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Philips Hue’s New Wall Switch Module Fixes the Biggest Problem With Smart Bulbs


A Philips Hue light module

Today Signify announced several new Philips Hue smart home products, including a new outdoor light bar and an upgraded dimmer switch. But the most exciting new product solves one of the biggest annoyances with smart bulbs—the light switch. The new Philips Hue wall switch module upgrades your existing dumb lights switch to a smart light switch. And thus prevents anyone from turning your smart bulbs into dumb bulbs again.

Make Your Dumb Light Switch Smart

If you have smart bulbs, you probably know that pain. You open the Philips Hue app or call out to your voice assistant of choice to turn on your smart bulbs. But someone turned the light switch off, and without power, they’re effectively dumb bulbs. You have to go find the light switch, flick it on, and then control it from your app or smart speaker. It’s annoying.

The Philips Hue wall switch prevents that, and it has a few advantages over other smart switches. For one, it doesn’t entirely replace your light switch. Instead, you connect your home wires to the module, then your existing light switch to it. It tucks behind your light switch. If you have multiple light switches controlling a single room, you’ll need a module for each switch.

An exploded diagram showing module wiring.

Secondly, it uses a coin cell battery for power instead of a neutral wire. That makes it compatible with older homes that lack neutral wires. The wall switch module can bypass the circuit your light switch creates, allowing you to turn on your smart bulbs from your app without needing to check if your light switch is set to “on.”

A few things aren’t clear yet—namely how it will work in U.S. homes. Signify’s current design fits European light switch styles and gang boxes, but not American. The shape will need to change, and it may lead to confusion with toggle-style light switches that have a set “on” and “off” position. Most smart switches get around that problem by using a paddle-switch that sits in neutral. We’ve reached out for clarification on those questions and will let you know if Signify responds.

Those necessary changes may be why the U.S. release date is behind the European release date. Signify says the light switch module will release in Europe sometime in Spring 2021 for €39.95. The U.S. release date is set for Summer 2021 for $39.95.

An Outdoor Light Bar and Updated Dimmer Switch

A colorful wall lit by smart lights.

Signify also announced two devices, an outdoor light bar, and an updated dimmer switch. The $169.99 Philips Hue Amarant outdoor light bar bathes lights onto a surface, like the side of your home or fence. It’s less about providing night light to see by, like a floodlight, and more about adding ambiance for your home. Perfect for outdoor parties, or just giving your home a nice look. You can get the Amarant now in Europe, and it will arrive in the U.S. in March.

A light bar casting off purple light.

Philips Hue already has a Dimmer Switch, and now it’s getting a redesign. The new update is subtle though, and it’s difficult to say what changed. The wall plate looks larger, which may help if you want to cover a wall socket as a quick and easy way to make a dumb light switch smart. According to Signify:

The redesigned dimmer switch offers intuitive wireless control for Philips Hue lighting without using the app. In addition to dimming or brightening the room, the dimmer switch lets users set their favorite light scenes or get the best light based on the time of day. 

A Philips Hue Dimmer Switch

Like the switch that came before it, the updated dimmer switch will magnetically attach to the included wall plate. You stick that to the wall with included tape. So it works as both an easy to install pseudo-dimmer switch and a portable remote.

The updated Dimmer Switch will arrive on January 26 in Europe for €19.99. It’ll come to North America on February 23 for $24.99.

Source: Signify

Josh Hendrickson Josh Hendrickson
Josh Hendrickson is the Editor in Chief of Review Geek and is responsible for the site's content direction. He has worked in IT for nearly a decade, including four years spent repairing and servicing computers for Microsoft. He’s also a smart home enthusiast who built his own smart mirror with just a frame, some electronics, a Raspberry Pi, and open-source code. Read Full Bio »