Internet of Things connected Philips Hue bulbs review

After we wrote a post about the Lifx, Internet of Things connected LED lights a few weeks back, we reached out to Philips to see if we could get a Philips Hue kit to try out for comparison. Philips obliged and sent us a kit which contains 3 LED lights, and a Hue bridge.

Philips Hue bridge

Philips Hue bridge

As a bit of background, the way the Philips Hue system works is that you receive a device called a bridge with your bulbs which you need connect into your internet router. This device talks to the Philips Hue bulbs over the ZigBee protocol, and also is capable of connecting to the Internet via your router. Thus your Philips Hue bulbs are capable of being controlled not just from inside your home, but also from outside the home using the free Philips Hue smartphone app (available for both Android and iOS).

The smartphone app has a lot of extra functionality built-in. The app enables users:

  • to change the colour of the light coming from the bulbs (across the full spectrum of visible light), as well as the intensity
  • to use pre-built recipes which come with the app for different light intensities and colours. These recipes are editable, and owners can create their own recipes and share them with the Hue community
  • set-up Geofencing, so it’s possible to have the lights automatically go off when you leave home, and come on when you approach home
  • create alarms such that the lights simulate a sunrise early in the morning, or a sunset late at night. The sunrise functionality can be especially useful if you find it hard to awake on dark winter mornings
  • to control lights remotely – this is useful if you don’t use the geofencing functionality and you want to check if you turned the lights off after you go out, or if you don’t want to enter a dark home
Philips Hue Bridge Power consumption

Philips Hue Bridge Power consumption

The bulbs, as can be seen in the video give out good light (600 Lumen at full intensity) over a large range of colours, and using very little electricity. Typical consumption, at full intensity, and a colour temperature of around 3000K, is 5W. However, the bulbs also draw a constant 0.4W when they are turned off by the app (as opposed to being turned off at the physical switch). This is so they can maintain their Zigbee connection to the bridge, in order to be able to come respond to the smartphone app (alarms, remote on/off requests, geofencing, etc.). And the bridge itself consumes a constant 1.6W, so the three bulbs, plus the bridge, have a baseline consumption of 2.8W.

When you compare the 2.8W to 60W from a conventional incandescent bulb, it doesn’t appear to be a huge draw, but over 24 hours it does add up (it is the equivalent of leaving a 60W bulb on for a little over an hour and seven minutes per day).

To avoid burning the constant 2.8W you can of course turn the bulbs off at the wall (or the switch). Then they are no longer in ‘listening mode’ and consume 0W, instead of the constant 0.4W. In this scenario, the electricity draw is reduced to just the 1.6W from the bridge. Over 24 hours this is equivalent to leaving a 60W bulb on for just over 38 minutes. The advantage of this approach is lower electricity consumption, the disadvantage is that the Hue bulbs are no longer connected to the Internet of Things.

This constant nibbling of power by the Hue devices is by no means unique to Philips. By definition any devices constantly connected to the Internet are also constantly consuming power – which raises interesting questions around the costs and benefits of Internet of Things connected devices.


Green bits and bytes for April 28th 2011

Green bits & bytes


I haven’t done a Green bits and bytes posting in a while so here are some of the Green announcements which passed by my desk this last few weeks:

  1. Siemens has started a Smart Grid Innovation Contest, basically you submit new ideas that could be implemented in the near future, add supporting material (images, business plan, etc.), tag it and submit. You can submit more than one idea and all ideas can be viewed, commented on and rated. And there are lots of prizes to be won too.
  2. Switch Lighting have announced a new LED technology “that produces the brightest warm light LED replacement bulb available. The switch bulbs are dimmable and were designed with Cradle-to-Cradle principles in mind, according to Switch. ?The unique design of Switch bulbs signals the company?s intention to offer brilliant lighting as a service for humanity,? says William McDonough, who developed the Cradle to Cradle protocol with German chemist Michael Braungart. What’d be great is if they had a way to buy the bulbs on the site!
  3. Sandbag issued a report [PDF] outlining how the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) is building up a mountain of surplus pollution permits, instead of reducing the growth of emissions. These banked permits will allow pollution to grow unchecked for years.

