Unlike other smart bulbs that require a hub for operation, the Philips Hue Bridge works without one. However, you’ll miss out on features like setting ongoing automations and using preset light scenes.
Hue’s dynamic scenes roll through colors so slowly that even the “Party Vibes” scene is subtle. Hopefully, this is something the company will address in a future update.
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The Philips Hue Bridge connects your smart bulbs to your home WiFi network so they can communicate with each other. You can also use it to integrate your lights into third-party services like IFTTT, Logitech and Xfinity as well as Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant routines and automations.
You can buy a Philips Hue starter kit that includes a bridge, bulbs and dimmer switch to get started. Keep in mind that the first gen bridge is no longer supported and the square-shaped second gen is recommended.
Once your bridge and lights are set up, open the app and follow the initial setup prompts. It may take several minutes for the app to find all your bulbs. After they’re found, the app will ask you to group them into rooms for easier control.
Exploring Color and Ambiance
The Philips Hue Bridge is also the hub of the system, letting you connect your Hue bulbs with third-party services like Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant. That allows you to control your lights with your voice, recall pre-set scenes and more.
After you’ve added your bridge and lights to the app, they will be displayed on the Home screen grouped by room or zone. This is a great way to organize your lighting and simplifies the process of controlling individual lights and groups of lights with scenes.
Another benefit of adding your lights to rooms or zones is that you can create different IFTTT applets for each one. For example, you can have your lights sync to the weather, turning them purple when it rains or flashing red and blue if there’s a tornado warning.
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Setting the Scene
With a Philips Hue Bridge connected to your router you’ll be able to control any compatible light bulb from anywhere in the world, even without wifi or internet access. This gives you the power to create scenes, set timers and automations, as well as control your lights while away from home.
Creating a lighting scene is simple, open the app and tap the icon on your phone’s home screen (or shortcut). Choose Use photo to have the app automatically generate a scene based on an image’s color palette or Create custom scene to create one from scratch.
From the ‘Scenes’ menu select the scene you want to activate, then either change the light levels or tap the (watch) icon to let the app “learn” the current brightness. Once you’re happy with the lighting scene name it and it’s done!
Syncing Your Lighting with Activities
If you don’t have a bridge, you can still control your bulbs with the Philips Hue app and voice assistants. But if you want to be able to control your lights away from home or connect accessories like dimmer switches and sensors, you’ll need the 1st gen or newer bridge.
Before you start, make sure your Philips Hue Bridge is powered on and connected to a router via ethernet (not Wi-Fi). Power up your bulbs or tap the triple-dot menu up top and add them to the app. After a few minutes the app will search for and automatically discover your light sources. Name your lights, and if needed create Rooms or Zones for groups of lights that share similar characteristics. Then select a scene. Choose Use photo, which will automatically generate a scene based on the colors in a picture you’ve uploaded, or Create custom scene.
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The Bridge is the key to unlocking Philips Hue’s full suite of smart lighting features, like remote control and voice commands. Connect it to power and your router, then set up your lights and accessories in the Philips Hue app.
Once your lights are connected to the Philips Hue Bridge you can use your smartphone to control them anywhere in your home, or remotely from a mobile device when you’re away. This makes it easy to turn lights on as you arrive home, or to check that you turned off the light before going to bed.
With a simple voice command, you can activate any pre-set scene or recall an existing one on your phone. You can also create shortcuts to your favorite scenes on your iPhone’s home screen.