Today, one of the main concerns people usually have when automating their homes is the cost. Thus, when buying Philips Hue, the first question people ask 99% of the time is, “will it use more electricity?” Definitely, modern homeowners are looking for something that is both convenient and energy-efficient. For a little spoiler alert: yes, Philips Hue is both of these things.
Do Philips Hue use more electricity? Philips Hue actually consumes less electricity compared to traditional bulbs. As a smart LED bulb, it has a timer paired with a dimming feature, motion sensors, and an app to access the lights remotely and monitor energy usage.
Due to Philips Hue’s very high-tech features, most people expect that it uses more energy. However, as we will discuss in this article, the case is the opposite. Because you have more control over your home’s lighting system, you can expect to have cost savings, especially that it is LED. If you want to learn about exactly how much you can save and what features you can tweak to achieve so, you’ve come to the right place.
Compared to Traditional Bulbs
Since Philips Hue are LED (Light-Emitting Diode) bulbs, they are much more energy-efficient than traditional ones like incandescent or fluorescent. The Department of Energy even says that residential LED bulbs use roughly 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs. These percentage savings would then go even higher with smart technology.
The explanation for the energy savings is simply that lower-watt LED bulbs can produce the same amount of light that higher-watt traditional ones emit. Another benefit of LED bulbs is that they last 25 times longer than traditional bulbs which have a 1000-hour lifespan.
The point of contention, however, is that traditional bulbs require a lower initial investment compared to pricey smart bulbs. Be it as it may, in the long run, the low energy consumption of LED bulbs could be worth the high price point. We’ll go into the specifics for this in a later section of this post.
Compared to Non-Smart LED Bulb
The obvious difference between average LED bulbs and smart LED bulbs is that the latter has a wireless connection to the internet. This ability to make use of WiFi opens a lot of doors for modern features like customization. More importantly, the internet connection makes way for ease of use through smartphones and apps.
Smart Timer Plus Dimming
Having the option to dim your lights is like having the option to consume less energy. Simply said, when they are dimmed, smart bulbs don’t contribute a lot to your electricity bill. This feature can work well with the built-in timer especially in specific rooms like a child’s bedroom.
Kids usually prefer to leave the lights on until they can sleep. With the smart timer plus dimming, you don’t have to worry about leaving the lights on until morning. Indeed, this is much more energy-efficient and hassle-free.
Motion Sensors Plus Remote Access
To illustrate the help of these features, we’ll need some statistics. According to The Eco Guide, smart light systems with motion sensors lead to energy savings of at least 35 to 45% of your current consumption. Definitely, automation has come a long way of proving just how much more efficient smart bulbs are compared to bulbs like halogen.
Remote access also helps because switching off lights is one of the easiest things to forget. Thus, when you find yourself at work wondering if you’ve turned off the lights, you can always check the app and switch lights off with one tap. With hue, a hectic lifestyle can still be an energy-efficient one.
Energy Efficiency Monitoring
With smart bulbs like Philips Hue, you can easily monitor your energy consumption. Apps generally allow you to optimize your smart light system by tracking performance with historical data. These data are then used to forecast consumption which can easily be your benchmark if you are going above or below your target.
There are even third-party apps like Homeselfe where homeowners input their energy usage habits. The app then uses this survey to create a plan for optimization.
Compared to Other Smart LED Bulb
Other smart LED bulbs are mostly similar to Philips Hue in terms of energy consumption. For example, Sengled Element Classic A19 Kit, Lifx Mini 800-Lumen Light Bulb, and Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Light Bull all emit 800 lumens with 9 watts of energy. Like Philips Hue, most alternatives also last up to 25,000 hours on average.
Moreover, these cheaper alternatives have begun to incorporate more energy-saving features into their bulbs. For example, Kasa can automatically adjust to the time of the day such that when there is enough sunlight, it matches its brightness to a lower level.
Actual Energy Usage and Costs
So, for the most awaited portion, let’s find out whether or not you can save money by owning a Philips Hue bulb. Let’s also answer some common questions like, “What’s the total cost of ownership of a Hue bulb over its lifespan?” and “What is the rough calculation of how much it would cost to own different types of bulbs?”
