Review: Philips Hue Outdoor Sensor is the first outdoor motion detector for HomeKit

Posted:
in General Discussion edited March 4
The Hue Outdoor Sensor is the first outdoor HomeKit sensor, and adds motion, temperature, and light sensors to automate the outside of your Apple-centric smart home.

Hue Outdoor Sensor
Hue Outdoor Sensor


Recently, we took a look at the new Philips Hue Outdoor LightStrip, which is great on its own but becomes more useful when paired with a motion sensor. Outdoor sensors are even more limiting than outdoor lights which is why we were so excited during CES 2019 to see the Hue Outdoor Sensor.

This is the first -- and only -- HomeKit-enabled outdoor motion sensor. Even in our relatively short review period, we can clearly see that it adds a wealth of possibilities not only to your existing indoor/outdoor Hue lights but any other smart lights in your home. Let's check out the sensor itself, how it works, and some of the possibilities that it opens up.




The sensor

The Hue Outdoor Sensor has a matte black exterior with a bulbous sphere in the center that acts as the eye of the sensor. It is minimalist, and blends in with a lot of exteriors -- but is a little on the larger side.

Compared to the indoor Hue sensor, it is certainly bigger but is far more capable. A range of up to 39 feet is particularly useful in the outside environment where the motion could be more distanced from where the sensor is mounted.

Hue Outdoor Sensor mount
Hue Outdoor Sensor flat mount


Signify includes a wealth of options for mounting the sensor to fit a variety of surfaces, each which holds the sensor securely to make it more difficult for someone to just snatch off your wall. The basic flat sensor screws into your surface of choice, then the Hue sensor slides over top and is secured at the bottom with a simple screw.

Hue Outdoor Sensor mount
Hue Outdoor Sensor angled mount


Alternatively, an included angle bracket lets you attach it to any right angle -- vertical or horizontal.

Getting going

As this is a Hue accessory, it can easily be set up using the Philips Hue app. Also like any other Hue accessory, a requisite Hue Bridge must already be configured. The Hue app will walk you through the process of pressing the setup button on the back, discovering it in the app, adding it to a room, and creating the different lighting rules.

Hue Outdoor Sensor setup
Hue Outdoor Sensor setup


The Hue utility will help set up different automation rules. During the day, within your chosen hours, the lights will come on to your predefined brightness. During the night, within your second set of hours, they will come on to a different brightness and temperature of white.

Even better, the Hue app allows you to customize the motion sensitivity to control what will and won't trigger the sensor. Because the sensor has a light sensor embedded, the lights can also only be triggered if it is dark, and what you call dark is configurable inside the app.

Hue Outdoor Sensor Home app
Hue Outdoor Sensor in the Apple Home app


All of the Philips Hue line supports Apple HomeKit, and this sensor is no exception. Within the Home app, you will see a light measurement, a temperature reading, and the motion status. This trio of sensors can be used for different automation rules with any other HomeKit accessories such as light switches, outlets, or lights from other manufacturers.

Using the sensors

As a simple example of a sensor trigger, you can have the driveway lights automatically turn on as your car pulls in. Or, the sidewalk lights can fire up as your friends approach.

Hue Outdoor Sensor
Hue Outdoor Sensor


Using the light sensor, you could turn on the patio lights based on the outdoor brightness. The temperature sensor can be used to enable/disable your smart thermostat based on the outside temperatures.

Hue security lights
Hue security lights


For the security conscious, you could cause your indoor lights to turn on and off whenever you are away and motion is detected. That way, if you've got a trespasser coming near your porch, the living room lights turn on, giving the impression someone is home. There are several new Hue security flood lights available which can be triggered to brightly illuminate your property to also ward off ne'er do wells.

We've had a great time trying to come up with different ways to use the trio of sensors that are part of the Philips Hue Outdoor Sensor which makes our home feel safer, more comfortable while going out at night, and more convenient for guests who come or leave in the dark.

