Home Automation Part 4: Philips Hue Starter Pack, Friends of Hue Bloom Lamp, and LightStrip
In the fourth part of our Home Automation series, we now look at a very specific application: lighting. The first new piece of gear that I acquired for this was the Philips Hue Starter Pack.
This system provides wireless control over the color and intensity of household lighting using special Philips LED bulbs, a hub, and an app. At first, I thought it would be just a toy, but the system quickly demonstrated that it is as much about convenience and utility as it is about generating a “wow” response from visitors.
This also has to be the simplest home automation system that I have ever set up.
SETTING UP PHILIPS HUE
My experience with Philips Hue started with the Friends of Hue Bloom Lamp, a standalone fixture. It wasn’t completely clear when I ordered it that I needed the Hue hub, so when it arrived and I plugged it in, it would only emit a reddish glow. Nice, but nothing to shout about. My travels intervened, so I ordered the Starter Pack and set it up after setting foot on four continents in as many weeks.
The starter pack includes three Hue bulbs and a small bridge, which acts as the system’s switchboard. The bulbs are somewhat conical in shape and have a nice weight and substantial feel to them. Once screwed into a socket, they are virtually indistinguishable. Philips rates the bulbs for 15,000 hours and says that power consumption is 80% less than traditional incandescent light bulbs of similar light output.
Each bridge supports up to 50 bulbs or lamps (you can buy bulbs separately). The three starter bulbs are permanently bridged to your hub, which means you can’t buy another starter kit and use those bulbs with your existing system.