Philips Introduces Color-Changing, Fully Dimmable LED Lighting Control System

Sections: Lighting control, Smart Home

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If you’ve perused the aisles at Lowes or other big box hardware stores lately, you’ve probably stumbled across shelves full of “Dimmable” LED light bulbs.

I’m here to tell you: for the most part, that “dimmable” bit is a lie. At least if you use regular old dimmers, that is. It’s a problem I’ve run into at several locations throughout the house as I’ve moved to a full-blown Lutron lighting control system automated by Control4 this week. The Lutron dimmers — great as they are — just don’t play well with the ultra-low loads that LEDs provide (to put things in perspective, the 7-watt LED in my foyer will straight up blind you if you look at it directly).

So, as a green-home-tech-obsessed home automation junky, I find myself torn. I really believe LED lighting is the future. But dimming is such a huge part of my lifestyle. What to do? For now, my LEDs are on switches, with the dimmers reserved for energy-efficient halogen lamps.

If you’re not into full-blown, comprehensive automation and you feel the way I do, though, you might want to take a look at Philips’ new Hue Personal Wireless Lighting system. Which builds the dimming (and color changing!) capabilities into the base of the bulb itself, to avoid the issues inherent with trying to use traditional dimmer switches and load control.

There’s also hope, given the fact that Hue uses Zibgee wireless communication, that it may well be compatible with home automation systems like Control4 in the near future. But for now, the mobile apps look to offer some neat futures.

At $199.95 for the starter pack (which includes the controller and three bulbs), and $59.95 for each additional bulb, Hue isn’t cheap, but then again, you won’t be spending a hefty chunk of change to replace your home’s existing dimmers, so in the long run, the price evens out.

Site: [Meet the Hue]

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  • Mike

    Opening statement is NOT true. You need a special LED dimmer that needs a min of 5 watts of LED to work… properly dim LED bulbs. FYI homeworks model 6NA lutron dimmer. Works really well. And this color lightbulb product is not even availiable yet until Feb-March 2013. Giving the advice of using an antenna and 3 light bulbs instead of a lutron system is just plain stupid. Yes the idea of incorporating color and control into an iPhone is cool, but to advise it instead whole home lutron control package is……………………..simply bad advice.

  • Dennis Burger

    Mike, it’s not so much the dimmers that are the problems, but the bulbs themselves. I’ve been working pretty closely with a local Lutron installer, and Lutron themselves in deciding where to put dimmers and switches, and all will tell you that it’s still iffy at this point. One LED may dim perfectly fine, and another supposedly identical bulb in identical packaging from a different manufacturing run will have issues.

    I desperately want to dim LED around the house — with my Lutron system — but for now, I’m sticking with higher-efficiency halogens for those loads where I absolutely need dimming over switching.

  • James

    I have Lutron dimmer switches recently installed throughout my home. However, I’ve tried 4 different types of LED bulb and I’m similarly disappointed by their (in)ability to dim properly/effectively. So, I recently bought 4 Hue bulbs and LOVE them…they dim perfectly and are the warmest LEDs I’ve found, in addition to all their other features. My new problem? Hue bulbs aren’t compatible with all the fancy new Lutron switches I installed. If I want to use well-functioning, warm LED dimmable bulbs, then Hue is the only satisfactory product on the market and I’d have to replace all my switches with regular switches. Bummer!

  • Dennis Burger

    James, did you get the C.L dimmers? Those shouldn’t have been too problematic, if you got the right dimmable LEDs. My problem is, there’s no RadioRA2 C.L solution, and the one RadioRa 2 dimmer that will handle as low as a 5W load won’t work with a no-neutral-wire system like mine.

  • James

    Philips Hue is compatible with Control4, there is a driver for sell on
    Works very well..

  • Dimitri

    Denis, Radio ra2 C.L dimmers coming soon.