Differences Between 1st, 2nd, 3rd & 4th Gen Philips Hue Bulbs
Over the last 6 years, Philips Hue has released four generations of light bulbs. Their smart bulbs were originally released in October 2012 with the 1st generation.
Generations 2 and 3 were introduced in 2015 and 2016 respectively. Each generation displays minimal improvements in technical specs which include intensity of colors, the brightness, and the dimming options on the bulbs.
Bluetooth was added to Hue bulbs in 2019 allowing you to use them without a bridge, you could control them via your phone using Bluetooth.
Philip Hue has two different products which are: Philips Hue Bridge and Philips Hue Light Bulbs.
The bridge enables the user to communicate or control the Philip Hue light bulbs by use of an app and achieves this by using ZigBee technology to talk to the bulbs. With the use of ZigBee other third party smart bulbs are supported and will work with Hue too.
Here we look at and compare the Philips Hue Gen 1 vs. Gen 2 vs. Gen 3 bulbs, as well as the newer Bluetooth bulbs released in 2019.
Philips Hue Gen 1 vs. Gen 2 vs. Gen 3 bulbs
This table is a quick overview of how the different generation bulbs compare.
|Gen 1||Gen 2||Gen 3||Bluetooth|
|Works with Philips Hue Bridge 1.0||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Works with Philips Hue Bridge 2.0||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Brightness||600 Lumens||800 Lumens||800 Lumens||800 Lumens|
|Accurate Red, Green and Blue Colors||Bad||Better||Best||Best|
This image below shows the different visual changes of the Hue Bulbs.
There have been subtle changes to the visual look of the bulbs but certainly nothing radical, there have also been changes to the specification of the bulbs making them brighter and more vibrant.
1st Gen – Released October 2012
The First gen Hue was released in October 2012 and was voted the best new gadget of the year. When it comes to the bridge it is obvious which you have, the first gen is a round device where as the newer versions are more square.
Unlike the bulb that was updated twice, the bridge was updated only once making therefor 2 versions of the bridge. The version 1.0 hue bridge has a round shape as the major difference from version 2.0. Version 1.0 comes with Gen 1 kit and does not provide support for Apple Homekit.
Version 2.0 on another hand comes with Gen 2 and 3 starter kits and has a square shape.
One of the major noticeable improvements is that the Hue Bridge 2.0 provides support for the Apple Homekit and also enables the user to use Apple’s Siri to control the bulbs which was not possible with the 1.0. The Hue bridge 1 can function with all the light bulb generations as well as the hue bridge 2.0.
The bulb life varies with the generation to which the light bulb belongs to. The 1st Gen has a life span of 15,000 hours life time. The generation 3 light bulb on the other hand gives you up to 25,000 hours of richer colors which is an equivalent of 6 hours a day going up to 12 years, this shows that the generation 3 bulb is a more durable Philips Hue light bulb for anybody looking for a long lasting bulb.
Key elements to a 1st Gen bulb:
- Silver body with black lettering
- Only says PHILIPS on the front of the bulb (As seen in the photo above)
- Black contact (the bottom tip)
What is Philips Hue Lux?
Philips Hue Lux is just another name for the first generation of the Philips Hue white kit, within the starter kit you would get a first generation bridge, and first generation bulbs. Although discontinued you can still buy 1st Gen starter kits, however although they are cheaper it is better to buy a newer version which supports HomeKit and has the newer bridge.
2nd Gen – Released 2015
In October 2015 Philips launched the 2nd gen version of Hue and the Hue Bridge had some big changes. With the introduction of the 2nd generation Hue Bridge, the device received an all-new design which is more square and looked a little more polished in terms of design and finish, but under the shell the gen 2 new key feature was Apple’s HomeKit smart home platform support.
The 2nd and 3rd Gen bulbs are slightly improved over the gen 1 bulb. The most conspicuous modification is that the newer versions are 200 lumens brighter than the gen 1. The most recent bulbs glow at a maximum of 800 lumens while the 1st generation shine at a maximum of 600 lumens. This makes the later generations 25% brighter than the 1st generation light bulbs.
