Philips Hue Wall Switch Module assessment: smart-ish, at last
You’ve undoubtedly run throughout taped mild switches just like the one pictured above for those who’ve ever hung out in Airbnbs. Hell, perhaps you may have a few of these in your individual good residence. No judgement, we’ve all been there, which is why I simply put in a Philips Hue Wall Switch Module in my very own home.
Many good residence followers can hint their obsession again to the very first Hue lightbulbs launched again in 2012 as an Apple Retailer unique. However Hue bulbs, like all good bulbs, include a couple of catches. First, they require a relentless supply of energy to operate. Meaning you’ll lose management over that fancy Hue bulb hanging above your kitchen desk simply as quickly as somebody flicks off the sunshine swap. To unravel this, many individuals disable the swap mechanism with tape or a dummy wall plate, solely to appreciate that bodily controls are helpful once you or your housemates and visitors can’t be bothered to yell a command or pull out a telephone. In order that they purchase a Hue distant management and tape it to the wall. This comedy of errors is then repeated again and again till they’ve a home filled with mismatched wall switches and legit considerations about life priorities.
There’s a small cottage trade of aftermarket options for this, together with Lutron’s Aurora dimmer that sits on prime of a lightweight swap. However Philips has by no means addressed it immediately, till now. The brand new $39.95 Hue Wall Switch Module solves these points by making most present wall switches Hue-smart.
Notice that I mentioned Hue-smart, not good. That’s as a result of the swap you rewire to the Hue Module can solely management Hue lightbulbs, not common cheap lights like different good switches. However, it caters to followers of each good lights and good switches by providing the advantages of each, as long as they’ll abdomen the associated fee and ecosystem lock-in.
The Wall Switch Module from Signify-owned Philips Hue is a a lot less complicated system than it first seems. Principally, it’s a buttonless Zigbee distant management for Hue lights. You add buttons by wiring the Hue Module to a normal family mild swap. The swap + Hue Module works as a Hue distant management whether or not tucked contained in the wall or not for the reason that Hue Module is powered by a single CR2450 coin battery (included). That lets you make sure that the Hue Module and swap are working correctly along with your Hue setup earlier than connecting every part again to the wall. It additionally signifies that you’ll should should disassemble every part at some level sooner or later to switch the battery, however not for at least 5 years, in accordance with Philips Hue.
I used to be capable of set up a Philips Wall Hue Switch Module behind the present swap in my laundry room in about fifteen minutes. The steps had been fairly easy, however you’ll want sufficient empty house within the wiring field behind the swap to accommodate the 4.3 x 1.0 x 3.8 cm (0.51 x 0.39 x 1.5 inch) Hue Switch Module. You must also be comfy working with family electrical energy — if not then discover somebody who’s or name an electrician.
Set up is easy with the assistance of movies tutorials equipped by Philips Hue. After shutting off the facility at my circuit breaker, I eliminated the swap meeting from the wall. I then disconnected the 2 electrical wires related to my rocker swap and rerouted them right into a tiny Hue-supplied wire connector to shut the circuit and guarantee my lightbulb socket isn’t with out energy. I then plugged a Hue-provided wire-pair into the Hue Module and again to the sunshine swap at the identical places the place the 2 family wires had been eliminated.
The Hue Switch Module is added to the Hue app and Hue Bridge (required) like every Hue mild or accent. After assigning the Module to manage the Hue bulb in my laundry room, all that was left was to tuck the Hue Switch Module into the wall field and remount the swap.
The Hue Module may be assigned to manage a number of Hue lights in a Hue-defined room or zone, or only one Hue bulb in my case. The swap may be set to operate as a easy on/off, or to cycle by way of predefined Hue scenes assigned to at least one, two, or three presses.
Scenes didn’t work too properly on my rocker swap since a “press” is barely registered after each an on / off movement, that means I’d should toggle the swap up, down, up, down, as much as toggle the scene assigned to the third press. And since my laundry room doesn’t require temper lighting anyway I went with the straightforward on / off toggle.
