New Philips Hue lightbulb firmware update doesn’t play nice with third-party bulbs


Smart home products are undeniably useful but one problem plagues almost all Wi-Fi-connected devices: the inability to play nice with other gadgets.

Philips’ Hue lightbulbs were one of the few devices that worked great with a variety of forms of smart home technology, in part do to its Zigbee-based Wi-Fi hub. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case anymore.

A recent firmware update to Philips’ line of smart Hue LED lightbulbs and hubs has locked out competitor’s bulbs from being compatible with the company’s hub. This means that if you use Philips’ Hue products, as well as another smart home device like the Ecobee, you’ll now need a different Wi-Fi hub for each type of bulb. From now on only Philips-approved bulbs will work with its Hue products.

In a statement Philips says its made the wall-garden shift with its Hue product in order to help its customers: “While the Philips Hue system is based on open technologies we are not able to ensure all products from other brands are tested and fully interoperable with all of our software updates. For guaranteed compatibility you need to use Philips Hue or certified Friends of Hue products.”

In a strange twist, all currently paired third-party lightbulbs will continue to work with Hue products, but should you need to replace that light bulb, or purchase more lightbulbs, then they will no longer work with Hue’s hub.