In this section, we’ll mostly be using findings from the Philips Hue Power Consumption Test by Brian From Automate Your Life.
One Hue Bulb
Let’s keep it simple and focus on a single Hue bulb for our discussion in the next parts.
Hue Versus Incandescent Lights Costs
Owners of Philips Hue bulbs pay around a dollar for one whole year of use of a single bulb. On the other hand, incandescent lights typically bill around $4.80 a year, according to energy.gov. It may not sound like a lot, but remember, we are talking about just one bulb. This difference can multiply by 15 to 40, depending on the number of bulbs you own.
Does Philips Hue use energy when it’s off?
Before buying Hue bulbs, people usually wonder if they will lose money when they buy the lights and leave them idle instead of off for a long time. This is a valid question. As you may know, Philips Hue bulbs require a hub connected to the WiFi to correspondingly allow wireless controls. Thus, for you to switch a light off even when you’re miles away, the hub would have to be plugged and connected.
However, the test conducted by Brian revealed that even when smart lights use power while idle, the energy consumed is very negligible. In his test which assumed an average cost of $0.13 per kWh, the energy consumption per year if the bulb was idle the whole time would be about 4.4 kWh and would amount to $0.58.
Thus, you can expect an amount lower than 60 cents per year for idle time.
By how much does the cost vary with different dim levels?
Philips Hue promises 9.5 watts of consumption on average. This was confirmed in Brian’s test where at 100% brightness, the consumption was even just around 9 watts. If the bulb is left on for a whole year at 100% brightness, the estimated cost would be around $10.82.
But, as mentioned earlier, bulbs can consume less energy when they are dimmed. So, how will this translate to energy consumption figures?
Brian’s test showed that if the Hue bulb was placed at 75% brightness, its consumption would average to roughly 5 watts. If it is set at this level for a straight whole year with 24/7 use, the cost would amount to $5.69. At 50%, these figures would be 2 watts and $2.28. At 25%, this would be less than 2 watts and the cost would be too small to even count.
Simply, you can actually save a lot with just dimming!
Another concern consumers have is that the Philips Hue hub called the “Bridge” may also contribute to the bill. But, on average, the Bridge only consumes 3 watts. Based on Brian’s calculation, this will result in 26.28 kWh per year (if used for a straight whole year) and will amount to only $3.42 annually.
So, unlike common expectations, using a hub is actually very affordable.
Costs Over 10 Years
In this section, we’re going to compare the cost of owning incandescent versus LED versus Smart LED (Philips Hue) bulbs. Much like what they did over at makeuseof.com, we’re going to add up the following costs to gauge how much we’re going to spend over a period: Initial Cost, Running Cost, and Replacement Cost. In our case, let’s estimate costs over 10 years.
For our calculations, I will be using the best lights for the other two categories as rated on The Spruce. So for incandescent lights, we have GE Lighting Soft White 3-way bulbs and for LED lights we have the Philips Non-Dimmable A19 Frosted Light Bulb. For Philips Hue, let’s stick with the basic and most affordable option in the lineup, the Hue White.
Let’s assume you own 24 of each of the bulbs for the calculations. If you use the GE incandescent bulbs priced at around $1.6 (in packs), this would add up to $38. If all your bulbs were the Philips LED priced at roughly $ 2.8 (in packs), the initial cost would be $67.
Lastly, for the Philips Hue bulb priced at $9.99 each, the total would be $240. As expected, there is a big leap in the initial investment needed if you choose to buy smart LED lights.
For the running cost, Fox & Summit has conveniently provided a table for the estimated running costs for each of the bulbs. Since what they provided is for 20-year periods, all we have to do is divide them into two.
Note that the costs are estimated on the assumption that you will use each of the bulbs for 10,000 hours in 10 years at $0.11 per kWh. So, the total for incandescent, LED, and Smart LED bulbs are $48, $9.5, and $5.75, respectively.
Over 10 years, an incandescent bulb with a 1000-hour lifespan will need 9 replacements. This will add up to $346. A LED and a smart LED bulb, on the other hand, won’t need replacements yet can last between 25,000 to 50,000 hours.
Definitely, smart LED bulbs can cost you a lot upfront. But, in the long run, with the low running cost and low replacement rate, you might find it an investment worth making.