Philips Hue dimmer switch review: An easy way to connect your lights

Philips recently launched a remote control for its connected Hue light bulbs. The previous remote, called the Tap (opens in new tab), could change entire color sets between four buttons, and was powered by the kinetic force of pressing the device. The new dimmer switch maintains a much slimmer profile, but only works with white Hue bulbs and is battery-powered.

That sounds like an even trade-off, but the dimmer switch has one extra feature that could clinch a decision between the two — read on.

Philips Hue dimmer switch wall mount

The Philips Hue dimmer kit doesn't just come with a remote; it also includes a white light bulb to which the remote is already paired. Traditionally, Hue bulbs required an existing hub plugged into your Wifi router, which you pick up in the relatively expensive Hue bulb starter set (opens in new tab). Though the Philips Hue dimmer only comes with the one bulb, it gives a much more affordable alternative to starting your Hue collection. You can connect up to 10 lights to the same switch, and can set multiple switches to activate the same lights.

The set-up is startlingly painless. You simply screw the included bulb into the lamp of your choice, turn it on however it normally turns on, and the Hue dimmer switch buttons can immediately turn it off, on, increase brightness, or decrease brightness. The brightness level is remembered between flipping it on or off. As for the switch itself, you can keep the slim remote as is in a high-traffic area, or you can make use of the included wall mount. With it you can peel back adhesive and put it anywhere on the wall, or with a little bit of handiwork, you can screw it into an existing wall mount.

The wall mount piece snaps into two for installation, though the mounting holes are only on the left and right, not top and bottom. That may make it tricky to put it into your walls. I personally just opted for the adhesive. It's strong, and doesn't leave a mark after removal. A pair of magnets behind the plate keep the remote secure.

Philips hue dimmer app

You can, of course, connect the white bulb to a Hue hub after you've upgraded and begun to include colored bulbs around the house, or if you already have one set up. When setting up, you can pick to either connect the dimmer directly to the bulb it came with, or to your other bulbs. Once done, you can set it to deal with a set of bulbs, or one of your existing light scenes. The on, off, and dimmer buttons will then be associated with that scene or collection of bulbs.

Our take

The out-of-box experience is fantastic. For those who want to set up a room without needing a separate hub, and in the long haul don't have a need for the fancy (read: expensive) colored Hue bulbs, the Hue dimmer set is a great place to start. It's very easy to imagine loading up on additional bulbs to outfit your room.

If you already have a set of the pricier Hue bulbs, I would sooner opt for the Tap. It's a bit bigger and clunkier, but it offers more control over the scenes in your home.

$24.99 at Best Buy (opens in new tab)

Simon has been covering mobile since before the first iPhone came out. After producing news articles, podcasts, review videos, and everything in between, he's now helping industry partners get the word about their latest products. Get in touch with him at simon@futurenet.com.
17 Comments
  • I wish LIFX would come out with something similar. Posted via the Android Central App
  • A bit misleading, the dimmer works with the colored bulbs too, just can't control the color. You can also get it without the extra bulb and add it to your existing Hue hub and it integrates seamlessly.
  • The link at the bottom of the review is wrong. Takes you to Amazon for the older Tap switch for 59.95. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Looks like amazon is having an inventory issue — "currently unavailable" so all it offers is the other 2 Hue products (if you check the URL you'll see it's actually for the dimmer switch). Gonna find a better link ... or just assume Amazon can get that sorted in short order.
  • Yeah, Amazon stock has been flaky. Best Buy link is in!
  • Is the Hub needed to use the app? I guess so, but it's not clear..
  • Yes, nothing has changed, except this is a new bundle that doesn't include the hub. That's all this is....one big scam to get you to buy this, then realize you didn't buy the big expensive piece you need to use the app. Then you're in it more than you would have been by getting the hub bundle in the first place.
  • There is one epic flaw here....you need the remote. If you're sitting on the couch and the remote is on the wall, you have to get up and get the remote. If you want to use the app, you still need the hub....which isn't included and is the entire reason the starter pack was so expensive. EPIC FAIL
  • So this is just a remote dimmer switch? To me the entire appeal of the hue system is automation. Without the bridge I don't see the point. FYI - best buy has the first generation lux starter set (bridge + 2 white bulbs) on clearance for $56 (SKU: 7861118). That's a much better choice IMO.
  • My problem with Philips Hue is the price of everything. I thought it would have come down some by now, but it's still ridiculously expensive. Like $50 to $100 for a single freaking bulb? Yesus! I wanted a way to program my front door light recently and found a pretty sweet 60W equivalent LED with bluetooth and an app the lets you control and program it for $14 at Home Depot. No stupid hub required and the app actually works quite well and lets you set up groups of lights as a mesh network to control multiple at once. No custom colors like Hue, but I don't really care about that. https://www.androidcentral.com/e?link=https2F2Fc...
  • With the release of this kit, you can now get white Hue bulbs at 800 lumen for $15.
  • What kit? Did you mean to link something? And how much does the hub cost? That's probably where they'll get ya.
  • The dimmer switch reviewed above also comes in a kit that comes with one White Hue bulb for $35. You can add 9 more white bulbs at $15 each, no hub needed. These same bulbs work with the full Hue hub if you already have one, so either way, $59 bulbs are no longer required.
  • I didn't run into any of those issues when just adding bulbs and remote to an existing Hue hub installation. Just plugged in the bulbs, turned them on and the Hue app discovered the new lights, just like with the colored bulbs. Adding the remote was as simple as adding the device in the app.
  • A while ago I was looking at getting some sort of lighting automation within my TV room. I have 4 lights with dim-able LED's that all work off 1 switch. I couldn't justify the cost of getting the Hue system when I found this other solution: https://www.androidcentral.com/e?link=https2F2Flink...
    You can't just control 1 bulb at a time (unlike the HUE system). You end up controlling them all at once, but I have since added another dimmer to my house in the dining room and the hub/app works great too. You can also buy additional remotes if you need them (I now have 2). I also have it working with my Harmony Remote where I can select my HTPC and it dims the lights to a nice dim movie brightness for watching a movie, etc. Something to consider. Now that I have the system and see how well it works, I should have spent a little more to get this kit, which would have saved me some money in the long run: https://www.androidcentral.com/e?link=https2F2Flink...
  • This does have some great advantages, such as turning on your lights when you are not home, but this is the type of thing you never buy in the beginning. Only being able to buy Phillips bulbs? LOL I'll wait until a standard exists, or just buy another product altogether.
  • My Hawaii watch is perfect for light dimming