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Smart light bulbs are arguably the most crucial technology product to launch in the past decade. Without these, the overall smart home industry might never have gotten its start.
Philips Hue and LIFX are two of the most prominent smart lighting brands in the world. In general terms, they provide similar products: both product lines allow you to change colors, intensities, and lighting schedules at will. Beneath the surface, however, there are differences between the two.
In this article, you’ll learn more about the product lines from LIFX and Philips Hue and see how they compare. In doing so, you’ll have a better idea which solution is right for you.
What Makes a Light Bulb “Smart”?
By definition, smart lighting is a technology designed for energy efficiency. Unlike traditional LED bulbs, which are increasingly also energy efficient, smart lighting offers automated controls that can make adjustments based on external conditions such as occupancy or daylight availability.
To determine whether a lighting product is smart, consider two simple giveaways. First, the product will have “Smart” somewhere in its title. Second, look at the description of the product for language indicating that it’s controllable with an app.
When smart lights were first introduced, most could change colors. Smart light bulbs are now available in non-colored versions called “white” or “white ambiance,” depending on the company. The former offers one shade of white and similar to traditional light bulbs. The latter provides shades of white that can adjust automatically depending on the time of day.
The most important benefit of using light bulbs that don’t change colors is the price. These smart bulbs are less expensive and still provide most of the features found in the multi-colored versions.
LIFX Smart Lighting Basics
Founded in September 2012, California-based LIFX’s first lighting product launched as a Kickstarter project. Since then, the company’s offerings have grown considerably.
Today, you can purchase traditional LIFX bulbs and those marked “LIFX Mini.” The company also offers feature lighting products, such as the LIFX Tile and LIFX Beam.
The company’s traditional bulbs offer over 1,100 lumens per bulb, which is incredibly bright and is equivalent to a traditional 75W incandescent bulb. Available in various sizes, these bulbs offer 16 million colors to set the perfect mood in combinations of red, blue, yellow, orange, purple, green, pink, and cyan.
The LIFX Mini lineup, the company’s newest, features a more compact design than the original and offers 800 lumens of light at peak brightness, which is comparable to a traditional 60W incandescent. These lights come in three varieties: the full-featured LIFX Mini Color, ambiance-changing Day & Dusk, and fixed LIFX Mini White.
Pros and Cons of LIFX Smart Lighting
Setting up LIFX lighting products is as simple as adding a bulb to your existing lighting fixtures. To control the lights, use the official LIFX app for iOS, Android, or Windows 10. LIFX doesn’t require the purchase a separate hub to operate the bulbs. Instead, they connect using your existing home Wi-Fi system. Once connected, you can use the lights with the other smart services and products, including Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Home, Nest, and IFTTT. LIFX promises each bulb will last for 22.8 years, assuming usage averages three hours per day.
Regarding cons to using LIFX lighting products, there aren’t too many.
First, keep in mind if your internet connection goes down, you can’t control your lights using your smartphone or computer. Instead, you’ll have to turn them on and off manually, the old-fashioned way. Second, for Apple HomeKit compatibility, you’ll need to use Generation 3 LIFX products because the older versions don’t work here.
Traditional LIFX bulbs can be costly when purchased individually, but you can find slight discounts when purchasing more than one lamp at a time. LIFX also offers bulbs that use 950nm infrared light to help enhance infrared cameras night vision. These bulbs are around $20 more than the regular version.
You’ll pay about $20 less for the LIFX Mini Color bulbs compared to the traditional lamps, and even less for the LIFX Mini Day & Night and LIFX Mini White bulbs.
Philips Hue Smart Lighting Basics
Philips Hue color-changing LED lamps arrived in 2012, and it remains the most famous smart lighting brand around. The company’s product line broadly falls into three main categories based on the type of bulb involved. The most popular of these are those marked “white and color ambiance.” These lighting products provide the complete experience, offering nearly unlimited colors and the ability to sync with your music, TV, and games.
The company’s White Ambiance bulbs can help you to fall asleep and wake up gently by adjusting its natural white light based on the time of day. The Phillips Hue White product lineup, like LIFX Mini White, is a basic smart bulb with a fixed light.
Philips Hue lights offer 800 lumens per bulb, and each bulb has been made to last for 25,000 hours.
When it comes to compatibility, Philips Hue works with just about every smart home product on the market. It’s currently compatible with Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Home, Nest, and IFTTT.
Pros and Cons of Philips Hue Smart Lighting
The benefits of Philips Hue are pretty apparent. This line offers a greater range of products than LIFX, and its products tend to be available in more locations.
But LIFX’s traditional bulbs best Philips Hue when it comes to brightness: 1,100 lumens vs. 800 lumens. And, perhaps the most significant drawback: you’ll need to purchase a separate Philip Hue bridge (around $50) to use these lights.
The Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance lamps cost about $10 less than a comparable LIFX bulb. You’ll pay less for White Ambiance and White only products. Additionally, you can find slight discounts when purchasing more than one lamp at a time. As well, Philips Hue offers starter kits that include 2-6 bulbs plus the required bridge.
Which Should You Buy?
There’s much to love about LIFX and Philips Hue lighting products. In many respects, you can’t go wrong with purchasing from either company. Depending on your situation, however, choosing one over another might be a better choice.
LIFX products make an ideal choice for those who don’t need a lot of smart lights installed. For example, college students living in a dorm or apartment, or someone who just needs to add lighting to one room in their home. Not having to buy a $50 bridge is another benefit to selecting LIFX.
Philips Hue offers more of a total solution compared to LIFX, and is ideally suited for homeowners looking to add smart lights in every room in their house. From a pricing perspective, Philips Hue lights are slightly less expensive on a per bulb basis, although you’ll need to factor in the upfront cost of the bridge.
What type of smart lighting products do you use in your home and why? Let us know below.