5 problems with Philips Hue bulbs and how to fix them

Smart bulbs allow you to automate the lighting in your home and control it wirelessly from other devices, such as smartphones or tablets. Some of the most popular smart bulbs on the market are Philips Hue bulbs, but even these can experience technical issues from time to time.

Whatever goes wrong with your Philips Hue lights, you should be able to fix them with some simple troubleshooting tips. Here’s how to fix the most common Philips Hue issues, from new bulbs not connecting to existing Hue bulbs being totally out of reach.

1. You cannot add new Philips Hue bulbs

Before you can start using your Philips Hue lights, you need to pair them with your smart home using the free Hue app for android and iOS.

To add a new bulb to your lighting setup, open the Tint app and go to Settings > Lighting and tap the Add (+) knob. The app searches for new lamps on your network and allows you to add them.

If the Hue app can’t find your new Philips Hue bulb, try these troubleshooting tips:

  • Turn on the light: Philips Hue lights only work when the light switch they’re plugged into is turned on. Check the wall or lamp switches for all your lamps.
  • Check the brand: You can only add Hue-compatible lights to the Hue app. Official bulbs say Philips Hue on the bulbs themselves and Hue-compatible third-party bulbs must have a Hue logo on the packaging. Make sure that you have not accidentally bought a different kind of Philips lamp.
  • Add the bulb manually: If the Hue app doesn’t find your light automatically, you can add it manually instead. Of the Add lights screen, tap Use serial numberand then type the characters printed on your lamp.
  • To switch to the Hue Bluetooth app: If you bought Bluetooth bulbs and don’t have a Philips Hue Bridge, you need to use the free Hue Bluetooth app for android or iOS instead of.

2. You can’t find the Hue Bridge

If you want multiple smart bulbs, or if you plan on making Philips Hue automations with them, you’ll need to use a Hue Bridge. This acts as a smart hub for your lighting configuration, connecting all your lights to the internet and allowing you to control them when you are away from home.

Most Philips Hue starter kits come with a Hue Bridge, but if you don’t have one, you may need to purchase one separately. They can be a bit pricey, which is one of the reasons we don’t always like Philips Hue products.

To connect to your Hue Bridge, open the Hue app and go to Settings > My Hue SystemPress Add (+) button, and press Add a Hue Bridge. Then click the round button at the top of the Hue Bridge to enter pairing mode.

If you can’t find your Hue Bridge:

  • Make sure it is enabled: Connect your Hue Bridge to power with the included cable. You should see lights appear on the bridge when it is turned on.
  • Connect it to your router: Use an Ethernet cable to connect your Hue Bridge directly to your router so it can connect to the Internet.
  • Connect to the same network: Make sure the device you’re using is connected to the same network your Hue Bridge is connected to. You usually need to connect via Wi-Fi, even though the bridge is connected with a cable.
  • Restart the Hue Bridge: If you still can’t find the bridge to pair with, unplug it and wait 30 seconds before plugging it back in. Then wait two minutes for the bridge to boot before trying to pair again.

3. Your Philips Hue lights are out of reach

After you link your Philips Hue lights to the app, the lights may later say “Unreachable” and you won’t be able to turn them on or off with your smartphone or other devices.

This is a common problem that you can usually fix with one of these quick tricks:

  • Make sure the light is turned on: You or someone else in your home may have turned off the Philips Hue bulb using the physical light switch. Make sure all switches for your Hue lights are turned on to control them from the app.
  • Keep your lights within reach: You can still use a Hue bulb far from the Bridge, as long as there are other Hue bulbs in between to act as a switch. If you have one lamp far from all the others, move it closer to the bridge or add another lamp in the center to keep it within reach.

4. Your Philips Hue lights flicker or buzz

The last thing you want from an expensive Philips Hue bulb is the light flickering or buzzing. If that happens to your lights, it’s usually because you hooked them up to a dimmer.

While you can dim Philips Hue lights with the app, which is one of the benefits of smart bulbs, they don’t work well with physical dimmers. Here are some steps you can take to resolve the issue if so:

  • Switching to a different socket: Move your Philips Hue bulb to an outlet that doesn’t use a dimmer switch to see if that fixes the flickering or buzzing.
  • Get rid of the dimmer switch: If you want to keep your Philips Hue bulb in that socket, you may need to rewire the switch to remove the dimmer. You can switch to a Wi-Fi light switch instead.
  • Try another bulb: If your bulb continues to flicker or buzz, you may need to replace it. Please contact Philips directly to see if they can exchange it under warranty.

5. You cannot reliably control your Philips Hue lights

Sometimes your Philips Hue lights seem to connect seamlessly, but when you try to control them, they don’t work properly. Your Hue lights may turn on by themselves, not change color, or not respond to voice commands.

If you have any of these problems, here are a few tricks to try:

  • Check for software updates in the Hue app: Smart bulbs have their own software, which means you may need to update them. Open the Hue app and go to Settings > Software Update to install new updates. Keep in mind that you will have to wait several hours if you have a lot of lamps to update.
  • Remove your lamps and add them again: If a particular lamp is playing, go to Settings > Lighting then tap the relevant light and choose to remove it from the Hue app. Now unplug the lamp, plug it in again and pair with the app again.
  • Change your rooms and zones: The Hue app may not be able to control your lights properly because it doesn’t know where they are. Go to the House tab in the Hue app, tap a RoomPress Options (…) button, then choose to Edit room to add or remove bulbs.

Maybe it’s time to start all over again

You should be able to fix most problems with your Philips Hue lights using the troubleshooting tips above. But if your Philips Hue lights are still not plugged in, out of reach, or flickering, you may have to unplug everything and start all over again.

To do this, open the Hue app and go to Settings > Hue Bridge Settings > Cleanup. This will delete all data from your bridge, including saved automation and associated lamps. You can also use the physical reset button on the back of the bridge for this.

Then remove and re-add each lamp in your home and follow the initial setup instructions again. That should solve any problems you’re having with your Philips Hue bulbs.

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