Philips Launches Cheaper Hue Smart Light Bulb Kit

The Philips Hue product line is great, but it’s also very expensive with some starter kits costing $200. If you really want to be able to control multiple light bulbs at a time, Philips has something new for you — a $40 wireless dimming kit. In order to bring the price down, Philips had to remove a bunch of features, starting with the ability to control your lights from your phone.

Here’s how it works: The new dimming kit comes with one light bulb and a new wireless switch. This switch couldn’t be simpler. It has two big on and off buttons, and two buttons to adjust the brightness of your lightbulbs. It comes with a battery, and you can just stick to your wall without having to wire it or replace your existing switch. It’s a great way to try smart light bulbs if you are just renting your apartment.

But this switch only makes sense if you use it with multiple lights, letting you control all the lights in your room from one switch. So you’ll actually have to spend $20 for each extra Hue Lux light bulb.

Finally, the new wireless switch doesn’t come with the Hue bridge, meaning that you can use it without having to plug a tiny bridge to your router. But there are a few downsides. It means that the switch only communicates with your lights — it doesn’t connect to your Wi-Fi network. You won’t be able to control your lights from your phone or computer. You can also forget about IFTTT integration.

And this switch won’t let you control the color of your lights as there isn’t any dedicated button to change the color — it is made for the less expensive Lux light bulbs. The only thing you can control is how bright they are, which, to be fair, is probably my main use case for my Hue installation.

What if you want to go to the next level? The company says that you will be able to connect the switch with a Hue bridge. And it will turn your existing Hue lights into full-fledged Hue lights with smartphone control, IFTTT compatibility and more.

The dimming kit competes with less expensive GE Link and Belkin WeMo ecosystems. But the company probably wants you to start with this inexpensive kit before buying a bridge and switching to a more powerful setup.