These smart light bulbs are one of the best ways to upgrade any home - here's what they're like to use

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  • For a long time, the idea of smart lighting - that is, light bulbs and other fixtures you can control from your phone - seemed silly to me.
  • Once I tried smart bulbs, though, I immediately understood their benefits.
  • After setting up smart bulbs from Philips Hue in my own apartment, I could never go back to a home without smart lights.
  • Smart lights might seem costly, but they're a worthy investment that actually makes home living significantly easier and better.

I'll just come right out and say it: Everyone should have smart lights - light bulbs and other fixtures that you can control from your phone.

Whether you're actually trying to build a "smart home," or you just want to make a simple upgrade to your living space, smart lights are a worthy investment. And having tried the popular smart lights from Philips Hue, I can easily recommend them for just about anyone.

Here's what it's like to set up and use Philips Hue's smart light bulbs.
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Most Philips Hue smart systems require three components: a Philips Hue bulb ...

Most Philips Hue smart systems require three components: a Philips Hue bulb ...

... a Philips Hue Bridge, which hooks directly into your wireless router ...

... a Philips Hue Bridge, which hooks directly into your wireless router ...

... and the Philips Hue app, for either iOS or Android.

... and the Philips Hue app, for either iOS or Android.

If you buy the $35 Hue White starter kit with the included dimmer switch, you actually don't need the Hue Bridge. That kit works right out of the box.

If you buy the $35 Hue White starter kit with the included dimmer switch, you actually don't need the Hue Bridge. That kit works right out of the box.

I went with the Hue White and color ambiance kit, which includes four bulbs and the Hue Bridge. It retails for about $170 — the same price as a pair of Apple AirPods.

I went with the Hue White and color ambiance kit, which includes four bulbs and the Hue Bridge. It retails for about $170 — the same price as a pair of Apple AirPods.

The price is steep, but well worth it for the experience. You can also get more affordable starter kits: The normal Hue White starter kit, which includes four warm white bulbs and a Hue Bridge, costs just $99.

The price is steep, but well worth it for the experience. You can also get more affordable starter kits: The normal Hue White starter kit, which includes four warm white bulbs and a Hue Bridge, costs just $99.

Philips Hue smart lights have a ton of benefits: You can control them with your voice, phone or computer, and easily create the right mood by choosing from pre-built "scenes."

Philips Hue smart lights have a ton of benefits: You can control them with your voice, phone or computer, and easily create the right mood by choosing from pre-built "scenes."

You can also create your own scenes. Just set the light to the right hue (hence the name) and brightness, give it a name, and you're all set! You can now ask for that scene with your voice, or your phone, and your lights will change automatically.

You can also create your own scenes. Just set the light to the right hue (hence the name) and brightness, give it a name, and you're all set! You can now ask for that scene with your voice, or your phone, and your lights will change automatically.

Thanks to the Hue app, you can control your lights even if you're not physically at home.

Thanks to the Hue app, you can control your lights even if you're not physically at home.

You can also schedule your lights to turn on and off on their own, depending on the day and time.

You can also schedule your lights to turn on and off on their own, depending on the day and time.

You can also have your Philips Hue lights turn on or off when you arrive or leave the house, thanks to a nice geofencing feature that uses your phone's GPS.

You can also have your Philips Hue lights turn on or off when you arrive or leave the house, thanks to a nice geofencing feature that uses your phone's GPS.

If you really want to get fancy, you can have your Philips Hue lights sync with your music, movies, or games — to match the mood, or heighten the action.

If you really want to get fancy, you can have your Philips Hue lights sync with your music, movies, or games — to match the mood, or heighten the action.

To set up your Philips Hue starter kit, just screw one of the bulbs into any normal-sized light socket.

To set up your Philips Hue starter kit, just screw one of the bulbs into any normal-sized light socket.

Once the bulb is screwed in, turn on the light.

Once the bulb is screwed in, turn on the light.

Grab your Philips Hue Bridge, plug it into power, and turn it on.

Grab your Philips Hue Bridge, plug it into power, and turn it on.

