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Philips Hue module turns any light switch into a smart switch

There's also a redesigned dimmer switch.

Smart lights normally require that you keep switches on all the time, and that can be a pain when someone flicks a switch out of habit. You’ll soon have a way to keep your lights available no matter what, though. Signify is releasing a Philips Hue wall switch module that upgrades existing switches to smart units. The add-on not only keeps lights available regardless of the switch position, but lets you specify what happens when someone toggles that switch.

You’ll have to wait until summer to get the module in North America, and the $40 price ($70 for a two-pack) makes it less likely that you’ll retrofit your entire home. This is more for frequently used bulbs like a hall light. It’s also battery-powered, so you’ll need to dismantle your switches every five-plus years to keep the module running. Still, this may be more elegant than replacing your switches outright, and easier than reminding others to leave things alone.

Philips Hue dimmer switch (2021)

There is a new option if you do want new switches. A redesigned Philips Hue dimmer switch (shown at middle) gives you the familiar brightness and power functions, but there’s now a “Hue” button that lets you immediately enable a favorite lighting scene or adapt the lights to the time of day. The wireless device can fit on a wall plate, but it’ll also sit on your fridge or any other magnetic surface. The new dimmer will reach North America on February 23rd for $25.

And yes, there are new Hue bulbs this year. The Amarant is a mountable, stealthy outdoor spotlight meant to “wash” walls in light, while the Appear wall light now comes in a brushed steel finish with an easy installation. You’ll find the Amarant in North America on March 2nd for $170. For now, at least, the new Appear variant will only be available in Europe on January 26th for €150.