All of the (Hue) Lights

The Problem

Three weeks ago, I moved into a new apartment with a room that only had a closet light. Wild, right? Luckily, I had my trusty desk lamp as well as another standing lamp I stole from my mom so I wasn’t in complete darkness, but it was close. With no other light sockets or bulbs, I had to figure out how best to light my room.

The Design

Not owning any other light fixtures or bulbs made me feel less guilty about buying new ones, but I wasn’t sure how long I’d be staying in my current unit and didn’t want to add to the amount of stuff I’d have to move. I also prefer wall or ceiling mounted options for general lighting as they provide the best illumination and don’t take up precious floor space in your already cramped Manhattan apartment. Installing new wall/ceiling light fixtures can be difficult due to wiring or the need to anchor to the drywall, both of which were out of the question for this rental. I wanted to come up with something small and lightweight that I could easily attach and remove using just mounting tape, and easily transport with me when I move. I grabbed my trusty iPad and pencil and began the creative process:


With a rough idea of what I wanted I opened up Onshape (my favorite free CAD software) and began to fill in the fill in the details of my design:


20 something minutes later:

Next, I threw some 3M indoor mounting tape on the back to attach it to the wall:

I purchased several 12′ long light cords on Amazon which were long enough for me to mount them at the height I wanted. I did have some concerns about the strength of the tape and hung a weight on the cord before installing the precious, precious bulbs.

Hue Usage

After spending $200 to light my room, was it worth it? Absolutely. I would only recommend them if you plan on outfitting an entire room or lighting space, having a mix of Hue and traditional bulbs won’t give you the best smart home experience (I used to only have one). With that being said, here is a list of my favorite features in order of practicality:

1. Controlling all of your lights from any location

Gone are the days of fumbling under lampshades to find the on/off switch or having to get up to turn lights on or off. With the Hue system I can control my entire room or each light individually from my phone, physical remote, motion sensor, securty camera, iPad, computer, Amazon Alexa, or even through custom commands using the Hue API or services like IFTTT. It may sounds silly, but not having to get up from your desk or out of bed to walk across the room to adjust your lights one at a time is incredibly convenient, especially if the placement of switches around your apartment is not ideal.

Above is a hue remote attached with mounting tape. It is wireless and can be taken out of the holder and used anywhere.

2. A new dimension of control

The next thing I love about the hue lights is the amount of control you have over the light itself. You can adjust the warmth, color, and brightness to create perfect lighting scenes for your room. My first most frequently used scene is a warm max brightness, which is useful for waking up, working, and general-purpose photo/video lighting. The next is a 50% warm brightness, which is useful for reading, atmosphere, or getting ready to sleep. The last is a warm minimum brightness, which is nice if you’re watching TV or a movie or if you just want to relax.

They’re RGB so you can choose more exotic colors if you’d like. Hue also has video, gaming, and music sync modes which are great for entertaining guests and, honestly, add to the experience:

3. Integration with other services/devices

There are so many different ways to interact with the hue lights, from Alexa voice commands to location-based rules (you can set them to automatically turn off or on when you leave/enter your home), that you can really integrate them in any way you like. They can show notifications from Facebook, the weather outside, alert you to phone calls or texts, or even if your favorite sports team scores. No more worrying about whether or not you left the lights on, even if you did you can adjust them using the Hue app from anywhere.

Final Thoughts

While the markup on the Hue system is absurd (you’re not fooling anyone, Philips), if you are in the market for new bulbs (especially if you don’t already have LEDs) it’s much easier to stomach the additional cost in return for functionality, energy savings, and longer lasting bulbs. Black Friday offer significant discounts on the Hue system and is a great time to buy. Other than price, the only complaint I have about the Hue system is that you can’t create master groupings e.g. if you grouped the lights in your bedroom together, and the lights in your living room together, you’re stuck adjusting each individually however, I’m sure this feature will be added in a future software update.

For me, the lighting of my room plays a very important role in my productivity and overall mood and the Hue system allows me to take full control. I hope I’ve given you some idea of how I use the Hue system and what I find it most useful for however, there are plenty of other uses out there. Be on the lookout for an upcoming video that cover my smart home setup in more detail.

If you are interested in recreating my wall-mounted lighting system, please consider using the Amazon affiliate links in this post. The light mount CAD file can be found here. If you don’t have access to a 3D printer, I would be more than happy to print them for a small fee.  If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to reach out 🙂