This is a common question that people ask, and rightly so, since they are the two biggest players for smart Lights right now. Both have their advantages and disadvantages though, so i’ll try and lay out why you should choose either of them.
The biggest factor in my opinion to which smart light ecosystem you choose, really comes down to how many bulbs and accessories you expect to use in the future. It’s a difficult one to imagine when you’re first starting out since most people don’t usually start their smart light journey expecting to eventually buy as many bulbs as they do. After all, these bulbs for either ecosystem aren’t cheap. Most people get their feet wet by buying one or two bulbs thinking that’s all they need or will ever want, however, the reality is, smart homes are very addictive, and the majority of people that buy smart lights end up purchasing more and more of them over time. This is a huge factor to take into consideration because both bulbs work differently.
How they work
The LIFX ecosystem has built in Wifi into all their lights and accessories, so they effectively communicate via your wifi network, however Philips Hue bulbs and accessories don’t have their own WIFI network, and instead communicate through a hub called a Bridge. The bridge. The bridge communicates with your network using Ethernet, and all the light bulbs and accessories communicate with each using Zigbee which is a wireless protocol. All this is managed from the Bridge.
One consideration in choosing one ecosystem over the other, is the fact a bridge is just one more device that needs to be plugged in, whereas the Lifx Light bulbs work independently using your existing wifi network.
The single biggest consideration you need to take into account though is the how many light bulbs and accessories you might own in the future as mentioned above because you’re not going to want to change ecosystems after you’ve spent hundreds of dollars on one or the other.
The main issue here is wifi. Most home wifi networks struggle when you start putting too many wifi devices onto them. It causes issues with speed and reliability. Wifi devices tend to disconnect indiscriminately, and becomes really frustrating as you get more devices.
A bridge on the other hand communicates to the network via ethernet, and your phone or tablet which is already connected to your network via wifi is able to communicate to the bridge.
Most Wifi networks on Modems/Routers can handle around 20 or so Wifi devices before they start to exhibit issues as stated above. You can get around this issue if you get a really decent Wifi Mesh network such as Google Nest Wifi, as these are dedicated mesh network devices, and are supposed to be able to handle around 100 devices, but it will defeat the purpose of eliminating a bridge cable if you have to replace it with a dedicated wifi device that has it’s own cable.
Ultimately, if you plan on going down the Lifx route, then you want to ensure you either have a Wifi network that can handle the load, or keep the number of bulbs to a minimum.
Philips Hue on the other hand can handle up to around 50 Lights and accessories, but it largely depends on how you set up your lights as to what the hard limit is. Once you reach the limit of lights and accessories, you’re forced to get a 2nd bridge. Having said that, if you have so many lights and accessories in the first place, you could probably afford a new bridge.
As far as other advantages and disadvantages with both ecosystems to, they both stand out in different ways.
Lifx bulbs are renowned for being brighter and more colour rich than Philips Hue bulbs, but Philips Hue has a larger amount of bulbs and accessories, and third party apps available.
It’s difficult for me or anyone to tell you what route to go down as it largely depends on what’s important to you, but the main thing to remember is if you plan on expanding your quantity of lights around your house over time, and believe me when I tell you, you will, then you’ll need to take each ecosystems’s advantages and disadvantages into consideration.
Feel free to leave a comment saying which one you chose, and whether you’re happy with the purchase.