Skip to Content

What is the difference between hue white and color and white and color ambiance?

Philips Hue is a popular smart lighting system that offers various types of smart bulbs and fixtures to control the lighting in your home. Two of the main categories of Philips Hue bulbs are the White bulbs and the White and Color Ambiance bulbs. Both provide white light but have some key differences that impact their functionality and performance.

White Bulbs

Philips Hue White bulbs are the most basic Hue bulbs available. They are designed to provide warm to cool white light across the color temperature range of 2200-6500K. This allows you to adjust the shade of the white light from a soft, warm white to a bright, cool daylight white.

The White bulbs are an affordable option focused on providing adjustable white light for general everyday use. They utilize LEDs that emit white light only and do not include RGB LEDs that can produce colored light.

White and Color Ambiance Bulbs

Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance bulbs are a step up and offer both adjustable white light and full color control. They utilize RGBW LEDs that can produce millions of colors in addition to every shade of white.

The Ambiance bulbs allow you to customize the color temperature of the white light from warm (2200K) to cool (6500K) just like the White bulbs. But they also enable you to set any color you want for unique lighting effects, themes, and ambiance.

Comparing White vs White and Color Ambiance

Here is an overview of the key similarities and differences between the Philips Hue White and White and Color Ambiance bulbs:

Feature White White and Color Ambiance
Adjustable White Light Yes (2200K-6500K) Yes (2200K-6500K)
Color Control No Yes, 16 million colors
Light Output Up to 800 lumens Up to 800 lumens
Smart Controls Hue app, assistants, switches Hue app, assistants, switches
Special Features Adjustable white tones Colors, themes, routines
Average Cost Per Bulb $15 $50

As you can see, the main advantages of the White and Color Ambiance bulbs are the ability to display a full spectrum of vibrant colors and unlock additional smart lighting features through the Hue app. The tradeoff is the higher cost over the basic White bulbs.

Color Temperature Scale

Both types of Hue bulbs allow you to adjust along the color temperature scale, which is a way to measure the “warmness” or “coolness” of white light.

On the scale, lower numbers around 2200K produce a warm, reddish-yellow light similar to an incandescent bulb. As you go up the scale to around 6500K, the light becomes much cooler and bluish like the midday sun.

Here is a more detailed overview of the Philips Hue color temperature range:

  • 2200K – Warm white, amber tone, relaxing
  • 2700K – Soft white, incandescent-like, cozy
  • 3000K – Bright white, warm tone, energizing
  • 3500K – Neutral white, balanced tone
  • 4000K – Cool white, bright tone, focused
  • 5000K – Daylight, crisp tone, clarifying
  • 6500K – Bright daylight, blue tone, energizing

With both types of bulbs, you can manually tune the color temperature or set schedules and routines in the Hue app to automatically change it throughout the day.

Color Output

The ability to produce colored light is the other major difference between the bulb types. White bulbs cannot display colors, only different shades of white.

The White and Color Ambiance bulbs use RGBW LEDs to create a full spectrum of 16 million colors. This opens up many more smart lighting possibilities.

You can set any color you want for a unique look or complement your decor. The Hue app includes preset lighting themes and routines to automatically cycle through colors.

Some examples of using the color-changing Ambiance bulbs include:

  • Setting colorful accent lighting in rooms
  • Creating lighting themes for gaming or movies
  • Adding mood lighting for parties or relaxation
  • Programming animated color-changing scenes
  • Syncing bulb colors to music, videos, or your TV

So while the White bulbs offer excellent adjustable white light, the Ambiance bulbs provide complete creative color control for the ultimate smart lighting experience.


In terms of brightness, the White and Ambiance bulbs are comparable, with most models reaching 600-800 lumens. This is similar to a standard 60W incandescent bulb.

There are also higher output 1600 lumen bulbs available in both White and Ambiance versions to provide very bright light. So the types generally match up in brightness across the lineup.


Both the White and Ambiance bulbs are part of the Philips Hue ecosystem and work with all the same control options. This includes:

  • Philips Hue App – Control lights from your smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth or Hue bridge
  • Voice assistants – Use Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri to control with voice commands
  • Hue switches – Dimmer switches, tap switches, motion sensors
  • Hue Sync – Sync bulb colors to games, music, movies, and more
  • Routines – Schedule colors and automations

So you have complete smart control over both types of bulbs whether you are adjusting basic white tones or complex color schemes.

Cost Comparison

There is a significant price difference between the standard Hue White bulbs versus the more advanced Ambiance bulbs:

  • Hue White bulbs – Around $15 per individual bulb
  • Hue Ambiance bulbs – Around $50 per individual bulb

However, the unique lighting experiences enabled by the color-changing Ambiance bulbs are worth the higher cost for many smart lighting enthusiasts. The White bulbs offer a more affordable entry point for basic Hue functionality.

Should You Get White or Ambiance Bulbs?

So which is better for you, the White or the Ambiance bulbs? Here are a few key factors to help you choose:

  • Budget – White bulbs are more affordable if you want basic adjustable white tones.
  • Color – Ambiance bulbs are required for color changing effects.
  • Rooms – White for simple lighting. Ambiance for rooms where you want color themes and effects.
  • Features – White has basic controls. Ambiance unlocks the full suite of Hue features.
  • Experience – White for convenience. Ambiance for advanced smart lighting.

Many Hue owners start with White bulbs in high use areas like kitchens and bathrooms where color is not as important. They then add Ambiance bulbs in accent areas, bedrooms, living rooms, etc. to enjoy dynamic color effects.


Philips Hue White and White and Color Ambiance bulbs offer similar adjustable white light capabilities. But the Ambiance bulbs add color changing functionality for a more advanced smart lighting experience.

The White bulbs provide an affordable starting point to enjoy basic Hue benefits. The Ambiance bulbs unlock the full spectrum of color and advanced features for unique lighting effects and custom ambiance.

So consider how much color control you want versus budget when choosing the right Hue bulbs. Both types provide quality white light but the Ambiance bulbs deliver the ultimate in customizable smart lighting for your home.