With these hue light bulbs, they can only reach their lumen limit at specific white color temperatures and all the other colors look the same on both bulbs and that includes the brightness levels. In example, the color red has a brightness limit hence the red looks completely similar in all the 3 bulb generations.
The newer bulbs shine at 800 lumens at their max, whereas the old bulbs can only get up to 600 lumens at their brightest. This means that the newer bulbs are 25% brighter.
White Bulbs –
- Hue Lux (model id LWB004) – white, 2700K only
- Hue Dimmable (model id LWB006/LWB007) – white, 2700K only
- Hue White Ambience (model id LTW004) – white, 2000K-6500K,
3rd Gen -Released October 2016
The Philips Hue 3rd generation is all about color, the brightness remains the same but the coloured bulbs now produces much better greens, cyans, and blues.
In the beginning the white bulbs had poor versions of green, blue and cyan color. The green in 1st and 2nd gen bulbs appeared to look like a dull yellow. Blue on the other hand had a purple feel in the 1st and 2nd gen. Cyan would also look whitish. The color improvement in Philips Hue third generation light bulb is highly noticeable. It offers richer colors and produces much better blue, green and cyan colors.
One can identify the 3rd gen lights by looking for a “richer color” logo at the top right corner of the packaging used on these bulbs. Gen 3 bulbs will say ‘Richer Colours’ on the box and also have a white plastic base to the bulbs with gold text.
Key differences and elements
- Gold lettering and text on the white body
- Black contact (the bottom tip)
- Serial number on doesn’t end with an ‘A’
Read our Philips Hue Gen 3 review here.
Philips Hue gen 3 vs gen 2?
While physically they look the same part from minor text changes to the bulbs the real difference is in the color of the colored bulbs. The 3rd gen are more vibrant with a better color spectrum, yellows look more yellow and greens look green where as with the second gen bulbs they are a lot more dull and not so impressive.
This video shows the color differences between the two bulbs.
The ability to dim to a very low level increases with each generation meaning that the 2nd generation bulb can dim to a lower level than the 1st. On the other hand the 3rd generation bulb can dim to the least level since it can achieve a lower level than that of 1st and 2nd gen. According to specs the 2nd and 3rd gen bulbs have the same level of dimming which is via RF down to 2%. However for a keen eye, you will notice there’s a big difference in their dimming capabilities. This dimming feature makes the 3rd gen bulb the best if you are resting or sleeping. The 2nd and 3rd generation also turn on quicker than the gen 1 bulbs.
All philips hue 3rd generation starter kits come with this latest bulb.
3.1 – Released December 2017
Although not announced there were minor updates to the Gen 3 bulbs, this could be a forth gen bulb or more a 3.1gen version. This newer updated version has the model LCT015, the model number also has a letter ‘A’ on the end too.
Minor differences include:
- More efficient (10W vs 9.5W – 806 lumens)
- The newer bulb has silver text on the white body
- White contact (the bottom tip)
- The model numbers of the bulbs now also have an ‘A’ or a ‘B’ at the end
The bulb itself has minor differences, the new white and color bulbs no longer have a gold logo/text printed on the bulb like the 3rd gen, it is now silver.
4th Gen/Bluetooth Bulbs – Released August 2019
While the above generation bulbs use ZigBee and require a Hue bridge, new Bluetooth bulbs have Bluetooth and ZigBee support.
These bulbs are great if you are getting int smart lights, you can buy a single bulb and use it in your home without the need for a bridge. The bulb can be operated by your Bluetooth enabled phone or tablet which can turn it on and off and change its color. If you wish you can then expand your set up and buy a bridge for better connectivity and to use other features such as timers, routines and switches.
If you don’t have a bridge then you can connect up to 10 bulbs to your phone and operate via Bluetooth. You cannot use them this way with routines or timers, and you can only operate them when in the same room due to the short distance needed to connect.
You can tell the difference by the Bluetooth logo on the top right of the packaging, and a grey Bluetooth icon on the bulb itself.
It is important to note that although the new bulbs include Bluetooth they still work as usual with the Hue bridge and have all the functions you would expect.
Bluetooth has been added to the Hue range of bulbs including the GU10 spotlights. New Hue filament bulbs also have Bluetooth built in as well.
