New Video – Philips Hue Lightstrip Plus: Everything You Need To Know (Does It Justify Its High Price?)

Despite building my own DIY smart lightstrip for my kitchen last year, I purchased Philips Hue’s lightstrip to run around my desk in the black friday sales. Why did I do this?

Well, I wanted to compare the Philips Hue Lightstrip Plus to my own ZigBee DIY one. Is Hue’s offering really worth the high price?

This video covers pretty much everything you need to know about the Philips Hue Lightstrip: its diode layout, the cutting interval, its color and dimming quality, and a whole lot more:

The timestamps are:

  • 0:00 – Intro
  • 1:00 – Bluetooth support
  • 1:53 – Power info
  • 3:26 – Criticism 1: sparse diodes
  • 4:48 – Criticism 2: cutting interval
  • 6:04 – Actual product thoughts and RGB review
  • 8:52 – Weird color transitions
  • 9:34 – Dimming performance
  • 11:20 – Criticism 3: “re-using” in V4
  • 13:02 – Criticism 4: too wide
  • 13:57 – Criticism 5: the adhesive
  • 15:25 – Summing up: my overall thoughts
  • 16:57 – Compared to LIFX Z
  • 17:36 – Ending

Video Transcript

Hello, I’m Tristan from Smart Home Point and today, I wanted to speak about the Philips Hue Lightstrip Plus, which I recently picked up for 50% off in the Black Friday sales, and it’s actually installed around my desk here. You can actually see it change color. Now, you might be wondering why I actually ordered the Philips Hue Lightstrip because I recently created my own LED light strip, as you can see in previous videos. The reason, to be honest is, I picked it up, as I said, at 50% off, it was quite a good deal and I really wanted to do this YouTube video and just talk through some of the pros and cons of the Philips Hue Lightstrip Plus. So I’m gonna be covering all that in this video and answering a really important question. What happens if you get some water, you put some sugar in there, you swirl it around with your finger and then use a brush and you paint that on the wall? Okay, well, definitely stay tuned for the answer to that question, and to work out what the hell I’m talking about as well! But firstly, I wanted to recap on what the Philips Hue Lightstrip Plus actually is. So it is a smart LED light strip.

It works via ZigBee, via the Philips Hue Hub – or the bridge – and it also works over Bluetooth. So if you don’t want to go out and buy the expensive bridge or the expensive hub which can be around $50 by itself, you can actually download the Philips Hue Bluetooth app, install on your phone and you can actually communicate with the LED light strip through Bluetooth. And overall that works fairly well, especially for just plugging it in and, testing out the general color changes and the color general dimming, but of course there are a bunch of missing features if you use the Bluetooth mode. Firstly things like the lab formulas such as color loop, won’t work on the Bluetooth app. Which is a bit of a pity because LIFX and I’ve actually got a LIFX bulb in my ceiling, LIFX supports color looping and a bunch of other features include the music sync, out the box. So the fact that with Philips Hue you don’t get any of that color looping, or anything else, on the Bluetooth app is a bit of a flaw. So for me, this is actually installed via ZigBee. It’s running via the proper, full Philips Hue app.

One of the first things I done when I bought the Philips Hue Lightstrip home is, I took everything out of the box and I actually picked up the power adapter, which might make me sound a little bit nutty but bear with me! I looked at the output volts and the output amperage, and I was like: it’s only got 0.83 amperage: it’s terrible! Because my own DIY light switch actually supports I think it’s five amps. And so I thought immediately, my own DIY light strip is going to be a lot better than Philips Hue’s, but then I plugged Philips Hue Lightstrip in and I was like, “ooo shiny”, because actually it’s a really nice premium product. It looks really good, it feels really good when you use it in the app and you actually see the color changes. It’s also got really good dimming which obviously I’ll talk about a lot more in this video. So even though it’s only got 0.83 amperage – compared to my own DIY one that’s five amperage – it doesn’t matter all that much. It’s a bit like if you’ve got a car, a Ford that’s driving down the highway and doing a hundred and then you compare it to a Ferrari, also doing a hundred, it’s different. The both cars are different – although they’re both doing a hundred, they’re actually working in different ways Or a CPU from 10 years ago that’s running on three gigahertz is probably not going to be as fast as a CPU from nowadays running on three gigahertz. So I was a bit naive to actually look at things like the output voltage and amperage, and immediately assume that my other DIY Light strip is going to be better than the Philips Hue one. My hunch is with Philips Hue, they do use a lot more premium parts than some random DIY light strip that you’re going to buy on Alibaba as I have just learned, I hope I’m pronouncing that correctly. But having said all that, there are some valid criticisms of the Philips Hue Lightstrips that you’ll read online.

