Can Philips Hue Cycle Colors? (Yes, most of the time…) – A Tutorial – New Video

Whilst it’s not obvious from the Philips Hue app, it IS possible to automatically cycle between different colors with your Hue lights and light strips. This is possible via the “Hue Labs” feature, which I show step-by-step in this guide. I also cover this topic in much more detail on my blog here.

However please note that this isn’t possible in the Hue Bluetooth app – you must have a Hue Bridge and use the full Hue app for this to work.

The timestamps for this video are:

  • 0:00 Intro
  • 0:44 What Hue Labs is
  • 1:23 Walkthrough
  • 3:47 Wrapping up

Video Transcript

Hello, I’m Tristan from Smart Home Point. When you first install a Philips Hue light and open the Hue app, you can be forgiven for being a little… underwhelmed.

[cutaway] is that it?!

After all, whilst you can set your bulbs to different colors (and brightness levels), there’s nothing dynamic within the app. You can’t set your bulbs to automatically cycle between different colors. However this fairly simple feature IS offered within the LIFX app, which has a number of simple color cycling effects to choose from. So the fact that it doesn’t exist within the official Hue app seems a bit rubbish.

Thankfully, though, there is a semi-official way of having color cycling from within the Hue app. This is via a Hue lab formula known as Color Loop, although this is only available if your Hue bulbs connect to a Hue Bridge – it’s unfortunately not possible with the Hue Bluetooth app.

So as long as you use the Hue Bridge, you can launch the Hue app, go to “Explore” and then “Hue Labs”. This is where a range of ‘experimental’ formulas exist, and many of these allow you to have the colors of your Hue bulbs cycle between a range of colors.

I’ve done a full walkthrough of most of these lab formulas in another video, but I wanted to show you the “ColorLoop” formula, which is the easiest way of setting up color cycling on your Hue lights. This is actually what I have running on my Hue Lightstrip around my desk, although ColorLoop can work with ANY color bulb from Hue.

To get this set up, within the “Hue Labs” part of the app, click on “Formulas” at the top and then scroll down to “Hue colorloop”. You can see that it explains what this lab formula does – i.e. it loops between different colors. To install this, scroll down until you see “Add New”.

Firstly, give the lab formula a name – such as “Study colorloop”. Then choose whether you want this to keep playing after turning your lights off and on again – I’ll say no.

Next up, how quickly should the colors change? I’ll choose “fast” which is a fairly ‘in your face option’, but you may want to dial this down and have the colors change slower instead.

The next option is what sort of colors you want here. Vibrant cycles between all colors, whereas pastels includes a smaller number of consistent colors. I’ll go with Vibrant here, as that’s what is running on my lightstrip currently.

Next up, if you have a Hue accessory such as a Tap Switch or Dimmer Switch, you can choose to activate this color loop effect at the click of a button. This is quite useful, but I’ll select “Virtual” – meaning that I can only activate this through the app (under the “Hue Lab Controls” section that pops out).

Finally, you can select which bulb(s) this color loop will apply to. There’s another note here, too: if you just have a Hue White or White Ambiance bulb, the lap formula won’t work properly – it’ll only turn them on or off.

Right, once that is setup as you’d like, click on “Install”. It will then appear under the “Hue Labs Control” section. To kick it off, simply select the toggle button – and your bulb will start cycling through loads of different colors. Noice.

There are dozens of Hue lab formulas to experiment with, although if you find them all a little bit boring, there are third party apps for Philips Hue that also offer color looping and a range of other features. I cover these in much more detail in my blog – check out the link in my description.

But that wraps up today’s video – overall the Hue ColorLoop formula is the easiest way of achieving a simple color cycling effect on your Hue bulbs. I hope you found this video helpful. 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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