GE Zigbee Lights Far from ST Hub reset when they 'panic' - what to do?


First of all thanks to this community for being so helpful in the past. I’ve been able to solve a lot of my issues because of this community, and for that I’m thankful.

One nagging problem remains (almost everything else works miraculously well - for months!). I have 6 GE Link BR30 bulbs in my basement, kind of far from my ST v2 hub on the 1st floor. My basic setup is to pair these bulbs to ST, then pair a Lutron Connected Bulb Remote to ST (after installing workmonk’s device handler), then pair the Lutron remote to the bulbs. I absolutely believe in the necessity of physical switches for light operation, though I use Alexa/Echo for most control of ST devices (‘Alexa, dim theater to 1%’ is fantastic). I always want a reliable fall-back method, and that’s the physical switch for me. The Lutron remote is the best one so far IMHO, as it’s ergonomically nice and fits into traditional wall plates. It’s just too bad ST doesn’t support it officially yet.

The lack of official support means a bit of a workaround to get this all to work. Here’s the issue:

The GE Link Zigbee bulbs do all pair with my ST hub from their basement location. Sometimes it takes a few tries, but eventually they do. I don’t have any Zigbee devices as repeaters between the hub and basement.

The Lutron remote pairs fine to ST as well. However, when I then go to to pair to my bulbs, it ‘steals’ the bulbs, so they can no longer communicate with ST, and now only with the remote.

Here’s the thing though - this ‘stealing’ doesn’t happen if all the devices are near the ST hub when I do the pairing. It’s almost like if the GE Link bulbs can’t directly talk to to the ST hub, the Lutron remote steals them. Or if the Lutron remote can’t directly talk to the hub when pairing with the bulb, it steals them (puts it on some different Z-wave frequency, I guess).

So to get around this, I took my ST hub down to the basement, did all the setup and pairings, which all worked, no stealing, then took the hub back upstairs. I know this is not ‘best practice’, since I effectively set it all up then changed the topology of the mesh.

But… it worked!

For a couple months anyway, until I finally had an outage that took out my ST hub for 12 hours. When it came back online, all GE Links in the basement stopped talking to both my hub and the Lutron remote. Removing just one of them from ST actually got all the other ones back online (odd?), but none of them will talk to the remote.

Any ideas on what happened?

I’m sure official support of the Lutron remote would go a long way to addressing this, but I’d like to deal with this now. I’m guessing that when the Zigbee GE Links went into ‘panic’ mode, they couldn’t re-find any device or hub. When the hub came back online, maybe the one bulb that acted as the ‘repeater’ had some malfunction, and nothing connected?

Hence, I’m thinking of putting some more Zigbee devices in the pathway to my basement. Like Smartthings electrical outlets.

  1. Is this reasonable?
  2. Do you think something else is going on?
  3. Do you strongly disagree with my approach of moving the hub down to do all the pairings, then moving the hub back up? If only the Lutron remote were officially supported, none of this would be an issue, as - like I said - I can eventually pair each of the bulbs with the ST hub even when ST hub is on 1st floor and bulbs in basement… it’s that I can’t then pair the Lutron remote without it stealing my bulbs.
  4. Should I use my Hue Bridge (v1) as the Zigbee hub instead for the GE Links because it has a stronger antenna than the ST? Does it? I have no idea.

I should mention that I have a Philips Hue bulb on the second floor, pretty far away from the ST, that was also set up in a similar way (I paired it, and a Lutron remote, near the ST hub on the 1st floor, then moved it upstairs). It works fine, even after multiple 12 hour ‘blackouts’ (hub going down). I wonder what’s different there. Maybe it’s just closer overall to the hub (it is, in fact - it’s one floor up, but less of a ways down the home length-wise), or maybe it’s because it’s a Hue bulb?

Finally, I really do wish smart home companies prioritized physical switches. Most of us only see the phone functionality as an initial novelty. For every day use, we need voice control and physical controls. I find it unfathomable why companies haven’t prioritized nice physical switches that work the way light controls have worked for decades… :slight_smile:

Many thanks in advance!

The problem is the GE brand lights. This is a well-known problem, nothing to do with smart things. In fact it’s the reason why this brand is not on the official “works with smart things” list. From time to time, they can just forget what network they’re on. It’s extremely annoying, and there is no fix.

Most people now buy the $15 Hue white bulbs instead if you need A19s, and the Osrams if you need floods, although those are more expensive.

As for switches, in just the last few months two different companies have come out with smart switch covers which fit over your existing switches. You leave the original switch powered on so the smart bulbs always have power and you use the buttons on the switch cover as an intuitive physical wall switch. This solves a lot of problems. :sunglasses:

For using thse many bulbs, you would be better off to get a Hue hub. I have a lot of GE bulbs going through the Hue hub and they have been pretty stable for more than a year. My set up is similar to yours, but instead of using Lutron remote I use the Hue remote. And is configurable easy from the hue app. I manage the bulbs in both ST and Hue. Recently I had a 36 hours power outage and many GE bulbs fell off, but I clicked the hue discovery and flipped the light switch on, once, and all bulbs came back alive.