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The Philips Hue LED Lighting System is a smart home product pioneer. When it launched in 2012, the color changing lightbulbs were called the Best Product of the Year by Forbes. Four years later, there’s no denying that Philips Hue continues to be one of the most popular smart home products available. They are also among the most expensive smart bulbs on the market.
In this article, you’ll learn about some of the less expensive alternatives to Philips Hue and see how they compare.
What Is Philips Hue?
Philips Hue is a selection of smart LED bulbs that are controllable through iOS devices and Apple Watch. With Philips Hue, you can choose from 16 million colors using the official Hue app.
In 2016, Philips Hue offered three types of smart lighting products that come in different shapes, sizes, and models. Hue white and color ambiance lights provide the complete experience, offering unlimited colors and the ability to sync with your music, TV, and games.
Philips Hue white ambiance products offer a broad range of natural white light and are ideally suited for rooms where you want to concentrate, read, and relax. Finally, Philips Hue white products offer comfort dimming lighting for the least amount of money.
To get started with Philips Hue, you need to purchase a starter kit, which includes at least two bulbs and a bridge. The Philips Hue White A19 Starter Kit (UK) is priced at $70, while the Philips Hue White Ambiance A19 Starter Kit is available for $130. The Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance A19 Starter Kit is $180.
You can add up to 50 Philips Hue lights to your setup, regardless of the type of bulbs in your starter pack. Single bulbs range in price from $15 for a Philips Hue White A19 to $50 for a Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance A19.
- Pros — Large number of lighting products, including light strips, lamps, and controllers.
- Cons — You need to buy a bridge, which increases your startup costs.
The Many Philips Hue Alternatives
The following products offer many of the same features found with Philips Hue, but at a lower price.
The most full-featured alternative to Philips Hue is the Belkin WeMo LED Lighting Starter Set. Priced at around $100, the kit includes two WeMo Smart LED Bulbs and a WeMo Link. With this kit, you can add up to 50 WeMo-compatible smart LED bulbs and control them individually or as a group using the WeMo app for both iOS and Android.
Belkin WeMo doesn’t just connect with WeMo bulbs. It also works with lighting products from companies like Osram and Sylvania, including the Osram Lightify Tunable White 60, colorful Osram Lightify FLEX RGBW, and general purpose Cree BA19.
- Pros — Yes, you still need a bridge, but this one is cheaper.
- Cons — Limited number of bulb choices despite third-party compatibility.
LIFX offers a line of energy-efficient, multi-color, Wi-Fi enabled bulbs that don’t need a separate bridge to operate. Instead, each LIFX bulb has a built-in Wi-Fi microcontroller that connects remotely to your home router.
These bulbs range in price considerably, from $30 for the LIFX White Range (UK) bulb to $60 for the all-in-one LIFX bulb (UK). For $80, you can purchase an LIFX+ bulb, which helps to brighten your space, even in the dark using infrared.
- Pros — No bridge.
- Cons — Not all choices are inexpensive.
Router company TP-Link offers a wide-range of smart bulbs that don’t require a separate hub or bridge. These bulbs are compatible with iOS and Android devices through the free Kasa app.
- Pros — No bridge, compatible on iOS and Android.
- Cons — Only four available bulbs to date.
Like other products on this list, Flux doesn’t require a separate hub to operate.
- Pros — Price.
- Cons — There’s only one Flux bulb to date.
The Nyrius Wireless Smart LED Multicolor Light Bulb is one of the least expensive products on our list. The full-featured Bluetooth-enabled bulb is just $15.
To use a Nyrius bulb, just screw it into any standard socket and download the free Nyrius App.
- Pros — Price.
- Cons — You can only use up to seven Nyrius bulbs at the same time.
The $55 GE Link starter kit features two A19 LED bulbs and a link hub. For now, these are only available in soft white and bright white. You control GE Link bulbs using the Wink mobile app.
GE Link bulbs start at around $16.
- Pros — Low price.
- Cons — Only available in white.
The Lucero Smart Bulb is customizable through the Lucero Smart Bulb app. These affordable smart bulbs are available at around $30 each and offer a color palette of over 16 million colors and a variety of tones of white.
- Pros — Low price, if you want color.
- Cons — Pricey, if you do not.
When looking for smart bulbs, you need to decide whether you want lights that can change color or only offer shades of white. With Philips Hue, the price difference between the two types is easy to see. With others, it’s less clear.
For example, at $35, the Flux bulb is reasonably priced if you’re looking for colorful lighting. However, if you only want to add white, there are less expensive options available.
On pricing alone, Nyrius bulb is the best option on this list. For just $15, you can select from millions of colors. The biggest drawback: you can only add seven Nyrius bulbs to your location.
The Bottom Line: Switching to smart lighting can be a relatively expensive process. To maximize your investment, decide early on whether you plan on eventually replacing all of your light bulbs or just a few of them. If you decide on the former, Philips Hue probably remains the best way to go. Otherwise, look for less expensive solutions, which are readily available.
Which type of smart bulbs do you use in your home? Use the comments below to let us know.