Today, Signify announced several new Philips Hue smart home products, including a new outdoor light bar and an improved dimmer switch. But the most exciting new product solves one of the biggest annoyances of smart bulbs: the light switch. The new Philips Hue wall switch module upgrades your existing dumb light switch to a smart light switch. And thus prevents someone from turning your smart lamps back into dumb lamps.
Make your dumb light switch smart
If you have smart bulbs, you probably know that pain. You open the Philips Hue app or call your voice assistant of your choice to turn on your smart lights. But someone turned off the light switch and without power they are basically dumb lights. You have to find the light switch, turn it on and then control it via your app or smart speaker. It̵
Coming soon: the wall switch module! Make any light switch smart by installing this little gadget behind the wall plate. Your smart lights remain accessible – and you can use the light switch to set your favorite light scenes.
Europe: Spring 2021
North America: Summer 2021 pic.twitter.com/197GqSye4c
– Philips Hue (@tweethue) January 14, 2021
The Philips Hue wall switch prevents this and has a number of advantages over other smart switches. First, it doesn’t quite replace your light switch. Instead, you connect your home wires to the module, then your existing light switches to it. It fits behind your light switch. If you have several light switches that control one room, you need a module for each switch.
Second, it uses a coin-cell battery for power instead of a neutral wire. That makes it compatible with older homes with no neutral wires. The wall switch module can bypass the circuit your light switch creates, allowing you to turn on your smart bulbs from your app without having to check that your light switch is set to “on”.
A few things are not clear yet, namely how it will work in American homes. Signify’s current design suits European light switch styles and gangboxes, but not American ones. The shape will have to change, and this can lead to confusion with toggle switch light switches that have an “on” and “off” position. Most smart switches get around that problem by using a paddle switch that is in neutral. We’ve reached out to clarify those questions and will let you know if Signify is responding.
Those necessary changes could be the reason why the US release date is behind the European release date. Signify says the light switch module will release in Europe sometime in the spring of 2021 for $ 39.95. The release date in the US is set for the summer of 2021 for $ 39.95.
An exterior light bar and updated dimmer switch
Signify also announced two devices, an outdoor light bar and an updated dimmer switch. The $ 169.99 Philips Hue Amarant Outdoor Light Bar bathes lights on a surface, such as the side of your house or fence. It’s less about providing night light to look past, like a floodlight, but more about adding ambiance to your home. Perfect for outdoor parties, or just to give your home a nice look. You can get the Amarant in Europe now and it will arrive in the US in March.
Philips Hue already has a dimmer switch and is now getting a new design. However, the new update is subtle and it’s hard to say what’s changed. The wall plate looks bigger, which can help if you want to cover an outlet to quickly and easily make a dumb light switch smart. According to Signify:
The redesigned dimmer switch provides intuitive wireless control for Philips Hue lighting without using the app. In addition to dimming or brightening the room, the dimmer switch allows users to set their favorite light scenes or get the best light based on the time of day.
Like the switch that came before it, the updated dimmer switch will attach magnetically to the included wall plate. You stick it to the wall with the supplied tape. So it works both as an easy-to-install pseudo-dimmer switch and as a portable remote control.
The updated dimmer switch will arrive in Europe on January 26 for $ 19.99. It’s coming to North America on February 23rd for $ 24.99.