Let’s address the Hue bridge hub first, because you’ll definitely need one. While smart bulbs that piggyback on home Wi-Fi networks (see: our $ and $$ winners) are an attractive budget solution, bulbs that require hubs, like Philips Hue, are for folks who prize scale and reliability. Let’s put it this way: Smart TVs, computers, phones, voice assistants, among other electronics, all fight for your router’s attention (read: bandwidth). Add in a host of smart light bulbs, and you’ll quickly notice a downgrade in service.
But since Philips Hue works on its own mesh network, it’s much more stable, and results are seamlessly instantaneous. To communicate with others light bulbs and smart-home devices, the Hue bridge uses the Zigbee protocol, a term you may have already come across in your smart bulb research. It’s just the underlying language the hub is using to talk to the bulbs, and what allows you to schedule and synchronize lighting alongside your smart household appliances.