Philips Hue White Ambiance GU10 Review

Philips Hue White Ambiance GU10 used with Runner Spot Lights - Photograph Courtesy of Philips 

Review summary

Highs

  • Perfect fit form factor
  • Great light effect
  • Control from warm to cool white
  • Low dimming level

Lows

  • Premium features not relevant for all applications
  • Wide beam angle is limiting applications
  • No fixed warm white option available (cheaper)

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Special thanks to www.beaumotica.nl for sponsoring this review.

Introduction

Philips Hue is the gold standard in connected lighting for the home. If you want to retrofit your lighting installation and upgrade it with group controls, mobile apps and accessories like wall switches and sensors, the proposition from Philips Hue is currently hard to beat. But before looking at this new spotlight let's first rewind a bit.

In fact, shortly after introducing its first connected lights, Philips already introduced a GU10 spot. It was a welcome addition to the A19 "Edison" lamp which is great for retrofitting stand alone luminaires but not a form factor that is often used in wall and ceiling mounted luminaires due to its bulkiness. The GU10 spot on the other end is a compact form factor, perfect for recessed or surface mounted spot lights. The problem was that in order to cram into the lamp all the electronics and radio, Philips had to make the lamp bigger (longer in this case) than the standard GU10. A lot of luminaires were simply not compatible with this lamp which was a bit frustrating for some. With its new "perfect fit" White Ambiance spot, Philips is fixing this problem as well as adding a new White Ambiance (tunable white) lamp to its portfolio.

Let's take a closer look at this new proposition.

Left the original Hue GU10 with colors (too long) and right the new perfect fit spot - Photograph Philippe Regnier

The product

more suited for general lighting applications rather than accent lighting

This new lamp is a GU10 perfect fit. This term was first introduced with the uprisal of LED technology couple of years back. It took some time to make LEDs efficient enough to power a good amount of light in such a compact body. Just like with Philips Hue, the first LED GU10 lamps were not "perfect fit". Technology always evolves and we now have this very interesting connected spot finally available. Note that this lamp is not the first connected spot on the market. Innr Lighting, tested on this very website and OSRAM also introduced earlier similar propositions. In the case of Innr Lighting, a product tested on the dandy domain and used in our guest room, the lamp has a fixed 2700K colour temperature which is a basic warm white. The new Philips Hue spot is tunable, meaning you can pick a temperature within a wide range of whites from 2200K (warm) to 6500K (cool). However, unlike the original Hue spot, it does not include the RGB colours. For many people it is all they will ever need but for others it might be a bit of a let down.

Here is a closer look at the specifications:

Photograph Philippe Regnier

  • 5.5 W max operation power
  • 0.5 W max standby power
  • GU10 form factor
  • 25,000 Hrs lifetime
  • <2 sec start up from wall switch
  • <0.5 sec start up from standby
  • Software upgradable
  • Lamp size: 50*57mm
  • Lumen output:
    • 300 lm @ 4000K
    • 230 lm @ 3000K
    • 130 lm @ 2200K
    • 200 lm @ 6500K
  • 46 lm/W luminous efficacy @ 4000K
  • >80 CRI from 2000–4000K
  • >50 thousands shade of white, from warm to cold colour temperatures
  • Dimming only via Hue compatible devices down to 1%
  • Beam angle –46° ± 3° (Wide)

Note that the lamp comes with a unique beam angle of 46° which is pretty wide. It will be more suited for general lighting applications rather than accent lighting.

The lamp is available in a single lamp package and in some countries also in a dual pack.

Price and availability

  • The Philips Hue White Ambiance GU10 single pack is retailed at €34.95 EUR / $29.99 US / £24.99 BP

Products are available since the 5th of October 2016 in all major online and consumer electronics retailers.

Philips HUe White Ambiance GU10 used with  PILLAR Downlights - Photograph courtesy of Philips

Light effect

Spot lighting is usually considered for Accent lighting but in reality it can be used in many different ways including general lighting. I will try to give some guidance on how to best use these lamps.

Downlights

An interesting feature of the Philips Hue White Ambiance range is the ability to dim the light extremely low

Used in recessed housings or in surface mounted fixtures, spots will provide a good solution for general lighting. The light beam will reflect on the floor and if you place it close to the wall it will also reflect on the wall with a reversed V beam shape. Since the lumen output and beams are limited, spots are usually installed in rows along a wall or a corridor. 

In a downlight configuration it's normal to consider wider beams to brighten up larger areas. However some prefer playing with contrasts and create a more dramatic atmosphere by using narrow beams for super bright spots.

Directional spots

Certain recessed housings or more classically surface mounted spot luminaires allow you to direct the light beam in a specific direction. Perfect for accenting decorative elements of your room like a painting or a nice plant.

