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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 1Gen 2Gen 3Bluetooth
Year Released2012201520162019
Bridge Needed?YesYesYesNo
Works with Philips Hue Bridge 1.0YesYesYesYes
Works with Philips Hue Bridge 2.0YesYesYesYes
Brightness600 Lumens800 Lumens800 Lumens800 Lumens
Life-Span (Hours)15,00025,00025,00025,000
Accurate Red, Green and Blue ColorsBadBetterBestBest
Dimming FunctionOKBetterBestBest

This image below shows the different visual changes of the Hue Bulbs.

difference between hue generations

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.

Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance BR30
Set the mood with 16 million colors. Control your Philips Hue Smart Lights all with just the touch of a button on your mobile device or your favorite voice assistant. Add up to 10 Hue Bluetooth/Zigbee smart bulbs with the (free) Hue Bluetooth app. Wen ready to connect a voice assistant, just go to Settings > Add voice assistant in the Hue App

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:

  • Lighter
  • 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.

Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance BR30
Set the mood with 16 million colors. Control your Philips Hue Smart Lights all with just the touch of a button on your mobile device or your favorite voice assistant. Add up to 10 Hue Bluetooth/Zigbee smart bulbs with the (free) Hue Bluetooth app. Wen ready to connect a voice assistant, just go to Settings > Add voice assistant in the Hue App

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.

Hue bridge generations

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.


Hue Gen Packaging Boxes for Bluetooth

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

Bottom line

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.

Founder & Editor

Mike is the founder of Hue Home Lighting, a huge Hue fan with far too many lights, covering home and garden. A smart home gadget addict and also enjoys the odd bit of DIY


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  1. Lisa

    Gen 3 bulbs also do not seem to have the beloved feature of turning on and off with the real life light switch that the older bulbs had. (I have a gen 1 kit with 2 new gen 3 bulbs and 8 gen1/gen2 bulbs. Till they fix this glitch, I will only be buying the older bulbs.)

    • Justin

      They will on the 2nd gen Bridge. If you turn off the switch, they’ll turn back on with the switch to a neutral white 100%. They can be immediately changed upon being turned back on at the switch.

  2. RAG

    We need more brighter bulbs.. 800 lumens is not enough.. any updates ?.. I hope they will consider that.

  3. Yanni

    I have the Gen 1 kit, recently purchase the Gen 3 Bridge hub, but can’t seem to get my bulbs communicating to the Hub, do I need to be Gen 3 bulbs?

  4. John

    My Hue Ambience Lamps are called “LTW001” in the App, so what do you think that makes them?

  5. John

    Interestingly I bought two more Hue ambience and their model is LTW010 and they run different firmware to the LTW001, although looking identical. They also turn off at a different speed…
    (Plus two Hue colour, with “brighter colours” on the boxes, which are LCT015)

  6. Johnra

    Thanks for the helpful article. One thing, though. The math on the brightness difference is a bit off: 800 lumens / 600 lumens * 100% = 133% which is 33% brighter, not 25% as claimed.

  7. Thomas Card

    Hi Im a long time Hue light supporter & have had them since Gen 1 & now i own a Gen 2 Hub with 10 bulbs total that is comprised of a mix of Gen 1 & 2 & out of the 10 there are 2 of them in my bathroom that are only the White Version but gen 2. I believe that only 3 of the color bulbs are Gen 1 & the remaining 5 color are Gen 2!

    My question here is this, is there such a thing as a “Gen 3 HUB” or only Gen 2 Hub & then they only made Gen 3 Bulbs? If they haven’t released a Gen 3 Hub, is there any plans in the works for developing one & if so what might be the features that would differentiate the Gen 3 Hub from Gen 2 Hub? Or what might be some of the wanted features that may anyone may have seen somewhere that other Hue light owners have requested or suggested?
    One last question, does Phillips have a place where someone could be able to send in their requests & suggestions regarding any part of the Hue system?
    Oh crap i just thought of one more Q I have, I love everything about the Hue lights, but I also love to use LED strips & would love to use the Phillips Hue LED strips if they weren’t so overly expensive, Does anyone know of anywhere to purchase the Hue LED strips for less then the prices at local hardware stores such as Lowes & Home Depot???
    Thank you so much,
    Thomas Card

  8. Steve monk

    I have gen 1 lights still working (light) but they no longer connect to either gen 1 or gen 3 bridge, tried auto registration and manual, purchased a new gen 3 bulb and connects straight away. Any ideas?

  9. Paul

    Hi I’m looking to buy the Philips hue GU10 kit for my home cinema with the. Colour. Change when watching films can anyone on here tell me are they any good and should I buy the 2nd or 3rd generation set thanks

  10. Tom

    How can you tell if the E26 bulbs you’re buying have the latest updates (i.e. the sort of “3.1” version)? Thanks.

  11. Adam

    Just bought a pair of GU10 colour lights. Is it true that the blue shades don’t work at all or is it a glitch? Considering returning. Thank you.

  12. Graham.

    I have a LivingColors lamp and remote – how do I tell if this lamp is Gen1 or Gen2 – anyone know ??

  13. Kat

    What do you think of the new Philips Hue E26 bulbs coming out that has an updated branding on the bulb? The “hue” is now a large text.

    Example is here: https://www.apple.com/shop/product/HNVW2ZM/A/philips-hue-white-and-color-ambience-4-pack-starter-kit

    The packaging (box) for the starter kit with these new bulbs also went through a minor facelift. The ‘richer color’ icon in the top right corner is gone and some of the symbols and logos in the box have changed locations.

    I’m anxious if I should wait for these to come out in my local store or go ahead and buy the current bluetooth-enabled bulbs. My fear is Philips may have changed it beyond the branding like maybe adding a part that they can enable at a later date for Thread compatibility for example. (See Eve’s Thread announcement)

  14. More Fog

    The gen 3 and gen 4 Hue lightstrips are not compatible. Different pin sizes. The gen 4 lightstrips are all Bluetooth. Does that mean that all non-Bluetooth lightstrips are gen 3 pin compatible? I need to expand my gen 3 lightstrip and found out gen 4 was not pin compatible the hard way. This is a great article, I’d love to see you expand it to include more info on the incompatible lightstrips.

    Also, I just noticed Home Depot now has a (proprietary?) version called the Philips Hue Wiz. What’s up with that? What is that compatible with?

  15. Karl Hoff

    There seems to be a new variant of bulbs with wi/fi. Has anyone tried them? Are they better/worse/same as the Bluetooth bulbs?

  16. usma yousuf

    I have recently updated the Philips Hue but the option for Timers is gone!!!! Philips please add this option back to the app


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