Smart lights are probably one of the first items on your smart home checklist. Not only are they a satisfyingly showy part of your home, allowing you to play with colors and levels at the drop of a voice command, they’re also a great way to save money on your electricity bill and give the environment a break.
If you’ve done any research, you’re likely already aware of Lifx and Philips Hue, or rather the Lifx vs. Hue rivalry that dominates the conversation. These are the titans of smart lighting at the moment.
There are other options, of course. Don’t hesitate to have a look at those if you want to get a really good sense of what’s available. Regardless, you’ll quickly realize that Lifx and Philips Hue are the top dogs. That’s why we’ve chosen to focu on those here, for those of you looking for a good old-fashioned comparison of the leading brands.
So have a look at our Lifx vs. Hue breakdown and decide for yourself.
Smart bulbs are often the most popular part of this process, as their installation is just as easy as installing a regular bulb. Then getting them to act “smart” is a breeze. These can be screwed into any standard socket.
Over on the Philips Hue side, prices start as low as $14.99. The cost increases as you add features like improved brightness, color changing capabilities, alternate designs, and more.
Lifx bulbs run a little steeper, but they’re the main part of the Linx ecosystem (we’ll get into controls and bridges below). They start at $24.99 for the Lifx Mini bulbs, but they range all the way up to $79.99.
You’ll get more options from Hue, but keep in mind that Lifx can go up to 1,000 lumens in brightness, while Hue tops out at 800 lumens
Both Lifx and Hue come with apps to control your lighting set-up. These will let you control color temperature as well as program preferences and group your bulbs into different rooms or sections of your home.
The apps aren’t identical. Lifx includes “Effects,” which is pretty much what it sounds like. Use the Lifx app to create music visualizations (seriously!), or have your lights mimic a fire.
Philips Hue has its own bag of tricks too. Philips Hue Sync allows you to make your lights react “intuitively” to your music and other media, dimming to match up with movies and TV, for example.
They’re both all set to work with Google Assistant, Alexa, and Apple HomeKit.
Now, one major advantage of Lifx is that you don’t need much to control your lights right out of the box. Each unit is Wi-Fi-connected, needing nothing but the app and electricity to be quickly set up. This is now a more common feature, but in its time, it made all the difference for Lifx.
Skipping the hub isn’t always a good thing, though. Setting up moods and themes will take more time and effort, as will adding each bulb to Apple Homekit, as you have to treat each bulb individually.
Because they act on their own, these bulbs are also not aided by any other systems like Zigbee or Z Wave. You will be out of luck if that light bulb just so happens to be in a Wi-Fi dead spot.
In contrast, the Philips Hue Bridge is the brains of your Philips smart light ecosystem. It can link up to 50 lights in your home, letting them know what to do, when to do it, and how to do it.
Do you need a Philips Hue Bridge? Yes. Or at least kind of. Philips Hue lights can be used without a Philips Hue Bridge, with a dimmer switch or the new Amazon Echo Plus (which acts as a bridge of its own). You will get some great functionality with those, but the full experience can only be unlocked with a Philips Hue Bridge. If you’re going to spend the money, you’ll want to take full advantage of what they can do.
While you can use the Philips Hue app, Zigbee bridges, virtual assistants, and more, Philips also sells physical controllers to make your experience more seamless. These include the Hue Motion Sensor, Hue Dimmer Switch, and Hue Tap Switch.
Lifx does have one starter kit with 2 meters of Z strip lights and a Home Kit, but that’s about it. What Lifx does have is special pricing for buying in bulk, which could be more convenient for some of you.
Most Lifx products come with significant discounts when purchased in packs of four. For example, the A19 LED Light currently goes for $53.99 for a single unit. Get a 4 pack and you can get the whole set for $195.96. This effectively brings the price of each unit down to $48.99.
Philips sells starter kits for those of you who want to get that smart home project started without much struggle. These come with some lights and a way to control them, whether that be a Philips Hue Bridge or a Dimmer Switch.
So, who wins the Lifx vs. Hue showdown? As with most product battles, there’s no simple answer here, as it will depend on your priorities.
The bridge is the big difference here.
The quality of these two smart lighting systems is tough to rank. They really are neck and neck. But if you don’t want the fuss of installing your system one bulb at a time, then Philips Hue is your clear winner.
If you’re okay with that and don’t want a hub (and you want to save some cash), the Lifx is your obvious choice. If you prefer the convenience of a hub, Philips Hue won’t disappoint.
Have you had any luck with either Lifx or Philips Hue? Let us know in the comments if you have any tips for getting the most of your smart lights
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