A smart home isn’t complete without smart lighting, which can either be controlled remotely through a mobile application, through your trusted voice assistant, or manually, if you’re feeling old-fashioned. Aside from that, you can also put smart lights on schedules or connect them go the GPS on your phone so that they automatically turn on when you get home, or vice versa. You can even hook your smart lights up with the other connected devices in your home, so that your lights can trigger other actions!
Okay, so there’s a ton of possibilities when it comes to smart lighting, but you’re probably going to stay within one brand so you can control all of your lights from the same app. Two industry giants are Philips Hue, one of the most recognizable names in lighting, and LIFX, a San Francisco-based company first introduced on a Kickstarter in 2012. Which one is right for you? Keep on reading to find out.
Philips Hue vs. LIFX Similarities
Philips Hue and LIFX smart bulbs actually have a lot in common, which I want to go over to make sure you’re reading the right article in the first place.
The majority of Philips Hue bulbs (save for the Philips Hue in warm white) and all of the LIFX bulbs that I’ve reviewed come in 16 million different colors, and no, that wasn’t a typo. You’ll be able to choose from any color of the rainbow so you can set the mood exactly how you want it, whether it’s a chill blue or a zesty yellow. Believe me, I’ve had a ton of fun adjusting the colors of my lights whether they’re Hue or LIFX.
All of the Hue and LIFX bulbs I’ve reviewed are dimmable so you can create a bright or dark room, giving you even more control over your lighting.
With any bulb from either brand, you’ll be able to set your bulbs onto schedules so that they can turn off and on automatically throughout the day. For example, you could have the lights in your kids’ rooms turn off the second it hits nine PM, urging them to go to sleep (and giving new meaning to the term “lights out”). The only exception to this rule is the Philips Hue White and Color Bluetooth Bulbs, which require the hub if you want schedules (the same goes for scenes as well).
All Hue and LIFX bulbs also allow you to group multiple bulbs into scenes so that you can access the work you’ve already done to customize your lighting at the touch of a button. I have a scene for reading that has my desk lamp turned bright with all my other lights dimmed so I can focus on my book. With scenes, I don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time I pick up my page-turner! And on top of the scenes you create yourself, LIFX also offers their own array of themes and animations. Similarly, Philips Hue has what they call “pre-set light recipes”. On top of that, you can sync your Hue lights to movies or music and really get the party started!
Sunrise/ Sunset Mode
Believe it or not, all of the Philips Hue and LIFX bulbs that I’ve reviewed can also sync with the sunrise and sunset, a feature called Dusk and Day with LIFX and Wakeup Light with Philips Hue. If you like to wake up according to your Circadian rhythm, then you’ll love using this feature.
Got friends? I certainly hope so! You’ll be able to add friends to your Phillips Hue and LIFX apps so that they too can join in on the fun.
After doing the math, I was shocked to find out that LIFX and Hue bulbs each came in at an average of around $42, which is certainly at the higher end when it comes to smart light bulbs. Of course, the price differs which each bulb, and there are discounts available for buying multiple bulbs at once, so one option may end up being cheaper than the other. But for the most part, Hue and LIFX bulbs have similar pricing.
Philips Hue vs. LIFX Differences
Of course, the differences between Philips Hue and LIFX are going to most influence your buying decision, so let’s dig in.
While only the LIFX A19 with infrared night vision bulb has geofencing, all of the Hue bulbs have it. But what is geofencing, exactly? Well, geofencing means syncing your light bulbs with the GPS on your phone so that your lights adjust based on your location. For me, that means having my bulbs turn on when I’m near home and turn off when I leave, so I never have to worry about it again. As this is a standard feature for Hue bulbs, I have to give them another feather in their hat.
Smart Platform Integrations
Depending on which bulb, the majority of Hue and LIFX bulbs work with the most popular smart voice assistants, including:
- Amazon Alexa
- Google Assistant
- Apple HomeKit
- Microsoft Cortana.
