The Philips Hue LED Lighting System is a smart home product pioneer, having launched in 2012. Years later, there’s no denying that Philips Hue continues to be one of the most popular smart home products available. Unfortunately, it’s also among the most expensive smart lighting system on the market.
The list of Philips Hue alternatives continues to grow each year. Perhaps none show as much promise as Stack lighting, which offers features that are missing from the Philips Hue. In this article, you’ll see how the newest kid on the block compares to the original regarding features and price.
Philips Hue: A Summary
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 2017, Philips Hue offered three types of smart lighting products that came in different shapes, sizes, and models. Hue white and color ambiance lights, the most expensive type available, provided 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. Philips Hue white products provide comfort, dimming lighting for the least amount of money.
There’s little difference between Philips Hue and its main competitors, including LIFX, Belkin WeMo, and GE Link. While the protocols may differ, each provides a lighting solution that you control with a mobile device using a home network. Most offer white and colored bulbs with the latter being the most expensive.
A Responsive Solution
By contrast, Stack lights automatically respond to changes in the environment’s ambient light and time. In doing so, the lights adjust brightness and color temperature without your intervention. Stacks Labs calls this a responsive, rather than a smart, solution.
What Stacks Lighting Can Do
Stack lighting focuses on four main points to achieve this responsiveness:
- Home awareness — Stack lights turn themselves on and off, depending on your occupancy. It also alerts you when someone enters your home.
- Circadian lighting — Stack intelligently adjusts the color temperature based on the time of day.
- Light sensing — Stack automatically dims and brightens each bulb according to the natural light in the room. This feature can reduce your energy costs by up to 60 percent.
- Initiative learning — Like other smart products on the market, Stack learns your inputs over time, creating a more personalized experience.
While Stack strives to minimize user interaction, many of the features found on other lighting solutions remain. For example, with the Stack app, you can still change the color temperature and brightness of the bulb and schedule wake-up times. You also have the ability to turn off occupancy and ambient light sensors as needed.
Thanks to IFTTT, you can also link other connected lights to your Stack lights. For example, you can use an IFTTT applet to turn on your Philips Hue or LIFX lights every time Stack detects occupancy.
Stack lights also work with Amazon Alexa, Google Nest, and will soon offer compatibility for Apple’s HomeKit ecosystem.
Say Hello to Stack Enabled
The Stack Enabled program is another way Stack lighting is different than the competition. With this program, Stack allows other lighting manufacturers to embed its active sensor and signal processing technology into different lighting formats.
Stack notes, “These lights are then able to utilize Stack’s innovative building intelligence technologies to become truly responsive, at a fraction of the cost of other solutions.”
Stack currently offers two starter packs through its website. The Stack Classic Starter Kit ($89) includes two A19 bulbs and one hub. The Stack Downlight Starter Kit ($99) consists of two BR30 bulbs and a hub. A19 bulbs are priced at $28 each, while individual BR30 bulbs cost $45.
As a comparison, you can buy the Philips Hue White Ambiance A19 Starter Kit for $130. This package includes two A19 bulbs, a hub, and a dimmer switch. Replacement A19 bulbs are $30 each. You can’t purchase a Philips Hue starter kit that includes BR30 bulbs. Instead, they’re available for $30 each (or two for $50).
About Those Hubs
The Stack hub, like the one shipped with a Philips Hue starter pack, acts as a controller for your lighting system. In this case, each Stack light communicates with the hub through the ZigBee protocol. You only need one hub for each Stack lighting solution.
Should You Buy?
Over the years, Philips Hue has faced criticism over price. However, much of that criticism has focused on the company’s color ambiance lights, not on the newer white and white ambiance products. As you can see above, Philips Hue pricing compares favorably to Stack lighting. In some cases, it’s even less expensive.
With that said, Slack lighting is relatively new to the marketplace. Additionally, Stack Enabled products have yet to arrive on the market. The new products could certainly push prices lower as competition usually does.
For now, whether to buy Stack lighting as opposed to Philips Hue or a similar product, depends on whether you’re looking for a responsive or smart lighting solution. Most likely, a combination of the two might work best. A lot will depend on Stack and whether they can bring bulbs of various sizes and styles to market as promised.
Do you think responsive lighting is the future of smart lighting? Leave your comments below.