Philips HF3520 Wake Up Light Colored Sunrise Simulation Review: Is There a Better Sunrise Simulation?


In Short

Product Name: Philips HF3520 Wake-Up Light With Colored Sunrise Simulation, White
Latest Review Date: 15 August 2019
Price Guideline: $$$

The Philips HF3520 Wake Up Light – Colored Sunrise Simulation is on the more expensive side of the market and is not without faults, but one area it won’t let you down is in its sunrise simulation which is quite simply superb and makes up for any shortcomings making it a worthwhile investment.


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  • Colored sunrise simulation with ten adjustable light intensities.
  • Adjustable sunrise duration – set it to anything between 20 and 40 minutes
  • Choose between five natural sounds to wake up to
  • FM Radio
  • Adjustable dusk simulation – go to sleep to a fading light

  • Can be used as reading lamp – with 20 brightness settings
  • Two programmable alarms
  • Digital clock face with four brightness settings that also adjust automatically to ambient light
  • Tap anywhere to snooze function

Product Information

  • Product dimensions: 10.3 (height) x 10.6 (diameter) x7.9 (depth) inches
  • Product weight: 1.113kg
  • Power Output Adapter: 12W
  • Voltage: 100/240V
  • Max light intensity: 300 lux

In The Box

  • 1 x Philips Wake-Up Light Alarm Clock HF3520/01
  • 2 x AC/DC adaptors
  • Instruction manual
  • Two year guarantee

So How Does the Philips HF3520 Wake Up Light Work?

All you do is select the time you want to wake up and then choose how long you want this process to take. You can set the Philips HF3520 at anything between 20 and 40 minutes.

So for instance if you set the time to 30 minutes and the alarm to go off at 7am it will turn on at 6.30am and gradually illuminate until it reaches its full brightness at 7am.

You can also adjust the brightness level accordingly to suit your needs and choose, if you want, some natural sounds to play.

The Good

So first things first, lets cut to the chase, this is a wake-up light and it does that very, very well indeed.

The colored sunrise simulation starts with a gentle red tinge, like the sun appearing on the horizon, then progressing through an orange glow to yellow then to white.

It always remains warm and toned and really is quite unique in this sense and possibly the best on the market – it really does mimic the sunrise fantastically.

The dusk simulation is also pretty good. If you are someone who likes to read in bed for instance, you can set the light to dim gradually (from a maximum length of one hour to a minimum of five minutes) as you slowly drop off.

The Philips HF3520 also doubles up as a reading lamp with 20 adjustable brightness levels that you can set independently of the wake up brightness.

The digital clock panel display is quite nifty too. The clock face has four options of brightness that you can adjust and is also a mellow orange colour that is not intrusive at all.

I’ve had bedside clocks before where the light from the display could almost be a torch, this Philips Wake-Up Light is not like that at all. It also has a sensor adjust to the ambient light, so it will dim more when all the lights are off in the room.

Please note that the time display cannot be turned off completely though.

You can also set the HF3520 so you wake up to one of five natural sounds. The light will gradually illuminate until it reaches its maximum intensity at your preset time before the sounds turn on and increase in volume.

Philips HF3520 Colored Sunrise Simulation Wake-Up Light

The five sounds you can select from are: bird song, zen garden, gentle piano, rainstorm with seagulls/birds and birds in the forest. The nature sounds are a nice little touch to ease you back into the land of the living just in case the sunrise alarm doesn’t and much nicer than conventional alarm noises!

The Philips HF3520 also has two programmable alarms, so you can set one for your weekday wake-up time and the other for your weekend times and then just remember to use the appropriate time for each.

The Wake-Up Light also uses an LED light, which reaches a maximum of 300 lux and will last a long, long time which is another plus point. Please note it is not replaceable.

The Bad

The main issues with the Philips HF3520 centre around the controls and the user experience. The buttons are all very small and hard to read.

To compound the issue the majority of the controls are around the rim of the light (there are a few on the face of the product) so you cannot actually see them from the front, you have to memorise their position.

Due to the size and location of the controls it is very easy to accidentally hit other buttons and change settings when you are handling the device.

Tied in with this, setting the time and alarms is not intuitive, the controls are confusing and take some time to learn. It takes a long time to navigate through the menu and sub-menu functions.

The manual isn’t much help either – comprised almost entirely of indistinct graphics that really offer no guidance.

