Smart bulbs, including Philips Hue bulbs, can be a great addition to a smart home. They are useful for doing things like turning on a light when you get home without having to use a switch. The first part of getting things setup and working the way you want is always the tricky part though.
Do Philips Hue Bulbs Work with Normal Switches? Philips recommends that your light switches stay on so that the Hue Bulbs stay connected. However, you can use the light switch like a normal light, and still use the app to dim/control the bulb as long as the switch is on.
Okay, so you can use a normal on/off switch with the Philips Hue, but you loose the smart functions when the switch is turned off. What else happens when you use a normal switch? Let’s take a closer look.
Using the Philips Hue Bulb with a Normal Switch
What is a normal switch?
Let’s first make sure were on the same page here.
When I say normal switch, I’m talking about your ordinary, old-fashioned on-off light switch. The wall-mounted kind.
They’re usually mounted in a switch box and recessed into the wall with a face plate to cover the rest of the hole in the wall.
For the electrician, or technically inclined, I’m talking about a Single Pole, Single Throw switch.
What does Philips recommend?
Make sure that your light switches stay on to keep the connection with your Philips Hue lights. You can also place the Dimmer Switch next to or over your existing switch, so that you never turn the power off.Philips Website
In other words, Philips is saying to always keep power going to the bulb so that it can maintain its smart features.
Hopefully this is stating the obvious, but when someone turns off the light switch that a Hue bulb is connected to: the lights lose all of their smarts and connectivity. They literally have no power.
Will Using a Normal Wall Switch Damage Hue Bulbs?
The Philips Hue is basically an RGB led light with some additional circuitry and a Wi-Fi chip to make it “Smart”.
Cutting the power at the switch is most likely not going to cause damage to anything.
Think about it a little. They have to be designed to handle power outages, and in my area that happens during storm season fairly frequently.
Customers wouldn’t be too happy if they had to go out and get new Hue bulbs after a few power cycles.
In my opinion, you should be just find using a normal wall switch to turn on and off your Philips Hue Bulbs.
As long as you aren’t just sitting there flipping the switch on and off, your Hue Bulb should be fine. A normal switch should not shorten the life span or cause any damage.
What Does the Philips Bulbs do When Power Is Restored?
The behavior of each Philips Hue bulbs after power is restored to bulb can be controlled through the Philips Hue App on your smart phone.
The section of the app you are looking for is called “Power-on behavior”.
You can go into each Hue bulb and choose from the following options
- a default light (warm white at 100% brightness) or ;
- a power loss recovery mode that will return the bulb to the last used color and brightness following a loss of power.
With the power loss recovery mode setting, if your bulbs were off while you were sleeping during a power outage, they’ll revert to that off state when the power returns
That means you won’t be woken-up while you are sleeping with lights on at full brightness
I’ve had that experience in the past where the power would flicker during a storm, and the one smart bulb I had in my room would come on. Thankfully they updated the firmware so that I could fix that problem.
In summary, Philips Hue bulbs can be set to either go to default/full brightness or the last used brightness after a power outage.
Alternatives to a Normal Switch for the Philips Hue
Hue Dimmer Switch
Probably the most common switch for Hue users is the one designed for the Hue system; the Philips Hue Dimmer Switch.
The Hue switch is a handheld remote, that has a wall plate attachment that can attach to your wall, although it is not designed to replace the physical normal light switch. It just sticks onto the wall.
The Hue switch can control up to 10 lights. Simultaneously, not individually one at a time. It’s designed that way so you can turn on/off or dim all the lights in a single room with one controller.
It also has the option to run through multiple light settings or different scenes when the on button is pressed multiple times.
Hue Smart Button
The Hue smart button is very similar to the Hue dimmer switch, only its a single button, instead of 4 buttons on a remote. Also, it’s round instead of rectangular.
That is really it. It’s basically like having your normal light switch.
If you don’t want to find your smartphone or make noise by talking to Alexa, just press the Hue Smart Button.
It’s about the size of a quarter, and also comes with a wall mount.
I see two benefits of the Hue smart button over a normal switch.
- The Hue Smart button is portable.
- The Hue Smart bulbs retain their power, which means they retain their smart functions.
Hue Motion Sensor
Alternatively, or in addition to the Hue switch, is the Hue Sensor. The Hue sensor could turn the lights on automatically as soon as you walk into a room and then turn them off a few minutes after you have left the room.
The Hue sensor has a light sensor built into it as well. It uses this information to control the brightness of the lights after motion has been detected.
For example, it will use full brightness during the day, but at night will low, warm light setting.
Hue Tap Switch
The Hue Tap again is similar to the Hue smart dimmer. It has three buttons instead of the four that the dimmer has.
Physically, it looks more or less like a hockey puck. A wall mounting plate is also included.
Each of the three buttons can be programmed to bring your Hue lights to a certain scene, or to turn them on and off.
The coolest part about the Hue Tap is that it doesn’t require batteries. It’s powered just by the energy created by pressing the buttons.
Friends of Hue
There is also a third-party option that makes switches compatible with Philips Hue.
It’s not completely obvious on the website, since they are linked to through the Philips website, but once you click on some of the links and it takes you to a page not written in English, it becomes obvious.
To me it seemed a little sketchy at first, but these are companies vetted by Philips. Hopefully they’ve done a decent job.
When you see the Friends of Hue logo, it means the product is tested, certified and works seamlessly with Philips Hue.Philips Website
There are a lot of different looks and options. Some of the switches don’t even require a battery.
Also, if you check out the UK version of the page, there are even more options.
Philips uses the ZigBee Light Link standard, so switches from anywhere in the world should be compatible.
Do Philips Hue Bulbs Work with Dimmer Switches?
Philips Hue Bulbs are not designed to work with standard dimmer switches. They are capable of working with certain smart dimmers, such as the Philips Hue Smart Switch. Using a standard dimmer will cause unexpected behavior and possibly cause damage to the bulb.
What Bulbs Are Compatible with Philips Hue
The Philips Hue bridge uses the Zigbee Light Link standard, which makes it compatible with all light bulbs and devices that follow that protocol. Philips Hue Bridge 2.0 is compatible with ZigBee 3.0.