Expanding our setup

I've now expanded the living room setup by adding Philips Hue bulbs to a tower lamp we have situation near the door.  This now means that all the light fittings in our living room are using Philips Hue bulbs.  Here, I outline the experience of expanding the system, and offer a few insights into our use of Hue so far.

When we started out with Philips Hue, we had three bulbs (see my articles Philips Hue unboxing & Setup Part 1 and Philips Hue unboxing & setup part 2).  These were installed in our ceiling light fitting, a floor standing lamp in the corner, and a table lamp in an adjacent corner.

This left one of our lamps without any smart bulbs; a tower lamp near the door, which uses three SES (E14) candle bulbs.  Over the weekend, my partner and I decided to rectify that, and so we went out and bought three Philips Hue E14 White & Colour Ambience bulbs.

Setup was pretty easy.  Just replace the bulbs, turn the lamp on, and then it's off to the app.  There, just head to settings, light setup, and add new bulbs.  The system then discovers the new bulbs, and gives you the chance to name them, and add them to a room.

One of the primary ways that you use Hue, is usually through the use of 'scenes'.  Rather than manually turning lights on every time you walk into a room, you'll usually use either the app, or a wireless switch (such as the Hue Tap switch), to activate a pre-set scene.

Philips provide a few preconfigured scenes inside the Hue app, and of course you can create your own.  One of the things I noted about the built-in scenes, is that it doesn't matter how many bulbs you've added to a room.  When you activate a scene, the system uses all the bulbs, and automatically sets them to a colour appropriate for the scene.

I didn't expect this to be the case for scenes I'd created myself though - but it is!  This is quite useful, as it makes it very easy to expand the system.  You don't have to then set about editing all the scenes you have; Hue will try to figure out the best way to use your new bulbs in all your existing scenes.

Of course, if you do want to edit a scene, this is easy.  Just activate the scene, then tap the pencil icon to make changes.

This is probably a good juncture to talk more broadly about the convenience and control smart lighting offers.  In our living room, we have four different lights.  Three lamps, and a ceiling light.  Previously, all of these were controlled individually, and required that they be turned on or off independently when you entered or left the room.

With smart lighting, I can now turn on or off all lights with a single button push.  I don't even have to launch the app, the Philips Hue Tap switch lets me do this from the wall. No phone needed.

Smart lighting also offers extra control.  The tower lamp features three bulbs, but previously these were either all on, or all off.  With Hue, I can control each bulb independently.  That might not seem like a big deal, but there are plenty of circumstances where it might actually come in handy.

For example, when watching a movie, you might want to turn down the lights really low, just to provide a background level of light (like you might get in a cinema).  Here, I might not necessarily want all three bulbs on in the tower lamp, perhaps just one.  Previously, I didn't have that level of control.  Now I do.

Ultimately though, whether this level of convenience and control is something that remains useful to us, remains to be seen.  Over time as we live with the system we'll get a better feel for it, and be able to make better judgements on it's usefulness.  I'll be sure to report back on my thoughts further down the road!