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Hue lights are fantastic when they work. When your Philips Hue Bridge is not connecting, though, you might feel like running back to regular dumb lights.
Don’t smash that bulb just yet! In this article, I’ll show you what to do with Hue Bridge unable to connect errors, Philips Hue light unreachable errors, and other common Hue lighting problems.
Understanding the Philips Hue Bridge Lights
The Hue Bridge has four blue lights, and you’ll need all of them for troubleshooting Hue Bridge connection problems.
- Power light: The top-left light glows when the Hue Bridge is receiving power.
- Network light: The top-middle light glows when the bridge is connected to your local network and blinks when it isn’t properly connected to the router or network.
- Internet light: The top-right light glows when the bridge is connected to the internet and blinks when the internet connection is offline or when meethue.com is unreachable.
- Link light: The large middle light (around the button) glows when the Hue Bridge is controlling your lights
Make a note of which lights are blinking (or off) and what error message you are receiving in the app, as that will help you decide which fixes to try.
1. Connect your Hue bridge directly to your router
Your Hue Bridge will be unable to connect to the internet if it isn’t plugged directly into your primary router. You can’t connect it through a second router, a switch, or a powerline adapter. If the internet light is blinking on your Hue Bridge, make sure the bridge is connected correctly.
If you are using a gateway (modem/router combo) instead of a modem, you need to plug the Hue Bridge into the gateway, even if you have a separate Wi-Fi router. If you received a modem from your internet provider, it’s probably a gateway rather than just a modem.
2. Update your Hue Bridge Firmware
If all the Hue Bridge indicator lights are on and the app still gives you an “Unable to Connect” error message, your firmware might be outdated.
- Open the SETTINGS tab from the bottom menu bar in the Hue app.
- Select Software update from the list.
- If you see a message that says “Everything is up to date”, your firmware is fine. Otherwise, select the update and follow the on-screen instructions to install it.
Along with technical fixes, these firmware updates have essential security patches. So while you’re in the Software update menu, I strongly suggest turning on automatic updates to keep your Hue network safe.
3. Restart your Hue Bridge
A simple restart can fix many Hue issues, including network connectivity and unreachable Hue lights. Unlike a factory reset, this process won’t erase any of your configuration settings, so you can easily quickly and easily repeat it when new issues occur.
To restart your Philips Hue Bridge, just follow these steps.
- Unplug the power cord from the bridge.
- Wait 10 seconds.
- Plug the power cord back in.
- Wait until the bridge boots up.
Once that’s done, you can check whether this simple step fixed your connection issues. I always recommend trying this before moving on to more advanced measures.
4. Restart your router
Restarting your router can help if your Hue Bridge is unable to connect to your network or the internet. However, it won’t fix problems between the bridge and your Hue lights as that connection relies on Zigbee rather than Wi-Fi or ethernet.
Some routers have a restart option in their web interface. You can use that or try the following steps.
- Unplug the power cord from the router.
- Wait 30 seconds.
- Plug the power cord back in
- Wait a couple of monuites for the router to boot.
Like restarting your Hue bridge, this process won’t delete any configuration settings, so it’s largely safe. Remember, though, that this step will drop your entire household’s internet connection for roughly five minutes. So it’s probably best to warn your partner unless you want bigger problems than a Hue error.
5. Test Your Ethernet Cable
Some Hue Bridge network connection problems can be caused by a faulty ethernet cable between your bridge and your router. If you have an extra ethernet cable, try swapping it out to see if that fixes the problem. You can also test your current ethernet cable on a computer—any ethernet cable that works properly on one device should work fine on another.
I recommend always keeping an extra ethernet cable around for testing or to sub in if needed. You can buy an ethernet cable reasonably cheaply, and it can save a lot of time when troubleshooting network issues.
6. Check Which Network Your Hue Bridge Is On
To access the full functionality of your Hue Bridge, the device (probably a smartphone) you are running the Hue app on needs to be on the same network as your bridge.
The easiest way to check this is by going to discovery.meethue.com on the same device you use for the Hue app. You should see the ID and IP address of your bridge. If you just see “[ ]” then your device and your bridge are not on the same network. Make sure your device is on Wi-Fi, not cellular, and that it’s using the Wi-Fi network from the same router your bridge is connected to.
7. Extend the Range of Your Hue Bridge
Connectivity issues between Hue bulb and Hue Bridges are some of the most common Hue problems. When that happens, you should try testing the connection by temporarily moving the bulb as close as possible to the bridge.
If the bulb connects once you move it closer, the problem was either interference or distance. Zigbee has a range of about 100 feet (30 meters) indoors if there’s no interference. (I’ll cover how to deal with interference in the next section)
Hue bulbs extend that range by acting as repeaters, even when they’re turned off. Each Hue bulb extends your Zigbee network by about another 100 feet. Keep in mind, though, that a bulb needs to receive power for this to work. So turning your Hue bulb off by a standard wall switch—rather than by the app, voice command, or a Hue Switch—may decrease the range of your Zigbee network.
Hue plugs are probably the cheapest and easiest ways to extend your Zigbee network range. Each one reinforces your network just like a Hue bulb. And you can always check out my list of smart plug uses for ideas on how to make use of your plug to save energy or make your home even smarter.
8. Change Your Hue Bridge Zigbee Channel
When the Hue Bridge can’t find one or more of your Hue lights, the problem can sometimes be caused by interference on a specific Zigbee channel. Zigbee operates in the 2.4 GHz frequency range, just like many Wi-Fi routers, phones, microwaves, baby monitors, and a lot of other household devices.
Fortunately, Hue has four Zigbee channels to choose from, each on a slightly different frequency. Here’s how you can select a new Zigbee channel in the Philips Hue app.
- Turn on all of your Philips Hue lights.
- Open SETTINGS from the bottom menu bar.
- Click Bridge settings from the List.
- Select Zigbee channel on the Bridge settings page.
- Click Change channel and wait for Hue to process the change.
- Press the Blink lights button and make sure that all of your Hue lights respond. If they don’t, try turning them off and on manually and pressing the Blink lights button oen more time. If it still doesn’t work you may need to change the channel again.
- Click DONE to finish the process.
9. Re-add a Philips Hue bulb
Sometimes, a single Philips Hue light is unreachable from the app. This frequently happens when you turn a Hue light off using a standard switch instead of using the Hue app, Alexa, or another connected smart home service.
When this happens, the best fix is to remove and re-add the bulb, which you can easily do from the Hue app. First, follow these steps to remove the bulb.
- Open the SETTINGS tab from the bottom menu bar in the Hue app.
- Click Lights on the Settings page.
- Select the unreachable Hue light from the list.
- Click Delete at the bottom of the page.
- Select Delete light on the confirmation popup. You’ll want to stay in the lights menu for the next steps.
Now that the unreachable bulb has been deleted, we’ll re-add it.
- Click the plus sign in the upper-right corner of the Lights page. If you left the lights page, you can get back to it from the Settings page as shown in the light deletion steps above.
- Click Search to let the app automatically find the bulb.
- If the app finds your light, click Start configuration. If it doesn’t find the bulb, you can try again or hit the back button and add it manually by serial number.
- On the Configure page, edit the name and light type then click SAVE. You can also change these settings later on from the Lights page.
- Place the light in the appropriate room by dragging its icon into the room box.
- Click Done to complete the setup process.
Your Hue light should be reachable now. If it isn’t, you may need to try some of the other fixes on this page.
10. Factory Reset Your Hue Bridge
Warning: You should save this option for use as a last resort. It will erase all of your Hue lights, scenes, and settings.
We’ve exhausted all of our easy fixes. When all else has failed, it’s time to fully reset your Hue Bridge to its factory default settings. This can be required if, for example, your Philips Hue is unable to connect after a firmware update.
If you’re looking for a reset button in the app, you won’t find it. Instead, the reset button is on the Hue Bridge itself. Here’s how to use it to reset your Hue Bridge.
- Make sure your Hue Bridge is turned on.
- Remove the ethernet cable, but leave the power cable in place.
- On the back of the bridge, you’ll find a small pin-hole with a label that says “restore factory settings”. Press a pin or other pointed object into that hole and hold it for at least 5 seconds.
- The three smaller LEDs on the front of the bridge will flash during the reset process. Once they stop blinking, you can proceed to set up your Hue Bridge again.
11. Contact Philips Hue support
Sadly, not every problem is fixable without a call to tech support. Defects occur, and some failures are due to software or hardware issues outside of our control.
The Hue app includes a support page with links to contact Philips through Facebook or Twitter. There are additional contact options on the Hue support page. Hue is fairly good at responding to any of these channels.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Hue Bridge require an internet connection?
Most Hue Bridge functions don’t rely on the internet. Your bridge just needs a local network connection to connect to the mobile app. The bridge’s connection to the bulbs uses Zigbee, a wi-fi-like signal produced by the bridge itself.
There are only two Hue functions that require an internet connection, both of which are part of the Hue out-of-home-control feature:
- Controlling Hue lights from the app while you are away from home.
- Having Hue lights turn on or off when you enter or leave your home (geofencing).
The Hue Bridge is a fantastic piece of machinery. Its ability to support up to 50 devices is one of the main differences between Philips Hue vs Wiz bulbs or other smart light competitors. But it’s also the source of many Hue connection issues. Fortunately, the above steps should fix almost all of these problems.
If you’re using Alexa, you may run into some connection issues that are actually unrelated to the Hue Bridge. I’ve also written guides for the common Alexa spinning blue light bugs and Alexa not responding problems, so you can take a look at those if your Alexa isn’t working right.
Smart home conveniences can go way beyond lighting. Once you’re done here, go check out all of the Alexa Roomba commands and Alexa Fire TV commands that can simplify your life. And if you are in the market for a robot vacuum, my recent comparison of the Shark IQ vs Roomba i3 Plus will help you understand some of the key differences between mid-tier models.