One of the biggest issues with smart lights is the way they interact with traditional wall switches, which is exactly what Philips Hue is hoping to fix with its new Wall Switch Module.
Typically, the problem with connecting smart lights to a traditional wall switch is that if you use the switch to turn smart lights off rather than use an app or voice command, the smart lights can no longer communicate with the rest of your devices. That means your smart lights will be unreachable until the next time you use the wall switch to flip them on again, which basically eliminates the entire purpose of smart lights.
To solve this, Philips Hue created the new Wall Switch Module, which is a small device that is wired into your existing wall switch, allowing you to use the switch to turn lights on and off while still enabling Hue bulbs and lights to maintain a connection to your phone or a Philips Hue hub. So even if you flip them off using the switch, your Hue smart lights won’t lose their functionality.
Available for $40 each or $70 for a pack of two, the obvious downside to Hue’s Wall Switch Module is that in addition to only working with Hue lights, the Wall Switch Module is relatively expensive compared to a traditional wall switch, so instead of installing them throughout your house, Hue users may want to strategically install them only in high-traffic areas.
And in order to maintain a connection with the rest of your home network, the Hue Wall Switch Module is powered by a small disposable battery. Philips Hue says the battery that comes with the Wall Switch Module should last for around five years on a single charge, but when it finally dies, you’ll need to remove your wall switch’s faceplate and fiddle with your wiring again in order to replace it.
On the bright side, Philips Hue says its Wall Switch Module should work with both traditional toggle and rocker switches in addition to push button switches. That said, if you want a more modular solution for controlling Hue lights, Philips Hue is also launching an updated Hue Dimmer Switch that features a new programmable Hue button that can be customized to turn on a specific lighting scene or recipe.
The new Philips Hue Wall Switch Module will be available in North America sometime this summer for $40, with the updated Hue Dimmer Switch arriving earlier on Feb. 23 for $25.