The two big ones are that the diodes are really sparse as in, they’re not really spaced… they’re really spaced out, they’re not really bunched together, and also the cutting interval is really poor. And these two criticisms come up a lot. So I wanted to address them both in turn before I go on to actually show you more about the Philips Hue Lightstrip. Okay, so firstly the Philips Hue Lightstrip has got fairly sparse diodes. If you actually look at it that you can see a picture coming up on the screen now, if you actually look at the individual diodes in the Philips Hue Lightstrip, they are fairly sparse, there’s quite a big gap between each individual diode. And if you compare that to my own custom LED Light strip that I purchased, you can actually see that the diodes are a lot more closer together. And what that actually means in practice is that an LED lights strip can have a hotspot type effect, where you actually get light bumps, especially if you’re not running it in a diffuser channel, you can actually get light spots on an LED Light strip where the actual diodes are. What you notice with the Philips Hue one, is you actually do get this in quite a prominent way. You definitely see this with Philips Hue’s, and that’s because there is a decent gap between the individual diodes. And although I still had hot spotting on my own custom LED Light strip, I think I had less of it even before running it in a diffuser channel. So that is I think a fairly valid flaw of Philips Hue’s Lightstrips.

But the bigger criticism for me, of the Philips Hue Lightstrips, is the cutting interval. They can only be cut to every 33 centimeters which is 13″ inches, but it’s pretty rubbish. For example, if you’ve got a shelf that’s 45 centimeters long, you can either have one particular run and a big gap on either side, or you can actually double up and you can go up to 66 centimeters and you’ve got a lot of overhang on either side which isn’t really good. Equally in my kitchen on the left of my dishwasher, I had a 60 centimeter gap. So there it’s actually even more prominent, the problem, I can either have a 33 centimeter Philips Hue Lightstrip and then just loads on the edge with nothing there, or I can actually have 66 centimeters and a journey to run the Philips Hue Lightstrip in the corner and that’s going to bump out a little bit and you’re going to see that, and especially you’re going to see hot spotting even more. So the cutting interval really is bad. As you can see on the screen, compared to my DIY light strip, you can actually see that can be cut to every 10 centimeters. That’s a lot more frequently and you’re a lot more flexible in how you can actually install the LED light strip as a result.

Okay, so with criticisms out the way and they are valid criticisms, they are flaws of Philips Hue’s Lightstrips, I wanted to actually cover the product now. So when I took off them out the box I bought the original based kit and an extension kit. You can see the picture on the screen now, and to be honest, what you get is really polished, everything looks quite nice. The Philips Hue light strip itself, the PCB and the diodes, everything looks really nice. I know you shouldn’t look at that too much but Apple fanboys care mainly about white sparkly things, so why can’t Philips Hue fans, to be frank?! So everything looks really nice and you get everything you need, you get the power supply which you often don’t with, if you do it yourself, you’ll buy GLEDOPTO controller with no power supply or you’ll buy a loop, a reel of LED light strip, and you don’t have any power supply or end connectors with that. So with Philips Hue, you get everything you need, you get the little hippo connector for joining things for two different strips on the version four model which I’ll talk about in a second and everything is really nice. And then you plug it in, and as I said, it’s a case of “ooo shiny”, because the Philips Hue Lightstrip is really nice.

Everything just works really well. In white mode, it’s quite bright, in fact, I was surprised at how bright it is, in color mode, it is less bright, but that’s fairly normal. That’s actually to be expected and is how the LED’s are designed and laid out. So in the actual, in the circuit boards you’ve got three diodes, you’ve got a cool white a warm light, and then another diode and that’s actually RGB, red, green and blue. So that’s how Philips Hue actually creates the full range of color. And that sort of layout is really good because you’ve got two different whites diodes and that creates quite a nice, effective white. But then you’ve obviously got the RGB diode as well for the full range of color, the 16 million colors that you can choose from from Philips Hue range on the app. But what that means is if you come in off, if you’ve got white, you’ve got all three diodes that will probably be in play, but then if you go to a full on a blue color or pink color or one of the more extreme colors you’ve only got the middle diode that’s really going to be contributing color. And even within that you’ve only got the three, you’ve got red, green and blue, you might only have one of those diodes zones such as blue. So all of a sudden you, instead of those five diodes, in essence, you’ve just got one or two diodes. So as a result, the brightness does come down a bit, as you can see on the screen, if you go in from white into color mode. But nonetheless, I actually really liked the color, I really liked the brightness as well, and what I really liked about the Philips Hue light strip is, the color changes are really sharp, they’re really snappy.

You can see it’s clear when things are pink, it’s clear when things are orange, it’s clear and things are blue. And that’s actually one of the things I’m a bit disappointed with, with my DIY light strip. And that’s because as you can see on the screen, sometimes when it changes color is not always, completely obvious when it’s changed color. It is, you can see it’s changed but certainly the color vibrancy, I don’t feel it’s as good on my DIY light strip as it is on the Philips Hue Lightstrip. So that’s a definite tick for Philips Hue.

