How to add $15 Cree lights to your pricey Philips Hue system

For those of you with the $200 Philips Hue starter kit and maybe a few extra Hue light bulbs, I’ve got some great news. If you’re willing to add white lights to your system, the $15 connected Cree LEDs will connect for half the cost of theĀ $30 Hue Lux lights. The Crees are dimmable and offer a nice incandescent-style light.

I wrote about the Crees when they launched a few weeks ago and mentioned you could connect them to the Philips Hue system or other systems using the ZigBee Light Link standard. They also connect to the Wink hub or app, which is what I initially connected them to. But last night I connected a Cree bulb to my Hue setup just to see if I could figure out how to do it. My first tries failed, and one bulb never connected, but after consulting with Cree’s support, I got a bulb to work.

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Unlike connecting your Hue lights to the bridge — where you want them on when you start the process — the trick to connect the Cree light bulbs is to start with them turned off. Then go to the settings menu on the Hue app and click lights. From there click auto add. When the screen pops up that says searching for lights, turn the lamp or light switch for the lights containing the Cree bulbs on. In about 30 seconds they should pop up on the screen. Then you get the option to rename the bulb or bulbs and carry on with your life.

Andrew bedside is a Cree lamp.

Andrew bedside is a Cree lamp.

Since it is not a colored bulb I was limited in the scenes and recipes I could add the light to, but I could control it from the Hue app and enjoyed having the flexibility of having more of my lights in one place. I can even control the Cree lights now under the Hue channel in If This Then That, giving me more triggers in more rooms.

Updated: This story was updated on Feb. 3 to delete an error. The Hue Lux are not color tunable. They are only dimmable.

Now you can control your Hue lights with a tap

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Good news for the people who have Hue lights and are sick of opening an app to turn them on. The Hue tap remote control that lets you press a button to control your Hue lights, hit the Apple store a bit ahead of schedule. The device costs $59.95 and I’m eager to try it out to see if it helps me keep my phone in my pocket. The tap is powered by pressing any one of the four buttons, which let you program four different scenes.

GE launches a $15 connected bulb for Wink. That’s seriously cheap!

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As part of the fanfare around the launch GE-backed Quirky launching Wink as a separate company dedicated to the connected home, GE is opening up pre-orders for a connected light bulb that will work with the Wink app and only costs $14.97. For a connected, white-light LED that is a crazy low price tag. The upcoming Belkin, LG and Philips Hue light bulbs that will be white-light only are between $30 and $40 per bulb and the colorful connected bulbs are in the $60 to $100 range. TCP has connected white bulbs that are between $27-$33 per bulb, and are on the market today. The GE lights will be in Home Depot stores in the fall, so I can’t wait to see how they work.