Can Phillips Hue Lights be used in recessed lighting?

Can Phillips Lights be used in Recessed lighting

Can Phillips Hue Lights be used in recessed lighting?

Can Phillips Hue Lights be used in recessed lighting? Yes! A Phillips Hue GU10 bulb would be suitable for recessed lighting in kitchens, bathroom and many more locations due to its low power usage, long life and GU10 connection.

In fact, all LED lights, including Phillips Hue are compatible with recessed lighting. Provided you source the appropriately shaped bulb. Just like their Halogen counterparts they work just as well. Actually the truth is they work even BETTER than halogen and I’ll explain why.

Recessed Light Heat Dissipation

When you install halogen based recessed lighting in ceilings you have to take into account the heat generated by the light itself. Usually ceilings and lofts have a layer of insulation to prevent heat escaping and helps in keeping your home warm.

With halogen bulbs you have to cut away some of this insulation for fire safety regulations to prevent the insulation surrounding the bulb from getting too hot. The downside of this is you now have a cold spot which makes your heating have to work harder and result in potentially higher bills.

halogen bulb heat output in recessed lighting with insulation
halogen bulb heat output in recessed lighting with insulation

With Phillips Hue and LED bulbs in general the heat outputted from them is around 15 times less than that of a traditional incandescent bulb. This means there is no need for a perimeter area of insulation to be removed. This not only saves you energy at the house is more insulated but the bulb itself is more efficient and uses less electricity.

LED bulb heat output in recessed lighting with insulation
LED bulb heat output in recessed lighting with insulation

About Philip hue lights

Philip hue lights were introduced into the market in October 2012 and the company was among the pioneers in smart lighting. The bulbs can be controlled from a smartphone app where they can change color, brightness and color temperature. The company started with its first-generation bulbs and 4th generation bulbs are now available in the market.

The company has two products which are sold either separately or in a complete package depending on what you want. These are; the Philips Hue Bridge and the Philips Hue light Bulbs. The bridge is used for control purposes and is an intermediate gadget between the bulbs and the hardwired connections (including power connections).

Philips Hue Bridge uses the ZigBee technology to communicate to the bulbs. All the generations use the Hue Bridge except the latest one which uses Bluetooth. More on that later.

Phillips hue generations- the difference

To fully understand the evolution of the four generations of Phillip hue lights, we’ve highlighted the differences among the four while giving you a hint on which one you can comfortably use in recessed lighting.

Let’s start with the most recent and work our way backwards…

4th generation

This is the most recent and advanced starter kit you can get from Philips Hue. It uses Bluetooth connection and comes equipped with Bluetooth bulbs and ZigBee support. With this model, the bridge isn’t necessary but you can choose to use one for better connectivity where you can integrate timers and switches.

Does it support recessed lighting?

Yes, they do. Bulbs in this generation include the Philips Hue White & Color Ambiance GU10, A19, BR30 and E12 all of which connect with voice assistance.

The 4th generation would be the way to go in my opinion. The GU10 fitting bulbs support bluetooth, white and color settings. For an extra 5 bucks compared to the 3rd it’s pretty much a no brainer. Check them out here.

3rd generation

Released in October 2016, the 3rd generation came with major changes in color while brightness remained the same. This model produces improved white color and much better cyans, blues and greens. Compared with the Phillips Hue Gen 2, this mode is more vibrant with an improved color spectrum.

 The dimming capabilities for the 3rd gen is also improved compared to the 2nd and 1st gen bulbs. This makes this model better for sleeping and resting. The 3rd gen starter kits come with the latest bulbs. A newer version of the 3rd gen commonly Philip Hue 3.1 was released in December 2017. The latter features a more efficient bulb and a few noticeable changes in the overall weight and physical appearance.

Does it support recessed lighting?

The majority of the 3rd gen Philip Hue light bulbs can be used in recessed lighting. An example is the AR16 Dimmable LED Smart Spot Light  for 5-6″ recessed cans. Check them out here.

2nd generation

This was released in October 2015 and came in an all-new design. It features support for Apple’s HomeKit smart home and the bulbs are 200 lumens brighter (800 lumens) than the Gen 1 bulbs.

Does it support recessed lighting?

Bulbs in this generation are the Hue Lux white (2700 K), Hue Dimmable white (2700 K) and the Hue White Ambiance with variable temperatures from 2000 K to 6500 k. You can use the 2nd gen Philips Hue White & Color BR3O bulb in recessed lighting. This provides 650 lumens through an installation in a standard 5-6 inch recessed can.

1st generation

The first generation kit commonly called the Phillips Hue Lux was first released in 2012 but the newer version of the same is still available in the market. Since its release, the bulb was updated twice while the bridge was updated only once (version 1.0 to version 2.0).

