Are there any bulbs that people would recommend that work directly with Smartthings? I’m new to this and struggling to find anything I am confident will work.
Assuming you mean smart bulbs, take a look at this thread for starters.
If you want something that will work directly with SmartThings, then you will want a Zigbee or Z-Wave bulb. All of the other wireless bulbs (i.e. WiFi bulbs) and platforms (i.e. Philips Hue) will communicate through the cloud to SmartThings.
I’ve had good experience with the Cree Connected LED bulbs. The connected bulbs from GE gave me a lot of problems.
Before buying a lot of connected bulbs, make sure that connected bulbs are really the best solution for your application. Connected bulbs are easy to install, but have a lot of drawbacks when you share the home with others. The biggest issue is that connected bulbs stop responding when they don’t have power because someone turned off the light at the switch. Also, if your fixture has specialty bulbs, or very bright bulbs, it may be difficult to find a connected bulb in that style/luminance.
The step up from the connected bulb is the connected plug-in outlet. These are good for applications where you have multiple lamps close together. Like connected bulbs, you can’t overcome the problem of someone turning off the power at the lamp fixture, but the connected outlet will remain on the mesh network.
If your light is controlled by a wall switch, then you are best off replacing the wall switch. This is the most work and skill intensive, but also more foolproof and cost effective if you have several bulbs controlled by the same switch.
Cree Connected bulbs. They can be found on Amazon and places like Home Depot. Home Depot carries them for about $15. They come in soft white and daylight. Make sure to read the box so you don’t end up with both in one room as they are drastically different. The soft white most closely resembles the color of older incandescent bulbs. The daylight bulbs have a harsher, whiter color.
Another feature I like about the Crees, is that they do not emit light in just an upward/away pattern. They emit light up/away and also down. Most other brands only emit light up/away from the base of the bulb; therefore, all the light go towards the ceiling and none to the floor when used in a lamp. They more closely resemble a incandescent bulb in a lamp than most other smart bulbs will.
I just updated the Bulb FAQ, but I’m going to go ahead and post to duplicate of that message here to make sure that the OP sees it:
An update for Fall 2017: Zigbee Bulbs that Can Lose Messages from Your Other Devices
Over the last year, a number of network problems have been reviewed by both community members and SmartThings staff, and it’s now been established that some, but not all, zigbee lightbulbs when connected directly to the SmartThings hub Will be marked by the network as available repeaters, but will in fact failed to pass on some messages from some of your other zigbee devices. This can make it seem, for example, like an open/close sensor is failing to report when in fact it is reporting, but the bulb is not passing the message on.
This is an extremely annoying problem and one that is difficult to diagnose if you run into it.
Avoiding the problem by choosing the right brands
If you are connecting your zigbee bulbs to the hue bridge, you won’t have this problem, because the bridge forms its own mini network and your other zigbee devices will not even know that the bulbs exist. Note that this is also the only officially supported method for Hue bulbs:
But if you are connecting the zigbee bulbs directly to the SmartThings hub, the following brands are known to have problems in this regard as of January 2019:
Hue if connected directly to the SmartThings hub
Cree Connected if you have more than 10 bulbs
Brands that don’t have this problem as of October 2017:
Cree Connected if you have 10 or fewer bulbs
Sengled (these won’t lose messages, but they won’t act as repeaters either)
IKEA Tradfri as of mid 2018
Anything connected to the Hue bridge
I was going to recommend the cree, but then @KevinH reminded me that these bulbs still have a problem with routing if you have more than 10 of them. So now I recommend IKEA Tradfri. Just make sure you get current ones as the original models had different firmware. As of January 2019 The IKEA Tradfri bulbs and pocket socket work with SmartThings: the handheld remotes do not.
Zwave Bulbs and WiFi bulbs don’t have these issues, and in fact, in general zwave bulbs make very good Z wave repeaters. It’s just zigbee bulbs that have shown the problem.
if you already have problematic bulbs
There is a workaround, but it’s really annoying.
If you were going to add a new zigbee device to your network and you want to make sure it doesn’t try to use one of the problematic bulbs as its parent, first take any of the problematic bulbs off power all together. Not just turned off from the network, but actually switched off current.
Now add your new device. It should choose one of your other zigbee devices as its parent and its messages won’t get lost.
Then turn the bulbs back on power.
Also be aware that if at any time your house loses power, you may have to repeat this method or your other zigbee devices might select a problematic bulb as a parent when the power is restored.
I personally like Hue bulbs connected to the hue bridge and that’s what I use at my house.
You can go ahead and try any of the other brands, but if you start having problems with other zigbee devices appearing to lose messages, run a test by taking all the bulbs off power first, then do a zigbee heal, and see if anything improves. It may be the bulbs are receiving the messages but not passing them on.
If you are coming to this thread after October 2017, check the bulb FAQ for the most up-to-date information:
excellent post, i wish i had known all of that prior to buying some of my bulbs
seems like an easy fix for the engineers at SmartThings would be to disable any repeating feature with known problematic bulbs
can we do that with device handlers?
Since it’s part of the baseline zigbee spec and is handled by the devices themselves as they select message routes, I doubt if there’s going to be any easy fix for it. It’s really something that each bulb manufacturer has to fix themselves. It’s one of the things that makes it so annoying.
Again, if you have bulbs connected to the hue bridge you won’t have any of these problems. But at this point I don’t know what to say about attaching zigbee bulbs directly to the SmartThings hub. The sengled will be fine, but that’s because they don’t identify as repeaters, so they won’t mess up your network but they also won’t act as repeaters. The only solid choice right now seems to be IKEA Tradfri with the late 2018 firmware.
Thanks for all the info, it’s very useful. I’ve come across some of the bulbs suggested in google searches but have been unable to find any for sale in the UK (sort of where I am).
As a hardware vendor, they’re probably most interested in something that works for the general case and no more. They may not even have software engineers to write the embedded firmware (farm it out to contractors) or have some hardware engineer who knows just enough put in the basics. It might all be in hardware in a cheap ASIC that cannot be upgraded in the field! “It is what it is!”
Their focus is probably in two areas: 1) new product development and 2) manufacturing cost reduction, i.e., maximizing profit.
As JD said, it would be a tall order to get bulb manufacturers to make changes, let alone add options or provide firmware updates…
Just my experience, YMMV.
For the U.K., The simplest solution is just to get the hue bridge and then bulbs that can work with it.
These are widely available in multiple formats, Will work well, and you won’t have any issues with lost messages.
And if IKEA gets their act together, as they have promised to do, and fixes the firmware on their bulbs so they will work with the hue bridge, then you will also have a choice of less expensive bulbs. They promised to have that working before Christmas, but we still have to see if they deliver. (updated: they did! But not until mid 2018)
Sengled Element bulbs are another option, but probably only in E27
LIFX bulbs are available in more formats including bayonet and GU 10 and also work well. These are Wi-Fi bulbs, so just be aware that your Wi-Fi router may have a limit on the total number of devices you can add, typically either 30 or 100 depending on the router model. And that counts all your Wi-Fi devices together, including tablets, phones, game consoles, etc.
I went for a Zipato RGBW Bulb 2 in the end. I’ll see how I get on with it.
Well the bulb works well out of the box. The location of my hub means it’s a bit intermittent whether ti works or not so I’m looking for some other powered Z-wave devices to extend the network.