Hue and Hubitat

Hello fellow HE enthusiasts. My birthday is coming up and my wife keeps asking me what I want. Most birthdays in the last few years have been smart home gear. It has been a few years since I started this journey, and I have accumulated a fair amount of stuff. Currently, everything works great and I am now looking to add some features. Every switch/dimmer in my house is smart (mostly GE/Jasco, Inovelli, and some Lutron), I also have a smart bridge pro and use picos. Not a single bulb in my house is smart and/or coloured. In the past I have thought of adding some Sengled coloured bulbs for times when I would like coloured bulbs, but I am thinking that maybe I should go with a hue bridge and hue bulbs. I have a few questions:

  1. The hue bridge is recommended/required? Does it simply hook up to your network with an Ethernet cable, similar to Lutron?
  2. How do hue bulbs deal with the switch on the wall killing power to the bulb? Does this work seamless or do you remove the switch, hardwire the light fixtures, and put a pico in its place?
  3. I also have several zigbee devices (outlets, window sensors, and some ikea tradfri), is there any issues with 2.4 ghz network saturation?
  4. Other than being able to add colour to a few lighting spots in my house, what other improvements/features might a hue hub add?
  5. I would like to add colour to the front porch lights, any issues with hue bulbs outdoors in Canadian winters?

Any feedback on the above questions, or feedback concerning the hue and hubitat is appreciated.

Unless the bulbs are the only Zigbee devices you have on the hub, it is better to link Hue bulbs via the Hue bridge. Otherwise, the bulbs will try to act as repeaters, but will cause issues on your mesh. Starter kits will include a Hub and can sometimes be the same price as the included bulbs would have been on their own.

It is best to either hard wire or if you have Inovelli switches/dimmers, you can set them to “Smart Bulb” mode or disable the ability to physically turn them off. Killing power to them will work, but is not recommended.

There are several Zigbee channels that can be used to help avoid interference with other Zigbee hubs and with Wifi. I have 2 hubs using the same channel (20), have quite a few Zigbee devices on Hue, Hub 1 and Hub 2 and haven’t run into issues.

That’s pretty much it in my opinion. They can dim, allow you to have different white temperature or allow you to have colours. The hub will also allow you to control them with the Hue app. I understand there are some apps out there that allow you to sync the lights to music, set Halloween themes, etc when using the Hue hub. I have not used those myself.

I have been using 3 Inovelli bulbs outside for over a year and have not had any issues. I suspect the same with Hue bulbs.

If you want to avoid the hub, you could go with Sengled bulbs instead. They don’t repeat so can be paired directly to the hub. Inovelli also has some pretty good bulbs and they can be paired directly to their dimmers. I did this a while back and although it was a bit of work (lack of knowledge on my part) to get setup, once it was setup, it worked great! I could see the dimmer bar go up/down depending on the dimming value of the bulb. It was great!

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Care to elaborate. If I have hue bulbs (connected through a hue bridge) and they also happen to be on a smart switch, what would happen, if the bulbs are at a certain colour and brightness and I turn the switch off (the bulbs will go off, no power) and at a later time, turn the switch back on?

What are all the issues with having a hue bulb (connected through a hue bridge) also being on a smart switch that kills power (I am fully aware of the zooz and inovelli feature that allows the switch to always provide power, but I feel that the zooz and inovelli with this feature on, is an inferior option to a pico, so I am not really interested in that solution, if I go that route it will be a pico, and not a inovelli or zooz with that feature on).

Thanks.

Back in the day, if you turned a Hue bulb off via a switch (or cutting power by any means, really), they would come back on to warm white at 100%, a sort of default setting. You will still probably see lots of claims that this is what happens, though it's no longer necessarily true.

Nowadays, the Hue app lets you set a power restore state. This can be the above, or it can be a specific state/scene, on to the last-used on state, or restored to either off or the last-used on state (depending on whether it was on or off at the time of power loss)--the latter of whcih is my preference. Note that only official Hue bulbs support this. Originally it was only newer bulbs, but all generations now support it if they are on recent enough firmware (the new firmware just came out for the newer bulbs first, though it was maybe only a few weeks' difference). You might see some claims about that somewhere, too, which would no longer be accurate.

It is, of course, still generally preferable to avoid cutting power if you really can. Aside from losing the "smart" capabilities, you'll also risk weaking your Hue mesh (same Zigbee priniciples that apply to Hubitat apply to Hue, too)--though with a large network where every bulb is a repeater, that might be less of a concern.

Like you plan to, I have lots of Picos for manual control of my lights, plus a few of the similar-in-concept Zooz remotes. I also have a couple Inovelli switches in "smart bulb mode" or with local control disabled. Their upcoming Zigbee switches should be even more interesting in this regard, as you should theoretically be able to use binding or TouchLink to directly control the bulbs, increasing reliability in the event of hub/Bridge failure or whatnot--though how easy or whether that is possible at all from either Hue or Hubitat remains to be seen.

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Thanks for the detailed reply. My wife's only stipulation with my HE journey is that all light switches and plugs work regardless of any equipment failure. At the moment that is true. I use picos to augment certain functionality. But every light in the house could still be switched on/off if I was to disconnect both the HE hub and the Lutron Hub.

If I go with the Hue bulbs with the Hue bridge (it sounds like their colour reproduction is better than Sengled, and they also dim lower) and put a pico where the smart switch currently is, I imagine I would break my wife's rule above? If the HE was to become dysfunctional, I could still control the lights from the hue app on my phone? If the hue hub became dysfunctional are you waiting for a new hue hub?

Thanks, for taking the time to answer my questions.

Well, if you keep the original switches (not sure if that's what you meant with using Picos--or if you meant covering them up), the the worse case is they just become dumb bulbs with regular switches. But even the "smart bulb mode" switches that can disable local control (sometimes these are different settings, BTW) aren't a lost cause; with Inovelli, for example, a special tap sequence on the config button can re-enable local control, then you can effectively use the Hue bulbs like dumb lights on a regular switch. Of course, this depends on how you set them up.

A broken Hubitat would definitely ruin any Pico automations you set up there, as would a broken Hue Bridge given that Hubitat's integration works through that. It's worth noting that Hue has some accessories like the Hue Dimmer, Hue Tap, or Lutron Aurora that can communicate directly with the bulbs (if set up on Hue, not Hubitat) that might work even without the Bridge. However, lately, I've noticed them involving the Bridge for more things that didn't previously require it, so your luck may vary. But it's still a pretty reliable system on its own, IMHO.

I’ve also got some bulbs setup via Lutron and Pico. I find that on occasion, some bulbs will not react immediately and in some very rare occasions, they didn’t react as they should have. I would expect this to be an issue in your case.

Direct association might be the safest approach to using bulbs as it should work without the need for a hub, but will also work with the hub.

Yes, but the state change will not be communicated to Hubitat until the next polling interval occurs, so dashboard state might be inconsistent for a while.

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Hue bulbs work fine outside in Minnesota.

  • I would recommend not using light switches to turn off Hue bulbs. You want power on all the time. Either use Lutron or a Zigbee/Zwave button/switch to control the bulb from Hubitat. You will want this so you can control them all the time via an HE app, RM or other.

  • My front lights are on all the time. I use the Sylvania zigbee button that fits over a normal light switch to turn on/off. (Not sure if they are still available)
    https://www.amazon.com/Sylvania-Smart-Home-73743-Lightify/dp/B0196M620Y/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8

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I didn’t realize that. I had to move that switch to another location and break the association. I’ll be curious to try it when I get my replacement switch to see how long it takes. (Will be a while though… waiting for Inovelli’s multi-button dimmer to come out…)

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