Seven Clever Uses for Philips Hue Lights

By Craig Lloyd on October 16th, 2016

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Philips Hue lights are cool, but are you using them to they’re fullest potential? Sure, you can control them from your smartphone and turn them on from anywhere, but there are so many other useful tricks you can take advantage of. Here are a handful of clever uses for your Philips Hue setup.

Cycle Through Colors to Keep Kids on Task

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If you’re constantly having a difficult time getting your kids ready on time in the morning and to bed on time in the evening, a fun way to keep kids on track is to turn Hue bulbs a different color at certain times.

For example, you could turn the lights orange, indicating that it’s time for the kids to get ready for bed. And in the morning, you could turn the lights blue at a certain time, indicating that they have five minutes to make it downstairs and eat breakfast. It’s a fun little game that the kids can enjoy, but it’s also something that helps you out immensely as a parent.

You can simply use the Routines feature in the Philips Hue app to make this possible, so it’s really easy to set up and implement.

Know If It’s Going to Rain

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If you’re about to head out and aren’t sure if you should take an umbrella with you, you can set up a Philips Hue bulb by the front door that tells you.

Through IFTTT, you can have a Hue bulb turn blue if it’s going to rain soon, and turn red or orange if it’s going to be particularly hot out. Of course, you probably don’t want the light on all the time, so you can tack on a motion sensor to only have the bulb turn on when you walk near the front door.

Motion-Activate Dim Lights at Night

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With Hue lights and a motion sensor, you can have your lights turn on very dimly in the middle of the night, so that if you need to get up out of bed to use the restroom, you can actually see where you’re going.

You can set your motion sensor under your bed and only have it active during a certain time range, so that when you do get out of bed and the motion sensor sees your feet, you can have a light dimly turn on. Even better, you can get a couple of Hue Lightstrip Plus kits and tack them around the frame of your bed to create more aesthetically-pleasing lights.

Add Automatic Closet and Pantry Lights

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Many people think to use Hue lights in living rooms and bedrooms, but closets and pantries are usually left out of the fun. But in reality, these are some of the most beneficial places to put smart bulbs.

Sticking a Hue bulb and a motion sensor inside of a closet or pantry is a great way to have the lights automatically turn on and turn off when you access these places, and it can be really convenient considering that you no longer have to fumble for the light switch or pull string ever again.

Quickly See If All Your Doors Are Locked

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If all of your exterior doors are equipped with smart locks, like those offered from Kwikset or Schlage, then you can use them to communicate with a Philips Hue bulb that turns green (or whatever color you want) whenever all of your doors are locked.

This can be done by connecting your smart locks and Philips Hue lights to SmartThings and using the SmartThings app to set up the task using a SmartApp within SmartThings. You can then program it to have the Hue bulb turn on and change to a specific color when all of your smart locks are in the locked position.

Granted, you could just open up the appropriate app and see if all of the proper doors are locked and ready to go, but being able to quickly glance at a light bulb is a much more convenient option.

Turn Lights Red When a Smoke Detector Goes Off

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While you’re more than likely to hear a smoke detector going off, there are a number of reasons why you might not actually be able to hear it. If you have a smoke detector out in the garage that would be hard to hear from your bedroom, for instance, it would be nice to have a secondary signal telling you that it’s going off.

If you have a smart smoke detector like the Nest Protect, you can have it turn your Philips Hue lights red. You can do this using IFTTT, which is a service that can connect a ton of products and services together that you normally wouldn’t be able to connect otherwise.

See If the Mail Came Yet

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I always like to know when the mail has arrived for the day, and a great way to know that is by sticking a sensor inside my mailbox and then having a Hue bulb turn on whenever that sensor goes off.

(Note: There is some gray area as to whether it’s illegal or not to stick anything but mail inside of a mailbox, but if it’s not really getting in the way of the mail carrier, then they likely won’t care.)

You can use a Hue Motion Sensor, or a SmartThings open/close sensor on the mailbox door. From there, you can have a Hue light turn on in your house that tells you whether or not the mail came already today. You could even set it up so that the door opening twice in one day indicates that the mail has already been checked.

Image by Mike Cole/Flickr

Craig Lloyd writes about smarthome for How-To Geek, and is an aspiring handyman who loves tinkering with anything and everything around the house. He's also a mediocre gamer, aviation geek, baseball fan, motorcyclist, and proud introvert.

  • Published 10/16/16
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