HomeKit Mood Lamps: Eve Flare vs Hue Go

Smart lighting is probably the easiest and most common entry point into home automation, with many lighting products now on the market, with broad integration support and easy installation in most cases. A subset of this category is the mood lamp. These are typically portable full color lamps that can be used to provide soft ambient lighting for a variety of situations. They’re fun and they can really spice up a room.

Two good quality options for HomeKit connected mood lamps are the Eve Flare and the Philips Hue Go. While lighting products need not be connected to your smart home platform, doing so offers a number of benefits including the ability to link them to scenes, and to automate light settings in response to time of day and events such as everyone leaving the house. If you have kids, it’s certainly a bonus knowing that all those lights they’ve left on will be turned off when you go out.

While both these products are HomeKit compatible, they come at this from different angles. The Hue range is a completely standalone lighting platform based on the Hue Bridge and integrates (via the bridge) with a huge range of third party products and platforms. The Eve range is HomeKit exclusive, and offers a variety of quality smart home products specifically for that platform without the need for any additional bridge or hub.

The Contenders

Both of these mood lamps are similar in design in that they are a plastic shell surrounding a led light array and battery with a power button on the bottom. The Hue Go is smaller and bowl shaped, while the Flare is slightly larger and is a full sphere. The shape of the Go allows it to be used either sitting flat on the base as a table lamp, or tilted 45 degrees onto the small ridge/foot along one side of the flattened base. In the tilted position it can be used effectively as an ambient lamp place in a corner, behind furniture or a TV and facing the wall to throw an unintrusive soft glow across the space. The Flare is designed more for use as a feature lamp on a table, but also includes a fold out hook on the base so it can be hung from a ceiling hook or similar.

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Both devices can be used either plugged into their power brick, or run on their internal rechargeable battery for a time. The Hue Go has a rated life of 3 hours, while the Eve Flare is rated for 6. The Flare, however, has shown this estimate to be fairly conservative, as folks are getting much longer run times from it at full brightness. Your mileage will vary, but some are reporting up to 12 hours of use. In any case, it’s safe to assume it will last the duration of whatever evening event you wish to use it for. The Flare is a bit more practical in terms of portability as it charges by sitting on a plug in base, where the Go needs the plug inserted into a hole on the side. The Hue plug itself is angled so that it can lay flat while the Go lamp is in the tilted position.

One big bonus of the Eve Flare is it’s outdoor use. The Flare has an IP65 rating, which makes it safe for outdoor use as it can survive water spray and dust due to it’s solid plastic shell. The Hue Go is only rated IP20, which is minimal foreign body intrusion and no water resistance. That’s not to say you can’t use the Go lamp outside, and it’s a good companion for summer drinks and barbecues so long as it’s kept away from water.

Use and Features

While both of these lamps have a power button on the bottom, the functionality is significantly different. The Flare actuslly has two buttons; the power button is literally just an on/off button, as it’s designed solely for use with HomeKit and control via the app or Siri, but there is also a Mode button which can be used to cycle through preset colors. The Hue Go tops this by providing some solid stand alone functionality, so it can be used quite effectively even without a Hue Bridge or an app.

On the Go lamp a single press of the button turns the lamp on to it’s last state (colour, brightness and theme), with subsequent presses cycling through the preset themes built into the device. These are a bright warm white, and several that cycle between two colors, and includes "Cozy Candle" (flickering red and orange), "Enchanted Forest" (yellow to green), "Night Adventure (blue to red), "Sunday Coffee" (orange to purple), and "Meditation" (green to violet). Additionally, a double press and hold will start the lamp cycling through the full colour spectrum until you release the button, which sets the current color. To turn off the lamp, simply press and hold for a couple of seconds until the lamp fades to off.

This level of stand alone functionality is a big plus if you’re looking for a lamp that can be used effectively away from the home, and offers easy-to-use functionality for young kids as well. Outside of those themes, both lamps only offer more conventional color selection and brightness via their apps or Siri as HomeKit currently does not offer variable color themes for lights.

Set up is another area of difference. Connecting the lamps to HomeKit is dependant on the communication protocol used by the each device. The Hue Go lamp, like other Hue products, uses ZigBee Light Link (ZLL) to communicate with other Hue products in a self managing mesh network. The Hue Bridge is required to connect the ZigBee network to your local WiFi so your smart phone app can control things. The Eve Flare uses Bluetooth LE via Eve’s proprietary Bluetooth hardware implementation that was developed specifically for HomeKit integration. This implementation generally means that Eve devices can maintain a viable connection to a HomeKit Home Hub (iPad or Apple TV) over greater distances than many other Bluetooth devices.

Obviously the benefit of the Eve approach is that no hub or other hardware is required (outside of a home hub, which you’d likely have already if you are running a HomeKit setup). Philip’s approach, however, provides for fast, reliable connectivity which actually benefits from more lights. Each additional Hue light becomes part of the mesh network, and is able to relay commands and status information to extend the range of the network. The downside is that you need to have a bridge, but if you have invested in a Hue light system, you can reap the benefits with the Go.

Color selection in the Eve, Home, and Hue apps

Color selection in the Eve, Home, and Hue apps

Both lamps support a full saturation RGB color gamut, and any color can be selected via your HomeKit client app of choice (typically Apple’s Home app, but Eve’s app is also a solid client solution). The Hue app can be used in the same way for the Go, obviously, but that’s independent of HomeKit in any case. You do need to pair the Go lamp with the Bridge via the Hue app first though, before it will become available in HomeKit.

The Eve Flare doesn’t seem to have the brightness of the Hue Go, perhaps due to a more opaque plastic in the shell. The Hue’s brightness is well suited for use as a throw light, and can pump out a surprising amount of light against a wall. The Flare won’t really light a room well enough, and is more tailored to the being a feature lamp or center piece. The 360 throw of the Flare is a good match for this role, however, and it casts a nice diffuse glow across the whole surrounding area.

Conclusion

The big caveat here is that the Hue Go requires an investment in the Hue ecosystem. If you have a Hue Bridge already, or are prepared to go down this route, the Go lamp provides a versatile and compact lamp that can be used both as a portable mood light, and as a throw light to provide room lighting or ambience. The stand alone functionality is handy if you want something that can be taken out of the home, or used by young children. In the latter case, you can rest easy knowing that the Go lamps thick plastic shell (the bowl part) is pretty impact resistant.

The Eve Flare offers an attractive feature light that can be used outdoors safely, and provides a more pleasant form factor than the Go. The simple, featureless spherical design allows the Flare to be placed anywhere and simply be a colourful orb to create whatever mood is needed for the occasion. The hanging hook offers a little more flexibility in placement, but has limited functionality. The charging base does offer some increased ease of use if you want to be able to move the lamp around frequently, which coupled with much longer battery life trumps Go lamp on raw portability.

Both of these lamps are currently available. You can pick up the Eve Flare from Eve direct, or from Amazon. The Hue Go is available through a variety of retail outlets, the Apple store and also from Amazon. You can find a retailer in your region through the Hue site.