Hue Wireless Dimming Kit Review

posted in: Hue, Reviews | 0

20160906_143654The Good: The Hue Wireless Dimming Kit works out of the box, even if you don’t own a Hue bridge.  The remote is detachable from the wall mounting plate so it can be moved around the room.  The wall mounting plate can be mounted with the included magnets or sticky pads, or you can screw it to the wall (screws not included).  The dimmer can control up to 10 Hue White lights at a time, and multiple dimmers can be used with one or more lights.  The bulb is a standard Hue White bulb, and can be paired to a Hue bridge for additional control.

The Bad: This cannot be automated without the Hue bridge.  Standalone it operates like any other light.  The remote is detachable from the  wall mounting plate so it can be lost anywhere in the house.  The remote operates on a button battery, so one day it just wont work and you’ll spend half a day cursing as you drive from store to store looking for the right battery.

Overall: The Hue Wireless Dimming Kit is a fantastic entry point to the smart home world.  It is relatively inexpensive at around $30 on Amazon, and I have seen it dip as low as $26 numerous times this year.  Additional Hue White bulbs cost around $15, making this one of the easier ways to add smarter features to your house.  Add a Hue bridge to the mix (I recommend the $69 Hue White Starter Kit) and you’ve got yourself the beginnings of a smart home for around $100.


My wife and I are building out a nursery for our soon to be first born and I am in charge of the technology for the room.  We already have a fan with an overhead light, but at bedtime and during those wonderful late night feedings I didn’t want a blaring overhead light on all the time.  My wife had found a lamp that she fell in love with, but none of the outlets in the room are controlled by switches and the lamp doesn’t have a built in dimming feature.

I found the Hue Wireless Dimming Kit on Amazon and thought it would be perfect for our nursery.  The detachable remote is great because we can grab the remote on the way to get the baby and dim the lights as we settle into the rocker.  Since I already have a Hue bridge, I can pair the new bulb with the bridge to add it to my existing smart home setup.  This will give me the ability to control the Hue White bulb with my phone via the Hue app, add it to any routines if I need to, or control the bulb with Alexa.

Enough about me, though, on to the specifics.

The Light Bulb

The Hue White LED bulb included with the kit is a 60W replacement, using 9.5W.  9.5W is a little high for an LED bulb, but certainly not the worst I’ve seen.  The bulb also uses .5W in standby (off) mode, so if you’re crazy about electrical vampires around the house you might want to keep this in mind.  The brightness is rated at 800 lumens and the color is warm white.  Unlike the multi-color Hue bulbs, Hue White bulbs do not have adjustable colors, so you just get the one soft white (2700K) color.  The bulb is expected to cost about $1.14/year based on 3 hours of usage a day.

The light is quick to come on.  When I tested the bulb it powered up the instant I hit the on button on the remote.  That is to say, there is no half second delay like some LED bulbs have.  It also remembers the brightness setting after it is turned off, so when it is powered back up it will be where you left it.  I like that it ramps up and down when you turn the bulb on or off.  So it doesn’t come on a full brightness, but instead starts a little dim and comes up to full brightness, then does the reverse when powered off.  This is especially good when you come into a dark room so that it doesn’t feel like you’ve been punched in the eyes with light.

The Remote

When I ordered this I didn’t pay close attention to the description and I was pleasantly surprised to find what I mistook to be a wall mounted switch was actually a detachable remote.  This is both good and bad.  It’s great to have the versatility of a remote control, but it is small enough to get lost virtually anywhere in a living room or bedroom.  It’s also easy for kids to get a hold of, so I expect to find it in the toilet in about three years.

The wall plate has two magnets in it, which double as the method of holding the remote on the base, and a mounting option if you have a magnetic surface where you want to mount the remote.  The magnets are strong enough to hold up the base and remote, but not so strong that you’d pull the whole assembly down when you grab the remote.  There are also sticky pads pre-attached that you can use to stick the remote to most surfaces.  If you prefer a sturdier solution, you can pop the back plate off of the wall mount with a screwdriver and screw the plate to the wall.  I’m going to see how the sticky pads hold up over time before putting more holes in the wall.

The remote also has a light hidden in the upper left corner.  You can’t see it unless a button is pressed.  If you press a button and everything is working, you’ll see a brief green light flash.  If there is a problem, a red light will flash for a longer period.  In my case I forgot to turn on the lamp, which caused me to get the error light.  I have to assume that the red light will flash when the battery is dying, although I don’t see it documented anywhere.

Setup

Option 1 – Out of the Box:  Setting up the Hue Wireless Dimming Kit out of the box couldn’t be simpler.  The remote is already paired with the bulb, so it’s plug and play.  After screwing the bulb into a lamp and making sure it is on, all that’s left to do is find a place you want to mount the remote and stick the base to the wall.  This should take all of three minutes.

Option 2 – Pairing to a Bridge: If you have a Hue bridge, you’re going to want to add your new bulb and remote to your smart home.  This setup was a little more complicated than I would have liked it to be.  First, my bridge couldn’t discover the bulb without the serial number, so I had to get that off of the bulb and type it in before it could be discovered.  This seemed like the logical order to add my new devices to my Hue ecosystem, but adding the bulb first is not the way to do this properly.  So by adding the bulb, I broke the connection between it and the remote.  No problem, you can add the remote by going to Accessory Setup in the app.  You have to tap the setup button on the back of the remote to initiate pairing.  Then you can scan for the remote.  Once your bridge sees the remote, it will look for any paired bulbs.  Since I had previously broken this pairing, I had to manually assign my bulb to the remote.  This appears to be the only way to control multiple bulbs with the remote as there is no way to initiate pairing between bulbs and remotes without the app, which requires a hub.

Conclusion

Whether you’re adding this to a smart home or using it as a standalone dimmable bulb you really can’t go wrong with Hue bulbs.  At under $30 for the bulb and remote you’re paying less than market price for both items separately.  If you have a Hue bridge, the remote can be paired with any combination of your Hue bulbs.

One of the downfalls of home automation is that many smart devices require the user to have the app on their phone to control them.  This wont be the case for guests, children and significant others who refuse to clutter their phones with apps they’ll “never use.”  Fancy centralized controllers are expensive, and voice activation can be confusing to some.  The Hue Wireless Dimming Kit gives you the ability to control your lights with a familiar wall mounted switch, with the flexibility of a wireless remote and the added functionality of the Hue ecosystem.

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