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You Can Use Philips Hue Bulbs without a Hub

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Philips Hue bulbs connect to a central hub that allows you to control your lights remotely from your smartphone. However, if you’re wanting to save a little bit of money and still want smart bulbs in your house, you can actually bypass the hub altogether and just use a Hue Dimmer Switch…you’ll just miss out on a few features.

The Philips Hue Bridge hub is priced at $60, and you can get it bundled with some Hue bulbs for as low as $70. However, as long as you have a Hue Dimmer Switch, you can control Hue bulbs using the switch without needing a hub or the Hue app on your phone.

You can buy a kit that comes with a Hue Dimmer Switch and a Hue White bulb for $35, and it’s as easy as screwing in the light bulb, turning it on at the main switch, pulling the battery tab out of the remote, and instantly being able to control the light. It literally takes 30 seconds to set it up.

As long as you want to control your lights using the Dimmer Switch, you don’t need a Hue Bridge hub at all. However, here are some things to keep in mind if you want to go with this kind of setup, including things you can and can’t do.

You Can Only Connect Up to Ten Bulbs to One Switch

This likely won’t be an issue for you, unless you have a room with a lot of lights, but ten bulbs is usually more than plenty on one switch.

Now, if you want to blanket your entire house in Hue bulbs and would need more than ten bulbs to do it, you can always get more Hue Dimmer Switches and assign them to specific rooms, using less than ten bulbs per switch, all without needing a Hue Bridge hub.

As mentioned above, the Hue Dimming Kit comes with a switch and bulb already paired, but if you want to add more bulbs to that switch, all you have to do is screw in the bulb, turn it on, place the Hue Dimmer Switch next to the bulb, and press and hold the on button on the switch until the small LED light in the top-left corner of the switch turns green. The bulb will blink to confirm the pairing and you’ll do this for each bulb you want to add on.

Color Bulbs Won’t Change Color

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One of the driving factors behind Philips Hue lights being so awesome is that the Hue White & Color bulbs can change into pretty much any color you can imagine.

The downside here is that you can’t take advantage of this when using the Hue Dimmer Switch and all you’ll be able to do is turn it on and off, as well as dim and brighten it. Because of that, you’ll want to stick with the basic Hue White bulbs.

You Can Use More Than One Switch with a Light(s)

If one switch won’t be enough to adequately control a light(s) in your house, you can add a second switch to it to create a three-way setup like you see in many houses with their traditional light switches.

I have a Hue Dimmer Switch in my living room that controls the lights in that room, but I also have a second Hue Dimmer Switch mounted upstairs so that I can turn on the lights downstairs before I get down there, which is really convenient when it’s dark out. You can even get creative and have one switch control half of the lights, while the other switch controls all of them based on certain situations.

The process for adding another Hue Dimmer Switch to lights that are already paired with a switch is the same as before: place the Hue Dimmer Switch next to the bulb, and press and hold the on button on the switch until the small LED light in the top-left corner of the switch turns green. However, before you do that, you’ll need to place both Dimmer Switches next to each other and hold down both on buttons at the same until both LED lights turn green.

At Some Point, It Might Make Sense Just to Get the Hub


If you plan on buying a handful of Hue bulbs and several Hue Dimmer Switches, it might just make sense to go ahead and buy a Hue Bridge hub, especially if you’re spending all that money anyway.

It only costs $60 (the price of just four Hue White bulbs) and it opens up the full capability of the Hue ecosystem, including the ability to create “scenes”, control lights from your phone, and even have lights turn on and off automatically at either set times, or whenever you get home from work. It’s well worth it.

Craig Lloyd is TIME Magazine’s 2006 Person of the Year, as well as a mediocre gamer, aviation geek, baseball fan, motorcyclist, Marvel fanboy, and a proud introvert. He began his career as a young, naive teenager tinkering around with the family computer and has since blossomed into the beautiful geek he is today.

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