Philips Hue White vs White Ambiance vs Color Ambiance – New Video

The three Philips Hue color types (White, White Ambiance, and full Color) might seem confusing at first – especially if you are new to smart lighting.

Thankfully the differences aren’t all that difficult to understand, as this video covers. I also cover which of the three color types I prefer.

  • 0:00 Intro
  • 1:11 Philips Hue White
  • 1:40 Philips Hue White Ambiance
  • 2:45 Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance
  • 3:22 Controlling each is the same
  • 3:53 Price differences
  • 4:30 Final thoughts

Video Transcript

Hello, I’m Tristan from Smart Home Point. I’ll openly admit that when I bought my first smart light, I got confused by all the different terms. Is WiFi or ZigBee better? Should the light be RGB, RGBWW, RGBW… or RGB-CCT?! Should I care? And when I finally settled on Philips Hue (which is Zigbee and RGB-CCT, by the way), I was then confused as to whether I should buy “white”, “white ambiance” or “white and color ambiance”. Too many terms!

Right, whilst I won’t talk about Zigbee or RGB-CCT in this video, I will talk about what you definitely need to know: the difference between the 3 Hue bulb types, and when to buy each of them. So here I have those three types: Hue White, Hue White Ambiance, and Hue Color (although it’s official name is “White and Color Ambiance”). Before I talk about the differences, it’s worth quickly pointing out that my White Ambiance bulb is a small candle bulb, whereas my other two are standard ceiling bulbs, but the three Hue bulb types (white, white ambiance and color) exist in many different bulb formats.

Okay, so let’s take the easiest case: Hue White. This smart bulb can be smartly turned on and off, and also dimmed. And that’s it. You can’t change its color – it just pumps out a fixed ‘warm white’. This is the sort of color that you see in the evenings – during sunset. Many non-smart bulbs are also set to ‘warm white’, which is around 2700K on the Kelvin light scale, so you may not have considered that there are natural bulb colors beyond ‘warm white’.

But whilst this might sound like a boring topic, this IS actually worth understanding – due to what Hue White Ambiance offers. If you think of sunlight, due to atmospheric scattering effects, the color of the light changes throughout the day. During sunrise and sunset, the light is fairly yellow – or sometimes even red. This puts it at the left of the Kelvin light scale. But as the day goes on, the sunlight becomes more blue – also known as cool white. This puts it at the right of the Kelvin light scale.

What this means is that during the middle of the day, having loads of lights stuck at ‘warm white’ can start to feel a bit odd – as though it’s evening time. Therefore Philips Hue offer White Ambiance, which allows you to change between warm white and cool white – in other words, to change between the main parts of the Kelvin light scale. In practical terms, this means that you can have your smart lights pump out a color that naturally reflects the time of day and ultimately the sunlight.

Finally, Philips Hue offers Color bulbs. The official name is “White And Color Ambiance”, but it’s also sometimes called a ‘full RGB’ bulb – meaning that you have full control over the colors it produces. With this, you can change between 16 million different color combinations via the color wheel within the Hue app, and you can also use some fun lighting effects that rotate between colors – or even mirror what’s showing on your TV screen. Certainly, Hue Color bulbs are the most fun in that sense.

So that wraps up the functional differences between each. Before I talk about the other key difference of each – the price – I wanted to mention that all 3 types can be controlled in the same ways. You can use the Philips Hue app, or a Hue accessory such as a Dimmer Switch or Motion Sensor. You can also use third party integrations, such as using Alexa routines and voice commands to control them.

So the main difference of these is the color they produce, and whether you can control that color or not. The other key difference, of course, is price. Hue Color costs more than Hue White Ambiance, which costs more than Hue White. To be more precise though, Hue White typically costs $15 each, White Ambiance is often $22.50 each and Hue Color is usually around $45 each. This does of course vary depending on how many you buy, whether there are offers on, and whether you buy a starter kit or not, BUT the main thing to note is that Hue Color is often double the price of White Ambiance.

Therefore if you can afford Hue Color you may want to just buy that, but if you have a budget, you might be better off buying the White Ambiance bulbs – or even just the Hue White ones. This is especially true if you’re putting the bulb in a part of your house where you probably won’t want bright pink or green lighting! I actually find that I prefer White Ambiance the best overall: being able to tweak the color to match the time of day is really nice, and they’re half the price of the Hue Color bulbs. But your mileage may vary.

And that just about wraps up today’s video. I hope you found it useful. If you did, please click the thumbs up button and don’t forget to subscribe. Thank you!

About Tristan Perry

Tristan Perry is a software developer who is passionate about tech gadgets, DIY and housing. He has therefore loved seeing smart homes hit the mainstream. Tristan also has an academic background (in Math & Computer Science), and so he enjoys digging into the technical ways that smart home devices work.

Tristan owns close to a dozen Amazon Echo devices, way too many Philips Hue bulbs and lightstrips, a boat-load of Ring Cameras and Doorbells... and a bunch of other smart home devices too (from Reolink, Google Nest, GLEDOPTO and others).

If you have any questions, feedback or suggestions about this article, please leave a comment below. Please note that all comments go into a moderation queue (to prevent blog spam). Your comment will be manually reviewed and approved by Tristan in less than a week. Thanks!

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