Smartphone light control
The HUE White A19 Starter Kit by Philips
You knew it was coming and now it has arrived: a practical way to control the lighting in your home using your smartphone. The accent here is on practical. I don’t know if you’ve tried to buy a light bulb lately, but if you have, you know it’s no simple matter. Check out the lighting section in any hardware store and you’ll be confronted by a dumbfounding display of alternates. You may also find a small group of puzzled customers trying to read the boxes or find a salesperson to help.
The easiest choice is the old standby: the incandescent bulb. You can find a pack of four 60-watt bulbs for under $4 and that’s not likely to change anytime soon. After that, things get complicated.
Do you, for example, opt for a long-life, 10-watt spiral bulb (60-watt equivalent) that starts at $4 each, but emits a light that has a whitish glow? Or perhaps a brighter 26-watt smart energy spiral at $11.50? Would you consider then an efficient 38-watt halogen at $13? The confusion factor moves up when you attempt to figure out which bulb will last longer: 10,000 hours? Maybe better to go for 25,000 hours, a decision that may depend on how old you are, among other things.
Be done with all that. If price isn’t a major consideration, move with the times, go LED. At least you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you may never have to purchase another bulb in this lifetime. Until recently, the LED choice here was pretty simple. The Cree Connected LED at under $15 offered the best deal by a considerable margin. Enter the Philips HUE A19, which uses 9.5 watts to produce 800 lumens with a projected life of 23 years for three hours of use a day (25,000 hours total). At $14.97, it matches Cree’s specs and price.
And here’s the thing — the company also offers the Hue Bridge 2.0, a hub that allows your smartphone to turn the lights on and off wirelessly from upstairs or almost anywhere else on the planet. There’s even a geo-fencing feature that will activate the bulbs when you come up the walk or driveway. iPhone Siri users can control the lights with voice commands.
Installation is easy. Simply screw the Hue A19 bulb into a socket, turn it on, download the Philips Hue app and follow the instructions. Users report no difficulty using either a recent iPhone or Samsung Galaxy.
The latest version of the app makes it easy to identify and name rooms, arrange where bulbs are located and adjust the brightness of the whole group. A “Routines” tab lets you set lighting schedules, while “Scenes” allows you to set a variety of mood lighting.
The HUE White A19 Starter Kit that includes the Hue Bridge and two bulbs is available at Home Depot and Best Buy. $79.99.
Win the Philips HUE light system starter by entering the Win the Gadget of the Month contest here.
This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm rates and details directly with the companies in question.