There are two ways to control a Philips Hue smart lighting system: Bluetooth and with the Hue Bridge. Though one is not necessarily better than the other, adding a Hue Bridge to your setup unlocks the full suite of smart lighting features, some of which aren’t available with a Bluetooth-controlled system. This guide will walk you through all you need to know about the Hue Bridge, so you can decide whether it’s the right choice for your smart lighting system.
Hue Bridge buying guide
Do I need a Hue Bridge?
Considered the heart of the Hue smart lighting system, the Hue Bridge uses Zigbee technology to connect to your Wi-Fi. This lets you control your Philips Hue smart lights using the Philips Hue app both at home and from anywhere else in the world where you have an internet connection.
However, the Hue Bridge is not required to use Philips Hue smart lighting. Most Philips Hue smart lights are Bluetooth-enabled (look for the symbol on the packaging) and can be controlled with the Philips Hue Bluetooth app without a Hue Bridge — but a Bluetooth setup does come with some limitations.
Hue Bluetooth vs. Hue Bridge
A key difference between controlling your lights with Bluetooth versus a Hue Bridge is the number of lights that you can control. If you have a Hue Bridge, you can connect up to 50 lights throughout your entire home, but if you control your smart lights via Bluetooth, you can only connect up to 10 lights in one room.
The Hue Bridge allows you to control your lights from anywhere in the house — and, in fact, anywhere in the world. Whether you’re at work, running errands, or away on vacation, you can turn lights on and off, dim or brighten, or even set up automations just like you would at home.
With Bluetooth control, you’re limited to only being able to operate your smart lights within Bluetooth range — about 30 feet or 10 meters. If you have a larger home or Philips Hue outdoor lights (which require a Hue Bridge to function), the full power of the Hue Bridge is your best option.
What is the range of a Hue Bridge?
Zigbee is a smart home technology that’s used to link smart devices to a home network. It’s secure, fast, and reliable — your lights even continue to work if your internet is down. The Hue Bridge has a 291-meter outdoor range and an indoor range of 25 meters (that’s about 950 feet and 80 feet). In an average home, you probably won’t have any range issues. In fact, as you add Hue lights, each one becomes a repeater for the Zigbee signal, extending the range of your entire system
How many lights can one Hue Bridge support?
By using a Hue Bridge, you unlock the full suite of Philips Hue smart lighting capabilities — from automations to away-from-home control. However, if your Philips Hue smart lighting collection exceeds 50 lights and accessories, you might require a second Hue Bridge. The same applies to those who live in large houses where some areas might simply be too far away for a single Hue Bridge to support on its own.
Setting up a second Hue Bridge
You can set up a second Hue Bridge in the Philips Hue app. When installing your Hue Bridge, plug it in anywhere with an available ethernet connection. If you have a large home, spreading out multiple Hue Bridges to cover the whole range of the house is best.
How to set up a second Hue Bridge on the Hue app
Set up your second Hue Bridge in the Philips Hue app:
1. Go to Settings
2. Tap Hue Bridges
3. Tap the plus icon (+)
How to use a second Hue Bridge
When setting up your smart lights across two Hue Bridges, make sure to assign your lights to each Hue Bridge strategically. For example, it might be better to split your lights between floors, such as having a Hue Bridge for upstairs and another for downstairs. You can easily switch between Hue Bridges in the Philips Hue app by tapping the Hue Bridge icon in the Home tab.
Using Bluetooth instead of Hue Bridge
Controlling your Philips Hue smart lights with Bluetooth is perfect for people who only want smart lighting in one room — or those who want to try it out before they commit to a full setup. Because you can control up to 10 lights with the Hue Bluetooth app, it is ideal for students in a dorm room or those who live in smaller spaces, such as studio apartments.
A Bluetooth setup lets you turn lights on or off, dim, and change light colors with the Hue Bluetooth app. You can also set a timer, use preset light scenes, and even control lights with your voice. However, you won’t be able to control your lights while away from home, set ongoing automations, or create custom scenes.
The good news? You can always start out with a Bluetooth-controlled system and add a Hue Bridge later!