We’ve had to wait some time for Philips to forge an outdoor range of Hue lights to match its impressive array of indoor solutions, but momentum is building quickly.
Last summer, we finally got our hands on the Hue Calla bollard lamps and outdoor lightstrips; we found both to be capable, if costly, additions to the line-up. This year, Philips is doubling down on garden lighting with two new wall-mounted fixtures and the subject of today’s review, the $50 Hue Outdoor Sensor.
This device plays a similar role to the Hue Motion Sensor, which has been available for indoor systems since 2016: It will illuminate outdoor lights whenever motion is detected. That makes it an ideal partner for pathway lights like Hue Calla as well as the company’s Ludere security lamps and selection of wall lanterns. As usual, you’ll need the Philips Hue bridge (sold separately or in a starter kit) to connect the sensor to your system. We took the sensor outside for a test spin. Here’s how it went.
Wire-free, hassle free
For convenience, the Hue outdoor sensor is fully wireless, powered by two replaceable ‘AA’ batteries that should deliver at least two years of service. As you’d expect, the sensor is fully weatherproof, with an IP54 rating. Philips tells us that the device has undergone significant testing and will withstand heavy rainfall (but not full submersion in water), while an operating temperature range of -4 to 131-degrees Fahrenheit (-20 to 55-degrees Celsius) ensures year-round suitability.
With a black and white color scheme neatly matching other devices on the Hue Outdoor range, the sensor is both compact and rather cute, with a bulbous ‘eye’ keeping watch over your pathway. It’s designed to be mounted high-up on a wall, fence or other outdoor fixture, detecting motion up to 10 meters away, with a generous 160-degree (7 meter) field of vision.
Installation is easy thanks to solid plastic flat-wall and corner mounts included in box, plus accompanying screws and wall anchors. If drilling walls sounds too much like hard work, you can get creative by threading cable-ties through the flat-wall mount to secure the sensor to drain pipes or other exterior fittings.
Simple setup for day and night scenes
Setting up the sensor is a straightforward task. Unlike Hue bulbs, there’s no need to hit a button on the bridge to connect the device to your system. Simply visit the Accessories area of the Hue app, select the sensor from the list of supported devices, press a small setup button on the rear of the sensor, and you’re connected.
It’s an ideal partner for pathway lights like Hue Calla as well as security lamps and wall lanterns.
From there, you’re free to configure sensor settings as desired. The Hue app allows easy setup of both indoor and outdoor room lights during the day and evening, so you can trigger pathway and hallway lights to welcome you home at night. User-configurable schedules define each time zone, so it’s easy to program how your lights react to detected motion during the day, with an entirely different program for the evening. Each zone also supports an individual delay after which your lights should to return to their default state, from one minute up to one hour. And as you’d expect, you can use the sensor to trigger the full array of preconfigured or personalized Hue scenes; if you wish to surprise intruders or greet evening visitors with a riot of color, the Hue app can make it happen with just a couple of taps.
We’re big fans of the Philips Hue app, which successfully balances simplicity with sophistication. It’s latest iteration, which adds support for the outdoor sensor, receives a welcome design refresh. Thankfully, it remains just as easy to use, so you’ll be up and running in minutes.
Finely balanced motion detection with easy control
Once mounted, you can fine tune the sensor’s daytime and night-time motion detection sensitivity. We tested the sensor in the middle of a Canadian winter ice storm and both the sensor and our test Hue Calla bollard light proved sturdy enough to brave the harshest elements. We found the default settings were sufficiently balanced to avoid false alarms, but if you find your lights are being triggered by tree branches or passing traffic, you can adjust sensitivity with a simple slider.
The Philips Hue Outdoor Sensor is protected by a two-year warranty.Our Take
Whether you’re running a phalanx of outdoor Hue lights, you’d like to enhance home security, or simply provide a welcoming ambience after a long day at work, you’ll find the Hue Outdoor Sensor to be a simple, robust and versatile addition to your smart lighting toolbox.
Is there a better alternative?
If you’re invested in the Philips Hue ecosystem and need an outdoor sensor, this is your only choice, unless you wish to experiment with IFTTT recipes. Our advice? Don’t bother.
How long will it last?
We were pleased to see the sensor perform well, even in wintry conditions. As a leader in smart home lighting, Philips Hue is a brand you can trust. Invest with confidence.
Should you buy it?
Absolutely. The Philips Hue Outdoor Sensor is a simple but versatile addition to any home with Hue smart lighting.