By default, a Philips Hue light is set to switch on to a warm white colour. This can sometimes be an issue, for example, if there’s a power cut at night the last thing you want is for all of your lights to come on when power resumes.
This is why Philips introduced power-on behaviour in 2018 to address this issue.
Power-on behaviour defines what the light bulbs do when first powered on. You can set the colour, colour temperature, and intensity of each light bulb. Alternatively, you can set the bulb to ‘power loss recovery’ which will return it to the previous settings.
The power-on behaviour is stored on the bulb itself which allows it to resume the same settings straight away, rather than connecting to the Hue Bridge.
In this guide, I’ll explain how to set up power-on behaviour, what the different settings are, and answer some frequently asked questions.
Why Use ‘Power-On Behaviour’?
There are two main use cases where the power-on behaviour will prove useful:
- Accidentally turn off power via a traditional light switch – remembering not to use the old light switches can be hard, it’s a matter of habit. If you haven’t managed to remove or cover them, you’ll probably turn them on/off every now and again which cuts power to the bulb. With power-on behaviour, this won’t matter as you can flick the switch back on again before using a Philips Hue switch or voice command instead.
- Power outage – If there’s a power cut, power-on behaviour ensures the bulbs return to their previous state when power resumes.
Of course, these aren’t the only use cases as I’m sure everyone will have their own situation.
How to Set Up Power-On Behaviour
Power-on behaviour will only work with Philips Hue bulbs that are connected to a Hue Bridge V2 (it will not work with a V1 bridge).
Here is how to amend the power-on behaviour of your Philips Hue lights:
- Go the Philips Hue app.
- Choose ‘Settings’ and select ‘Power-On Behaviour’.
- Choose the light you wish to amend.
- Select from ‘default’, ‘power loss recovery’, or ‘custom’.
When you first install your Philips Hue bulbs, they will be set to default. Here is what each of these settings means:
Default – This is warm white on full brightness.
Power Loss Recovery – When there’s a power outage, once it resumes the light goes to the last used colour and brightness before the power outage.
Custom – Choose a colour and brightness to return to when power resumes.
When Is Power-On Behaviour Activated?
Power-on behaviour will be activated when power to the bulbs is lost and resumed.
However, if there are multiple losses of power within a short period of time (i.e., power is lost twice within a 12 second window), the bulbs are designed to switch to full brightness.
This is so that you can use your Hue bulbs as regular bulbs with a light switch in case other hardware (e.g., Hue Bridge or Wi-Fi) fails in the power cut.
You can imitate this to see how your bulbs respond by quickly toggling the light on and off at the switch.
Power-On Behaviour with Third Party Bulbs
If you have other third-party smart bulbs added to your Hue app (e.g., Ikea Tradfri) these will not work with power-on behaviour.
If you try to set these up in the settings menu, it will just say that the devices are not supported.
Can I choose a single power-on behaviour for my whole home?
No, power-on behaviour is defined for each individual light bulb. If you want to set a specific colour for each bulb when it comes on, you can use swatches for each bulb.
How does power-on behaviour affect routines?
If you have set up routines, the power-on behaviour will not resume a routine. It will skip straight to the end state of the routine.
For example, say you have a wake-up routine that starts at 25% brightness at 8am and slowly increases to 100% at 8.30am. A brief power outage that resumes at 8.15am will jump to 100% brightness.
Can you change power-on behaviour by time of day?
No, power-on behaviour cannot be changed according to time.
What happens if the power goes out on my Hue lights during the night?
If you have set power-on behaviour to ‘power loss recovery’, the lights will return to their previous setting after a power outage. Presumably, this would be ‘off’ if it’s the middle of the night.
How do I install power-on behaviour?
Power-on behaviour will be included within the software of any bulbs launched since December 2018 when it was first launched. For older bulbs, updating the firmware will add the functionality to your bulb.
Once updated, the option should appear in the Philips Hue app as outlined above.
Troubleshooting Hue Power-On Behaviour
Here are a few reasons why power loss behaviour might not be working on your Hue bulbs:
- When in power loss recovery mode, a bulb takes 7 seconds before it stores the most recent light state. If you are trialling power loss recovery at home, ensure you allow this gap before turning off the switch.
- Power-on behaviour is only available for Philips Hue bulbs. It will not be available if you have third party bulbs, even if they are connected to a Hue Bridge.
- Power-on behaviour was an update, if you have older bulbs, ensure both the bulb has the latest firmware and that you are using the most up to date version of the app.
- If power is triggered quickly in succession, the bulbs are designed to switch to 100% brightness so they can be used as dumb lights (as outlined in the article). Sometimes, spikes in power resumption, even if a few milliseconds, can cause power-on behaviour to change. Unfortunately, there is no way to change this.
If power-on behaviour still isn’t working, you can follow these troubleshooting steps:
- First, try removing the bulb from the Hue app and adding it again. To do this, select ‘light setup’ from the main menu and choose the bulb in question. Tap ‘delete’ to remove it and then follow the set-up instructions again.
- For continued issues with power-on behaviour, the final step is to factory reset the Hue Bridge. To do this, disconnect your Hue bridge from the internet and use a pin or needle to press and hold the reset button on the base for 5 seconds. Bear in mind that by doing this, you’ll need to reconnect and setup your entire Philips Hue network.