Choosing a lighting setup / ecosystem for house

hue
osram
smartlighting
lights
switch

#1

I am trying to make some choices around the best, best bang for buck, future-proofiest, lighting system for my house, but it seems like there are a lot of pros and cons with each direction, so hoping to get some input from the community that has experience with this.

Currently this will involve filling 6" can lights in the kitchen and living areas, installing LED strips in channel under the kitchen cabinets, some outside lights, and probably some lamp bulbs.

The basics:

  • Have SmartThings
  • Switches: Looking at Leviton Vizio RF+ LVVRS151LZ and two way companion where needed.
  • The lights need to turn on via switches for everyday use, and not crap out because they don’t like it. As mentioned by pretty much everyone, WAF of using a phone to turn the lights on is zero :broken_heart: . Automations would need to know to turn the switch on first, then adjust the light.
  • Nice if the lights turned on via switch to a preset color temp (eg. not “blind everyone with white light setting”)
  • Would be nice if the lights faded on/off when you threw the switch, because that sounds pretty fancy and we’re living in the future, right? :rocket: Then again, I still get BSODs so maybe we aren’t there yet…

Not sure I can have all the wants with any setup with current state of technology…

Fleshing out the choices
The first choice is Hue, with their hub, Hue BR30 for the cans, Hue or 3rd party strips, etc. The major downside is Hue is the most expensive, and I have a lot of bulbs to buy (20+), not sure of other cons. Might be able to save money buying the V1 bulbs, but is it worth it?

The second choice is Osram, with the Osram BR30 bulbs, or they also sell can trim kits. I’m a bit nervous about the can trim kits, because what happens when one goes out years from now, and they are no longer sold. Osram strips or 3rd party(?) for kitchen. With this direction, from what I can tell, you can connect them to:

  1. SmartThings directly - I don’t know all the pros and cons of this approach. Need to use Osram gateway to update firmware.
  2. Hue bridge - Can take advantage of the Hue ecosystem and maturity? Con, need to update bulb firmware thru Osram hub periodically? They locked out other bulbs in the past, and still do for HomeKit use. Other?
  3. Osram hub - Needed to update the bulb firmware, might not have the best features/stability since they are newer to the game, doesn’t talk to ST due to no API? Other pro/con?

Thanks for reading this far! Appreciate any guidance and things that I have not thought of to help make the decision on what all this should involve since starting from scratch. :+1:


#2

Different things work for different people, or indeed even for different use cases in the same house. The following thread has some good detailed discussion of the features of different kinds of devices and why you might choose one over another for a particular solution. ( The topic titles of the following threads are all clickable links. )

Mixing smart switches and smart bulbs (like the Hues) gets a little tricky. Unless you need red/green/blue color changing, it might be cheaper just to go with smart switches and regular dumb dimmable lightbulbs. Many people do that and really like the results. Other people want the color effects.

The following thread discusses what kind of switch options you might have for smart bulbs:

BTW, The ability to adjust the fade rate at which a light comes on is called the “ramp rate” or sometimes the fade rate. So look for that feature in switches or smart bulbs if it’s something that you’re interested in.

The fanciest devices have two selectable parameters for this: one which specifies the number of steps the device will take to get from off to your selected dim level(or vice versa), and the other which specifies the speed at which the device will change between steps. So you might take three steps to get to 50%, and specify a half sec.

Less fancy devices will usually have a preset number of steps like 10 or five and you just get to specify the total time it takes to go from off to the dinner setting.

So Read the features carefully to see what’s available. :sunglasses::bulb:


#3

As far as the Osram bulbs, the answer differs depending on whether you are in the US or the EU.

Zigbee has many different profiles for devices. Lightbulbs are typically either zigbee home automation (ZHA), which is also the profile that smart things uses; or zigbee light link, which is the profile that hue bulbs use when connected to a Hue bridge. (The bridge itself can talk to both ZLL devices and use your local area network to talk to nonZLL controllers like smart things, echo, and harmony. Hence the reason it is called a “bridge.” The bridge talks to the ZLL bulbs so the other controllers do not have to have the ZLL support.)

Osram, Weirdly, chose to use the ZHA for their bulbs sold in the US and ZLL for their bulbs sold in the EU. I believe they are the only manufacturer who did this. Consequently, their European model Bulbs can be connected to a Hue bridge, but their US model Bulbs cannot.

(hue did decide briefly back in December 2015 that they would only allow Hue-certified bulbs to be attached to the Hue bridge, but after a number of customers complained, they reversed that decision. So as long as you have the most current firmware, your Hue bridge will accept most bulbs that use the ZLL profile. So that lets the European Osram bulbs in, but leaves the US Osram bulbs out. )

There’s a thread in the forum where most of the people who have Osrams discuss issues with those devices. It’s a good place to ask questions about that brand.


#4

Reading those threads played a big part in turning my brain to mush, and biting the bullet and posting this thread :slight_smile:

-Living in the US, so having the Lightify hub not talk to ST seems like… not a smart home. So using the Lightify hub doesn’t even seem like an option… but their bulbs are way cheaper.

-If I connect the Osram lights to ST, is it possible to make the bulbs turn on via wall switch to a certain color temp instead of blinding white and/or fade on? Since you’re not supposed to use a dimmer with smart bulbs, are there non-dimmer switches with a ramp rate? I have not been able to find any, presumably because that might be bad for non-dimmable bulbs so they simply don’t make them.
–Can the switch going on trigger ST to tell the light to set a certain temp?

-What am I losing out on by going through ST and not the popular Hue bridge? It’s about $700 extra to go from Osram to Hue. $40 vs $70 per bulb.

If I go for the smart dimmer switches and regular bulbs, it would be an expensive endeavor to change all the switches out for non-dimmers to go to color smart bulbs. How is buying the most smart products actually losing me features :confounded::sob: