Hue & Co: 5 Zigbee LED RGBs with E27 base in comparison

Philips Hue is the market leader for smart LEDs, but there are also other providers. We compared five E27 RGB lamps with Zigbee.

For many interested parties, smart home starts with lighting control for dimming, changing color and color temperature. There are currently three transmission standards for this: Zigbee, WLAN and Bluetooth.

WLAN has the advantage that corresponding light sources are cheap in comparison, have a medium and expandable range and can often be controlled while on the go. In addition, they do not need a bridge, just a WLAN router and can be conveniently controlled via smartphone or voice. Since they do not build a mesh, but instead are individually connected to the router, they block the network with increasing numbers. Since the corresponding light sources only transmit in the 2.4 GHz band, this can lead to overlaps with external networks, especially in conurbations. This reduces the range and stability of the connection. WLAN lamps can hardly be fully integrated directly into smart home systems and use a comparatively large amount of power in standby. The range is greatest for WLAN lamps.

Bluetooth lamps also do not require a bridge and are particularly simple to set up, however the number of Bluetooth lamps is limited to around 10 by most providers. The short range of around 10 meters also has a negative effect. Control on the go is also simply not possible. The power consumption is more or less moderate in modern Bluetooth LE devices, but Bluetooth is still mostly used in devices with direct access to the power grid – such as in lamps. The price of the lamps varies depending on the manufacturer from low to medium.

In order to be able to control lamps with the Zigbee radio standard, users normally need a bridge that converts signals from the (W) LAN router into Zigbee signals and forwards them to corresponding lamps. Access is not only possible from the same WLAN here, but also on the go. The home WiFi network is not blocked by countless other devices, and Zigbee is more energy efficient than WiFi and Bluetooth. The range is also not a problem, since Zigbee devices build a mesh with each other and forward commands to devices that are not directly connected to the bridge. Disadvantage: the control center costs money, and Zigbee LEDs are expensive to buy.

For our test, we limited ourselves to Zigbee-compatible lamps with an E27 base. In addition to market leader Philips Hue (Signify), we also compared products from Osram (Ledvance), Ikea Tradfri, Innr Lightning and Müller Licht Tint, all of which can be trained on the Hue Bridge. A Paulmann product unfortunately did not reach us in time. Other providers such as Xiaomi with its Aquara series also use Zigbee as the basic protocol, but they are not compatible with the Hue Bridge.

We chose this approach because Signify is simply the market leader. Accordingly, many prospective customers will already own Hue lamps and the Hue Bridge, but sometimes look for cheaper alternatives because of the price, especially since the corresponding products seem to be technically largely identical. Incidentally, it is also possible to couple the products to another Zigbee hub in this comparison. If you want to have voice control anyway, you should take a look at the Amazon smart speaker and displays Echo Plus, Echo Show and Echo Studio with integrated Zigbee gateway. In our article Controlling light with Alexa: We have already discussed Philips Hue and alternatives. There are also Amazon Echos here: All models compared.

The Hue-E27-RGB consumes 9.5 watts, creates up to 806 lumens and can display a color temperature of 2000 to 6500 Kelvin. The manufacturer specifies the average lifespan with 25,000 hours of continuous use or 50,000 switching operations. What is striking in comparison to the rest of the test field is the flattened lamp head, which, depending on the application, provides a slightly uneven light output with more light at the top and slightly less at the sides. Individually, the bulbs cost around 40 euros in free trade. More information about smart light via app with Hue can be found here.

According to the manufacturer, the Osram lamp consumes 10 watts slightly more than the Hue lamp and still remains nominally behind with 800 lumens. The range of color temperatures that can be displayed is also somewhat more limited, at 2700 to 6500 Kelvin, and Osram is also at a disadvantage with 20,000 hours in terms of service life. The lamp costs about 25 euros. It is important to mention that the manufacturer will stop all services related to its smart lamps from 2021. Operation on other bridges should still not be a problem. We have already tested Osram products here.

The Innr product's technical data is strongly reminiscent of the specifications of the Hue lamp. The consumption is also 9.5 watts, the brightness is specified with 806 lumens and the lifetime with 25,000 hours. Innr is even ahead in terms of color temperature, from 1800 to 6500 Kelvin. The Innr product is in the middle of the range at around 30 euros, and the manufacturer also offers its own bridge.

The agreement between the technical data between the product of Müller Licht and Innr. Here too, the information is 9.5 watts consumption, 806 lumens brightness, color temperature 1800 to 6500 Kelvin and 25,000 hours of life. As with Hue, there is an indication of the switching operations, which are even given here as 100,000. The tint lamp costs around 22 euros.

Ikea is the biggest deviator in our test field. Despite a power consumption of 8.6 watts, the maximum brightness is 600 lumens and the lamps can only display around 10 colors. The color temperature can be selected between 1780 and 6000 Kelvin, the runtime is specified as 25,000 hours. At around 20 euros, Ikea offers the cheapest lamp in comparison and also has its own gateway on offer. We have already tried the system here.

In general, the Hue lamp can be darkened the most, which can be very pleasant as a night light. Colors are displayed very intensely in the cut and matching the selected colors in the Hue app. Purple in particular shines very intensely in direct comparison. The brightness is on a par with the products from Osram, Innr and Tint. The responsiveness, i.e. switching on and off or switching between different colors, is the softest and most pleasant with the Philips lamps.

The Osram-E27 shows orange the yellowest, real yellow is the strongest in comparison. This also affects red and green, both are rather pale. Blue is also about light, but very intense, purple looks more blue and the same applies to pink. This also has an effect on Hue scenes, so the light in the energy-refueling scene is very bluish instead of white, in the reading scene it tends to be a little too purple and the dimmed scene turns pink.

Striking: The Hue-E27 is flattened at the top

The Innr lamp dims roughly over the Hue Bridge. While other illuminants appear more sensitive and display more brightness levels, little happens in the Innr-E27 in the range between 30 and 60 percent. Green looks almost neon-like, turquoise quite bluish, blue rather light and cool and purple more pink. Nevertheless, the deviations from the Hue specification are smaller than with Osram.

The tint product is orange most reddish, green tones become a little too yellow. Even with blue, the competitor's product does not come close to the Hue lamp, the color is quite bright. Purple and pink are displayed too blue, as with Osram. The scene recharge your batteries is played a little too warm.

In direct comparison, the Tradfri pear is visibly darker and can also be dimmed far less than the competing products. Since the manufacturer points out that the illuminant can display fewer colors than the competing products, the most forgiving is the too yellow display of green tones and weak blue reproduction via the Hue Bridge. Purple and pink, on the other hand, are displayed intensely. The differences in the preset scenes in the Hue app are also striking. Refueling is visibly darker than the rest, night light is still significantly brighter. In general, color transitions are carried out much more suddenly due to the lack of intermediate colors.

Originally there was a separate gateway for the Osram lamps, but this has been on the market for some time. Nothing is new anymore, in 2021 the manufacturer will switch off its servers for the Smart + products. Since the illuminants can continue to be operated on other Zigbee bridges, there is no general advising against the product. Ikea and Innr offer their own gateways with which the lamps could possibly work even better. It is different at Müller Licht, here there is only one remote control that can still be used to play scenes. However, a real bridge is missing. So it is all the more surprising that the Tint-E27 is not better adapted to the Hue Bridge.

In any case, we do not recommend using different illuminant manufacturers within a room, provided that uniform color effects are to be achieved. Otherwise, there is actually little argument against saving some money and resorting to Philips' competition, provided you can live with the observations mentioned. There are also other more or less small restrictions. Third-party lamps do not usually receive firmware updates via the Hue gateway and they cannot be integrated into entertainment zones of the Hue app. You need it for Philips Hue Sync in the test: the retrofit Ambilight. Matching: Hue Play Lightbar in the test: Smart light bars.

The clear winner on points is the Philips lamp – feat, after all it was a home game with its own bridge and perfectly matched hardware and software. The closest products come from Innr and Müller Licht, which showed the least color deviations on average, but are a good deal cheaper than Hue products. At Osram and Ikea, prospective customers have to live with sometimes clear color deviations.