Hub not finding connected bulbs


(Charles W Farley) #1

I’m having a hard time narrowing down my search terms to find something helpful, so if I missed something, please point me in the right direction.

I’ve never had an issue connecting bulbs. I use Cree’s Connected 60W equivalent. The light switch is off, I screw in the bulb, flip the switch, the SmartThings app finds it. It’s worked fine over a dozen times.

I just replaced three of those bulbs with Philips HUEs in one of the rooms. I took the 3 Crees those HUEs replaced out to my garage, but the SmartThings app/hub can no longer see them. To be safe, when I took them out there, I put them in one at a time, going through the same process I do when I initially connected them, but they were all showing as unavailable. When that didn’t work, I had SmartThings forget them all to start over, but it’s still not seeing them. When I did forget them, I didn’t insert them again one by one because I don’t think that’s the issue and the garage is full, so pulling the cars in and out was a bit of a pain in the middle of the workday.

I did read some threads where people were mentioning that the Device Health ‘feature’ was causing unexpected issues, so I just turned that off and went back out to see if that made a difference and it did not.

It is a detached garage on a different electrical circuit. My wi-fi signal was pretty good out there, but when they couldn’t be found, I went out and bought another Google Wi-Fi station/point/whatever-it’s-called. I know some things have issues with mesh networks, but I’ve added stuff before with no issue (…and I realize that doesn’t mean anything.)

The only other things that might be relevant is that the adding of the Philips HUE Hub the night before is the only change to the setup. Also, while I was out working in the garage trying to get the bulbs setup, the motion sensor in my bathroom and one of the two bulbs in the bathroom were showing as unavailable as well. I’ve never had that issue before and from reading about the Device Health thing, I’m guessing it’s coincidental, but everyone here knows more than me, so I thought I’d put it out there.

If anyone has any suggestions, I’d appreciate it. And if anyone has any suggestions that don’t involve me moving the cars and climbing back up the ladder to unscrew these bloody things one by one, I’d greatly appreciate it.


#2

The Cree bulbs are zigbee, not WiFi. Strengthening the Wi-Fi might make it harder to reach the devices because WiFi can drown out zigbee. It definitely won’t make anything better.

So the first thing I would do if you don’t need it for any other reason is just to unplug that new Wi-Fi system. It can only make connecting to the Cree bulbs worse.

Second, Garages are always awful. Lots of concrete, lots of big metal boxes (cars, often washers, freezers, etc). Frequently extra insulation in the walls. Just a pain. So the next thing I would do is put one of the Cree bulbs in the kitchen or someplace and see if it connects there. If it does, you know the problem is likely the local architecture. At that point we can talk about ways that you might address architectural issues in the garage.

Third, you might go ahead and take a look at the how to article in the community – created wiki on automating an out building. It might give you some more ideas. But definitely look at the first two things first.

http://thingsthataresmart.wiki/index.php?title=How_to_Automate_an_Outbuilding

( Also, no one but me cares about this, so you can go ahead and laugh now, but for technical reasons it’s a Hue bridge, not a Hue hub. Which is why it says “bridge” on the box. I’ll be quiet about that now. :wink:)


#3

Cree bulbs can be a pain in the butt to connect. Try connecting each bulb in a lamp then they should show as available in another light socket location. It’s what I’ve had to do at times. Like @JDRoberts stated, they are zigbee not WiFi. Your garage could be too far away or even impassable for the zigbee waves.


(Charles W Farley) #4

Thanks for the links. I want to make sure my logic is right…

It sounds to me like the problem is definitely the distance of the zigbee signal. It’s only just under 150ft/45m, but it’s on the second floor of the house, through a wall, through the slanted roof, and the walls of the garage. The suggestions of moving the bulbs somewhere closer to see if they connect is basically where I started since, as I said, these were bulbs I was just moving from a room in the house to the garage. And since I’m ignorant in the method of the bulbs communicating, I don’t think removing the new wifi point will affect anything because I only added it thinking it might help fix this problem. The bulbs couldn’t be seen before adding the new wifi point.

Reading that wiki, it seems like going with a second ST hub in the garage might be the simplest solution, but every description there involving a second hub includes some sort of 3rd device to, I’m assuming, tie the two ‘locations’ together. While I do have a Hue hu… ahem, bridge :wink: (I is a fast learner)… I’m technically considering it my son’s and don’t want to work it into my configuration.

If I’m only using these bulbs in the garage so that when I’ve settled in for the evening, have taken off my shoes, and then look out the back door window and see that I’ve left the garage lights on and want to be able to turn them off… could I just add a second ST hub, set the garage up as a second location with these bulbs and then use my Echos to turn off the lights? 99% of the light switching already happens through the Echo anyway. There’s not going to be a need to tie actions happening in the garage to actions happening in the house and vice versa. In this case, my Echo would be serving the function of tying what I need together, right?

I really do appreciate your answers. When you don’t have the time to jump into these things, it’s hard to troubleshoot.


