Philips Hue lights are a great way to set the mood right in your house. You can control the colors when they come on and even make them work in patterns. Since they don’t work of WiFi, they are arguably more reliable than other wireless lights I have ever come across.
ProTip: Your smartphone or smart controller hub still connects to the Philips Hue Hub over WiFi.
Hue bulbs use the Zigbee wireless protocol. Though reliable and hard to interfere with, sometimes, they fail. The most common mistake would be the unreachable error.
You will get the unreachable message on your Hue Bridge and smartphone app.
ProTip: You can still control some Hue lights straight from your smartphone via Bluetooth if you don’t have the Philips Hue Bridge.
The Preliminary Checks – Ensure Everything is Powered On
Just like any electronic gadget, your Hue bulbs, light strips, and even the hub will be unreachable if they are not powered on.
Ensure Everything is Powered On
If one or more Philips Hue lights are missing and the rest are working, chances are the missing bulbs are either powered off or damaged. Powered off is the most common problem, especially if someone who doesn’t know how to control your lights flicked the power off at the wall switch.
- Check each bulb that is missing to ensure that it is plugged in properly
- Ensure that the wall power switch controlling the bulbs is flicked on
- Ensure that your lights circuit breaker hasn’t tripped
A good way to ensure the lights receptacle receives power is by plugging in a regular bulb. If there is power and the wall switch is flicked on, the bulb should come on.
Flick the switch back off, and install the Philips Hue light back on before flipping the wall switch on again. This should fix the problem with that bulb.
ProTip: If it is a light strip running from a wall outlet, unplug it from the wall and plug in your phone’s charge and plug in your phone. If the phone charges, then there’s power.
Confirm that the Philips Hue Bridge is Working
If all your Philips Hue system is down, then the bridge should be the problem. Don’t worry about this if you have access to at least one or two lights in the system.
The lights on a Philips Hue bridge are:
- The Network Light: This stays solid blue when the hub is connected to your home network. You need it to access the Hub and lights from your smartphone.
- Internet Light: Turns solid blue when the bridge connects to the internet. You need it to control your Hue lights from outside your home network.
- Power Light: Solid blue when the bridge is powered on
- Sync Button Light: The button has a ring of light. When pushed, apps can connect to the Bridge.
You will have trouble accessing and controlling any of your Hue lights if the power light or the network light isn’t solid blue.
With the prerequisites out of the way, it is time to look at other problems that can make your bulbs unreachable.
Your Philips Hue Light is Out of Range
The range varies depending on how you control the light. For simple systems with a single or two lights and no bridge, you will be connecting to the lights straight via Bluetooth.
This gives you an effective range of about 30 feet (10 meters) on a good day. Bluetooth control lets you connect to at most 10 lights. Moving far away from one of the lights in the system will lead to a sketchy connection hence making them unreachable.
If you have the hub, the range between a Philips Hue light and the hub increases to at least 80 feet (25 meters). Your access to any lights already connected to the hub will be limitless if your system has remote access or limited to your home wifi range if it is confined to local home network control.
The hub also lets you control up to 50 lights, a big improvement compared to the meager 10 Bluetooth lets you command.
ProTip: The Hue hub has an outdoor range of up to 291 meters (950 feet) when there are few obstructions.
If you think the affected light is out of range, try moving it closer to the hub or another bulb. Alternatively, if you have a very big home, you can consider installing a second Hue Bridge to the system and placing it strategically to increase range.
Adding a second Hue Bridge not only lets you improve coverage range but also helps you control more lights in a bigger home.
Power Cycle the Bridge, Router, and Smartphone
Sometimes, a software complication, network mismatch, or general hooliganism strikes networked gadgets. Fixing them might be as easy as restarting everything.
This is the premise behind restarting any misbehaving gadget before moving further up the troubleshooting ladder.
Doing this to your network router, the Hue Bridge, and even the smartphone you use to access the bridge can solve some problems.
This is a simple attempt that costs nothing. Try it first, especially if you are confident everything was powered on and the errand bulb is within range.
Consider the Possibility of Something Interfering with the Bridge’s Network
Since the Hue Hub still uses wireless connectivity to access your router and all the bulbs in the system, it is susceptible to interference.
Wireless network interference makes it easier to drop connections. Random connection drops will result in random lights being unreachable. Some of the things that create interference include:
- Wireless transmitters like Bluetooth devices, routers, and so forth
- Other Philips Hue Bridges
- RF transmitters like remote extenders, Baby monitors, FM transmitters, and hobbyist radio transmitters
The general rule is to keep your Hue Bridge a good three or four meters away from other wireless transmitters. This will get the bridge away from a strong interference source, giving it a better shot at communicating with its far-flung lights.
ProTip: Network interference will result in random lights being unreachable at random times. It might not be the issue if you consistently have specific lights unreachable.
Try Connecting it Via Bluetooth (if Compatible)
If you have a Philips Hue bulb that is Bluetooth compatible (look for the Bluetooth logo on the bulb), you can rule out connectivity issues with the bridge by connecting straight to it from the Philips Hue Bluetooth app.
Note that the Bluetooth app differs from the app you use to connect to and control the bulb through the Hue bridge.
If the bulb connects via Bluetooth, you can reset it to factory settings and try adding it to the Hue Bridge again.
If you can’t even access it through Bluetooth, you should consider the possibility of a bad light on your hands. It is time to buy a replacement.
The general approach when resetting the lights is:
- On the app, navigate to Settings and select the light
- Scroll down until you see the Reset button
- Tap on it and confirm the selection to reset the light
- It should flicker or turn on and off temporarily before finishing
You will have to set up the Hue light afresh.
If you have a Hue dimmer switch lying around, you can use it to reset your Hue lights. This will be handy if neither app can discover and reach your light.
- Turn on the bulb from the wall switch.
- Bring the dimmer switch within 6 inches of the bulb
- Press and hold the Power Off and Power on buttons on the switch
- If it is a new dimmer not paired, press and hold Power on and Scene selection buttons
- The bulb should flash to indicate a successful reset
Hue lights rarely go bad. However, if you constantly fail to connect and can’t get over the unreachable error no matter what you try on a specific bulb, chances are it is damaged, and you have to replace it.