Hue and LIFX bulbs also work with Nest (although LIFX only works with Nest thermostats and the Nest Protect smoke and CO detectors), Logitech, Samsung SmartThings, and IFTTT. Hue bulbs take it a step further with integrations with Xfinity Home, Vivint, Razer, Elk and RunLessWire.
This allows you to sync your light bulbs with other connected devices in your home, having them trigger actions in each other. For example, if the thermostat goes down, so should the lights. It’s automated actions like this that save me not only my personal energy, but also literal energy and power, saving me money, which I can always appreciate. While bulbs from both companies offer an impressive amount of smart home integrations, Hue undeniably takes the cake. However, you should base this decision off the specific products in your home, or the ones that you are planning to get.
Now, Hue isn’t superior to LIFX in every way. For example, the majority of Hue bulbs, save for the Bluetooth-enabled ones, require the Hue bridge to work. This bridge is sold in packs with light bulbs as a starter kit. LIFX bulbs, on the other hands, only require Wi-Fi to work, which could bring down the cost. One point for LIFX!
If you’re not as familiar with light bulbs as I am, then you may not be aware that the standard light bulb size is A19 with a lamp base size of E26. Now, Philips Hue and LIFX both offer a plethora of bulbs in this size, but Philips Hue offers some other creative options that don’t fit into a standard size. The Philips Hue Bar Light or the Bloom Lamp are great examples of alternative smart lighting available from Hue. So if you’re looking to get a little bit funky with your lighting, Hue is the one for you.
Philips Hue vs. LIFX Apps
These aren’t just regular light bulbs we’re talking about— they’re smart light bulbs, which means that you’ll control them via a mobile application, especially if you’re not at home. Let’s see how each app works.
The Philips Hue App
The Philips Hue app is where you’ll control and monitor your lights and set up geofencing, smart platform integrations, schedules and scenes. The app is highly-rated with a 4.4 from the Apple store and a 3.4 from the Google Play store. Android user Macon Williams wrote in a recent five-star review,
“This entire system is fantastic. The app has worked flawlessly since the beginning and the bulbs response to the commands is always instantaneous! I am trying hard to convert most of my house to this system. The one negative I will say is that my Google Home will not control my bedroom lamps independently for some reason. It just does the entire room together, but that may just be a Google problem. Also, the widgets are hard to set up and often clear themselves.”
The LIFX App
LIFX offers the exact same features, minus geofencing for the majority of it’s bulbs. However, it’s apps were not quite as well-received, with only a 2.5 from the Apple store and a 3.3 from the Google Play store. Many people had issues pairing their LIFX bulbs with the apps, and then connectivity was never a sure thing after the initial installation. Hopefully, LIFX can update their app and improve it, as this is a huge drawback as of late.
Recap of Philips Hue vs. LIFX
Overall, I’d go with Philips Hue over LIFX, despite the fact that the majority of their products require the Hue bridge. Hue simply has more smart platform integrations, better apps, and more shape options, while the bulb companies’ pricing and features is pretty much the same. Of course, I can’t make a universal recommendation, so let’s talk about which bulb would be good for what you’re looking for, specifically.
I’d go with Philips Hue if you’d like…
- More smart platform integrations: In addition to everything LIFX offers, Philips Hue adds on integrations with Xfinity Home, Vivint, Razer, Elk, and RunLessWire.
- Better apps: Both the iPhone and Android apps are higher-rated for Philips Hue than they are LIFX.
- More shape options: From a standard A19 to a bloom lamp, Philips Hue offers a wider range of lighting types.
But choose LIFX if you’re looking for…
- No hub required: You won’t have to buy an additional hub or bridge to use your bulbs, which is a definite drawback of Hue.
- Infrared night vision option: Only the LIFX A19 with Infrared Night Vision offers this unique feature, ideal for prime nighttime visibility.
For more information, read our reviews of the LIFX BR30.
Or, for more great options, check out our review of the best smart light bulbs of 2019.