I grew up surrounded by technology. Even back in the 1980’s when I was a kid, I remember using the likes of a computer, games console and talking on my trusty CB radio. Many an evening and weekend was spent typing in code to my trusty Sinclair ZX81. It was an amazing time, but we did not have the likes of smartphones, yet alone smart home products. In relative terms, these gadgets were likely more expensive back then, yet theft and the worry of home security certainly seemed a lot less.
Nowadays, many of us load our homes up with the latest technology without even a blink of an eye. Most of the products in use are primarily for entertainment, things like large screen televisions, games consoles and home cinema or audio systems. We also tend to take for granted our smartphones, laptops and tablets. Personally, I used to be very relaxed about security until I was subject to the theft of some very personal items.
This set me on a path looking for products that would give me some peace of mind. My thought process was that it is very important to take home security seriously, so why not use smart home technology to my advantage.
Every year we try to get at least a few trips away and in-between these trips, we might leave the house empty until it gets dark. I always worry about providing light for my little Milo our Shih Tzu, so I put some Philips Hue bulbs to good use in honour of National Home Security Month. The Starter Kit consists of a hub (the Hue Bridge) that connects to our broadband router, and in turn I connected each of the smart light bulbs to the system. Our main lounge has two bulbs in the ceiling fitting, so I grouped these together using the iOS Hue App. The extra extension bulbs were put in the main hallway and landing areas.
I used the White Ambiance bulbs mainly in hallway and landing areas, as varying shades of white light, from cool white light to wake us up in the morning, to warming light in the evening as we go to bed is great.
We have also installed White and Colour Ambiance bulbs in the living and dining rooms, which allow us to change the colour completely. You can paint your walls red, blue, green, orange, purple or pretty much any colour that you could imagine. This is ideal for creating an ambience or mood at certain times of the day. There are even LED Light Strips and table lamps available, which look very impressive.
Now it’s super easy to create the illusion of someone being at home. I set up a few timers whilst we were away overnight, so passers-by will get the impression somebody is at home. Toward the end of the day on Friday, we also went out for a family meal in the evening. A quick launch of the Hue app allowed me to turn on the light for Milo, as I know he hates the dark unless we are all at home.
Now the dark nights are drawing in for the winter, my new Hue lights will certainly come in handy. Being able to turn my lights on remotely and come home to a lit house is much nicer. And as well as the indoor lights being great for security, they are awesome for day to day use too. You should see the smile on my face when I voice control the living room lights, it is just so cool !!!
More than 200,000 burglaries took place last summer in the UK.* This is a result of larger numbers of us heading away on holiday leaving our homes empty and unsecured. So, this got me thinking that whilst the inside of my house is well lit, what about outside?
The back of our house is also very dark, as the street lights do not reach that far. I had no idea that Philips Hue also made outdoor lighting. I set myself a task a few weekends ago to install the very latest Philips Hue Lily Outdoor Starter Set. This consists of three LED Lily spotlights, a power plug with transformer and three 5m extension cables. Inside the box I was given the choice between wall mounting the lights with the provided fixings or using the ground spikes. Seeing as we have nice planters in the back garden, I opted for using the spikes, which meant that the installation was super quick. You even get some short extension poles in the kit, to make the lights stand a little higher on the spikes.
With everything connected, I then placed a Hue sensor up against the glass of a window, facing outwards. This has been strategically placed for dual activation. If any member of the family goes into the back garden, perhaps to accompany Milo, the lights come on, bathing the outdoor area with amazing light. Even the occasional late night barbecue will benefit from having these, as they create a really nice ambience. For evening entertainment I tend to change the light to either a warm orange or a vibrant blue; it looks stunning to say the least.
From a security point of view, if any intruder trips the sensor during the night,, the lights come on and hopefully act as a deterrent to anyone hanging around. Within the sensor settings it is also possible to adjust the brightness that the light comes on, so I set this to full brightness at night time for maximum effect.
There is also a ‘location aware’ feature that is often referred to as geofencing. You can set up a routine in the ‘Home & Away’ part of the app. It’s as easy as letting the Hue app know your home location, then telling it what actions you would like to happen when leaving your house or coming home. I set mine to turn off all the main room lights when leaving and turning on my main hallway and landing lights when coming back home. The other neat feature is an option to only have it turn on the lights when coming home after sunset. It’s very configurable, yet so easy to use.
It’s certainly a great feeling knowing that I am using the smart Hue lighting to my advantage. Some technology gets in the way, but this certainly does not! When you get a product that just works and fits in with your lifestyle like this, you really appreciate it.
One thing worth noting is that you need to make sure that the lights are able to connect to the Hue Bridge successfully and very thick walls may be a factor in this. That said, my experience with the indoor bulbs and the amazingly designed Lily lights were flawless, everything worked without a hitch. Of course you can’t rely solely on lights for security, so sufficient industry standard door and window locks are a must too. Many homes also have alarms and security cameras installed too.
So, I now have both the inside and outside of my house fully lit up in style. I love the control that the Philips Hue range give me. The scheduling, geofence features and sensor make everything superb configurable. Adding a touch of colour and painting with light for special occasions is great too. The voice control … well, that’s just the icing on the cake and makes me geek out every time I use it. Philips Hue have done a great job here and I cannot wait to see what they add to the range next.
The Philips Hue products detailed in this article were supplied free of charge and this article is sponsored. The views and opinions expressed here remain my own. Further details on the Philips Hue range are available here.
*Statistic from National Home Security Month - Awareness Days UK.