Smart Bulb Recommendations

I think I need to switch to a different set of smart-bulbs...

I have been using the Sylvania/Osram/Lightify smart bulbs for some time now, but have been fighting the never-ending problem of the bulbs losing their connection to the HE controller and having to re-pair the bulbs to the system. In my situation, that's quite a bunch of bulbs (around 2 dozen, split into 6 different groups of two to eight bulbs). I know that in most cases, I would be better off using conventional bulbs with a smart-switch for each group, but due to the somewhat unusual wiring of my home's lighting system, that is not a reasonable solution (It's an old system that uses remote 18V latching relays to control three separate lighting circuits in the area I am working with).

Anyway, especially because we have relatively frequent power interruptions (often flickering on and off several times), The Lightify bulbs are forever dropping off the HE system. Sometimes they can be restored by powering the circuit off and then back on. More often, I have to go through the Lightify re-pairing steps to add the bulb back to the HE network.

I really want to have a reliable system, so it's looking like I need to switch to a different brand of smart bulbs. I've heard good things about the Sengleds, though they seem to be pretty expensive. So does anyone have good recommendations for a different brand? While I'd prefer to stay with Zigbee, I'm open to Z-wave or even Wi-Fi controlled bulbs if they would prove to be reliable and affordable. I suppose there is also the option of setting up a second controller linked to the HE for just the smart bulbs, leaving the motion detectors and wireless switches for the HE itself. I read somewhere that the Lightify controller worked quite well with the Lightify bulbs and switches, but it looks like Sylvania is getting out of that line of business, leaving the controller unsupported.

So, based on your experience in dealing with multiple lighting groups, can anyone provide good recommendations for making my smart lighting system more reliable?

Personally, I've had bad luck with most Zigbee bulbs connected directly to Hubitat (and I used a dedicated Hubitat just for these bulbs, not a "mixed" Zigbee network--which I would not recommend). The new "advanced" drivers or other changes in Hubitat firmware 2.2.5 may have helped with this, but I no longer have a big setup to test. Most of my smart bulbs are Hue bulbs on a Hue Bridge. I find this incredibly reliable. However, if you consider Sengleds expensive, you probably won't like Hue. :slight_smile: Sengled is a frequent recommendation on this forum because they aren't repeaters and aren't subject to the problems you get when you mix bulbs (as repeaters) with non-bulb devices on the same network, which it sounds like you might be familiar with. I still didn't have good luck, but some people do...

If you want my personal recommendation for reliability, I'd use a Hue Bridge. But that doesn't mean you have to use Hue bulbs (there are a lot of people who repeat misinformation that claims otherwise), though you'll lose out on some Hue-only features if you don't (e.g., native HomeKit support and default power-on settings). Most Zigbee bulbs besides Sengled and Osram/Lightify will pair with a Hue Bridge network, and even those might if they've been updated to Zigbee 3.0 (Zigbee Home Automation or ZHA 1.2 is what you want to avoid; it won't work). If you're looking for cheap bulbs and don't care about color control--as it sounds like you might not with your claim that smart switches could otherwise work--then Hue's own white-only bulbs are much cheaper, but Cree, Ikea (I'd avoid their color bulbs, but the white and CT ones seem fine enough to me), GE Link (usually horror stories if paired directly to Hubitat), Ecosmart, and many others will work fine this way, and you can find color or CT bulbs from other manufacturers (and even Hue) for less than a Hue color bulb.

These would pretty much all work directly paired to Hubitat too, but again I wouldn't do that without a second hub, and a Bridge is cheaper (and in my experience still more reliable). Hubitat has a stock Hue Bridge integration that works well, and there are at least a couple currently-maintained community integrations if you want more.

There's also a community LIFX integration, but they're not really cheap, either, so I'm not sure that will be what you want. They're also Wi-Fi and I wouldn't fill my house with lots of them, but your preferences may vary. Shelly bulbs (CT or RGBW) are also Wi-Fi but are natively supported, and many of their products tend to be cheap, but I have no experience with these particular models. Others may have more ideas if none of the above sounds appealing.


You get what you pay for. :wink: Reliability comes at a cost

I use nothing but Sengeld blubs/strips (20+ scattered about) and have zero issues with them.


My 2 Cents. If you want a good bulb that doesn't repeat and colour isn't your thing then Sengled Element Classics have never failed me. GE Link, another story :skull:

Sengled or innovelli. That said my usual recommendation is switches and not bulbs except for free standing lamps and even the. A smart outlet is probably better.

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Yes, YMMV.
I use Sengled when it's a lamp or a single socket (outdoor, closet etc.). More than one I use a switch as the cost of the bulbs and network load/complexity increase dramatically after that.

Wow! That's a lot of quick recommendations!

I'll agree with everyone who says that smart switches are preferable to smart bulbs... they are certainly less complex (network-wise), and definitely less expensive than groups of smart bulbs. Unfortunately, to rewire my kitchen to "standard" wiring is a MAJOR undertaking, and to have an electrician do it would be a job entailing several thousand dollars of labor expense. In my case, smart bulbs are LOTS cheaper than new wiring.

My aversion to "expensive" smart bulbs is more a problem of confidence... If I am going to end up with a reliability situation similar to what I have now, buying a few hundred dollars worth of smart bulbs doesn't make much sense.

So, from the input at this point, I'll be taking a look at the Sengled soft-white smart bulbs (my current bulbs are the tunable-white Lightify's, but I've found I NEVER change the color temperature settings away from a warm-white.

It also sounds like I need to get either a Sengled hub to control them, or a second HE hub just for the bulbs. Any thoughts on that issue?