Hue Outdoor Sensor box
Hue Outdoor Sensor box


We've been hoping for a HomeKit outdoor sensor for the longest time and Hue has finally come through.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Where to buy

The Philips Hue Outdoor Sensor is available now on Amazon for $49.99 with Prime shipping, or from Philips directly at MeetHue.com. You don't need any Hue lights to use the Hue motion sensor as it works with any HomeKit lights, outlets, or switches, but you do need the Philips Hue Bridge.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 14
    Well, the Eve Motion https://www.evehome.com/en/eve-motion was the first and have been around for a few years if I'm not mistaken?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 14
    zompzomp Posts: 52member
    Although a good idea, this technology is still a couple of years off for me and yet i’m thankful for the people buying in and providing income for future rnd. 
    My gripe is base stations, while recently visiting a friend’s home, i noticed a floor of hubs and power cords - ugly to me.  This is how the smart thermostats started and the reason why i bought into ecobee long before anyone heard of them outside of canada. they found a way to make an amazing smart thermostat without the use of a Hub while others had ugly antennna hubs, they weren’t for me. 
    Looking forward to the future when these items can be charged by solar, no wires and no hubs. 
    GeorgeBMacwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 14
    I would have appreciated the following information:  Bluetooth or WiFi and range of signal.  And battery type and life.
    zompwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 14
    22july201322july2013 Posts: 445member
    I guess Philips, Eve and all the rest of these companies think that people who walk near my home are all honest and would never steal it. I think I'll wait until a model comes out that is hard to see. Better yet, it should be camouflaged to look like something common, eg, maybe a lightbulb (which would also provide the power if it was a real lightbulb in a socket.) But I wouldn't expect anything actually innovative like that to come from them.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 14
    I guess Philips, Eve and all the rest of these companies think that people who walk near my home are all honest and would never steal it. I think I'll wait until a model comes out that is hard to see. Better yet, it should be camouflaged to look like something common, eg, maybe a lightbulb (which would also provide the power if it was a real lightbulb in a socket.) But I wouldn't expect anything actually innovative like that to come from them.
    Depending on where you plan to put it, you could put it inside a bird house, perhaps one that doesn't look worth stealing. I'm guessing most crooks aren't driving around looking for bird houses.

    I would have appreciated the following information:  Bluetooth or WiFi and range of signal.  And battery type and life.
    I believe it's zigbee - no wifi or bluetooth - and needs the Hue bridge. Two AA batteries included, which last two years. There's a battery meter that you can view in Hue Essentials.
    lolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 14
    LordeHawkLordeHawk Posts: 103member
    zomp said:
    Although a good idea, this technology is still a couple of years off for me and yet i’m thankful for the people buying in and providing income for future rnd. 
    My gripe is base stations, while recently visiting a friend’s home, i noticed a floor of hubs and power cords - ugly to me.  This is how the smart thermostats started and the reason why i bought into ecobee long before anyone heard of them outside of canada. they found a way to make an amazing smart thermostat without the use of a Hub while others had ugly antennna hubs, they weren’t for me. 
    Looking forward to the future when these items can be charged by solar, no wires and no hubs. 
    I understand your reservation for hubs, but in the case of Hue, I like this feature.  As more devices end up on my network, I currently prefer these devices on a separate Zig network until a better option arrives.  There are trade offs, but it’s great having over 30 Hue devices not registering on my WiFi.
    Unfortunately Apple ceded the network gear market at a time that’s ripe for innovation.  I’m hoping that they will jump back in with the advent of mesh, IoT, high bandwidth, services, and security.

    Dear Tim Cook,
    If AirPods generate enough revenue to be a viable market, how is this not similar?  Services could include cyber security monitoring, VPN solutions, and home AI for security (ex: pool guy is not a burglar, or the maid didn’t steal anything).  Allow the AI to coordinate with your neighbors AI in case a fire or burglary in progress.  Monitor your handicapped child or parents remotely, without being invasive.

    Hardware would be $150 nodes for a high speed, high bandwidth network with on demand mesh fragmenting and private AI/HomeKit channels (Call the tech lightning bolt?  Lol).
    zompGeorgeBMacwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 14
    Andrew_OSUAndrew_OSU Posts: 221member, editor
    mickerehn said:
    Well, the Eve Motion https://www.evehome.com/en/eve-motion was the first and have been around for a few years if I'm not mistaken?
    That doesn’t work outdoor, it is purely an indoor sensor. 
  • Reply 8 of 14
    Andrew_OSUAndrew_OSU Posts: 221member, editor
    I guess Philips, Eve and all the rest of these companies think that people who walk near my home are all honest and would never steal it. I think I'll wait until a model comes out that is hard to see. Better yet, it should be camouflaged to look like something common, eg, maybe a lightbulb (which would also provide the power if it was a real lightbulb in a socket.) But I wouldn't expect anything actually innovative like that to come from them.
    Not an issue. Mount it higher up as to be out of reach.  That way it still triggers the lights and scares them off. They’d need to bring a super tiny screwdriver to get it off and the lights would be more attractive items to steal. 
  • Reply 9 of 14
    HueserHueser Posts: 1member
    A word of caution for all contemplating the Hue outdoor sensor for use in remote security applications: Hue is not effective for certain kinds of remote security uses, at least for the Hue app version through V3.15.0, and as of this writing 2019-03-03. Specifically, those uses where returning to the site is not easy, where you're far away. When the system works, it works very well. If, however, something happens to your phone or the app on the phone becomes lost or unstable (which is the only way to manage the system, since Hue doesn't have a full-capability native browser-based web portal) you are going to have to go back onsite to reconnect to the hub with your replacement phone. You cannot take a fresh phone and login to the Hue app with your existing login credentials unless you are physically local to the hub. I've been back and forth with the Hue support people about this, since that's exactly what happened to me. Yup, get on an airplane, and fly back to the site - that's their recommendation. The support staff said that this limitation of capability is for security reasons - it used to be possible to login remotely, but not since the last major app revision. The Hue support staff said that there's no work-around. That's not quite true, see the "backup recovery" strategy below - if you're lucky and careful.