Another gripe is that the dusk simulation is great except if you want sounds with it. You cannot be soothed to sleep by one of the nature sounds as the light dims, only the radio. This doesn’t really make much sense.

On a similar vein a nice touch would be that as you wake and the light gently brightens, the nature sounds kick in and increase as the intensity of the light increases. Alas that option is not available, the nature sounds only come in once the light has reached its maximum level of brightness.

There is no battery backup either. It will keep the time and settings during a short outage but for anything substantial you have to reprogramme your alarms, the time, etc, etc.

Finally whilst the HF3520 has two programmable alarms it would be nice if you could set alarms for each day of the week. This is only a minor grumble though.

The Beautiful

There is not much ugly about the Philips HF3520, in fact it looks pretty damn good.

It is reminiscent of an old style car headlight, but at the same time looks quite futuristic (if that makes sense!). It has a nice smooth feel and takes up less space than some of its predecessors.

Whilst, as mentioned previously, the location of a number of controls around the rim of the light are a problem, the touch screen menu on the front of the wake-up light is kind of funky. As you move your finger across a pressure point on the front menu it will light up showing you exactly where you need to press. As you move your finger away the light goes off.

It has a smart snooze function too. Touching any part of the face of the clock turns off the sounds for nine minutes but leaves the light on. After the nine minutes the sounds start again.

All in all a very pleasant looking piece of kit.

How Does It Compare To Other Philips Models?

NameHF3470HF3500HF3505HF3510 HF3520SmartSleep HF3650/60SmartSleep HF3670/60
Sunrise simulation duration30 min30 min30 minAdjustable (20-40min)Adjustable (20-40min)Adjustable (5-40min)Adjustable (5-40min)
Colors in sunrise simulationYellowYellowYellowOrange, YellowRed, Orange, YellowWhite, Orange, Yellow, AmberWhite, Orange, Yellow, Amber
Sunset simulation
Reading lamp
Adjustable display
Maximum light intensity200 lux200 lux200 lux300 lux300 lux310 lux315 lux
FM radio
Number of wake-up sounds2123378
Number of alarms1111234

And Does It Work?

It might take a few goes to get the Philips HF3520 set up to your exact requirements, but yes it does work. The majority of users says the changing light spectrum wakes them up gently and effectively – a seamless transition from sleep into wake so you feel like getting up. What more can you ask for?

Research has proved that wake up lights have a beneficial effect on sleep, waking, mood and energy. There are numerous studies proving this but here are just a few:



  • Amazing coloured sunrise simulation
  • Adjustable sunrise timespan 20 to 40 mins
  • Adjustable light intensity to wake up to
  • Four settings of brightness for clock face
  • Adjustable dusk simulation
  • Wake up to nature sounds
  • FM Radio
  • Lovely modern/futuristic look
  • Touch screen snooze
  • Buttons are small and fiddly and on rim of light
  • Counter intuitive programming system
  • No real battery back up
  • Can’t turn on sounds for fall asleep mode
  • Manual not helpful
  • Can’t schedule daily alarms


My Verdict

My Rating - 90%


Gorgeous color wake up light

Whilst it must be said the Philips HF3520 is not without its problems, it does what it is meant to do very, very well.

The wake-up light is fantastic and in a class of its own. The transition from reddish light to orange then to yellow and finally white is as good at mimicking the real sunrise as you are going to get and really helps boost your mood and energise you on those cold, dark winter mornings.

There are issues around the buttons and user interface. Whilst these are initially confusing and, it must be said, annoying, if you are reasonably proficient with technology you will get to grips with the product sooner rather than later.

It is on the pricey side, but there is a reason why, despite the price tag it remains at the top of the best sellers list and that is because it performs its primary function and it performs it very, very well.

User Rating: 4.5 ( 1 votes)

Other Options

This is a really nice Wake Up Light and one of the better ones on the market – the Philips HF3470 is also good, but really hard to find now.

For something that is a great wake-up light and way more go for either the Philips Smart Sleep or the Philips Smart Sleep Connected – check out their additional features!

If you would like to leave your personal review or experience of this product, or if you have any questions, please do leave them below. I would love to hear your feedback!

Don’t forget you can also check out our SAD Light Reviews Index for all of my SAD Light Reviews on one page or read my SAD Light Buyers’ Guide to pick the best SAD Light for you.


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