Controlling all of your smart bulbs via your voice assistant and phone is extremely handy. With remote access and the ability to adjust the lights without needing to even get up. But with all of these benefits sometimes a tactile switch is still needed—especially when guests are visiting.

Using smart lights makes your current light switches redundant, this is because it controls the direct power to the light, not just the internal dimmer state of the light. When looking at the solutions to this there are a plethora of different light switches available, one of the best choices for this is Philips Hue’s Dimmer Switch.

If you’re looking to get the most out of your Philips Hue Dimmer Switches, or on the fence about buying some, read on!

Setup Guide

When your first get your Hue Dimmer Switch the first thing you’ll need to do is add it to your Hue ecosystem using the Hue App. Unbox your Hue Switch and open up the Hue app.

  • Navigate to the ‘Settings’ page, and select ‘Accessory setup’.
  • Select ‘Add accessory’, and select ‘Hue Dimmer switch’.
  • You will then be given two options—these are very similar but work slightly differently in the background.

Option 1: Connect a Hue Dimmer switch that hasn’t been used, or have been reset.

  • Selecting Option 1, remove the plastic strip sticking out the bottom of the switch—this is to stop the battery being used or leaking prior to use.
  • Once removed, the LED on the front will begin blinking orange—if it doesn’t press and hold the ‘Setup’ button on the rear of the switch.
  • The unit will then begin to search for the new switch and will show a list of any new switches it has found.
  • This new switch will be available on the ‘Accessory setup page’.

Option 2: Connect a Hue Dimmer switch that is already used, or was packaged with lights.

  • Selecting Option 2, remove the plastic strip sticking out the bottom of the switch—this is to stop the battery being used or leaking prior to use.
  • Once removed, the LED on the front will begin blinking orange—if it doesn’t press and hold the ‘Setup’ button on the rear of the switch.
  • The unit will then begin to search for the new switch. Make sure the lights that came with the switch is also powered up.
  • After searching the app will show a list of any new switches it has found.
  • This new switch will be available on the ‘Accessory setup page’.

Adding Lights to the Switch

Adding your dimmer switches to the Hue is the first stage, but after this, you’ll want to add some functionality to them. The most important part of this is adding lights to the switches, this is done using your existing room groups:

  • Open the Hue app, and navigate to ‘Settings’.
  • Select ‘Accessory setup’, and select your desired switch.
  • On this page, you will be able to name the switch and select which group of lights are being controlled—you can select a maximum of 2 rooms, but this limit can be bypassed using third-party apps.

After adding lights to your Hue Dimmer switch you’ll then be able to control the lights using the remote with full functionality, for some this may be perfect and no additional control is required. For some use cases, you may want to additionally be able to control what happens when pressing the ON button multiple times, this comes in the form of scenes.

Built into the Hue app are a plethora of existing scenes which cover a wide variety of different mood, the list includes:

To add these different scene states to your Hue Dimmer switch:

  • Open the Hue app, and navigate to your desired switch.
  • Scroll down and select the desired number of presses, i.e. ‘Third press’
  • Choose your desired scene from this list.

Now when you press the Hue Dimmer Switch’s ON button the lights within the room will change to that state.

NOTE: That it will change through the previous scene states before reaching that state, which can be slightly annoying at times.

However, whilst the prebuilt scenes are useful for most circumstances, but there may be occasions where you want to build your own custom scenes.

I use this for my living room, I have an overhead light and two LED strips in a display cabinet. When using the existing scenes these cabinet lights would follow the general lighting but I wanted these to instead be blue and pink, to do this I needed to create a custom scene.

Check out some of our favorite smart Bulbs and Switches.

Creating Scenes

Creating new scenes is extremely easy to do and makes the Hue Dimmer switch extremely powerful. Scenes allow you to control the brightness and color settings for each light independently.

This would allow you to set the first press to be an evening light, i.e. the island lights in a kitchen, then another press to bring up the rest of the lights within the room. This is just one example of the utilities that scenes can be used for, it is an extremely useful asset to improving home automation!

To set up a new scene:

  • Open the Hue app, and navigate to the home tab.
  • Select ‘New scene’, and select the room you want to create the scene for.
  • On this page, you will be greeted by a color wheel with markers for each of your bulbs, set these to where you want each of your bulbs to be, enter a name and hit save.
  • This scene will now be available to you, and can now be used as a scene for your Hue Dimmer Light Switch.

Third Party Control

So far everything has been using Hue’s own brand devices and being able to control all of these is extremely useful. However, sometimes you may want to buy third-party bulbs, this may be due to the price or some additional functions offered. But, unless these bulbs are controlled via the Hue Dimmer switches it makes them useless.

Luckily, as Hue is built on ZigBee this means that any third-party bulbs that use this protocol will also work natively with the Hue Bridge, and thus the Hue Dimmer Switches. Adding a third-party bulb to your Hue bridge is simple:

  • Open the Hue app, and navigate to settings.
  • Select ‘Light setup’ and press ‘Add light’.
  • On this page, press search, and your bulbs should be added automatically! If not, you can add the devices serial number manually on this page.

After doing this you can then add the bulb to your room and with minimal configuration, and control third-party bulbs as if they were Hue. I used third-party bulbs in a scene where the overhead light was a white Hue light, and the display case is pink and blue Gledopto LED strip controllers.

Check out our post on how many lights a Dimmer Switch can control!

With this, there is no noticeable difference between the reaction time of the lights and you wouldn’t be able to tell they aren’t Hue Strips!