The Philips Hue Wall Switch Module solves the difficulty of somebody flipping the sunshine swap and rendering the good bulb ineffective. Though it does often miss a beat inflicting the swap to reverse orientation. Over the weeks I’ve had it put in, I seen that flipping the swap up turns the sunshine on some days and off on others. Meaning the module didn’t set off the sunshine someplace alongside the best way regardless of it being put in smack in the midst of my comparatively small home which is blanketed in a robust Zigbee sign created by ten different Hue lights and plug-in equipment.
To check the failure price I flipped the swap on and off 100 occasions with a one-second hole in between. The sunshine failed to reply appropriately 5 occasions, translating to a failure price of 5 p.c. It’s not an enormous deal until you’re a stickler in such issues. I for one, consider that when a swap is within the up place the sunshine ought to all the time be on, simply as bathroom paper ought to be unrolled towards the person and bathmats are for drying moist ft. These items aren’t negotiable in my home.
The Hue app can also’t be configured in order that the Wall Switch Module robotically turns off a lightweight after a set time interval. That will be perfect for my laundry room, which is known as a closet that’s solely used a couple of minutes at a time to load and unload laundry. As such, after a couple of weeks I ended up including a movement sensor from Aqara to the room to robotically flip off the sunshine when movement is not detected. (You may also stick with the Hue ecosystem and use a extra succesful $39.99 Hue movement sensor as a substitute.)
- The module has two inputs permitting it to manage two single switches or one unit with a double rocker.
- The module additionally works with push-button switches which have the benefit of creating lights dimmable.
- The module turns the lights on and off easily, not instantly with a flash.
So, now I’ve a $14.99 Hue bulb, $39.95 Hue Wall Switch Module, and $15 movement sensor to switch the 99 cent LED bulb I used to be utilizing beforehand. That’s a complete price of $70 to automate a easy activity and save a little bit of power all as a result of I failed to show my youngsters how one can flip off a $1 mild bulb.
Was it price it?
That relies upon. In the event you’re like me, and you’ll afford to be irrationally enthusiastic about good lighting and really benefit from the hours spent configuring open-source instruments like HomeBridge to run on a Raspberry Pi, then sure, it’s price it. For everybody else it’s a bit sophisticated.
The Philips Hue Wall Switch Module has the facility to unite two opposing camps of residence automators who, unsurprisingly, have severe faith with regards to the primacy of good bulbs vs. good switches.
Good bulb zealots tout the management they’ve over the colour and dimming choices of their lights. Hue bulbs, for instance, are appropriate with Apple’s adaptive lighting function permitting Hue lights to be robotically adjusted for cooler colours in the course of the day and hotter colours at evening. That’s good, however there’s nonetheless that concern with switches killing the facility. Good swap zealots, in the meantime, take pleasure in an infinite collection of cheap ornamental faceplates and swap varieties to select from, together with low cost normal bulbs. However they’re restricted to toggling the facility or dimming the sunshine, not altering its colour or discretely controlling completely different bulbs on the identical circuit.
The Hue Module neatly bridges these two worlds, providing the advantages of each. The downsides are some elevated complexity for good bulb zealots (who usually find yourself shopping for bodily remotes anyway) and elevated price for good swap zealots. It’s a very engaging possibility for anybody that may afford to be closely invested within the Philips Hue ecosystem of high-quality feature-rich units that work throughout each main good residence platform.
The Hue Module will not be for you for those who’re seeking to make common low cost mild bulbs good. For that, there are a plethora of options. I’ve a bunch of Z-Wave switches and dimmers from Duewi put in, for instance, however a number of Zigbee options are additionally out there that sit behind your present switches identical to the Hue Module. Aqara, for instance, makes cheap (and generally exhausting to seek out) in-wall swap modules (with and with out impartial) that make present switches good, however are powered from the mains and work with any normal mild, in contrast to the Hue Module. You possibly can even step issues up with Lutron’s wonderful swap and dimmer replacements for those who can afford them.
In the event you’re already invested in Hue, or wish to be, then the Philips Hue Wall Switch Module does two issues properly. It neatly solves the difficulty of unresponsive bulbs related to wall switches that has lengthy plagued Hue good lights, whereas letting you reap the advantages of each good lights and good switches. The Philips Hue Wall Switch Module is accessible now in Europe for €39.95 / £34.99 and arrives within the US in late June for $39.95.
Images by Thomas Ricker / GadgetClock
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