No, you wouldn’t need a Sengled hub at all. Sengled bulbs, paired directly to Hubitat, work long as you have some good, reliable Zigbee repeater devices.


Sengled do not repeat so they won't mess up your mesh. Not sure why you would need a second hub.

I have one for ZB (C4) and one for ZW (C7) but that was for the 700 ship and ZW advantages of the C7 not "needed".

You will how ever need to augment your ZB mesh with outlets or something since again the bulbs don't repeat.

I replaced all my switches with Lutron RRA2, outlets are mixed ZW/ZB for meshing, all Sengled bulbs are color since wife likes them (20ish days a year).

That being said you can often get "starter packs" that include a hub cheeper than blubs by themselves. Typing that I recall I have an unused one in the basement that came with a set, meant to try some blub tuning on the flood motion timing, but haven't never got around to it.

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I am hoping that I will not need a repeater... The distance from my HE to the most distant bulb is only about 25 ft.

The system is fairly "simple"... about 2 dozen bulbs, 4 of the Sylvania 2-button dimmers, another 4 Sylvania 4-button switches, and 2 Iris V2 motion sensors. The switches/dimmers and motion sensors usually work well, but for some reason some of them tend to go through batteries quickly. All of the sensors and wireless switches seem to get "lost" from the HE network, probably due to being over-routed by so many repeater bulbs.

I'm hoping that by getting rid of the repeater bulbs, a lot of other small problems will disappear. If it turns out that a repeater is needed, It's easy enough to just add one "smart" outlet or plug that includes the Zigbee repeater.

As mentioned the Sengled Element Classic works great for me as well. I've had no drops since they were installed about 8 months ago. About 4 months ago I bought some of the Home Depot Ecosmart Zigbee bulbs to try as they are very inexpensive ($4 each) and they too have performed flawlessly. However, they do repeat so if you do not have a way to ensure that your light switch does not get turned off, you could create problems with your mesh. I use some cheap covers that fit over the switch to make sure that they do not get turned off.

You will. See this document for this and other good things to know: How to Build a Solid Zigbee Mesh - Hubitat Documentation

In your case, you've got about 34 devices, which is two more than the hub can handle on its own without repeaters. You've also got some that might push the lower theoretical end of the recommended range (20-40 ft), but there's no sense in risking that if you don't have to regardedless.

It should also be noted that the issue with smart bulbs isn't "over routing" or having too many repeaters. It's that many smart bulbs try to repeat but just eat the message instead of passing it along, causing problems on your network. (This is pretty much impossible to verify without a sniffer; Hubitat staff have done this with many bulbs. Not all, and certainly not Sengled since they don't repeat--but that is why it's a good thing here. "Too many" repeaters on a Zigbee network is not something I've ever seen as a diagnosed problem.)

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I think my biggest problem with the repeating bulbs is the frequent power outages we suffer. It's just a fact of life around here that we will have power-blips that may last only a second, but even that means that most of our computer and network systems have to reboot. I did go ahead and put a very small UPS on the HE, so unless that goes down for more than about 10 minutes, it stays running. Just doing the mini-UPS made a big difference in system reliability.

The worst problem with power blips and the Lightify bulbs was that we would sometimes have the power turn off and back on several times in the course of about a minute. Guess what??? That can sometimes cause a factory reset of the bulbs!!! And that can mean removing the bulbs from your groups, removing your groups from your apps, and then starting over to re-pair the bulbs, re-create the groups, and then re-create the apps.

No need to do all that: jus re-pair the device (Hubitat will recognize a Zigbee device as the same device), then go into each group child app and hit "Done" (the latter being a necessity since the reset would have erased their stored group IDs if you're using Zigbee group broadcasting). That does sound like an inconvenience regardless, but the same thing could happen with or without a repeating bulb. If you're interested, there are at least a few USB-powered repeaters that may be easier to keep on backup power: an Xbee, the community-made "Environment Sensor," and the Ikea USB Trådfri repeater are two I can think of.

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That's how it is "supposed" to work, and for the most part does... but sometimes it doesn't and you really do have to go back and start over. I think it's mostly a problem with the Lightify bulbs, and that's one of the reasons I'm wanting to switch to something else.

CentraLite Appliance Modules 4257050-RZHAC are excellent repeaters...albeit a little chunky, they take up a lot of space on an outlet. You can usually find them on eBay.

A later Centralite model is smaller/sleeker, but gives up energy reporting. If you don't need the reporting I'd suggest this version:

My wife would not tolerate anything that "looks extra"

I'd go with in wall Enbrighten units. Yes they cost more, but the ROI/SAF is MUCH higher IMO.


Yup, no matter what size/brand you get the external plugs aren't pretty.

But mine are placed strategically (I used strategery!) behind couches and other furniture where they do not offend My Lady's Royal Eyes. :smiley:

At $17 (and less sometimes on eBay) a pop vs. $42, I'm happy to risk my life that someday my wife might peek behind the couch and see the monstrosity that lurks in dark silence... :wink:

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We all pick our battles. With love you know I like to show both sides of the coin.

For some for it's value, for some it's ROI. To each our own. Plenty of devices to go around.

We'll just make sure we try to show both sides of every coin. :slight_smile:

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Fortunately, the ONE who rules my universe doesn't have a strong objection to small wall warts here and there. Also, fortunately, if she were to change her mind about that, I just happen to have a couple of outlets that are well hidden inside a set of base cabinets. They were there before a remodel, and I just added a little extension collar so they could be flush with the cabinet rear wall.

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