One thing I did find kind of interesting with Philips Hue, is that when you’re using the color wheel on the app, you can see the actual color changes and you can see this on the diodes as well, the color changes and then sort of snaps back a little bit. So although you got a really nice transition to a color, if you manually change the color you do actually notice that it sort of goes to a particular color, almost overcompensates and then comes to the color you chose. And that can be a little bit weird if you’re manually playing about with things, but in reality most people aren’t going to notice that, it’s only sad people like me that study the diodes that will actually see that. And you can see really when you’ve got an effect on, you don’t really notice that effect whatsoever, it’s more when you’re manually playing around with things.

The next thing I wanted to talk about is the dimming performance of Philips Hue Lightstrips. I know some people joke about how Philips Hue are quite dim anyways, so when you dim things down, you don’t notice all that much. But in my experience, they are, as I said before, fairly bright, but when you dim down, you can go down to 1% brightness and you really notice that it’s really dim. This compares to my own LED lights trip which isn’t as good, the dimming performance just isn’t as good. What I noticed is although you can obviously dim it to 1%, it’s not the same as comparing to these Philips Hue Lightstrips. In fact, I’d say that if I set my custom LED light strip to 1% brightness, that’s actually equivalent to around 10 to 15% brightness on my Philips Hue LED light strip. This is quite a marked difference. And then obviously on the Philips Hue Lightstrip, you can continue to drop the brightness all the way down to a genuine 1%. And as you can see at 1% brightness the Philips Hue Lightstrips are really dim. It just, the diodes dimmed down really nicely compared to my other one. So in that sense as well, dimming performance is much better with the Philips Hue Lightstrip. Having said all that, I did try putting both of my LED light strips together when I was playing around and I was testing it on both apps, so I was turning them on and off, I was changing the color and all that. And a lot of the color vibrancy isn’t as good with my custom DIY light strip. I think overall at a hundred percent brightness, there’s no real difference between both LED light strips. So in that sense, if you mainly running your light strips at a hundred percent brightness, you might be better off going with the custom DIY. option for your light strips especially if it’s a lot cheaper. And I speak about that in a previous video, but overall I think Philips Hue Lightstrip is probably winning it for the color changes and dimming down to 1% or just dimming in general.

But nothing is perfect, one of the things that I really liked the sound of with Philips Hue was for the version four LED light strip, they were saying that they can be cut and re-used, and that seems brilliant, doesn’t it? Because Philips Hue light strips are quite expensive, the base kit can be 70 or 80 dollars, the extension kits can be more. I know I worked out for my own kitchen, if I was going to use Philips Hue, it would cost me around 170 pound here in the UK, which is quite expensive especially considering that my own DIY option came to around 50 pounds or around 60 pound. So it was a lot cheaper than going with Philips Hue. So the option of being able to cut and reuse for the version four a light strip or Philips Hue seems really good, but there’s a flaw. When you cut the Philips Hue Lightstrip, you do get the sort of hippo connector, it’s included in the box, you get a bit of a connector you can use to rejoin the cutoff piece to another Philips Hue Lightstrip, but you can’t just go out and get another controller, which is the ZigBee controller the Philips Hue uses, you can’t actually just buy that by itself and join the off cuts to that which will be a lot cheaper. What you have to do instead is buy a brand new Philips Hue base kit for 70 or $80 enjoying the off cuts to that piece. So in that sense, it’s not as good because although you off cut can be used as a kind of extension kit, you still need to actually buy a brand new base kit with all the extra costs that that entails. So that’s not really ideal, so for myself, I didn’t have any offcuts, if I did, I’d end up throwing them out instead of buy in yet another base kit to use them on. So I don’t really think that the marketing of being able to re-use things really lives up to the reality, because you can’t buy a Philips Hue light strip controller by itself.

My next concern with Philips Hue Lightstrips is the actual width of the light strip. They are slightly wider than average, and what that means is if you’ve got a diffuser channel they probably won’t fit in that diffuser channel. In fact, there’s some element of diffuser channels on Amazon say they work with Philips Hue Lightstrips but people have bought them and they don’t fit, and this was my experience as well. I have a bunch of aluminum diffuser channels leftover from when I’d done my DIY LED light strip, so I actually got on the diffuser channel page and Amazon it says they’re compatible with Philips Hue’s Lightstrips. I tried it out and they’re not, they just, it doesn’t fit, the Philips Hue Lightstrip is too wide, and so it doesn’t fit. And that’s a bit of an oversight in my mind because, especially with having more sparse diodes you’d think that actually Philips Hue would be able to shrink the width down so it would be a more standard width, and fit in most diffuser channels, so it’s a pity that that’s not the case.

