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Hue bulbs in preset scene Deep Sea.

Philips Hue Lighting System – Page 2:  Unboxing and setup, using the App, working with Preset Scenes and Recipes, Custom Scenes, Timers… And: Pros and Cons

Getting Started with Philips Hue

When I opened the box (mine came from Amazon, so this is how the packaging appears from them), everything was there and organized clearly—no second guessing where things were or even what they were. Honestly, no instructions required, as the whole setup is very intuitive.

The Philips Hue light bulbs feel normal in your hands—perhaps a little heavier, but not by much. I screwed each bulb into one of the 3 adjustable branches on my standing lamp. Then, I popped out the Bridge, which came with an Ethernet cable and power cord. Then I used the Ethernet cable to connect the Bridge directly into my WiFi router, and plugged the power cable into both the Bridge and the wall outlet. Wa-la! Ready to go (at least the hardware is, anyway!)

Using Your Mobile Device for Control

The next step is to download and install the Philips Hue app from the Apple App store, or through an Android app site for your respective device.

Once you download the app, make sure your mobile device is connected to your WiFi. (You just plugged your Bridge into your router, so they’re already talking). You’ll be prompted to complete a brief tutorial, which I recommend just so you understand the full capabilities of your bulbs. First you’ll select which bulb you have (Hue or Hue Lux), and then it will walk you through the basics.

The app will prompt you to activate the Bridge to start the communication between your mobile device and the light bulbs. All you have to do, when it asks you to, is hold down the button on the top of the Bridge, and it’ll confirm that you’ve successfully paired them!


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Adjusting Your Lights

The tutorial spells out the major uses of your Hue:

  • Pre-existing Light Recipes: These are designed for concentration, relaxation, reading, and energizing, which are all various shades of white with yellow or blue undertones.
  • Pre-existing Scenes: They give you approximately a dozen color combinations that are individually named and which draw their color inspiration from stock photos loaded into the app (“Taj” is blue-ish white like the Taj Mahal, “Pencils” for bright colors based off colored pencils)
  • Custom Scenes: You can either manually select your colors (each individually) or by upload a photo that the Philips Hue app can draw inspiration from.
  • Alarm feature: You can set alarms to light up your home remotely and set timers for when your lights should turn on and off… I personally love setting my lights to turn on at the same moment my alarm clock goes off—perfect motivator to not hit snooze!

The Colors of the Philips Hue

I had read online prior to use that the blue/greens really suffer with the Philips Hue bulb, and unfortunately, they were right. My bedroom décor color scheme is purple and turquoise, so I wanted to set my Hue lights to display those colors. However, while blues/greens/teals/turquoises appear to be options on the RGB color spectrum on the app (along with 6 million other colors), the bulbs appear incapable of producing actual teal/turquoise. When aiming for a lighter turquoise, they usually default to white when you try to use them. If you go for a darker teal, it ends up a blue-ish grey. So instead of having turquoise to go with my lavender, I have to settle for a baby blue, a deeper royal blue, or a too-green green. Bummer.

Generally, the rest of the colors seem to work just swell!


The Brightness of the Philips Hue

The Philips Hue bulbs allow you to adjust the brightness right from your phone using a slider—great for customizing light for late at night/early in the morning, or for when you just want soft mood lighting instead of lots of vibrant conviction.

Now, my room is small—it’s about 9.5 x 10 ft. My 3 Hue bulbs were just about bright enough to fill the room at their brightest. However, the further walls (naturally) were less brightly lit/vibrantly colored than those near my lamp… So if you have a larger room, keep this in mind. The Hue’s aren’t any brighter than your typical light bulb… You may want a few more Hue bulbs.

Thankfully, I also have the option to supplement my Philips Hue bulbs with my overhead light if I want FULL brightness—often, since I think of my Hue bulbs as accent lights instead of my primary light source.

Color also affects the brightness of the bulbs. Some colors, naturally, are dimmer than others (think red, deep blue, etc.) I’m very pleased with the dimming abilities of these bulbs. I was worried I’d have them on their dimmest setting and still think they were too bright—not the case. They’re just right.

Scenes and Light Recipes - What I've Tried, What I like

Here are a few of my favorite pre-existing scenes/recipes. See the photos for what they look like in action.

  • Energize – I love this one for getting ready in the morning, it really does make me feel more awake!
  • Reading, Energize, Concentrate, Relax – all essentially variations of white, but I like the variety of cool/warm tones at my disposal
  • Deep sea – the mix of blues and reds/oranges is calming and very pretty
  • Sunset – self-explanatory, really lovely

Some scenes/recipes I found underwhelming:

  • Ski, Taj – basically white, the undertones were uninteresting

And a few of my favorites I’ve created:

  • Red, white, and blue – a hit for the 4th of July weekend!
  • Super dark blue/purple – great for falling asleep, especially on lowest brightness


Overall, I’m so thrilled that I received the Philips Hue personal wireless lighting as a gift and that I have them to jazz up my home. They’re convenient, practical, and helpful (just ask me how much I love not having to get out of bed to turn off the light before going to sleep!) and they give me the opportunity to be creative with my space while being easy on the eyes.  They really help my temporary renter’s apartment feel like home.

So without further ado:


  • Huge color selection
  • Comes with Pre-existing Scenes and “Light Recipes”
  • Compatible with a variety of devices
  • 2 year warranty
  • Extremely long lifetime for light bulbs
  • Quick response time – about a second from when I hit a button on the Hue app to when the bulbs change
  • Software upgradeable—prepared for advancing technology
  • Bridge supports up to 50 Hue and family lights (you’ll need a second Bridge to be controlled separately if you want to use more than 50 bulbs)
  • Can completely change the way you light/decorate your room
  • Very cool toy
  • Low power consumption (check, I think they draw a maximum of 8, or 10 watts, uses a lot less when doing colors


  • Weak on blues/greens
  • Could be brighter—no brighter than a normal bulb
  • You need to have really solid WiFi in your home if you are going to rely on these—strong, consistent, and usable in a wide area if you want to be able to change your lights from another room or floor
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