Yes. The only officially recommended way to use Hue devices with SmartThings is by using a Hue bridge.
There are several reasons to use the bridge.
- Other Integrations
There will be a number of other integrations available to you which you may want to take advantage of.
- Use of Hue Scenes
you will be able to activate scenes created with the official Hue app, which at the present time offer many features not available in the smartthings scenes feature. Even just the ability to blink the lights. The easiest way to access scenes from the Hue app is through IFTTT, but there are other ways as well.
- Not using the Bridge can mess up your zigbee network
the most important really is that adding Hue bulbs directly to your smartthings hub will cause the bulbs to be identified as repeaters for your other zigbee devices.
Unfortunately, like most brands of zigbee bulbs, they can run into a kind of “buffer overflow” situation where they start dropping the messages given them by other devices to repeat.
This can be very difficult to troubleshoot. You may think that a particular sensor is not reporting for some reason or is “stuck” on open or close, when in fact the sensor is operating just fine, but the bulb is losing its messages.
- It’s much harder to reset individual hue bulbs without the bridge, and it may require buying an additional device
depending on the zigbee channel that your smartthings hub is operating on, you may find that there is literally no way to reset your hue bulbs if you decide you want to move them to a bridge or even another smart things hub. There’s a lot of discussion of this in the forums, and typically people just end up having to buy a completely different device just to do the bulb reset.
- You can use the “power on” setting feature for bulbs that are connected to the hue bridge
This lets you define the behavior for Individual bulbs after a power outage. So you could have most bulbs remain dark, one come on bright, a different bulb come on at 25%, etc. it’s up to you.
Without the bridge, all the bulbs will come on to full brightness when power is restored after an outage. ( this is a new feature that was introduced in early 2019.)
- Support will only help you if you are using the bridge
if you do have problems with either three or four, support is not going to help you because both SmartThings and Phillips say a bridge is required for the integration, because of these issues.
Yes, if you get some custom code technically you can add a Hue bulb to the SmartThings set up without having a Hue bridge, and there are some members who have done that, but you are opening up a number of potential problems for yourself, including the possibility of lost messages from other devices.