Here’s a question for you, YouTube, what happens if you get some water, you put some sugar in there you swirl it around with your finger and then use a brush and you paint that on the wall? Don’t worry, I haven’t gotten mad. The reason I’m asking that question, is the stickiness you will get on the wall is stickier than the adhesive used in the Philips Hue Lightstrip, on the back of it. I don’t know why, because Philips Hue is a very premium, expensive product, and I’ll talk about the price in a second, but for some reason, Philips Hue decided to use the world’s worst adhesive known to man. It’s just terrible, it’s just not very sticky, Why? I actually found when I was installing it along here is, although it stuck originally, it fell off on the edge over here, it fell off over here and it fell off down here. And the moment that I try and stick it back down, it just comes back up. And as a result, a lot of people just go out and buy M3 double sided, sticky tape and actually use that instead. I don’t know why Philips Hue skimped on something as simple as the adhesive, but it seems they have. And to rub salt in the wounds, or to rub sugar in the wounds as the case may be, what they’ve also done is the actual tape on the back, is not one big continuous piece, it’s loads of little individual bits. And that’s really annoying, if you haven’t got nails like me, you’ll be there forever actually trying to take things off. From this three meter run, it was quite simple, it probably took me three to four hours to actually take off all the tape. Okay, obviously didn’t take me that long but it’s still really annoying. I don’t know why Philips you’ve done that with the tape, I don’t know why the adhesive is rubbish. So what are my thoughts on the Philips Hue Lightstrip? After all, I created my own DIY light strip, so I kind of got a vested interest in criticizing the Philips Hue one because it was easier for me to say, or for my own ego, it’s better for me to actually say, Philips Hue Lightstrip isn’t as good. Well, in reality, as I mentioned at the start of the video I really liked Philips Hue Lightstrip, and even though there are flaws with it, such as the cutting interval and the God awful adhesive, and the sparse diodes and everything else, and then the price of it, even though there’s problems with it, overall, I really liked the Philips Hue Lightstrip if you ignore the price.

I like the fact that it’s a six pin, it’s an RGB CCT light strip, and what that means is effectively, it’s a six pin light strip that can handle cool white, warm white and the RGB colors as well. What that means, without being too technical, what that means is it can produce really good white colors, blue whites, warm whites and cool whites and everything else that can produce them really well and it can produce the full range of colors really well. Whilst you can, of course get RGB CCT, DIY light strips to create your own and you can get an RGB, CCT GLEDOPTO controller, it’s not always obvious what exactly your buying. and in my case, when I made my DIY light strip I actually bought the wrong night strip. I just bought an RGB WW LED light strip. So with Philips Hue, you know you’re going to get the best quality or the best combination of light strip and the best quality controller as well, so that’s a big benefit of it.

Secondly, if you compare the Philips Hue Lightstrip to LIFX Z’s light strip, I know there’s some reviews online, on YouTube that actually say that LIFX is lot better, but the LIFX Z light strip is 5 to $10 more expensive whenever I’ve checked it and it’s also in a lot shorter supply. Most of the time I can go ahead and buy the Philips Hue Lightstrip at full price, if need be, but the LIFX Z one usually is usually out of stock especially in the UK, whenever I’ve checked it, that’s been the situation. Equally the LIFX Z light strip can’t be cut. If you’re actually look at the support page they say they won’t accept warranty claims for the LIFX Z light strip if you cut it. Now that’s a bit rubbish and that compares to Philips Hue which although I’ve got some concerns about cutting and re-using things in terms of the controller, with Philips Hue, they do embrace the fact that you can cut the light strip, it’s allowed and you can re-use the cut pieces as well. So overall, I like that about Philips Hue Lightstrip, is a premium RGB CCT light strip. You can cut it, it’s got good color changes, it’s got fairly good brightness, especially on white and you can dim it down really nicely as well. So overall, I really liked the Philips Hue Lightstrip, my only concern with it is the price. As I mentioned before when I came to do my kitchen, I worked at the Philips Hue would work at more than double the price than if I just done it myself. And if I had done it myself, I ended up with less waste, and overall, I like what I’ve created. I think to summarize what I would say about Philips Hue, is if they reduce the price 30 to 40%, I’d buy it every single time. Because at that point I think is worth paying a little bit more for the price. But as it stands, I think the Philips Hue light strip is little bit too expensive, it would be great if they drop the price but I don’t think they will.

So I think it’s a little bit expensive but whenever it comes up for sale on a Prime Day or any other type of sale in Black Friday, I will buy it because you can never have enough LED light strips.

I hope you enjoyed this video, if you did, please click the thumbs up button, please don’t forget to subscribe. And also please leave a comment below to let me know your thoughts. Thanks for watching!

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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