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Photo credit .faramarz


Friday Green Numbers round-up for Feb 11th 2011

Green Numbers

And here is a round-up of this week’s Green numbers…

  1. Vice President Biden Announces Six Year Plan to Build National High-Speed Rail Network

    Vice President Joe Biden today announced a comprehensive plan that will help the nation reach President Obama?s goal of giving 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail within 25 years, as outlined in his State of the Union address. The proposal will place high-speed rail on equal footing with other surface transportation programs and revitalize America?s domestic rail manufacturing industry by dedicating $53 billion over six years to continue construction of a national high-speed and intercity passenger rail network.

    As a part of President Obama?s commitment to winning the future by rebuilding America?s roadways, railways and runways, the plan will lay a new foundation for the nation?s

  2. Energy and Carbon Software Market Poised for 300% Growth; Sector Leaders Named

    The market for enterprise energy and carbon accounting (EECA) software grew 400 percent during 2010 and is forecast to grow another 300 percent this year, according to research by efficiency system provider Groom Energy Solutions.

    The research found that more than 200 large corporations ? including Arch Coal, Bayer, RJ Reynolds, Safeway and Wyndham Hotels ? bought EECA software in 2010.

    The report names ten companies as EECA leaders for 2011. They are

  3. US diplomat convinced by Saudi expert that reserves of world’s biggest oil exporter have been overstated by nearly 40%

    The US fears that Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest crude oil exporter, may not have enough reserves to prevent oil prices escalating, confidential cables from its embassy in Riyadh show.

    The cables, released by WikiLeaks, urge Washington to take seriously a warning from a senior Saudi government oil executive that the kingdom’s crude oil reserves may have been overstated by as much as 300bn barrels ? nearly 40%.

    The revelation comes as the oil price has soared in recent weeks to more than $100 a barrel on global demand and

  4. Bridgelux Raises $20M For LEDs

    LED chip and array maker Bridgelux raised close to $50 million just a year ago, but is raising even more money, according to a filing. The nine-year-old venture-backed startup which is looking to do for lighting what Silicon Valley has done for communications and entertainment ? make it digital ? has raised $20.74 million of a planned $21 million round.

    The company opened a factory in California and was making an effort to scale up its production last year, so

  5. British windfarms blow Vestas towards 25% profit rise

    Strong demand from British windfarms helped the world’s biggest turbine manufacturer, Vestas, raise profits by 25% over the past year and have boosted future prospects.

    UK equipment deliveries totalled 530MW ? a leap from 120MW over the previous year ? helped in particular by shipments for the 300MW Thanet windfarm, which is currently the largest offshore windfarm ever built.

    Shares in Vestas soared 5% as the Danish-based group reported

  6. Vodafone [Ireland] embarks on green drive to cut paper bills by 70%

    Ireland?s largest mobile operator Vodafone has asked customers to opt to switch to paperless billing as part of its drive to cut down on paper by 70%. The move, it says, will be equal to saving 5,000 trees and 500 tonnes of CO2.

    The company today launched its paperless billing campaign ?Goodbye Paper Bills, Hello Trees? and calls on Vodafone customers to make the switch to paperless billing.

  7. EMC? Cork plant cuts energy use by 20% after ?radical? retrofit

    EMC?, which employs 1,650 people at its Ovens site, undertook a full retrofit project to implement energy saving technologies at the information technology and data centre site, using free cooling technology systems.

    The ?2.5 million project, which was designed and managed by consulting engineering company Arup, will achieve annual electricity savings of 13 million kilowatt hours and an annual carbon emission reduction of 7,000 tonnes.

  8. Hopes of 30% cut in greenhouse emissions dashed

    The UK government’s plan to push Europe to deeper cuts on greenhouse gas emissions has been dashed by the EU’s energy chief.

