Smart LED light strips are a great way to add attractive ambient lighting all over your home.
They can be attached to the back of your television, projecting a pool of soft light onto the wall behind, or they can be fitted under kitchen cupboards or sofas to give your room a smart new look.
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We recently saw potential for a spare Philips Hue LED light strip in our bedroom. Previously fitted to the back of a television, we wanted to use the spare strip as a smart nighttime reading light, illuminating from the back of the wooden headboard.
Of course, the feasibility of this setup will depend on the type of bed you have, but given how Hue light strips are flexible and less than 2cm thick, they can be installed almost anywhere. It just so happens that the flat sides of the wooden headboard featured here lend themselves perfectly to the light strip.
To start, we would recommend not relying on the Hue strip's own adhesive. We previously had trouble making it stick properly to the back of a television, and by now the sticking properties had all but disappeared. Instead, we recommend using some double-sided tape.
We bought a roll of Gorilla double-sided mounting tape from Amazon for $10. The tape is transparent, strong and easy to use. It's toughness also means it shouldn't be affected by the constant warmth emitted by the Hue strip – something we think caused the original adhesive to fail over time. The Gorilla tape is probably overkill, but it does the job. You might want to use a weaker tape if sticking to a painted surface, as the Gorilla tape might pull paint away if it is ever removed. Stained wood should pose less of a problem.
Hue light strip fitted to the headboard of a bedGearBrain
Signify's standard $80 Hue indoor light strip is six feet long, which is plenty to cover the width of a bed headboard, as well as providing more lighting down to the floor. If you want less, the new version of Hue light strip can be cut to the length you want, then reattached at a later date using the included tools. Ours is an older model, so can't be reattached if shortened.
The newer model also includes Bluetooth, so if this is your only Hue light you can simply control it from your smartphone. But, if you'd like to build a larger Hue system, and control it when outside of Bluetooth range, you will need to fit the circa-$60 Hue Bridge to your Wi-Fi router, which can handle a system of up to 50 Hue lights.
For our setup we installed the strip so it would span the width of the headboard, then run along the length of the bed at floor level, projecting light between the bed and wall.
The light has around five feet of power cable between the plug and the first light, giving you plenty of flexibility if you don't have a wall outlet right by the bed.
Once you have decided on the exact position for the light, it's just a case of sticking into place with the double-sided tape. We only used small pieces of tape in three places, chosen to ensure the light strip closely follows the shape of the headboard, and doesn't hang down between the wooden slats. Of course, the light strip should be fitted to the back of the headboard, so its light is shone against the wall behind. The tape cures almost immediately and holds firmly once the adhesive has set.
Although this isn't required, we also decided to fit a wireless Hue dimmer switch to the inside of the headboard. These switches come with a mounting plate that can be screwed to a wall, and the switches themselves then attach to the plate with magnets. But instead we decided to ditch the mounting plate and use a small piece of double-sided tape to fix the switch to the bed.
Philips Hue dimmer switch fitted to a bed frameGearBrain
We have programmed the switch to turn on all of the lights in this room (which double as our home office and has a couple of lamps on a desk and sideboard), then cycle through several different scenes with each subsequent press.
One press makes the whole room bright, using the 'concentrate' default in the Hue app. Subsequent presses dim the lights and make them warmer and softer, which are perfect for nighttime reading. Each scene can be made brighter or darker with a press of the dimmer buttons, and of course the off button turns every light off. The light could also be controlled using the Hue smartphone app, or by speaking to your voice assistant of choice.
All that's left to do now is play around with the Hue smartphone app to work out which light setting works best for you. We found that, while Hue light strips offer 16 million colors, for this application only a bright, white light for the mornings and a soft, dimmer, orange hue for the evenings were needed.
As well as using the light strip as ambient lighting in the evening and while reading or watching TV in bed, we also have a Hue routine programmed so the light strip gradually brightens to simulate a sunrise each morning.
We know a light strip stuck to a bed is far simpler than most smart home devices, but we think this is a great example of how a single and fairly inexpensive device can be used to improve a home, serve multiple purposes and, crucially, remain invisible when not used. It also means we no longer need a lamp taking up space on our bedside table, and the wireless switch adds a touch of luxury hotel to what is otherwise a simple bed.
Philips Hue Bluetooth Smart Lightstrip Plus 2m/6ft Base Kit with Plug, (Voice Compatible with Amazon Alexa, Apple Homekit and Google Home)
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