*updated Mar 2018 - Updated parts to reflect the addition of Apple Home and Alexa compatibility with the Ikea Tradfri.
Ikea Tradfri is developed by a company that is a household name when it comes to cheap, useful furniture, but are their smart home LED's any good? How would they fare when compared to the Philips Hue lineup? Find out in our comparison!
Philips Hue vs. Ikea Tradfri - Should you break the mold and go with the Tradfri?
At Smart Home Reviews Eh!, we take the time to use the products in our own homes before doing a review. Even if it means having to deal with a badly packaged product! We've seen so many smart light bulbs in the last few months that we're starting to lose track of where they are. Never did we think light bulb tracking would be an issue!
With the Ikea Tradfri, we installed them in our lamps after the bulbs failed to install in our kitchen area. We also set them up with a schedule to turn on for a couple of hours at night to signify that there were occupants in the house. For the Philips Hue, we've used them EVERYWHERE (except outside). Check out our comparison between the Philips Hue and Nanoleaf Aurora to get the full picture of how we've been using our Hue lights.
*As you can see below, our initial score for the Ikea Tradfri was 1.7 Eh's out of 5. We've given the updated Tradfri a score of 2.3 Eh's out of 5. It still isn't comparable to the Phillips Hue on many accounts. Scroll down to find out the why we think the Hue is still better.
Design - The Tradfri is brighter but is that enough reason to get it?
When it comes to physical design, both the Philips Hue and Ikea Tradfri look like regular bulbs. The bulbs are heavier than normal LED bulbs but from an aesthetic standpoint, doesn’t come close to the unique-looking Nanoleaf Smart Ivy bulbs.
Both sets of lights are dimmable and offer customizable colours of white. The Philips Hue offers the ability to customize any color of white whereas the Ikea Tradfri only offer three colours. Warm, neutral and cool. This feature from Tradfri might not be a big deal for the average user but every other light bulb we've reviewed can be customized in multiple ways. So why doesn't Ikea let us?
The only saving grace of the Tradfri is the fact that the bulbs are brighter than the Philips Hue. The Tradfri produces 980 lumens whereas the Hue tops out at 800 lumens.
We will add that the base station used by the Tradfri is larger than the Philips Hue bridge. The cover comes off the Tradfri's bridge and you are able to hide the extra cable lengths which helps keep it tidy. The Philips Hue bridge just sits in a gnarly mess of power and ethernet cables.
*March 2018 Update - We will note that despite scoring lower, those on a smaller budget may be attracted to the Ikea due to it's lower price point.
Functionality - The Philips Hue comes out on top
When it comes to overall functionality, the Philips Hue comes out on top. Adding the bulbs to your home is quite easy whereas the Ikea Tradfri requires you to sync every bulb by itself. If you are planning on getting the Ikea Tradfri, make sure you pair the bulbs far away from each other because you’ll never be able to sync all the bulbs if you put them in a cluster like a dining room lamp.
Philips also offers a multitude of different ways to remotely access your Hue lights. You can use Apple Home or Alexa remotely or through Philips’s own website. You can also use your Apple watch if you have one. The only way to control the Tradfri, on the other hand, is through the app.
The Tradfri also comes in with a frustrating package design full of plastic. We're usually excited to open up a new package of smart home gadgets but we were quite frustrated after our third attempt at freeing the last bulb in the packaging. Seems odd for a company who is know for their easy-to-install products.
*March 2018 Update - We had to go through installation process again with the Tradfri's and it is just as awful as we remember it.
Compatibility - Ikea says the Tradfri will work with more platforms soon!
When it comes to compatibility, almost all of the smart home platform is compatible with Philips Hue.The Tradfri, on the other hand, doesn’t work with anything (this might change in October 2017). Which is a surprising choice for Tradfri, because people are more likely to buy the bulbs when it is a compatible with Apple Home. Amazon Alexa or Google Home.
So Ikea added Apple Home and Amazon Alexa compatibility late 2017 which is great. Did they fix any of the issues we mentioned above? They did not. As we said earlier, it is still incredibly frustrating to install and the bulbs only offer three different colors. The biggest upside from our perspective is the fact that the Ikea Tradfri is going to useful for smart home owners on a budget OR those who are looking for a cheaper solution to add smart lighting to lesser used places in their homes.
So, bottom line. Be like everyone else and get a set of Philips Hue bulbs if you’re trying to choose between the Hue and Tradfri. Even if Ikea fixes the compatibility issues we've discussed, the frustrating process of installing the bulbs, three "custom" colours and similar price points make the Philips Hue the clear winner in this comparison.
We hope our Philips Hue vs. Ikea Tradfri comparisons has helped you out. If you liked this post and are considering getting some for yourself, check out our links to purchase your products. Let us know if you have any comments or questions in the comments below!