When it comes to the evolution of smart technology, lighting has consistently been at the forefront. Smart lighting helps save money, reduces energy waste, and increases safety and convenience. Lighting that can be programmed or controlled remotely is a common feature for most home security systems and is often the first step consumers make toward complete home automation.
Philips, a longstanding leader in the lighting industry, was one of the first to bring a smart lightbulb to market. The Hue line of smart lights can be integrated into a house-wide system or used to transform traditional lights and lamps into smart ones.
As the popularity of smart lighting has grown, newcomers have joined the market, looking to challenge Philips for the top spot. One of the biggest new players on the scene is Belkin, a company best known for its array of tech accessories. Belkin launched its WeMo line of products that add Wi-Fi compatibility to many household items, including everything from crock pots to lightbulbs.
For those trying to decide the best way to upgrade their home with smart lighting, we decided to compare Philips Hue and WeMo Smart Bulbs in a head-to-head comparison. Read on to see what we found out.
The basic Philips Hue starter kit comes with two lightbulbs and the bridge that controls the lights. The base needs to be connected to a Wi-Fi router using the included Ethernet cable and to a power source via an included adapter. To make it all work, all you have to do is screw in the bulbs and switch everything on. Remote control is available through an app that you can download to your phone or tablet.
Belkin’s WeMo LED Lighting starter set includes two smart lightbulbs and the WeMo Link that is required to control them. WeMo’s Link works without being plugged directly into a router. It is designed to fit into a standard outlet and receives data using built-in Wi-Fi. As soon as everything is up and running, you can download the WeMo app to control the lights.
Both Hue and WeMo come with apps that are available for Android and iOS. Each is fairly simple to activate and set up, but there are some differences.
The Hue app can be customized to support up to 50 Hue products. It allows the user to control lights remotely from their phone no matter where they are. In addition, users can set up different “scenes” or select preset color schemes that are already saved in the Hue app.
Scenes are designed to create certain moods through colored lighting and have names like “relax” or “deep sea.” The app lets you fine-tune the intensity and color of each smart light to create the ambiance you want with just the swipe of a finger. Some users have reported that the Hue app isn’t very intuitive, but that it works well once they figure it out.
All it takes to activate the WeMo app is joining the Link Wi-Fi network from your phone. When the Link is plugged in and flashes green and orange, it’s ready sync. After your phone has joined the network, turn on the WeMo lights and open the WeMo app on your phone. The app will automatically detect your bulbs and switch you back over to your home network.
You can use the app to manually turn lights on and off, dim lights, and create rules that trigger lights at preset times. Users have found the WeMo app to be easy to use and a recent update corrected problems like slow loading times.
The most important thing about lights is how well they work. To replace a standard 60 watt bulb with one of these smart bulbs, you need a bulb that produces 800 lumens. The WeMo lightbulbs meet that requirement, but the first generation of Philips Hue color-capacity bulbs produce only 600 lumens. That means it could take more Hue bulbs to replicate the light intensity that you’ve been used to. Newer generations of Philips Hue do produce 800 lumens (at certain color temperatures), so be sure to check the bulb’s specifications before making a purchase if the extra lumens are important to you.
Keep in mind that the brighter WeMo lights do come at an energy cost. They consume almost one full watt more than the 600-lumen Hue bulbs. The WeMo is also limited to soft white light, while the Hue can produce a rainbow of colors. The Hue’s variety is great for special lighting needs, but not necessary for every day, all-purpose lighting.
Starter kits for both WeMo and Hue start around $100.
The Philips Hue white light starter kit is listed at $99 and includes the bridge and two lightbulbs. For those interested in the multi-colored Hue lightbulbs, a starter kit that includes both the white lights and color ambiance lights is listed at $199. Individual bulbs run from around $15 to $60.
The WeMo LED lighting starter set is regularly $99, but sometimes specials bring the price down. Two lightbulbs and the WeMo Link are included. WeMo smart lightbulbs can be purchased individually for around $25.
Belkin’s WeMo smart lightbulbs have an overall rating of 2.6 stars on Amazon and scored eight out of ten from “Wired” magazine. Overall, the biggest complaint about the WeMo smart lighting system has been problems with the app. In response, Belkin updated the app, which seems to have addressed the bulk of the problems.
Philips Hue smart lightbulbs received a 7.2 rating from CNET and currently have 4.2 stars on Amazon. People like Hue’s compatibility with Apple HomeKit and Echo and the system’s multi-color options. Users would like to see brighter lighting, though, and many had defective bulbs or other problems with their brand-new starter kits.
If you’re ready to take the leap into home automation, start with a state-of-the-art security system that can support all your smart lighting and other automation needs.