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Can You Use Philips Hue Without Wi-Fi?

Last Updated Aug 2, 2020
smart light bulb
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Want to have your lights turn on right when you get home from work? With the Philips Hue, you’re able to enjoy the automation that comes with a smart home equipped with smart lights. However, let’s say the power goes out in your house and then comes back later, but your Philips Hue is no longer connected to the Wi-Fi. This might cause some problems for you, and it’ll be a minor inconvenience to sort out.

Though most owners use the Philips Hue Smart Hub to control the Philips Hue lights via Wi-Fi, the Philips Hue smart bulbs are equipped with Bluetooth; this greatly decreases the range of connectivity for them, but it’ll allow you to turn them on with your smartphone instead.

Even though this gets rid of the automation aspect of the Philips smart bulbs, it allows you to have a bit more control over the lights like you would with a traditional switch. This makes your home just a tad smarter as you upgrade your smart home.

How Does the Philips Hue Work?

Most smart homes use smart plugs to automate or control the various components in your home. With the Philips Hue smart bulbs, most people find that they’re most effective when paired with the smart hub (also known as the Bridge). What the Bridge allows you to do is activate a built-in Zigbee network (something like a Wi-Fi network) to control your lights; this allows you to add up to 50 bulbs, set routines, and add a range of different features through the Philips Hue app (Source: Philips Hue).

The Philips Hue Bridge manages your smart bulbs, and it stores your customized settings through the Hue app, providing the smart connectivity that you’re likely seeking when investing in the Philips Hue Bridge and smart bulbs. With the Bridge, you can control lights in your home and outdoor space, create smart light routines that turn on individual lights at certain times, sync the lights with your movies, music, and games, and automate the lights to turn on automatically as you arrive at home.

The smart bulbs get connected to the Bridge through the Hue app, and you can even get them to work through voice commands or routines with Siri, Alexa, or the Google Assistant. In the Hue app, you can sort the bulbs by which room they’re in or what function you want them to have, and these names come in handy when using your smart speakers to control them.

Can You Use Philips Hue Without Wi-Fi?

When used in tandem with the Philips Hue Bridge, the Zigbee wireless communication allows the smart lights to “talk” to each other and the Bridge (Source: CNET). All of the bulbs and the Bridge have their own built-in Zigbee radios, and the Bridge acts as a translator between the router you have at home and the smart lights you’ve installed.

But if the Wi-Fi is down, or if you just don’t want the Philips Hue system to take up bandwidth, if you can avoid it, will your smart bulbs still work? It’s a bit of a toss-up with respect to how you want to define “work.”

There will certainly be a large reduction in functionality, as the automation is done via the Bridge, which needs to be connected to a router. However, you will be able to come home and control your lights through your smartphone via Bluetooth since Philips Hue smart bulbs are equipped with Bluetooth.

This reduced functionality is an advantage if you’re thinking in terms of pennies saved by having the lights turn on only when you want them on.

Using the Philips Hue smart bulbs in this way would be similar to something like using the traditional light switch—now, it’s on your smartphone. The lack of Wi-Fi will reduce the range of control that you have over the lights to about thirty feet, which is about the range of the Bluetooth connection.

Final Thoughts

The Philips Hue smart bulbs are definitely “smarter” when paired with the Philips Hue Bridge, but it’s comforting to know that there are options for people who don’t want their smart lights taking up the bandwidth (or in cases where the Wi-Fi connection is disconnected). Or perhaps you want your Philips Hue smart bulbs outside, but the connection isn’t very strong outside of the house.

In either of these cases, using the Bluetooth connectivity feature lets you use your smart bulbs how you want to use them.

Because the smart bulbs are equipped with both the Bluetooth and the Zigbee connectivity, you’ll be able to transition back and forth between them and get the most out of your devices or stay on Bluetooth and prepare yourself for a future upgrade in automation.

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