Hue Bridge Generations
When looking for the bridges, it’s easy to identify the difference between the philips hue bridge 1.0 and 2.0 since they have a conspicuous difference in shape as the 1.0 bridge has a round shape and the 2.0 bridge is square-shaped.
The second gen bridge includes all the 1st generation features and capabilities with the additional inclusion of HomeKit support, you also need this bridge to use Hue Entertainment and Hue Sync. if you are looking at buying a Hue bridge ensure you buy the 2nd gen as support for the 1st is set to be discontinued, also newer features now are only compatible with the second gen bridge.
Hue Bridge 1 Vs 2 Gen Differences
- 1st gen is round, second gen is more square
- 2nd gen has Apple’s HomeKit support
- Both bridges can work with up to 63 lights (50 recommended), 63 sensors (Dimmer, Tap, or Motion).
- 2nd Gen bridge works Hue sync and Hue entertainment
When buying a Hue bridge there are lots of different Hue Gen 2 starter kits that have the latest bridge and a choice of different bulbs, ensure you buy one of these so you have the latest features.
Hue Bridge 3.0
There are no reports of a Philips Hue bridge 3rd generation at the time, however software updates are released to the 2nd gen bridge to add new features and improve performance.
What about the Packaging?
However for the bulbs it’s a bit harder to identify what generation they are from, especially between the 1st and 2nd generation. For the gen 3 packaging, there’s a logo dabbed ‘richer colors’ on the top right corner of the box and this makes it easier to identify it. It is important to look out for this when buying used or refurbished Hue bulbs to ensure you are buying the latest version.
On the other hand, the second gen kit has a stamp on the bottom left corner on the box front that is labelled “works with Apple Homekit”. It’s therefore wise to check for these differences on the Philips Hue products when purchasing them to ensure you purchase the intended product.
FAQ / Support
Below we have answered some common questions regarding Philips Hue bulbs and ho they can be used.
How many bulbs can be used with a single Philips hue base station?
1 single bridge can be used to control up to 50 hue light devices (this includes bulbs, lamps, strips)
Do these bulbs work with my current wall light switch?
Yes, your wall light switch will turn the bulb on and off like it would with a traditional bulb, however when turned off, the bulb will not work with your smart system as it requires power at all times.
How long do the Hue bulbs last?
They are designed to have a long lifespan of 15,000 hours which is much longer than a traditional bulb. Philips say the bulbs should last 15,000 hours or 15 years depending on which comes first.
Can I Use Philips Hue Bulbs Outdoors?
Philips advise these to be used indoors only, however many users have reported using them in porches without any issues. It is important to make sure the bulb is sheltered from the elements, be it rain, snow or direct sunlight. If you are looking for outdoor lights the work with Hue, then take a look at the outdoor Hue Lights that are designed for this use.
Can I use third Party compatible Hue bulbs?
There are other bulbs that do work with Hue, you can find out more about these in the article Philips Hue compatible color bulbs.
What is the Philips Hue warranty?
From the Philips site – “Philips warrants that this device will be free from defects in material and workmanship and will operate for 2 years based on up to 3 hours average working time per day/7 days per week, when used as directed.”
How do you set up the Hue bridge and lights?
Once you have the bulbs and a Hue bridge, it is straight forward to get it all up and running.
The key steps are:
- Change over your bulbs with Hue bulbs and turn the light on at the switch.
- Plugin the Hue Bridge to the mains, and connect to your home router.
- Download the Hue app and set up
Most Philips Hue accessories that include Philips hue lamps, motion sensors and light strips are compatible and can work with all the three hue generations. Philips Hue also works with wink and SmartThing hubs, Nest Cam and smoke detectors and even voice controllers like the Amazon Echo and Apple’s Siri bot.
When purchasing a kit, the user needs to know what specifications they need. For example those that don’t plan on using Apple Homekit support can buy the 1st Gen kit and be satisfied by its functioning. Those that need Apple Homekit support on the other hand will have to purchase a kit from gen 2 or 3. For brighter colors, the 3rd gen bulb would be most preferable to its predecessors.
Join for Hue Inspiration, Latest News & Great Deals