How to set Philips Hue to turn on and off at sunrise and sunset

You can do a lot of things with Philips Hue lighting. One of the most basic use cases is turning the lights on and off at certain times. Many people turn their lights on at night and off during daylight hours. This lets you use natural light during the day and it keeps your electric bill down. Of course, you can do this manually, but what’s the point of smart lights if you’re still doing everything manually? You didn’t pay all that money to not take advantage of these features, right? In this tutorial, we’ll take a look at turning Philips Hue lights on and off at sunset and sunrise, respectively.

Photograph of Philips Hue routine settings


This doesn’t quite work out of the box because sunrise and sunset times subtly change every day. This one requires cloud support to ensure that this behavior triggers at the appropriate time. There are three main ways to get the effect. For the first, you need:

  • At least one Philips Hue Hub and one light bulb already set up. You can find our setup guide linked above.
  • You need a functional Philips Hue account. Setup doesn’t force you to have one but you can sign up for a Philips Hue account through the app or at the official website.
  • Finally, you need the official Philips Hue app for either your Android or iOS device. You can download the Android version here or the iOS version here.

For the second method, you need:

  • Everything listed in the first method along with the IFTTT app. You can download it here on Android and here on iOS. The web version is also available.

And for the third method, you need:

  • All you need for the third method is at least one Philips Hue Hub and one light bulb already set up.
  • You also need a reliable source of information for sunset and sunrise times where you live.

With all of that, you should be able to get started.

Philips Hue website interface for sunset and sunrise

Method One – The official way

The first method uses the Philips Hue app itself. Philips has an automatic setting for this in the app natively and it’s actually quite easy to enable. You can set this up on the web or on your phone. We’ll go over both here.

Through the app:

  • Open the official app on your Android or iOS device. Make sure you’re signed into your Philips Hue account.
  • Click the Routines button on the bottom navigation row. From there, tap Other Routines.
  • Next, tap the Create Custom Routine button followed by the At Sunset option.
  • You will need to give the Philips Hue app location permission if you haven’t done so already.
  • The next screen is your settings. You can select days of the week you want for the effect, the scene, and
  • The last selection lets you turn the lights off at a designated time. For this tutorial, we actually recommend the Do Nothing option because we’re setting up the sunrise fade-out in a separate routine.
  • Hit the check mark in the top right corner to finish out the sunset routine.
  • Create another custom routine, but this time select the At Sunrise option.
  • Follow the same steps as before, except this time select Off under the What should happen section. This will fade your lights out instead of turning them on.
  • Hit the check mark and you’re done!

Through the website:

  • Head to this website on your home WiFi connection. Log into your Philips Hue account if you aren’t already logged in.
  • Fill out the settings exactly the same way as you would in the app instructions above.
  • There is one difference, though. In the website version, you can configure the fade in at sunset and fade out at sunrise in the same routine. You must do this in separate routines in the app.
  • Hit the Install button when you’re done!

The process is basically identical either way with some minor differences. The web version lets you configure sunrise and sunset fades in the same routine while the app makes you do it in two separate routines. Otherwise, everything is the same. One final note is you must setup any custom scenes before creating the routines. They won’t be available as options if you don’t.

Philips Hue sunrise and sunset on IFTTTT

Method 2 – IFTTT

This method is mostly depreciated by now. It’s easier and faster to do in the official app and you don’t need a third party service. However, IFTTT still has some merits. It’s a good method for those who already use IFTTT and IFTTT is a great hub for smart home stuff in general. Here’s how to do it over IFTTT.

  • Open the IFTTT app or the IFTTT website. Log in or sign up if you haven’t already. You can sign up and log in with both Google and Facebook if neeed.
  • Enable this applet to turn on lights at sunset.
  • When you enable the first applet, it will ask you to log into your Philips Hue account as well. You must allow access to IFTTT to your Philips Hue account.
  • After that, you bounce back to IFTTT to finish configuring. You can also have the applet turn lights off at sunrise if you want to.
  • To disable this method, simply go to the My Applets option in the app or the website and disable the applet.

There are some advantages to the IFTTT method. The applets are easy to find, work well, and there are several other options if you don’t like the one we linked. You can search for others in the IFTTT app. Plus, with your Philips Hue account linked, there are thousands of other applets with additional customization options that the official app might not be able to replicate. Finally, the IFTTT applet that we linked lets you manually set your location so no apps get consistent access to your location. You still need a Philips Hue account, but it’s otherwise a bit more private than the main variant.

Philips Hue custom routine photograph

Method 3 – Manually set routines

Of course, you can do this manually as well. This method is a little more hands-on than the others, but it’s a quick and dirty way to achieve the same effect.

  • Open the Philips Hue app and navigate to the Routines menus.
  • Tap the Other Routines option and tap the Create Custom Routine button at the top. Finally, tap the At a specific time option.
  • Set the time to an approximation of the time of the sunset. Under Fade, select your preferred time length. Also select the rooms you want to be lit up and the days of the week you want. You can also set the scene you want when the fade in begins.
  • Lastly, under the Turns Rooms Off At setting, select, Do Nothing. Hit the check mark button at the top to create this routine.
  • Repeat the previous steps except with the sunrise time instead of sunset.
  • When you get the scene selection portion, choose the Off setting.
  • Hit the checkmark to create the routine.

You now have two routines to turn the lights on at around sunrise and turn the lights off around sunset. There are a few pros and cons to the manual method. Sunset and sunrise times change literally everyday by a little bit. However, in June 2019, the sunrise times will only range between 6:28AM and 6:32AM while sunset times will range between 8:10PM and 8:17PM.

Thus, you can manually set it to fade on at roughly 8:10PM and set it to fade out at roughly 6:28am and it’ll work mostly the same for the whole month. That means you basically have to edit these routines every month and during daylight savings to change the times yourself. It’s also not quite as elegant as the previous two methods.

Manual is quite easy to do, but it’s a bit tedious and isn’t as elegant as other options.

However, there are some pros to this as well. You don’t have to sign up for a Philips Hue account to use this method. Additionally, the app doesn’t need your location to work correctly. You also don’t need a third party app like IFTTT to do it for you. It’s a little quick and dirty, but it’s also the best way to do it without creating any accounts or enabling any permissions. Thus, it is the most private option.

Philips Hue lights can do a lot of neat stuff. Automation has to be right up there among the best things a smart light can do. What method do you prefer? Tell us your thoughts in the comments and check out some of our other tutorials!

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