Philips Hue offers one of the most comprehensive and versatile smart lamp lines on the market, and you usually want the Philips Hue bridge plugged into your router to control all of your installed bulbs.
But what if you don’t want the Hue Bridge? The good news is, you are not at a dead end. Thanks to the compatibility of Hue bulbs with the Zigbee standard, there are other ways to access your Hue bulbs, without all the official equipment.
In addition, Philips Hue now has Bluetooth bulbs, giving you another way to bypass the hub.
It should be pointed out that installing the Hue Bridge is the best way to go. it gives you the best and most reliable control of your Hue smart lights and access to all the features of Hue apps.
If you want to do it differently, read on.
Use Philips Hue Bluetooth bulbs
In 2019, Signify discovered this miraculous standard called Bluetooth, and in the future, all Hue bulbs will offer Bluetooth and Zigbee, giving you options when it comes to setup.
With Bluetooth, one of those options is not to use a hub at all. Instead, you can just screw in the bulb and connect it directly to your phone. This does mean, however, using a new standalone Hue BT app.
Tested: Philips Hue Bluetooth review
Still, the added versatility should make Hue more appealing to anyone who isn’t ready to do the “whole thing” by lowering the price of entry. However, this has limitations: you can only connect 10 bulbs, there is no remote control once you leave the house, and third-party app integrations are not supported.
You also can’t group Hue bluetooth bulbs in different rooms, although you can technically group in rooms, so that you can make a “bathroom” and a “kitchen,” but creating a party upstairs can be a bit tricky considering you need to be within bluetooth range (hence the limitation of rooms). Alexa and Google Assistant are playing well though.
You can also use Google’s new seamless setup feature to add Bluetooth Hue bulbs to a Google Assistant smart home, without using a Hue bridge.
Using the Hue Dimmer
If you buy a Hue dimmer that comes with a Hue bulb, they’re already linked when you take them out of the box. All you have to do is screw the bulb into an empty socket, turn on the light switch, and then put the battery in the dimmer.
Right away, you can use the dimmer to control the Hue bulb: turn it on and off, and adjust the brightness. You can’t control the color at all (one of the reasons you might consider buying a Hue Bridge), but it does give you some functionality.
Philips Hue bulbs also work with a regular light switch, of course. Even if you don’t buy the Dimmer or Hue Bridge or any other accessory, you can turn the bulb on and off using the standard light switch on the wall.
Each Hue dimmer can support up to 10 bulbs. If you want to add a new bulb without a Hue bridge, install the bulb and turn it on, then move the light dimmer closer and hold down the On button. You will see a small LED light turn on on the dimmer and the bulb will flash to confirm the connection.
All of these smart bulbs (up to 10 of them) will respond to the Hue Dimmer the same, but this is one way to add Philips Hue smart bulbs to your home without a Hue Bridge.
Using an Amazon Echo as a hub
Since Philips Hue bulbs use the Zigbee standard, they can work with some Zigbee smart home hubs rather than a Hue bridge. Although the integration is not always as reliable or available with as many features as with a Hue Bridge.
Some Amazon Echo speakers – especially Amazon Echo Plus, Amazon Echo Show, and the latest (4th generation) Echo – ???? can work as Zigbee hubs. If you have already set up any of these speaker models, new Hue bulbs can be added via Alexa and the Philips Hue skill.
Make sure your Hue bulbs are plugged in and on, then go to the Alexa app (which you should already have installed when setting up your Echo). To select Devices, then the More button, then Add device. After a few seconds of searching, your Hue lights should be detected and added.
If you prefer, you can use a voice command instead: say “Alexa, find my devices” and your Alexa smart speaker will scan your home for compatible Hue bulbs.
Regardless of how you add the Hue bulbs, once they are connected you can control them through the Alexa app or through your voice, with commands such as “Alexa, turn off the bedroom lights”.
Using the Alexa app, you can group your Hue bulbs and even group them with smart lights from a different brand. However, without the Hue Bridge, you can’t create custom scenes, turn lights on or off based on your location, or access various other advanced features available in the Hue app.
Using an Ikea TrÃ ¥ dfri gateway as a hub
Another option is to use an Ikea Trådfri gateway as a hub for your Hue smart bulbs instead of the official Philips Hue bridge. Much like Amazon Echo Zigbee devices, the Gateway, which plugs directly into your router, handles communications between your phone and the Hue bulbs you have installed.
Assuming you already have your Ikea Trådfri catwalk and Trådfri bulbs running, adding Hue lights to the mix isn’t too difficult – you just follow the same process you do to add a Trådfri light.
Install and turn on your Hue bulb, then open the TrÃ ¥ dfri app and choose Add devices then Bulb. You will be asked to choose a control device, which you will have used to configure your TrÃ ¥ dfri â ???? lights. a motion detector, wireless dimmer or remote control, for example.
When you have made your choice, hold the controller within two centimeters of the bulb and press and hold the link button for ten seconds. You should see the bulb flicker, and once that flicker stops, release the button. Hue light is now added.
As with the Amazon Echo integration, you don’t get all the planning, geo-tagging, and color cycling options you get with a real Hue Bridge, although it’s still a great way to add Hue lights though. you already have a Trådfri system configuration this saves you from having to plug two hubs into your router.