The humble light bulb has undergone a dramatic series of changes in the last decade or so. Incandescents are out, so are fluros and CFL. Even just LED lights are humdrum items. In are the smart lights that can illuminate your indoor and outdoor world in 16 million colours.
Philips just launched a couple of outdoor units, the Lily spotlight and the Calla bollard. Both work in the Hue ecosystem.
We’re shining some light on them in this review.
Philips is synonymous with light. Its’ a bit strange that the Philips Lighting division now wants to be known as Signify, given the huge brand recognition of Philips. They will however continue to use the Philips branding for their products.
We have written before about the Philips Hue system of connecting and controlling the various elements, like luminaires and smart lights. It does a great job of integrating these lights on a room by room basis, floor by floor or the whole house.
If your outdoor scenery is ready for some fairy-tale illumination, here are the two products that can be the heart of this light show: the Philips Lily Spotlight and the Calla Bollard.
The Lily spotlight system consists of a base unit which includes the power pack and the spotlight and extension lights which can be connected to the base unit with 5m long cables.
The same can be said of the Calla bollard system which can be bought as a complete base system or as extension pedestal lights.
Importantly, Lily and Calla lights can be mixed and be powered off the same power pack.
All these outdoor lights are IP65 protected, meaning you can water the garden and not worry about the lights. It is a low voltage system as well and the cables are pretty tough. The lights in both units are 8W (or 640 lumen) and should last for 25 years if you run them for about 3 hours every night of the year.
The light units can be screwed in which I did with my units or be put into the soil or grass with the included plastic spike.
The units are very well constructed, modern looking and pricey.
More on that later.
The Hue Ecosystem
The well-chosen moniker for this smart system allows you to paint your outdoor setting with the hues of millions of colours.
We have not tried every one of the 16 million settings but wisely Philips has given us some presets like Savanna Sunset or Tropical Twilight...
The magic that makes this happen and ties everything together for connection and control is the Hue Bridge.
This small device needs to be plugged into power and your WiFi router. Install the Hue app and you can see what the system is capable of.
You can put the lights on a timer through the app or let them come up when the sun goes down. There’s also a Random routine where it might give the impression that someone is at home. Or you may let Hue welcome you home by bathing your abode in Arctic Aurora light! Naturally, you can dim the lights as well.
Hue plays nice with other smart home systems and can be voice activated.
One gripe I have with the Hue system: There are regular updates for the software of course but does it need to take hours and hours for downloading and installing?? I have 1 Bridge and 3 lights and it took me a couple of hours! Every light bulb needs to be updated and imagine if you have 2 dozen in and around your home...
Well, there’s one thing that might hold you back from that scenario: money. I already mentioned that the units are fairly pricey.
The Lily base unit costs $169.95
Extension lights are $129.95
(A 3-pack – 1 base light & 2 extensions – will soon be available for $279)
The calla bollard base unit costs $219.95
Extension bollards are $159.95
Plus you need a Hue Bridge, costing $85.
These products are available at Bunnings or JB HiFi here in Australia.
So, is it worth this outlay?
Given the high quality built, the good looks (subdued modern), the gamut of scenes and atmospheres you can create, I’d say yes.
This is particularly good for newly built houses but it will also enhance the ambiance of an older style house such as we have.
Have a look at the Philips Hue site for more ideas. Here’s hoping that they come out with more models soon (plus faster updates!) and you’ll read about it here.