Now attach the Hue Bridge to your wireless router using an Ethernet cable.

Now attach the Hue Bridge to your wireless router using an Ethernet cable.

If you see three blue lights on the top of your Hue Bridge, you're good to go.

If you see three blue lights on the top of your Hue Bridge, you're good to go.

If you haven't done it already, download the Philips Hue app.

If you haven't done it already, download the Philips Hue app.

When you open the app, it should immediately recognize your Hue Bridge. Just press the big button on the bridge and you'll be all set.

When you open the app, it should immediately recognize your Hue Bridge. Just press the big button on the bridge and you'll be all set.

To add your Hue lights to your app, visit Settings, click Light setup, and then Add lights. The app should automatically detect your bulbs as long as they're plugged into a socket and powered on.

To add your Hue lights to your app, visit Settings, click Light setup, and then Add lights. The app should automatically detect your bulbs as long as they're plugged into a socket and powered on.

From there, you can change the names of the lights, or group your lights into rooms and name those, too.

From there, you can change the names of the lights, or group your lights into rooms and name those, too.

I went one step further by connecting my Philips Hue smart lights to my Amazon Echo, since I have one — and if you have a voice assistant in your home, I highly recommend adding Philips Hue support.

I went one step further by connecting my Philips Hue smart lights to my Amazon Echo, since I have one — and if you have a voice assistant in your home, I highly recommend adding Philips Hue support.

It was really simple: I went into the Alexa app, clicked Devices, and pressed Add Device. It was easy to add all of my Philips Hue lights at once, and now, I can use Alexa to turn my lights on or off, or ask it to display colors or pre-made "scenes."

It was really simple: I went into the Alexa app, clicked Devices, and pressed Add Device. It was easy to add all of my Philips Hue lights at once, and now, I can use Alexa to turn my lights on or off, or ask it to display colors or pre-made "scenes."

If you connect your Philips Hue lights to Apple's Home app for iPhone, you can also control your lights with Siri, or through the Control Center.

If you connect your Philips Hue lights to Apple's Home app for iPhone, you can also control your lights with Siri, or through the Control Center.

Making my own Philips Hue scenes is really fun — and with the Alexa app, I can make fun routines for them. For instance, when I say, "Alexa, I'm Blue," it will turn my living room lights blue and play "Blue" by Eiffel 65.

Making my own Philips Hue scenes is really fun — and with the Alexa app, I can make fun routines for them. For instance, when I say, "Alexa, I'm Blue," it will turn my living room lights blue and play "Blue" by Eiffel 65.

Another routine I made: When I say "Alexa, it's dinner time," the Echo will automatically turn my lights white and to 50% brightness, and turn off whatever music is playing.

Another routine I made: When I say "Alexa, it's dinner time," the Echo will automatically turn my lights white and to 50% brightness, and turn off whatever music is playing.

Overall, Philips Hue light bulbs make home living easier and more enjoyable.

Overall, Philips Hue light bulbs make home living easier and more enjoyable.

Philips Hue light bulbs are extremely convenient, and great for any size home.

Since it has voice control, you'll never need to fumble for a light switch ever again. And with options to dim, brighten, and change colors, I can create ideal lighting scenarios for almost any situation: Whether it's a quiet morning, or I need to focus, or I want to watch a movie, it couldn't be easier to control Philips Hue lights to fit my needs in that moment.

Philips Hue's smart lights are great for technology beginners, since they're easy to set up and use right out of the box, but they're also great for people who are really into tech. With the ability to make your own scenes in the Hue app, and/or your own routines for your smart assistant, the Philips Hue experience has a surprising amount of depth to it. But it's all about what you ultimately want: If you just want simple white lights that support voice control, or you want the whole shebang with dozens of lights that can display 16 million colors, Philips' system can support almost any lighting desire, big or small.

The price is the biggest hurdle to overcome. But if you recognize the importance of having good lights in your home, the convenience of never needing to manually operate a light switch ever again, and how fun it can be to program your own lighting scenes, then Philips Hue's smart lights are for you.

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