    G?nther Oettinger, the EU’s energy commissioner, dealt a heavy blow to the hopes of several member states that have been pressing for a target of slashing emissions by 30% by 2020, against the current 20%.

    He said the tougher target would force industries to ….

  9. China bids to ease drought with $1bn emergency water aid

    China has announced a billion dollars in emergency water aid to ease its most severe drought in 60 years, as the United Nations warned of a threat to the harvest of the world’s biggest wheat producer.

    Beijing has also promised to use its grain reserves to reduce the pressure on global food prices, which have surged in the past year to record highs due to the floods in Australia and a protracted dry spell in Russia.

    The desperate measures were evident at

  10. Obama Admin: 1M Electric Vehicles by 2015 Still On Course

    President Obama?s plan to put 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015 was reaffirmed on Tuesday.

    A new report issued by the Department of Energy outlines a strategy for achieving that goal, which Obama announced in his State of the Union address last month. David Sandalow, the Energy Department?s Assistant Secretary for Policy and International Affairs, said the goal can be reached if the proper steps are taken.

    ?To succeed in meeting the President?s goal, we?ll need …

  11. Ocean energy could create 70,000 jobs [in Ireland] ? Bord G?is

    Bord G?is have claimed that the ocean energy industry could create up to 70,000 jobs and be worth ?120bn to the Irish economy.

    In a speech to the Ocean Energy Industry Forum 2011 today, Bord G?is CEO John Mullins outlined his concern that ?not enough investment and planning is being put into developing Ireland?s ocean energy resources,? however.

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Photo credit house of bamboo


Digital Lumens intelligent LEDs cut Maines energy for lighting by 87%

Digital Lumens and Maines Before and after
Photo of before and after installation of Digital Lumens lighting system in Maines Paper & Food Service courtesy of Digital Lumens.

Digital Lumens reduced the cost of lighting for their first customer by 87%.

Digital Lumens specialise in high-bay lighting for warehouses, cold storage facilities, and manufacturing plants. This is a mostly invisible but very large segment. It is estimated that in the US alone, $5bn worth of lighting is sold into the supply chain sector every year.

Mike Feinstein, Digital Lumens’ VP of Sales and Marketing, told me on a recent call that they are very much a start-up company and that they have had their first revenues in this calendar year.

In a recent press release Digital Lumens reported that their first large-scale customer, Maines Paper & Food Service has reduced their energy requirements for lighting by 87% since installing the Digital Lumens lighting system. Up until now, Maines 500,000 sq ft (46,450 sq meters) warehouse was lit using sodium lights 24 x 7 and lighting costs made up around 20% of Maines total energy spend.

With the new system Maines expects to save 1,726,108kWh per year which, at a cost of US$0.0958 per kWh for industrial customers in New York, amounts to a $ saving of just over $165,000 per annum. This saving, combined with an incentive provided by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), means that Maines will recoup the cost of this project in less than a year!

I was fascinated with this story so I spoke to Pat DeOrdio, the VP of Operations for Maines.

Pat told me that Maines were doing a full analysis of their lighting to see how “we could reduce our kW off the grid and help with our Green initiatives” when they came across the Digital Lumens solution.

For Pat, what was particularly compelling about the intelligent lighting system was the management software which came with it

“With Digital Lumen’s lights, every one of them is like a little computer. It has its own IP address so we are able to control that lighting level – if we want to have the light turn off in 30 seconds, 60 seconds or when nobody’s in the aisle, you know, why do you want it lit? It gives us the ability to control the light level from a computer and it reduces our energy cost”

Of course another big advantage of the LED lights is the fact that they give out so much less heat. This is particularly important in large cold rooms and freezers because it reduces the workload on the chillers cooling the rooms

Three other big advantages Pat cited to the Digital Lumens’ solution were that:

  1. They allowed lights to be turned down to a ‘nightlight mode’ – 10% light. This was important in the large warehouse setting for worker safety.
  2. The total flexibility of the system means that, in Pat’s words “as we get used to it, maybe we’ll only turn the light up to 80%, cos that’s all the light level we’ll need” – allowing for further savings and
  3. The colour of the light is much brighter now so the produce they are stocking even looks better!

