There was once a time when those tiny solar powered outdoor stake lights were the height of backyard lighting design. These days, however, we can do so much better. Thanks to the advent of the LED lighting, and Wi-Fi connectivity, we can have smart, colour changing lighting wherever we go.
Philips Hue Outdoor Light Strip review
Phillips Hue has expanded its popular line of indoor smart lightning to the outdoors. Previously I reviewed the Philips Hue spotlights and bollard lights, now I have my hands on their flexible LED light strip. I’ll talk about where you can use them, how easy they are to set up and install, and what you can do with them when it comes to smart connectivity.
I noticed two things about this kit right away. The light strips themselves are fat and bulky. This is not the same as the indoor light strips which you can basically run flat along any surface. These are about an inch wide and half an inch thick. Think more like rubber tubing then a light strip.
Part of the challenge of installing these will be to tuck them away in a spot where they’re not going to be obtrusive, or catch the toe of your shoe, as they would on a stair.
The other thing, is that it is all one length and does not appear to be trimmable. That means I’m going to need to find an area where I can secure the lights all in one run. A bit of a challenge.
This light strip is available in two separate lengths, a 6.5 foot/2 m link, and a 16.4 foot/5 m length. You’ll want to choose appropriately, because they cannot be trimmed, and they also don’t support being connected to extensions, or to eachother, by the looks.
How to install Philips Hue Outdoor Light Strip
Installing these lights isn’t too onerous or complicated, but does require some planning. In the box, you get the light strip, some screws and brackets, and a power controller , but it’s important to not you do need a Philips Hue bridge for these to work.
Because you’ll be clipping the light strip into tiny plastic clips which need to be screwed down, you’ll want to give some thought about placement. It would also be handy to have a drill to make drilling in all the tiny brackets that much quicker.
Once the brackets are down you can clip the lights into them and they seem to hold fairly securely.
Connecting to Wi-Fi – set up is easy!
Setting this light up is as simple as setting up all the other lights in the huge Hue family. A simple matter of downloading the Phillips hue app, signing up for an account or signing into your existing account then choosing Settings> Light Set up> Add Light. The app will search for your lights, provided they’re plugged in, and should find them in under a minute. The app found my new Philips Hue outdoor light strip right away and promptly added it to the app for me. From there, you can assign your lights to a room or a grouping. As I already have several Phillips hue outdoor lights I added the light strip to my outdoor lighting group.
Philips Hue outdoor light strip is more like tubing than a strip
If you don’t own your home, and aren’t in a position where you want to drill the clips in for a more permanent installation, you can easily slip this light strip along a wall, garden, or clip it to a railing or eaves. I ran it along the side of my deck behind some furniture to provide ambient deck lighting. Next I tried coiling it up underneath some furniture.
I really wanted it to get wrapped around the front of my deck to create a lovely sharp line of beautiful colored lightning that would also light out main entrance, but the way my deck is built, there’s no real place to clip the lights where are they wouldn’t become a tripping hazard because of their size.
The end, I decided to forgo the permanent installation using the plastic clips and just run the lighting along the lines of my deck and leave it at that. It looks great, and I don’t know if that anyone would know that it wasn’t permanently installed if they didn’t get up really close and take a look. I suppose in theory that because there’s nothing holding these lights down, someone could come along and unplug them and run away with them, but that’s a chance I’ll take for right now.
Are Philips Hue Outdoor lights safe ? Are they water resistant?
Not surprisingly these outdoor lights are made to withstand the weather. Philips says they are “made for wet environments” and they’re “fully weatherproof” but no IP rating is supplied on the box. The box also says they’ll function in temperatures from -20°C – 45°C (-4°F-113°F) So they should withstand cold, snow and rain.
Will they survive a Calgary, Canada winter? I installed the Hue spotlights and bollards last fall and I can say they ran all winter long, despite a cold snap of -25°C for about a month. I fully expect the light strip will perform just as admirably.
Controlling Philips Hue outdoor lights
Controlling the lights is easy using the very user friendly Hue app. You can turn the lights on and off, adjust the colours, and dim or brighten.
You can group your lights together in several ways, by room or zones, and you can adjust individual lights or control the entire group at once.
Routines and timers is confusing
I will say getting these lights on a set schedule to come on in the evening and turn off in the morning was a challenge and I struggled with getting this simple task to work.
The Hue app has several options for what it calls Routines; there’s Home and Away, where you can set up your phone to trigger the lights to come on or turn off when you arrive home or leave.
Wake Up will turn the lights on and then off at a preset time, while Go to Sleep will fade out any lights that are on.
Other Routines allows you to create other options. This is where I started trying to get some automation set up for my outdoor lights, but the routine I set up didn’t work and the lights stayed on 24/7.
The Timer function allows you to set lights that get turned on to turn off automatically after a preset time.
I started by adding a Wake Up routine, where the outdoor lights should come on at 8pm and go off at 5am. I shut all the outdoor lights off in the meantime and waited for 8pm.
They all came on on time, but when I woke up in the morning, they were still on. I faced this problem last year when I set up the other outdoor lights.
I decided to wipe out all the timer and routines I had previously set and start from scratch.
This time I chose a Other Routine for sunrise-sunset. I set the outdoor lights to come on at sunset and shut off at sunrise… and waited…
This time the setting worked, and the lights came on at sunset and shut off at sunrise. I recommend if you’re having trouble with timers or schedules to wipe out all previous schedules and start over with this setting.
How to use voice control with Philips Hue Outdoor
Thanks to Hue’s compatibility with all the smart home digital assistants, you can control your lights with your voice too. Once you get the lights connected to the home control app of your choice, you can ask Siri, Alexa or Google to control the lights, change colours, set brightness and more. Again, I’ve used this with each of the assistants and it works flawlessly.
Brightness: Are Hue Outdoor lights bright enough for safety?
The lights are very nice, and having some colour outdoors is a real treat. Are they bright enough to create a safe walking environment? I think so. The Philips Hue outdoor light strip puts out 1650 lumens. A 100 w bulb by comparison puts out about 1600 lumens. So they’re bright, and I found them quite bright outdoors in dark areas. They provided more than ample illumination for my needs. I actually found the lights to be quite bright, and definitely lit up the whole area I had them in.
Overall review of Philips Hue Outdoor Light Strip
Overall I think Philips Hue has another winner when it comes to outdoor lighting. These lights give you a tonne of flexibility, pun intended, they’re easy to install and control, and they look great. If they have a downside, it’s that they’re more like rubber tubing than light strips, and that limits where they can be installed in some cases.
I can definitely recommend these for your outdoor lighting needs. The Philips Hue Outdoor Light Strip costs about $110CAD for the shorter 2m length and $199CAD for the 5m length. You can get them from places like Best Buy or Amazon.
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