How to Control Your Philips Hue Lights with the Hue Dimmer Switch | Dramel Notes

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The Philips Hue lighting system is really awesome and easy to control entirely from your smartphone but people love physical switches. The new Hue Dimmer Switch is the perfect way to add a wall switch into your Hue lighting system. Let’s take a look at how it works now.

Why Do I Want To Do This?

Smart lights are great (and we’re huge fans of our Philips Hue system) but there is something to be said, a big something, for having a physical switch to control your light system. When you just want to turn the lights on when exiting and entering a room nothing beats a physical switch on the wall to do so.

Initially Philips addressed this need with the Hue Tap switch. To say the switch was poorly received would be an understatement. The mechanical buttons were very difficult to press (the design of the switch actually relied on the mechanical movement of the switches to generate energy to operate) and it was loud in a mechanical-keyboard-kind-of-way.

The worst thing about the Tap was that the interface was totally unintuitive (the buttons were labeled with dots instead of standard icons or lettering) which really defeated one of the big benefits of having a physical switch: ease of use for people in your home who weren’t familiar with smart lighting and/or didn’t have the companion smartphone app. The only thing the Tap really had going for it was multiple light/scene selection from a single physical interface.

Fortunately Philips went back to the drawing board and created the Hue Dimmer Switch which fixed oversights in their previous design. It’s battery operated (so no annoying hard-to-press buttons). The buttons are clearly labeled On and Off with obvious brighten/dim icon-labeled buttons in between. It’s a traditional switch shape with a wall-mount plate. It’s easily removable via magnetic mount. Really the Dimmer Switch is the switch they should have released in the first place.

Further, and this is a really neat feature, you can use the Dimmer Switch independently of the Hue control hub. While most users will have the whole Hue setup with a hub and bulbs (and it certainly most economical to buy your bulbs in such a fashion) it does offer a way for people to dip their toes in the smartbulb market before making the larger investment for a full starter kit.

The best feature, as far as we’re concerned though, is the price. The Tap switch still retails for nearly $60 but you can pick up the Hue Dimmer Switch for a very reasonable $25 and a dimmer kit (for that aforementioned stand-alone functionality) that includes one bulb for only $35.

Having sung the praises of the new design and highlighted how useful it is to have a physical switch for your smart light system, let’s take a look at how to set it up.

Unpacking and Installing the Dimmer Switch

Physical installation is a breeze thanks to the included magnetic plate and the adhesive backing. After unpacking the switch and peeling all the shrink wrap off (go ahead and leave the little pull tab for the battery in the switch for now as pulling it out automatically powers up the switch and starts the process) your biggest task is deciding where you want to mount the wall switch.

You can mount the switch one of two ways. The first is the no-tool method: just peel the paper off the adhesive strips on the back of the switch and press it on the wall where you want it mounted. That’s the method we used when we added the switch to the master bedroom, as seen in the photo above.

The second mounting method requires screws and drywall anchors (or appropriate anchors for the medium on which you’re mounting it). If you flip the plate over there are mounting holes and little tabs you can push in with a small screwdriver to separate the backing from the front of the plate. Then you can mount the back plate in a more traditional fashion with screws. Honestly that degree of mounting is probably unnecessary unless members of your household are very rough on things and you’re sure the adhesive won’t stand up to their antics.

Remember, while you’re putting the mount plate in a permanent position (more or less) by adhering it to the wall or screwing it down, the switch itself is actually more like a remote control and you can remove it from its magnetic mount in order to take it to the nightstand or temporarily relocate it.

Linking the Dimmer Switch to Your Hue System

If you’ve added items into your Hue system before the whole process of adding in the Hue Dimmer Switch should feel like second nature.

To add it in open up the Hue application on your smart phone and tap on the menu icon in the upper left corner.  Select “Settings”.

Within the Settings menu select “My Devices”.

Select “Connect new devices” from the menu. You’ll be prompted to select, with handy visual aides, which device you want to add: the Hue Tap Switch or the Hue Dimmer Switch. You know what to do: select Hue Dimmer Switch.

Next you’ll be prompted to pull the battery tab out of the Dimmer Switch and confirm that the orange light is blinking. If it is blinking, click “Orange Blinking” at the bottom of the screen. If it isn’t; poke the little tiny setup button on the back with a paperclip to restart the setup process.

Once the switch is detected you’ll be asked if want Option 1 or Option 2. Option 1 is for a brand new setup where the switch has never been used with or linked to lights. Option 2 is for configuring a switch that has already been used with Hue lights in the past (or that came in the starter pack with its own bulbs).

The Hue app will search for the lights and pair the Dimmer Switch to them.

Once you see the switch appear in your list of devices, the last step is to link what scene or set of bulbs you wish to control to the switch. Do so by selecting the name of your dimmer switch.

The switch has four buttons: on, off, brighten, and dim. Whether you pick a scene or handpick individual bulbs to include in the roster, the buttons will only toggle the scene/set on and off or brighten and dim it. Since you can’t change the scenes here we’d suggest you pick the most frequently used scene. In our case we selected the “Full Bright” scene for the master bedroom so that the Hue bulbs would match the brightness of our standard overhead fixture (controlled by the regular wall switch right next to the new Hue Dimmer Switch). This way if you hit both switches you get light that is the same brightness/warmth.

At this point you’re done with the configuration (but you can return to the menu above at any time to change things around if you find you want a new scene or set of lights to be linked with the physical switch).

Have a pressing question about your smart lighting system or smart home gear in general? Shoot us an email at and we’ll do our best to answer it.



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