LED lighting is making huge strides now in commercial settings. When the Sentry Equipment Corporation in Oconomowoc, Wis., was considering how to light its new factory, it decided to go with LED’s. From the New York Times report on the building:

By lighting all of the building?s exterior and most of its interior with L.E.D.?s, Sentry spent $12,000 more than the $6,000 needed to light the facility with a mixture of incandescent and fluorescent bulbs. But using L.E.D.?s, the company is saving $7,000 a year in energy costs, will not need to change a bulb for 20 years and will recoup its additional investment in less than two years.

Kaj den Daas, chairman and chief executive of Philips Lighting, one of the largest manufacturers of lighting globally, in an interview two years ago said ?We are not spending one dollar on research and development for compact fluorescents.? Instead, the bulk of its R.& D. budget, which is 5.2 percent of the company?s global lighting revenue, is for L.E.D. research. Philips is betting the store on the L.E.D. bulbs, which it expects to represent 20 percent of its professional lighting revenue in two years.


Friday Morning Green Numbers round-up 04/16/2010

Green numbers

Photo credit Unhindered by Talent

And here is this week’s Green numbers:

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.


Friday’s Green Numbers round-up 01/15/2010

Green Numbers

Photo credit arekiiu

Here is today’s Friday Green numbers round-up:

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.


How many countries does it take to change a light bulb?

Light bulb

Photo credit _Beat_???

Well, the EU thinks it takes 27 countries to change the light bulb. And they may well be right.

Today the EU brings into force a ban on frosted and incandescant lightbulbs of 100W and over. This is the first part of a program to completely phase out incandescent light bulbs in the EU by 2012. According to the EU announcement, as a result of this

EU citizens will save close to 40 TWh (roughly the electrictity consumption of Romania, or of 11 million European households, or the equivalent of the yearly output of 10 power stations of 500 megawatts) and will lead to a reduction of about 15 million tons of CO2 emission per year.

However, this message doesn’t appear to be getting through to many of the EU citizens with many reports of people hoarding 100W lightbulbs across Europe.

Recycling CFL Lightbulbs

Recycling CFL Lightbulbs

Reasons for the hoarding are understandable. The light quality from CFL’s is not comparable to incandescents. CFLs lights are not dimmable. They are more expensive (at least as an initial outlay) and they need to be disposed of carefully as they contain small amounts of mercury. Fortunately our local Hipercor store has a special collection point for safe disposition and recycling of CFL’s. If your shop doesn’t, ask them why not!

However, on the positive side, what this ban does is it creates a large market of consumers (EU population is approx 500m people) hungry for good lighting solutions. This should act as a serious spur for innovation in the lighting space. The current alternatives to incandescent lights are CFL’s, Halogen lights and LEDs.

Of these, the CFLs have the limitations outlined above. Halogen bulbs have light quality equivalent to incandescents but they are not very energy efficient, saving at best 25-50% over incandescents (as compared to CFLs saving typically 75%) while still being expensive and LEDs are still quite an immature technology.

The LED light though holds the most promise. LEDs are mercury free, they are fully dimmable, their lifetime can be 50,000 to 60,000 hours (or about 10 times longer than an average CFL), there is no bulb or filament to break and they are extremely energy efficient. There are some barriers to their widespread adoption currently (they are expensive to produce and LEDs are quite directional) but the sudden appearance of a marketplace of 500m people will definitely act as an incentive to invest in overcoming these difficulties.

Thanks in no small part to today’s ban, in a few short years I expect we will all be using LEDs to light our homes and reducing our carbon footprint considerably in the process.


