The ultimate solution to the biggest issue with Philips Hue smart lights: this accessory.

Cupertino, December 5, 2023

Philips Hue Bulbs Review

Philips Hue Bulbs Review

Philips Hue bulbs are one of the easiest ways to give your existing lighting fixtures smart home capabilities, including through Apple's HomeKit platform. The problem with Philips Hue switches is that when a wall lamp switch is turned off, the smart bulbs become unresponsive. The Lutron Aurora dimmer is a simple but ingenious way to solve this problem. Update: Since I first published this review, I have continued to add to my Lutron Aurora setup. I can also vouch for their long-term reliability. They now play a crucial role in my smart home implementation. I wish they worked beyond Philips Hue accessories, but other than that I have very few complaints. The ideal long-term solution is dedicated Lutron Caséta switches, but if you're renting and that's not an option, the Lutron Aurora remains my top recommendation for buyers in the United States, where these flip switches are common. The Problem Most of my house is equipped with Philips Hue lights, including lamps and fixtures. I've been slowly building out my HomeKit lighting setup over the years, and the versatility of Philips Hue bulbs has made it easy to maintain the setup despite moving apartments and eventually into a house. Philips Hue bulbs are also incredibly convenient for renters: they simply replace “dumb” bulbs and require no wiring changes or other upgrades that may not be approved by your landlord. For me, I've become perfectly comfortable with never having to use a physical light switch. I know everything can be easily managed, thanks to the Home app on iPhone, iPad and Mac, as well as Siri. I've set up automations for specific times of day, scenes for things like work and play, and automations for leaving and coming home. But as anyone with Philips Hue smart bulbs has experienced, the smart bulbs stop responding when the switch of a wall lamp is turned off. This is because Hue bulbs require the bulbs to be left in the "on" position at all times in order to be controlled via the Hue app or HomeKit. It's probably not you turning the light switch on and off, but rather someone you live with or guests. Lutron's Aurora dimmer is designed to solve that problem. The Solution The Lutron Aurora is a simple accessory designed to fit over your existing toggle switches. The installation process is incredibly simple, with the round dimmer clicking over your toggle switch. Then tighten the base with a screwdriver and install the front cover. Once you've installed the hardware, set up the Aurora's integration with the Philips Hue app. The Aurora dimmer can be integrated with Philips Hue via the 'Friends of Hue' platform. As you can see in the screenshots below, simply choose the Lutron Aurora from the "Friends of Hue" list in the Hue app. From there you can choose what happens when the Lutron Aurora is controlled. Side note: everything is controlled through the Hue app – not the Home app or the Lutron app. This means you need to make sure your rooms and accessories are synced between the Home app and the Hue app. This can be a laborious process, but it is worth it in the end. You can pair the Lutron Aurora with multiple accessories, meaning one switch doesn't have to control one set of lights. For example, I set mine up so I can control both the ceiling lamp and the floor lamp, both of which use Philips Hue bulbs. This also means that you don't necessarily have to buy multiple Lutron Aurora dimmers for each room. For example, if you have two fixtures or lamps, you can set them up so that one Lutron Aurora controls them both – or even all the lamps in the room. Once the installation process is complete, the Lutron Aurora works much like a normal light switch. The Aurora can be pressed like a button to turn accessories on and off, or turned left or right to increase or decrease the brightness of accessories. Again, the benefit of this is that you maintain smart control of your home even if you or someone else in your home accidentally flips the manual light switch. There are some limitations. First off, the Lutron Aurora only works with Philips Hue bulbs, so if you have other smart bulbs scattered throughout your smart home setup, you'll want to keep that limitation in mind. Secondly, Lutron Aurora dimmers only fit over the classic 'flip' switches in the United States. If you have a different style wall switch, the Lutron Aurora will not work for you. Other solutions There are other solutions to control smart home lighting in the wall. For example, the Lutron Caséta built-in dimmers (review) replace the existing light switches in your home with connected switches. Philips Hue also sells its own Smart Dimmer Switch, but this does not fit over your existing switches. These solutions offer their own benefits, such as the Lutron Caséta switches that can also control cell fans (review), but neither is as simple or tenant-friendly as the Lutron Aurora. The Lutron Aurora is available on Amazon for just under $40. If you're a Philips Hue user, this is an easy way to add some extra convenience to your smart home setup, even if it means more benefits for others members of your household and guests than for yourself. FTC: We use monetized auto-affiliate links. More.

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