In recent years I have had the opportunity to try many HomeKit accessories for my home. One of the highlights for me has been the Philips Hue lamps, so much so that last year I started to “build” the intelligence of my house with the lighting of this company. A year later, I took a few more steps that gave me perspective and encouraged me to complete the ecosystem little by little.
Of course, Miguel López warned long ago in his analysis of Ikea light bulbs: HomeKit can be addictive. And that’s true.
Choose as few different companies as possible
A few years ago, for my birthday, I ordered the initial Philips kit which included some lights and the bridge (on Amazon for 66 dollars), needed to control this and other home automation devices from the company. Even though I already knew Ikea had its own lighting with the HomeKit integration, I preferred to choose the Dutch solution. I thought they had more experience and product variety.
It ended up being the right decision over time because, indeed, there are quite a few interesting accessories from this brand. For this reason, my recommendation is to choose only one company for each group of home automation accessories, such as lighting, heating and air conditioning or sound.
Especially in lighting, because there are several solutions from different companies that require their own bridge. If you start mixing several, it’s easy to end up with a corner of the house full of bridges of this type. And we already have enough with those of our internet operators. The Philips hub is also capable of grouping more than 50 different accessories.
The compatibility of Ikea lamps with the Philips bridge is real, but they can only be used with the Philips app and does not allow to manage them with HomeKit. If you have other home automation systems like Google or Amazon, it looks like integration is possible. For Tradfri bulbs to work with HomeKit, you will need their own bridge.
Sensorless light bulbs are useless
After receiving my first HomeKit lighting set, I quickly discovered one of its biggest drawbacks. Connected light bulbs they’re only useful if you have a way to keep them connected to power even when they’re turned off.
A smart bulb must be connected to power for you to use it with Siri or any Apple device, inside and outside the home. If you use a normal switch they work perfectly, but when you turn them off this way you won’t be able to use them any other way.
It may make you think that you have wasted your money and given up on this expensive hobby or you decide to take advantage of investing in places where it is inconvenient to access the switch. For example, a floor lamp in the corner of the room, which I did initially. That said, there are two other alternatives if you want to pursue home automation:
- Motion detectors turn lights on and off. This model also gives you the temperature and light level in the room, which opens up another range of automation possibilities.
- switches or the buttons used to control the light.
In my case, I received two Philips motion sensors this birthday (my family started joking that you just have to go to a hardware store to get me a present). The I placed in the hallway to detect both entry and “crossover” from the other end. With them, you walk down the hall and manage to forget to turn those lights on or off. Now the challenge is to get used to not touching the switches.
To optimize your space and your budget, choose the brand with which you want to automate your home.
I haven’t tried the second one yet, but I plan to put one in the living room soon (more precisely the one from Amazon at 20 dollars). Back to sensors, the truth is that it is good to enter the house and the hall light comes on without doing anything. Getting up at night to drink water and not having to search for the switch. Of course, be sure to program them at a lower intensity at night so that they do not dazzle you during your night walks.
HomeKit is an expensive “hobby”: take advantage of the discounts
The highest barrier to entry into home automation with HomeKit (or any other system) is price. Compatible accessories they started getting expensive, although they are currently lower. There is also more variety. The best thing to do is to carefully plan out what you want to do in your home and organize it into sections, before you start anywhere. For example, break it up into parts like you do in the iOS Home app (and take the opportunity to create HomeKit scenes):
Start with one section or room of your house, something that doesn’t require a lot of investment, before you start doing it all at once
Start with the one that will give you the least “war”, to get used to it, take the first steps with HomeKit and see what your chances are. My recommendation is to start with something easy: the floor lamp in the living room, a light in the hallway or the light in the kitchen. And if you don’t like your decision, you can always move it.
Whatever you do, don’t miss the discounts usually available at online stores. HomeKit is an expensive hobby, There is no doubt. But every now and then there are offers where you can save a lot, especially if you want to brightly illuminate a room with many lights.
Philips Hue Smart Bulb, E27, Philips Hue Bridge Included, Dimmable Warm Light, Compatible with Alexa and Google Home – Pack of 2 Smart LED Bulbs