For accent lighting you need to choose the beam angle (narrow, medium or wide) depending on the area you want to light up and the distance to the spot. Most of the time narrow to medium beams are preferred.

You can also be creative and use spotlights for general lighting. In my house like in many houses, the electrical connections for the lights were a single point in the middle of each rooms. Traditionally, you would use a ceiling mounted luminaire or a chandelier but I really don't like those options as my home is rather modern and I hate the dull effect of a single light point blasting the whole room. In our kids room instead, we used luminaires with 4 directional spots and simply guided the light around the room making sure it will reflect enough on the walls to create a good general lighting setup. Just make sure in this configuration to avoid glare effects by pointing the light towards the door or in a pathway.

Using Spot Lighting in a bedroom - Photograph Philippe Regnier

Task lighting

When using downlights over a dining table or a bar, the light will be used for a specific activity (eating, drinking, working). Since the table or table top will be much closer to the spot you may want to use narrower beams so the light focuses only on the table. By doing that you create a bright spot of light where you really need it and also bring contrast in the room which is the first step towards creating a good lighting atmosphere.

Since the Philips Hue White Ambiance GU10 spot is using a 46° beam angle, I would recommend using it for general lighting purposes over accent lighting and task lighting.

I would have liked a simple Hue White version

The perfect wake-up or night light

An interesting feature of the Philips Hue White Ambiance range is the ability to dim the light extremely low. With the Hue White and Color range the starting point is already quite bright in comparison. This enables two really nice applications:

  • Wake-up light: if you go in the routines menu of your Hue app you can setup a wake-up light which will work perfectly with the Hue White Ambiance. The very low light level allows a smooth wake-up effect necessary to enjoy the desired experience
  • Night-light: if you read my last article about the Philips Hue Sensor, you know that the Hue Sensor allows a night setting which triggers a different light level at night. Perfect for your night trips to the toilet or kitchen to grab a drink. With such a low light level, you can safely reach your destination without being completely waken up by the full brightness of the lamps.

Control

The control of the Hue GU10 spot is no different than the A19 lamp and therefore I recommend you to read my initial article about the Philips Hue White Ambiance.

...wide beam angle is the least interesting for accent lighting!

Possible improvements?

The White Ambiance proposition is really interesting and allows to experience light differently depending on the time of the day or your activities. Based on specifications the best application for this spot is general lighting. For such application and considering the number of light points it might involve I would have liked a simple Hue White version. Taking away the tunable white feature would enable a much lower price point. Imagine you need 10 to 20 of these babies for your house, you might think twice about the benefit of the shades of white. From that perspective the Innr Lighting GU10 proposition is quite attractive as the price is significantly lower.

Used for Accent Lighting, the White Ambiance proposition really makes sense. In fact, one of the best application for using tunable white in professional lighting has always been museums. By tuning the light to the colour of the painting you can truly make the art pop or simply bring accent on certain colours over others. You can now do this at home and it's awesome. The problem is that the wide beam angle is the least interesting for accent lighting!

Accent lighting in museums (Narodowe Warsaw) - Photograph wikipedia

Not sure why Philips chose these specifications and what they had in mind but for me they should have gone for a medium beam which is much more universal and would have allowed some accent lighting applications in addition to general lighting. Of course it's always a question of tradeoff and to go around the problem they may actually release new lamps in the future with different beam angles and light engines (perfect fit color version or fixed white).

Review summary

Highs

  • Perfect fit form factor
  • Great light effect
  • Control from warm to cool white
  • Low dimming level

Lows

  • Premium features not relevant for all applications
  • Wide beam angle is limiting applications
  • No fixed warm white option available (cheaper)

Conclusion

The new Philips Hue White Ambiance GU10 lamp is a good product and has been long awaited. It offers a great light effect and superb control options with extremely low dimming level. Still with a wide angle it's best suited for general lighting and for this application I find the price too high. For living rooms the value proposition might be ok but in corridors for instance, it just feels too premium.

I think Philips needs to both introduce a simpler and cheaper Philips Hue White version (fixed 2700K warm white) with a wide angle and add medium and narrow beam options to the Philips Hue White Ambiance proposition. This way you would truly be able to scale up your lighting installation all around the house with the perfect feature set.

 


Special thanks to www.beaumotica.nl for sponsoring this review.



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philippe regnier

Founder and main editor of The Dandy Domain.

Audio-video freak for more than 20 years, Philippe worked for more than 10 years with the most advanced professional lighting solution. Ended his corporate career at Philips Hue in the booming Smart Home playground. Crazy of Danish design and beautiful products in general. Believes technology should enhance our life not spoil it.

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