Philips Hue 2021 – seeing the light (review and overview)



Philip Hue is a long-established, preeminent designer and manufacturer of smart lights who set the standard for smart lighting. The Philips Hue 2021 range builds on its amazing legacy.

Gadget Guy has been treating Philips Hue since 2013 when the term smart home was an impossible dream due to a lack of or competing standards like Wi-Fi, BT, Zigbee, Z-Wave and more. In fact, Philips decided to develop a bridge to control the lights and eventually link them to new standards like Google Assistant and Siri.

Now it is part of the new “Matter” IoT movement. The entire Philips Hue 2021 range of smart lights, bridges and accessories will receive OTA firmware updates (by Q4 2021). This means that any standard Matter smart home controller can control and communicate with the wide range of Smart Matter-compatible home devices. For example, an ambient light sensor could change the light / hue levels to match the outside light.

We have some new equipment to test out – more later – but I wanted to start with the range so you can see how it all fits together.

Philips Hue system

It starts with Hue enabled lights (in BC and ES) connected to a Hue bridge (ethernet connected Zigbee controller) that is connected to the Hue app.

You leave the light switch and the lightbulbs turn on / off at the light socket. So if the internet goes down, you can still use them as default lighting. The app enables different color selections and patterns (with a color bulb) and connects to voice assistants.

Starter kits

That includes Bridge V2 ($ 99.95) and some lights. Once you have a bridge, you can support up to 50 lights and accessories (dimmers and sensors). In reality it can be more supportive, but you can overwhelm the bridge. If you take Hue, especially on ceiling downlights, it’s easy to get over 50 lights!

You can now add a second (or more) Hue bridge, but you’ll need to invest in a Smart Hub controller like Samsung SmartThings or Apple HomeKit to manage the multiple bridges.

Interestingly, each Hue light bulb acts as a bridge repeater (mesh), so you’re not limited to the 20/30 m WiFi or Bluetooth range. We have successfully operated lightbulbs in a line of sight from 60m mesh to one at 120 and then 180m. Indoors, the maximum range through walls is about 25-30 m, but mesh (as opposed to Wi-Fi) can extend this. As with Wi-Fi, make sure the hub is in the middle of your lights and not stuck in a garage.

light bulbs

  • White light (replacement for lightbulbs) bayonet lock and Edison screw
  • Colored (16.7 m) and white lightbulbs – ditto
  • GU10 lamps (not the standard GU 5.3 2-pin downlight)
  • Recessed downlights
  • Special E14 and light bulbs
  • LED colored light strips 1, 2 and 5 meters indoor or outdoor
  • Accessories – dimmers, motion detectors, smart plugs, replacement cables


  • Table (Play Light Bar and Go portable)
  • Spotlights – outdoor
  • Wall lights – outdoor
  • Base – outdoor
  • Light strips – outdoor or indoor
  • Pendant lights – indoor

All lamps use low voltage and lightbulbs have a built-in transformer so they are generally interchangeable. They consume a few watts – not the 60/100/250 W energy guzzlers they replace. Most lights have at least 25,000 hours of use.

Before you choke on the cost, remember that these have a lifespan of at least 25,000 hours – at least 10-20 years with typical usage. They consume around 5-9 W which means almost nothing is running (like 0.001 cents per hour). If you swap out 50x60W lightbulbs, it still costs less than 5 cents an hour versus almost 70 cents. The energy savings in a typical home alone could be hundreds of dollars a year.

Philips Hue 2021 range

* Buy real

Counterfeiting and counterfeiting are not a big issue, but there is a thriving parallel import business in the gray market. These lights are not certified for Australia, may not have the RCM C-Tick Mark on the device or packaging, and are not covered by the Signify Australia Warranty. You can find these on retailer sites at Kogan, Amazon, eBay, and Alibaba, etc.

Beware of so-called cardboard damage (a dead promotional gift is shrunk), as these are usually used or reconditioned parts. There are also many generic Philips Hue cables, bridges, and transformers that claim to be Philips Hue compatible but in reality only work over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth through a voice assistant.

Philips Hue 2021 series – starter kit

  • Download the Philips Hue app for Android or iOS
  • Plug the bridge into the Ethernet cable and the 5V / 1A / 5W connector package
  • Place the lightbulbs in a lamp holder and turn them on
  • The app found the bridge and you can now add lights
  • The app searches for and displays a list of the lamps to be added
  • You can name them, for example, switch on the kitchen on the left or add them to a room, switch on the kitchen.
  • Once added to the app, you can connect to a voice assistant.