GreenMonk Energy & Sustainability show – 30th March 09

This is an archive copy of this week’s GreenMonk Energy & Sustainability show and the chat stream is below:

05:31 TomRaftery : Anyone seeing video? Hearing audio?
05:31 paulsavage : I see it
05:31 ustreamer-9468 : not yet tom
05:31 paulsavage : and I hear
05:31 paulsavage : Doing good
05:31 mikeTheBee : Hi tom
05:31 ustreamer-1659 : You’re on for me Tom – john P, Cork
05:31 mikeTheBee : Yep
05:31 ustreamer-9468 : ok starting
05:31 ustreamer-9468 : got ya now
05:31 TomRaftery : ustreamer 9468 not seeing me anyone else having problems?
05:31 ustreamer-9468 : dublin is good!
05:32 TomRaftery : Good, good,
05:32 mikeTheBee : May need to reload
05:33 paulsavage : 8:30 in LA
05:34 TomRaftery :
05:34 mikeTheBee : Like Charcoal
05:38 mikeTheBee : 14 viewers
05:38 ustreamer-9468 : down to african levels …
05:39 mikeTheBee : 15 viewers
05:39 TomRaftery :
05:40 TomRaftery :
05:42 paulsavage : Did you submit any questions ?
05:44 ustreamer-9468 : scary bigtime
05:45 mikeTheBee : There are plenty of deniers in the media
05:46 TomRaftery :
05:48 mikeTheBee : neat if 40% is the figure
05:48 paulsavage : Really smart idea. I guess it’s for electric showers ?
05:48 mikeTheBee : Just have a cold shower
05:48 TomRaftery :
05:49 monkchips : wash less, you’ll even smell green ๐Ÿ˜‰
05:49 monkchips : top of the afternoon to ya
05:49 mikeTheBee : 6 Viewers
05:49 mikeTheBee : Correction 16
05:50 TomRaftery :
05:51 mikeTheBee : km
05:51 mikeTheBee : not mph
05:51 paulsavage : 265 km / h ??
05:51 monkchips : yup
05:51 mikeTheBee : wow
05:51 monkchips : love train travel!
05:51 ustreamer-57460 : Me from BCN. Help me a lot. Save money & time!
05:52 monkchips : tom but what about links? its no good if you want to then fly from madrid
05:53 monkchips : train – there are those that would claim otherwise
05:53 divydovy : and key = CO2 emitted at ground level not up in atmosphere
05:53 ustreamer-57460 : waiting for the new basque “Y” trains
05:54 monkchips : the dutch airline VLM claims their fokkers are greener than train engines
05:54 monkchips : the dirty fokkers
05:54 ustreamer-3567 : In Ottawa-Montreal corridor, even without a high speed train, the math still works. And I was able to work with more space too. In Pacific NW of US, we don’t even have that
05:55 ustreamer-1659 : But surely there will be opportunities for may more people on trains than plane capacity …
05:55 divydovy : must be fokking cramped in there
05:55 ustreamer-1659 : Agree Tom…
05:55 mikeTheBee : 8 Viewers
05:55 mikeTheBee : 8 viewers
05:56 mikeTheBee : 8
05:56 paulsavage : if you travel without any extra weigh (baggage) , or filled up with people who are less than 50kgs ๐Ÿ˜‰
05:56 mikeTheBee : ighteen
05:56 TomRaftery :
05:56 monkchips : oh yeah- wrong link. here is the trains vs planes argument
05:56 mikeTheBee : Nineteen
05:57 paulsavage : my screen shows 22 views
05:57 paulsavage : viewers*
05:57 ustreamer-25233 : fish – what about hormones in meet
05:57 monkchips : straight
05:57 monkchips : hormones in meat- indeed. my son eats meat and that one drives me nuts
05:58 paulsavage : ryanair would love to do that. ๐Ÿ˜‰
05:58 ustreamer-1659 : Ryanair’s next strategy ๐Ÿ˜‰
05:58 mikeTheBee : Ryanair does!
05:58 ustreamer-1659 : LOL x 3!
05:58 mikeTheBee : But not your Body, yet
05:59 ustreamer-25233 : flying – most CO2 is created in taxing on run way and circiling over heathrown waiting to land – why cannot they fix that – eg use tow on airstrip to and from gate, and not hang about over London for 30 mins waiting to land