Version 1.0 comes with Gen 1 starter kit (bulbs) and doesn’t support Apple’s Siri for controlling the bulbs. Version 2.0 comes with either Gen 2 or Gen 3 lighting fixtures and supports the Apple Home kit.

1st Gen Light bulbs have a life span of 15, 000 hours while the Gen 2 and 3 light bulbs have a life span of 25, 000 hours each. The company has announced the termination of support for Hue Bridge first Gen come 30th April 2020, so buying this may not be a very wise idea.

That said, some of the 1st gen starter kits available in the market have seen a greater improvement to support wireless lighting. This is achieved by using an Alexa device that’s sold separately.

Does it support recessed lighting?

Yes, they do. Provided you have the right recessed retrofit cans, you can fit any sizeable Philips Hue light bulb. The A19 standard light bulbs with E26 base is one of the common bulbs available from the first-gen model. If you’re to install this type, a sample is available on Amazon, the Philips Hue white and color 1st gen lighting bulb.

Which one to go for?

If you’re planning to use the Apple HomeKit support or other voice assistant control, go for the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th generations but if you don’t plan on using any smart automation; 1st gen will serve the purpose.3rd and 4th gen bulbs, however, offer better colors and a wide range of color temperatures.

For recessed lighting your best best is the GU10 connector based bulbs. There a color LED version which supports bluetooth, check it out here.

Safety regulation for recessed lights

LED recessed light in kitchen ceiling
LED GU10 recessed light in kitchen ceiling

Recessed lights are a great way to lighten your home while adding a touch of taste and elegance to the interior décor. Automating your lighting system could be a better way- if not the best; of actualizing convenience and versatility into your living space. While all these are important, safety should always come as a priority.

According to this study, it’s concluded that recessed lighting gives a reason to worry as far as air leakage and the risk of fires is concerned. It has also been estimated that poorly installed recessed luminaires are the cause of a considerable number of fires in homes every year. Some of the reasons why recessed lighting are a fire risk are;

  • Without proper ventilation, heat dissipation becomes a problem and recessed lighting fixtures with limited thermal insulation or those installed near combustible materials can easily cause fires.
  • Since recessed lighting has higher air leakage, any potentially combustible debris could ignite if they come in contact with the hot lamp.
  • There are high chances of overheating where insulation has been laid over pre-existing fixtures or associated transformers. This even gets worse if the laid fixture doesn’t meet the safety standards under such conditions.

Not all recessed fixtures are designed to operate safely with any type of luminaire and violating this could lead to power issues that could translate to electric fires.

What to do instead

Always consult a professional before deciding to set up or upgrade your lighting system. In either case, a certified electrician should check your home’s existing installation and guide you on what to do and what not to. This could include advising you on the following issues;

  • Recessed fixtures operating voltage
  • Fire performance
  • Lamp bases
  • Reflector types
  • Safety symbols and markings

Lifespan issues

It’s important to question the lifespan of your preferred lighting fixture before considering an upgrade or making a purchase. Maybe you’re asking yourself, “Will the lifespan of the bulb be reduced due to the recessed light fitting generating more heat?” Well, the answer is yes; and the manufacturer has that in mind as well.

The fact is that poor heat management compromises your fixture’s lifespan but this is an engineering loophole that can only be solved with proper design. While a bulb’s lifespan is more dependent on the type of bulb (whether it’s LED, Halogen, incandescent, etc.), it’s important to ensure that all the manufacturer’s guidelines have been adhered to- to avoid overheating and hence reduced lifespan.

Philip Hue lighting fixtures, 2nd, 3rd, and the 4th generation models have a higher lifespan of 25,000 hours which is equivalent to six hours of lighting for 12 years. 1st gen models have a lifespan of 15,000 hours. Having the recessed fixtures installed with all the manufacturer’s instructions followed (and with all the factors kept constant) will not affect the rated lifespan.

Philips hue lights as recessed bathroom lights?

Are Philip hue lights for recessed bathroom fixtures available? That’s a common question and the answer is yes. With the Philips Hue-White Ambiance bathroom downlights, you enjoy a blend of light recipes that helps you concentrate, energize and relax. By using the dimmer switch, you customize the ambiance to suit your moods.

The key to a well-lit bathroom is to balance the three main types of lighting which are; functional lighting, mood lighting, and general lighting. All these can work independently or separately to guarantee the best of experience in any bathroom set up.

The Philips Hue-White Ambiance Adore is one of the top-rated recessed bathroom fixtures that meet and even exceed the IP44 standards. Since this is available separately, it’s compatible with the 2nd and 3rd gen models.

Please share this article to others if you found it useful! I’d really appreciate it as it takes time and research to put these articles together.

All the best Steve.


Steve Foster

Suburbanite, tech geek, handy man, automation enthusiast who started blogging about the stuff I do around my home and found he had a knack for it.

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