When Philips Hue first announced its line of outdoor smart lighting back at CES 2018, I was immediately intrigued. I was on-hand for the demo in Las Vegas and saw an answer to a problem that has seemingly plagued my outdoor spaces for years. There are plenty of lighting solutions for gardens and outdoor areas but most are clunky and unrefined. I’ve leaned on outdoor-grade smart plugs each Christmas for a while, but those lack the integrated dimming controls that are often best suited for landscape lighting.
The Philips Hue outdoor line arrived on the scene with an answer in-hand, and a hefty price tag to match. But what I found was a refined solution that met the needs of my burgeoning HomeKit setup while highlighting the unique architectural aspects of my home, which you can learn more about below.
Philips Hue Outdoor line covers all the bases
The initial CES announcement revealed an outdoor lineup built off the familiar Philips Hue line of products. There were floodlights, strips, and the usual suite of starter kits and expand at your own pace options we’ve come to know from Philips.
I’ve been using the Hue line for a number of years now. The ability to slowly grow my inventory of lights combined with a refined experience backed by HomeKit has made it a no-brainer for my uses. I’ve always found the price tag to be worth the experience.
My Philips Hue outdoor experience was centered around the brand’s Lily Outdoor spot lights, which retail in a three-pack for $339.99. At over $110 per light, that’s a pricey endeavor. Especially considering that three lights will likely not cover most home’s outdoor spaces. I also added a pair of Ludere Outdoor floodlights above my garage, which go for $129.99. All told, there was $1,580 worth of lighting required to adequately illuminate my 1.5-acre property. A cheap venture, this is not.
But while the price concerns are worth pointing out, you’re also buying into the best HomeKit lighting manufacturer out there. Backed by years of experience and Apple’s seal of approval. What I’m trying to say is, Hue isn’t going anywhere. And it’s that peace of mind in today’s constantly-changing smart home scene that makes the big price tag here easier to swallow.
Hands-on with the Lily Outdoor spot light
The Philips Hue outdoor lineup is built around the Lily spot light. It’s the most traditional offering of the bunch, serving as a basic spotlight at its core upgraded with 16 million colors, HomeKit control (along with Alexa and Assistant, too), and the usual suite of automatic scheduling features.
Inside the box is a trio of individually-packed lights, plus the power block, three extension cables, and two splitters for connecting multiple lights together. If you’ve installed a Hue light before, the set up process here will be very familiar. Simply screw in the light, which in this case requires the snapping together of two connectors, followed by a screw-on top to keep the weather out. Each light should be attached to the power block prior to plugging in the main outlet because the lights automatically turn on and are blinding. Just take my word for it.
Philips includes enough cable length to easily space out each light appropriately. It took five to cover the front of my average-sized home. The installation process is easy with the snap and screw process I explained above. After plugging in the power source, you’ll then open the Hue app and navigate to the add light section. As long as one light is within range of either your Hue Hub or another Hue light, they will automatically be added to your setup and HomeKit. From there you can name, schedule, and place each light into the necessary room or scene within your Home app.
The Lily Outdoor spot light provided ample brightness in my testing. While I might not be testing out all 16 million colors any time soon, the ability to change the warmth of each light individually allows users to create just the right uniform (or not) look. This is particularly helpful if you’re dealing with varying materials on your home, as each one will reflect light differently.
Hands-on with the Ludere Outdoor floodlights
While the Lily spot lights offer an easy install, the Ludere Outdoor floodlights require a bit more knowledge on the electrical wiring front. If you’ve installed a floodlight before, the experience is rather straightforward. If not, you may find dealing with bare wires to be a bit more intimidating. The Philips Hue Outdoor line does a great job of including detailed instructions with each product. That was a welcome sight for this novice DIYer.
If you’ve seen any of Philips’ other fixture-based lights, then the Ludere Outdoor floodlight will be familiar. What you’re essentially getting here is a traditional light fixture paired with one of Philips’ smart lights. There’s nothing particularly noteworthy about the actual surround that the bulb sits in. You’re paying for Hue to bring it all together in one tidy package, essentially.
After popping off my existing floodlight setup, and turning off the electricity first, install was fairly straight forward. The Ludere Outdoor floodlight fit my existing housing that was already in place, and I simply had to tie the new and old wires together. From there, a single screw on the housing brings everything securely into place and it’s time to test your handiwork.
Set up is just the same as the Lily lights detailed above, but one notable difference is the bulb type. Philips includes its Hue White bulb on the Ludere, which means you only have your choice of various warm and cold shades. The 16 million colors to choose from are not an option here.
Philips Hue Outdoor hits all the marks when it comes to build quality and ease of install. But that price. It’s going to be an issue for many consumers. And while smart home enthusiasts are willing to spend, shelling out $300+ for outdoor lighting is still going to cause most to pause.
If money is no object, I wholeheartedly recommend the Lily Outdoor spot lights. Everything about the experience was top-notch and the easy integration with HomeKit continues to be one of Hue’s greatest strengths.
I was less impressed with Hue’s floodlights. The product worked as intended, but ultimately you’re likely to be better off to either install a single Hue bulb into your existing surround or add a smart light switch to the mix instead. Unless you’re really in love with the actual fixture, your money is likely better spent elsewhere.
The Philips Hue Outdoor lineup reigns supreme as the best landscape lighting for HomeKit users. Its price is high, but well worth the investment if you want a best-in-class experience.