered this with the old app, and the method is still basically the same — except you’ll click on Routines at the bottom and select Home and Away.
Creating an alarm
You can also use the Philips Hue app to create an alarm clock that fades out to simulate sunrise.
Something like this is really good if you wake up before the sun actually comes up or your bedroom doesn’t get much sunlight anyway.
We’ve also covered this in the past with the old Philips Hue app, but the process is similar in the new app. Just click Routines at the bottom and choose Wake Up to create an alarm.
Disadvantages of the Gen 2 Hue app
While the new Philips Hue app provides a new look and layout that makes controlling the Hue lights a bit easier, the original app is missing some useful features, which is incredibly frustrating.
The Gen 2 app doesn’t let you group lights so you can adjust the color and temperature of two or more bulbs at the same time — instead, you need to create a scene for any color combination you may wish for. In addition, the Gen 1 app lets you pick custom colors from your photo using the Eyedropper tool when creating a scene, which the new app doesn’t.
Worst of all, the new app doesn’t sync with your scenes from the old app, even when you sign into your Hue account on the new app and sync through the My Hue website. Your old scenes just won’t show up, and it’s safe to say that all scenes are getting less attention than they used to.
Luckily, there are plenty of third-party apps out there that make grouping easy, and iConnectHue is our favorite as it can do a lot of things. Plus, you can still download the Gen 1 app and use it just like before. We hope that Philips will correct these omissions in the near future.
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