05:59 TomRaftery :
05:59 cgarvey : If it’s cost-based and done fairly, (as an overweight person!), I’d welcome the move
05:59 monkchips : @ustreamer-25233 its one reason i LOVE city airport in london… in and out, no taxi ing or circling
06:00 mikeTheBee : cfl destroy IR remote signals too
06:00 monkchips : tom we don’t need new technology so much as turn the things off when you’re not using them
06:00 monkchips : earth hour we didn’t even make a difference to the grid, but it was a powerful statement
06:01 monkchips : to see the sydney harbour bridge and houses of parliament tower with lights off
06:01 ustreamer-14148 : Have any stats been published on the effect of Earth Hour?
06:01 cgarvey : dimmable, hue/colour/warmth of light, startup time, etc.. all confusing factors of CFL
06:01 ustreamer-25233 : LEDs $120 per bulb according to national geographical march issue. they are potential for future for sure.
06:01 paulsavage : from wiki
06:01 paulsavage : A standard North American 100 watt incandescent light bulb emits 1500รขโ‚ฌโ€œ1700 lumens,while a standard European 230 V model emits 1200รขโ‚ฌโ€œ1400 lm.
06:01 divydovy : EU project to reduce aircraft emissions (partly through ATC measures):
06:02 mikeTheBee : I Agree Totally
06:03 TomRaftery :
06:03 monkchips : really? WOW
06:03 monkchips : when did that happen?>
06:03 monkchips : missed that link.
06:04 joegarde : new interconnector between Ireland and UK
06:04 TomRaftery :
06:04 mikeTheBee :
06:04 cgarvey : no noticable dip in EirGrid (Irish electrical grid) generation for Earth Hour (week on week, for best comparison)..
06:05 cgarvey : Working link ..
06:05 paulsavage : Trickle power is the term AFAIK
06:05 divydovy : Tom: interesting new lighting technology:
06:05 ustreamer-14148 : Would be nice if they were installed by default in new-build houses.
06:06 ustreamer-3567 : Need to get the electronic manufacturers to take away the need for standby (clocks that don’t retain state when off etc)
06:06 divydovy : Many people are just putting in energy efficient lighting for building regs then replacing it as soon as it’s signed off.
06:06 paulsavage : longer lifetime means less chemicals, or is that just fluff ?
06:07 ustreamer-25233 : ditto with cars – waiting at lights, level crossings etc – cut engine and restart on press of accelerator rather than turning on and off – wish more models would do it
06:08 joegarde : 2012 complete
06:08 cgarvey : Would it not make more sense to expand the existing NI/Scotland one, rather than build the new one to Wales ?
06:10 cgarvey : so NI/Scotland too small to upgrade (financially) (MWs rather than GWs?)
06:10 joegarde : interesting
06:10 mikeTheBee : I believ it needs Eurpean funding approval.
06:10 cgarvey : got it, ta
06:11 ustreamer-25233 : a good tip
06:11 mikeTheBee : No that intelligent obviously
06:12 monkchips : yup
06:12 monkchips : the UK adveristing standars authority
06:12 monkchips : last week ruled
06:12 divydovy : good show Tom, thanks
06:12 joegarde : thanks Tom – great
06:12 cgarvey : Cheers again Tom!
06:12 ustreamer-14148 : Thanks
06:12 monkchips : that greenwashing will get pulled
06:12 ustreamer-25233 : thankS Tom and thanks James for the tip
06:12 ustreamer-1659 : Thanks Tom….
06:12 paulsavage : good show.
06:12 paulsavage : Adios
06:12 TomRaftery : THanks everyone for a great show
06:13 ustreamer-3567 : ciao
06:13 mikeTheBee : Thanks tom, fully packed show today