The app has several scenes and a continuously adjustable color wheel that cleverly shows the color selection of other connected lights. If you use a voice assistant, it will access the last app setting or you can ask them to change the colors to one of the many default presets or change the percentage brightness.

BC or ES lamps are usually

  • 16 million colors (or white)
  • 2000-6500K adjustable – warm white is 2700-3000K; Cold white is 3300-5300K and daylight is 5300-6500K. Blue light (> 6000K) can disrupt the circadian rhythm, so these are best not used in bedrooms.
  • 9W (maximum brightness), which corresponds to 60W incandescent or halogen lamps

That’s all, easy.

You can play with automation including what to do when you wake up, bedtime, coming home, leaving home, timers, and custom settings. You can also connect to IFTTT (if so that) to set up nested commands such as:

Or you can get an HDMI sync box to respond to TV soundtracks, Spotify or PC / Mac.

Outdoor spotlight Lily XL $ 2139.95

The Lily is a spotlight, although its light output of 15W is nowhere near that of an older Para floodlight. It’s closer to a 90W incandescent lamp, but that’s perfectly fine for its purpose – to illuminate a larger area like a path or a small back yard.

The setup also requires some planning. It’s low voltage (24V / 15W) and requires a weatherproof extension cord and a Philips low voltage power supply nearby.

Fortunately, it gets easier now that Philips brought out the 100W power adapter – more on that later. However, you need to plan cable runs as they can be wall-mounted or mounted on the garden spike.

It’s IP65, which means it’s dust and weatherproof – no problem with rain and beautifully wrapped in aluminum.

It comes with a hood and a garden spike. The expansion pack contains a 2.5 m cable and a T-junction, but you still need a power supply unit.

If the Lily XL is too big, Philips offers a standard Lily size and a range of skirting, wall and light strips.

Outdoor 100W power adapter $ 99.95

When I bought my first outdoor lights there was only a 40W supply. Now the 100W has two cable connections, each of which can be up to 30 meters long and supports 50W per cable. The Lily XL has 15 W, the 5 m long light strip for outdoor use 37.5 W (it has many small LEDs) and the base has 8 W, so I can operate it with a power supply unit. It is IP67 certified – also waterproof.

With a little planning, you can use 12 x 8 W pedestal lights that are 30 meters long (12 x 2.5 m extension cords $ 29.95 each from the same power supply.

Dimmer switch $ 39.95

A physical dimmer may seem inconvenient if you have voice control, but there are times when you need one.

First, it is connected to the bridge and you can either turn one or a group or all lights connected to the bridge on / off / dim (mutually exclusive). It can be handy for indoor use in a stairwell, entrance foyer, garage, or where you don’t have voice assistant control.

Philips recently made some of its lights controllable via the app via Bluetooth (not connected to a bridge). The dimmer can control up to 10 of these in a single group.

It runs on a CR2450 battery that should last for years. It can be magnetically attached to the wall plate or hand-held.

GadgetGuys recording

As you can imagine, I have a smart home full of IoT (Internet of Things), smart devices, speakers, security cameras / systems, and OK Google integration – almost 80 different devices.

Cheap, generic lamps are usually connected to a Chinese app / cloud via Wi-Fi and invariably fall over at least once a week.

Everything is fine until we have an internet or power outage. Then, as my wife likes to say: “We’re screwed”, albeit more politely. Because we are – nothing works.

When the internet or power is restored, the only thing we can rely on is two things to be up and running – Arlo security and Philips Hue. Both have the same property – they use a hub. There are no whims of Wi-Fi connections or dropouts – they work around the clock.

That is not to be taken from Wi-Fi IoT. Why? Because first and foremost, their operation is defined by the Wi-Fi quality, and most have these cheap, nasty AC1600 routers or very unreliable cheap mesh routers from their NBN supplier. Get a good, reliable router (at least AC5400 or preferably AX11000) that has decent signal strength / bandwidth and range, and your WiFi will never be an issue again.

Philips Hue 2021 range – a colorful solution.

The Philips Hue 2021 range includes some bluetooth compatible light bulbs (no bridge required) and a range of new power accessories. The review rating refers to the range in general.


The price is what you pay for – value is what you get

The most reliable intelligent lighting solution – miles ahead of WiFi lamps


Yes it’s expensive but you get what you pay for?


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