    If you're lucky and careful, you can do a remote recovery if you've backed up your phone properly. If the app stops working, or if you lose your phone, you can bring back the functional Hue app backup on a different phone by installing that backup on the different phone, Assuming that you have a spare phone that you want to clone your old phone onto, and that you're current on your backup status, and that your backup isn't a backup of the phone in a state where the app wasn't working - autobackup will "get you" unless you are in the habit of occasionally renaming your Apple backup files, so the usual incremental backup doesn't overwrite a was-working backup with a not-working backup.

    Hue is great if you are in the house and want to use your phone for smart-house control. For real security applications, not so much. A few hundred dollars for the hub and peripherals, then months later pop an unplanned $1k and two days to fly back to the summer-vacation-home in mid-winter, rent a car, drive out there, hit the site's WiFi network, and stand around for a few minutes relinking the app on your phone to the local hub. Then get in the rental car, drive back to the airport, and fly home. Angry. Learn from someone else's experience, and make a different choice for your security system, one that trusts you to manage your own credentials properly, and where you can do a from-scratch reinstall and login if something goes wrong.

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 14
    Untrue about needing Philips Hue bridge...Philips lights work with the built in hubs on Echo devices such as the Echo Show.
  • Reply 11 of 14
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 4,128member
    So, how much spying does Phillips do on you and your home?  And, what is the potential for others to hack into their network and spy on you?

    Apple has two main things inherent to its strength:  Privacy and Device integration.
    Buying a separate product from a separate company destroys both of those...

    Come-On Apple!   We know you can do it.  What's the hold up?
  • Reply 12 of 14
    Andrew_OSUAndrew_OSU Posts: 221member, editor
    So, how much spying does Phillips do on you and your home?  And, what is the potential for others to hack into their network and spy on you?

    Apple has two main things inherent to its strength:  Privacy and Device integration.
    Buying a separate product from a separate company destroys both of those...

    Come-On Apple!   We know you can do it.  What's the hold up?
    This works with HomeKit, so the security angle is huge. Anything that works with HomeKit must be checked out and certified through Apple. Second, there is no camera here -- just a motion sensor. That means even if they wanted to spy on you, there is nothing they can see except for whether there is motion. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 14
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 4,128member
    So, how much spying does Phillips do on you and your home?  And, what is the potential for others to hack into their network and spy on you?

    Apple has two main things inherent to its strength:  Privacy and Device integration.
    Buying a separate product from a separate company destroys both of those...

    Come-On Apple!   We know you can do it.  What's the hold up?
    This works with HomeKit, so the security angle is huge. Anything that works with HomeKit must be checked out and certified through Apple. Second, there is no camera here -- just a motion sensor. That means even if they wanted to spy on you, there is nothing they can see except for whether there is motion. 
    The analogy might be a website that "works with" Safari...  
    From their website:
    "Connect your smart lights to the Hue Bridge and download the Hue app to ensure that your home is well lit no matter where you are."

    That means that they're running it through their server -- so they know what's going on in your home.  And, anybody who hacks their server also knows.   Yes, it also works with the Apple Homekit -- just as it works with Alexa and Google Assistant.   But that does nothing for security.  Its merely an additional way to control things through third party apps.
  • Reply 14 of 14
    I just bought this and my light sensor isn’t working - the lights come on during the day no matter what you set light sensitivity to. The Home app says that there is only 1 lux all the time. I don’t know if my motion sensor is defective or if it will be fixed with a firmware update. Right now I’m at firmware version 6.1.0.25261

    Thus article says it doesn’t turn on when it’s light out. Mine always does no matter how light. Can you verify that it actually really does detect light light levels?
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