Supercharging with iConnectHue App

The amount of control given by the native Hue app is vast, but there are ways to supercharge the Hue experience. One of the best apps for this is the iConnectHue app, which is sadly only for iOS. The app costs $4.99 but has additional purchases for some additional features, but to supercharge your Hue Dimmer Switches you’ll only need to base application!

When opening the app for the first time you’ll be required to link to your Hue Bridge, this is the same for all third-party applications. Simply requires you to press the button on the front of your bridge.

  • After this, you can use the burger navigation and open the devices tab.
  • Here you’ll see a list of all your connected devices including your Dimmer Switches.
  • Finally, select the device you want to edit.

On this page you can see there is a range of different control for your Dimmer switch, however before you can begin to adjust the settings you will need to use the Wizard and clear all settings—this is because the syntax for iConnectHue is slightly different to the Hue apps.

Upon clearing the settings, you are then greeted by a single action for button one, this is because iConnectHue allows for you to set different things to happen, not just multiple presses, this includes:

  • Split for multiple presses
  • Split for day and night
  • Split by time
  • Split by group on state

While you can only have one of these splits enabled at any time, you do additionally have the ability to set a different split for each button on the Dimmer switch, showing the versatility offered by the iConnectHue app.

I would recommend first using the Wizard for the basic setup of your lights, this adds the functionality to the brightness and off buttons, as well as adding additional increments for the hold functionality.

Once you’ve done this you can begin to create and edit additional functions for the button:

  • First, select the additional split up and select multiple presses
  • Selecting ‘Button 1 push 2’, you are greeted by a range of options, for this I will select ‘Magic Scene’, but I implore you to explore!
  • Select the desired room for this to make changes
  • You are then greeted by a group of different scenes to select from
  • Select the scene you desire and adjust the saturation and Brightness—while adjusting the lights in the room will reflect these changes.

Now when you press the button for the second time the scene that you just selected will now occur! If you do need to make your own custom scenes, this can be done under the ‘groups’ tab:

  • Select your desired room using the group of 4 squares
  • Adjust the colors of each light in the room by tapping on its circle, then press the scene button at the bottom.
  • Press the ‘+ Add as new scene’ button and name your scene.

This scene is now available to add to your Hue Dimmer buttons in the previous menus. Overall, the iConnectHue app is extremely vast and versatile. Looking at the application there are lots of features outside of controlling your Hue Dimmer switches.

For more information about the app check out their website at https://iconnecthue.com/

Battery Life

Using the ZigBee protocol means that any devices that the bulbs in the Hue system are very low power consumption. This is also true for the Dimmer switches, which are powered by a single CR2450 3V watch battery. On average this battery will last approximately 3 years, or 50,000 presses.

Annoyingly you can’t see the remaining battery life of the Hue Dimmer switch via the Hue app, but many third-party apps include the ability to see the remaining battery, including Apple HomeKit.

Looking at my Hue Switches at the time of writing [April 2019] they have an average of 86% remaining. These switches were bought in November of 2017, so over a year and a half, the battery has only been drained 14%.

If your switches do run dry then you can buy a replacement battery here. To replace the battery, unscrew the back of the device and remove the battery, replacing it with the new battery. This should not require you to re-sync to the Hue Bridge as you haven’t told the device to forget it’s connection.

Error Messages and Troubleshooting

If you’re experiencing issues with Hue Dimmer switches then you may notice some lights flashing on the device, and your lights not reacting to the changes

  • Firstly, check that your Hue Bridge is up and running and all the status lights are lit up. As the Dimmers rely on the Bridge in order to send commands to the lights.
  • Make sure you are able to control the lights directly through the app, it could be that the issue is not with the dimmer but with a light itself.
  • Make sure a room is assigned to the button within the Hue app.
  • Make sure that the Hue Dimmer switch is within range of your Hue Bridge/Lights. If you’re out of range, then the signal won’t be able to reach the Bridge.
  • Make sure there is no interference—i.e. a microwave, metal surface or W-iFi device nearby that could be drowning out the dimmer.

If none of the above works, then you may need to restart or reset your dimmer.

Reset Guide

If you are experiencing issues with your Hue Dimmer switches and can’t immediately solve the issues, then you might look to restart or reset your switch. The first stage of this will be to restart your Hue Dimmer switch, to do this:

  • Hold down all four buttons of the Hue Dimmer Switch.
  • After holding the buttons, the light on the switch will briefly flash red and green.

After this the Hue Dimmer switch will restart, after doing this you can then check to see if the issue is now solved and functions as intended. However, if the issue still persists you may need to perform a full set of the device, to do this:

  • Use a small pin like a paperclip to press and hold the ‘setup’ button
  • After 10 seconds release the button

The Hue Dimmer switch will now have reset, this does require you to reconnect the Hue switch to your hub, which is detailed above. This should solve any issues that you may be having with the device, if this doesn’t solve the issue it could mean that some external factors are causing issues, if all the above have failed to solve your issue, then it’s recommended that you get in touch with the distributor or manufacturer.

A Final Recommendation

When installing Hue Dimmer switches I highly recommend that you invest in some switch covers. When first installing smart lights you’ll have to fight the habit of turning the lights off via the switch, so covering them over with a small cover is extremely helpful.

This is especially true when you have visitors who will instinctively go to turn off the lights via the switch, severing the power to the smart lights. These clips are available on Amazon here.

Alternatively, you can buy clips that go over your existing light switch. However, these will differ region to region to region due to the difference in switch sizes and types, so is important to check the best covers for your switches. If you do still have any questions or suggestions, drop a comment below!