Not just for the tech junkies, smart LED lights have been increasingly popular for those looking to add convenience and a bit of fun to their homes.
Philips Hue has been the forerunner in this space, with each new generation boasting better colour range, features and integrations. On the flipside, Yeelight is relatively new on the scene, though its products are fast becoming a favourite for having similar specs at an affordable price.
But between these two brands, which lighting system is actually worth the buy?
What we tested:
The Philips’ Hue range comes with a bit more accessories than the Yeelight. While that can widens the scope of what the system can do, going all out can get pretty expensive with so many add-ons.
1. Set Up
If you’re planning to get coloured bulbs and other Philips Hue accessories (like we did), the Bridge will be necessary in order to control them remotely. Note that the lights can be used normally or via the Hue dimmer switch, but you’ll be missing out on a whole load of features like colour control, geofencing, etc.
Users will need to hook the Bridge up to a LAN point or router, download the app, then connect the lights by pushing the blue button on the Bridge. Problem is, if you have lights that are further away, connecting them might be an issue. There were times where the Bridge could not detect our Hue bulb, and we had to manually input its serial number to connect instead.
For the Yeelight, things get much easier. The system uses Wi-fi to connect and communicate, and set up is done within the Yeelight app. Users will have to switch on the light source, key in their home’s internet network and follow the steps in app. No extra hardware tying your connectivity to a set area. Plus, there’s no limit to the number of lights you can connect!
Verdict: Yeelight wins in terms of convenience and better connectivity.
While connection may be a bit spotty further away from the Bridge, the Hue lights otherwise respond quickly. It was fun toggling through different shades and brightness levels via the app and dimmer switch as quickly as possible to see if it could keep up.
Using the Philips Hue dimmer switch.
And it does, save for a couple of snags when the commands overlap. The motion sensor was sensitive as well, switching the lights on with the slightest wave of a hand.
Compared to the smooth transition of the Philips Hue, the Yeelight is a slightly choppier affair. Granted, it does react quickly to commands made via the app and remote control, but there was a longer lag time compared to the Hue. And while the Yeelight was likewise able to keep up with the constant toggling, its transition from one lighting scene to the next came off as rather abrupt.
Verdict: The Philips Hue provides a faster reaction time and smooth transitioning between commands.
3. Brightness and Colour
Philips Hue (Left); Yeelight (Right)
With both lighting systems boasting a colour range of 16 million and a brightness of up to 800 lumens (for the colour bulbs), there isn’t a discernible difference in the amount of colours users can choose from. Though, we did feel that the Yeelight provided a much 'richer' colour tone when saturation levels were amped up to the max.
Philips Hue (Left); Yeelight (Right)
Verdict: With similar specs, both lighting systems provide ample colour variation and brightness levels.
4. Lighting Controls
There’s much to explore in terms of lighting controls and it helps that the app is well organised and easy to navigate.
- group lights into areas
- remotely switch on/off, individually or by area
- toggle its brightness and hue using a colour map
- set lighting schedules
- apply pre-set scenes, based on the mood you’d like to achieve or a colour palette from your images.
Digging a little deeper, there are more advanced controls where you can create lighting scenes based on your detected movements about the house (leaving or arriving home), and even set a schedule to switch on the lights, based on sunset timings.
Similar to the Hue app, the Yeelight app can be used to organise lights, toggle power, colour and brightness settings, set schedules and create scenes. However, it takes it a step further by allowing users to customise, down to the colour, brightness, temperature and duration. Multiple frames can be combined to form a looping set, making it great for parties or games. Another seriously cool feature? The Yeelight app comes with the ‘Image Capture’ function, which allows you to colour pick from your surroundings in real time. Fancy.
Verdict: Philips Hue has got the necessary, practical basics, but Yeelight’s cool customisation controls add a bit more fun.
5. Other Smart Features and Integrations
What really shines for the Philips Hue series is its widespread integration with most smart home platforms. The smart lighting system can be voice-controlled via Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple HomeKit, and there are a wide range of apps, downloadable lighting scenes and smart commands to maximise its utility.
Another major highlight is the Philips Hue Sync app on PC/Mac, which allows users to synchronise their Hue lights to their music, movies or games for a more immersive experience. Trying it out on our living room set-up, we were frankly amazed at seeing the lights change colour, dim and ‘bounce’ to the beat of the music without much lag.
That being said, Yeelight doesn’t fall short on that entertainment front as well, with its own ‘Music Flow’ function. Though, we felt that the transitions were choppier, and certain colour changes did not flow well with the music played.
The Yeelight is compatible with major voice assistants like Alexa, Google Assistant and Mi Home, but it hasn’t been integrated much in other third-party smart home products like Nest or Ring, limiting its capabilities.
Verdict: Time will tell, but for now Philips Hue remains the more widely integrated option.
For first-timers who want fuss-free convenience in connectivity and control, the affordable Yeelight range is perfect. With more features and integrations with other third-party smart home products, the Philips Hue is better suited for serious users looking for more utility in their smart lighting.
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