Smart Home Devices – Getting Started in 2017: Lights

Smart Home Devices – Getting Started in 2017: Lights

2017 is going to be a big and important year for Home Automation. Smart devices have reached the tipping point into broad customer take-up. In the UK, smart devices are being stocked in high-street stores such as B&Q and Wickes DIY.

But if you’re just starting out then it can be hard to know what to buy. You probably don’t want to buy everything all at once – but at the same time you want everything to work with everything else. Finally you want to make sure that what you do buy is easily understood by everyone else you share your home with.

Start With Lights

I would start with lights. Lights are usually simple to turn into smart devices as you can just replace the bulb. They immediately bring you both convenience and security benefits meaning they’re a great value starter item.

In my opinion, the best choice here is the Phillips Hue ecosystem. Whilst they might be slightly more expensive than some other offerings they are rock-solid stable. Stability should be your most important requirement when it comes to replacing something as fundamental as lights in your home. Secondly, Phillips Hue lights work well with a number of other smart home devices, such as Amazon Echo and Samsung SmartThings.

To get started you need to purchase a Phillips Hue Hub and one or more bulbs. (carry on reading: it might be cheaper to buy the hub as part of a kit, see below). The Hub connects to your WiFi and is the ‘brains’ of your lighting setup. The bulbs then talk to the Hub. An app on your phone can be used to control the lights, both inside the home but also outside it. The Hub can also support Routines (again, set up via the app) to turn lights on or off at certain times, or when you are away.

You can buy Phillips Hue bulbs in a number of standard sizes – bayonet, screw and GU10. Don’t worry if you don’t know what they mean – we’re going to cover them in a bit.

In addition, there are 3 types of bulb: colour, white and white ambience. The colour ones are as you’d expect: you can set the colour to any colour you can think of (including white) and control the brightness. The white-only type is also quite simple: it’s a set colour but you can also control the brightness (like a dimmer switch). The white-ambience bulb also has brightness control but in addition also allows you to control the type of white: from a very white light to a almost yellow-y warm sunlight colour.

Bayonet Bulbs

bulb-bayonet-maleIn the UK, these are the most common type of bulb used in ceiling pendants. The bottom of the bulb doesn’t have any sort of thread, but instead has two little prongs that stick out. You fit them into the socket by pushing in and turning a quarter of a turn so that the little prongs catch in the holder.

You can buy the following type of Phillips Hue bayonet bulbs:

Bayonet White


The Phillips Hue White LED Bulb is a white-only bulb: meaning that you can set the brightness anywhere from 1-100% and turn it on and off from anywhere. It’s the cheapest type of bulb and a great way to get started.

Bayonet Ambience


The Phillips Hue White Ambience LED Bulb is a white ambience bulb: meaning that as well as being to turn it on and off remotely and control the brightness you can also choose the warmness of the light. In the app you can exactly choose the warmness like this:

2017-02-12-17-44-21

You can also choose one of the preset recipes: Relax, Read, Concentrate and Energise:

2017-02-12-17-44-50

Bayonet Colour


The Phillips Hue Colour and White Ambience bulb is the most feature-rich bayonet bulb you can get. Not only does it have all the features of the ambience bulb, it can be any colour of the rainbow. You can either specify the exact colour or choose a pre-set scene. You can even use the app to create your own scenes.

Screw Bulbs

esAlso known as Edison Screw bulbs (and abbreviated to ES) these come in a variety of sizes. The ONLY Phillips Hue ES bulbs are E27 which has the abbreviation ES (not to be confused with SES, GES etc). If you want to be extra sure, the diameter of the screw fitting is 27mm.

Be aware: in the UK the smaller SES fitting is common with smaller light fittings.

Screw White


The Phillips Hue White LED Bulb is a white-only bulb: meaning that you can set the brightness anywhere from 1-100% and turn it on and off from anywhere. It’s the cheapest type of bulb and a great way to get started.

 

 

Screw Ambience


The Phillips Hue White Ambience LED Bulb is a white ambience bulb: meaning that as well as being to turn it on and off remotely and control the brightness you can also choose the warmness of the light. (see screenshots in the Bayonet section)

 

Screw Colour


The Phillips Hue Colour and White Ambience bulb is the most feature-rich screw bulb you can get. Not only does it have all the features of the ambience bulb, it can be any colour of the rainbow. You can either specify the exact colour or choose a pre-set scene. You can even use the app to create your own scenes.

 

GU10 Bulbs

gu10GU10 bulbs have two small pins at the base and are fitted by pushing in a twisting. They are often used as spotlights in recessed ceiling lights. Note: there is no ‘white only’ version of these bulbs.

 

 

GU10 Ambience


The Phillips Hue White Ambience LED Bulb is a white ambience bulb: meaning that as well as being to turn it on and off remotely and control the brightness you can also choose the warmness of the light. (see screenshots in the Bayonet section)

 

GU10 Colour


The Phillips Hue Colour and White Ambience bulb is the most feature-rich GU10 bulb you can get. Not only does it have all the features of the ambience bulb, it can be any colour of the rainbow. You can either specify the exact colour or choose a pre-set scene. You can even use the app to create your own scenes.

 

Starter Kits

Depending on what bulbs you need, you may find that a starter kit is cheaper than buying the Hub and bulbs separately. All starter kits include the Hub.

White E27 Starter Kit – this starter kit contains the Hub and two white-only E27 (screw) bulbs.

White & Colour Bayonet Starter Kit – this starter kit contains the Hub and two colour ambience bayonet bulbs.

White & Colour E27 Starter Kit – this starter kit contains the Hub and two colour ambience E27 (screw) bulbs.

White & Colour GU10 Starter Kit – this starter kit contains the Hub and three colour ambience GU10 bulbs.