#5

Unfortunately, as mentioned very deep somewhere in that wiki article, third-party integrations like echoes and IFTTT can only work with one SmartThings hub. It’s just the way SmartThings does authorizations.

However…there is a way to do this if you only link the echo to the hub in the main house and use web core and you set up proxy devices that belong to your main hub but that will fire webcore Pistons that can turn off the lights in the garage that belong to the second hup out there . It will work, it’s just a bear to set up and you will probably need help from people in the webcore forum. If that sounds like something you want to try, we can talk more about it.


(Charles W Farley) #6

But, I should be able to get a different zigbee compatible hub and use it, then. Is that correct? I wasn’t kidding about the laziness-revealing-scenario being my primary motivation for moving these bulbs out to the garage. If I got some other crappy hub, I could toss it out there, connect the bulbs to it and then tie it all together with the Echos, right?


#7

Sure, you could get a wink hub and the Cree bulbs would work with that. And echo could work with both wink and smartthings as long as they’re on the same LAN.

But your only connection for automations between the 2 hubs would be via IFTTT.


(Charles W Farley) #8

Great, thanks. When it comes to the garage, I literally have no concern about automation, but see where it would be an obstacle in other setups. I run a business with employees out of an additional entrance to my house, so having things divided works out better.

Really, though… thank you for all of the help and, more importantly, knowledge. I had had such an easy time getting everything in the house setup, to go out to that garage with what I knew to be 3 working bulbs (and an extra that I thought was going bad) and not have anything work, I was completely dumbfounded. I don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to this, so on top of the additional month it would have taken me to possibly come to these conclusions, there probably would have been a wasted ST hub purchased in there, too, thinking I could go the two hub route. (I might be missing it, but I think that wiki doesn’t necessarily say the single-hub-control thing as much as rely on ones knowledge of how things work to infer it. All of that second location talk, to me, was speaking to a connection issue like mine, not an explicit control issue as I understand it now.) So, I really do appreciate the time and money you saved me. Thanks again.


#9

You could use two SmartThings hubs, each set up as a separate location, and use Web Core to tie the two together, but it require setting up a virtual device “proxy” for the devices in the second location and the code gets pretty complicated. There are people who would be glad to help you with it, but if All you really want is echo control from the same echo, in some ways it is a lot easier to just use a hub of a different brand in the outbuilding.

But as always, it comes down to the exact details of what you need for your own household. :sunglasses:


#10

There are zwave repeaters creating a zwave mesh. Even powered bulbs can be repeaters for zwave. Is there a way to have a zigbee repeater? If he can expand his zigbee mesh, then the bulbs might work in his garage.


#11

Sure, and that is already discussed in depth in the how to article in the wiki on automating an outbuilding. :sunglasses:

http://thingsthataresmart.wiki/index.php?title=How_to_Automate_an_Outbuilding

Zigbee repeats only for zigbee, Z wave repeats only for Z wave, otherwise all the principles are the same. Pretty much any mains powered device will act as a repeater, you don’t have to do anything special. The biggest difference is that a zwave lightbulb is a reliable repeater for Z wave while a number of the zigbee light bulbs are only reliable repeaters for each other.

If you want to read more details about mesh networks and repeating, see the following FAQ. Start with post 11 in the following thread, then after you read that, go back up to the top and read the whole thread.

But if you don’t want to go into all the details, you don’t need to. Just read the wiki article on automating an outbuilding and it will cover what you need to know for that use case. :wink:


#12

I read it a while back. Zwave is more up front about repeaters. Zwave is a more communicatable system than zigbee. Zigbee products don’t mention it much. The zwave mesh set up is a good concept. If I would have known about that when I started, I would have bought zwave bulbs instead of zigbee. As this technology advances the mesh interfaces of both will be better, but we might have to buy new bulbs.


#13

The zigbee protocol, which somewhat predates zwave, talks about repeaters all the time. It’s just that they called them “routers.”

Coordinators, Routers, End Devices.

https://mmbnetworks.atlassian.net/wiki/spaces/ITZ/pages/39518242/Networking

Within the SmartThings context, we usually refer to them as zigbee repeaters, but it means the same thing. And these days many IOT device manufacturers also call them zigbee repeaters, to avoid confusion with ethernet routers.

The bulb issue is the fault of the manufacturers. There isn’t any good way to say it except for that. If everything was done exactly to spec, the bulbs would work well as repeaters also. So it’s not the protocol needs to evolve, it’s that the manufacturers need to be held accountable.

If you use zigbee hue bulbs attached to the hue bridge, everything will work fine. The bulbs do repeat well for each other in a ZLL configuration which is what the bridge will enforce. And there won’t be any issue with your other zigbee devices because they will be using a ZHA network established by the SmartThings hub. So your other devices would never ask the Hue bulb to repeat anything anyway.

From a network engineering point of view, zigbee is significantly more flexible. However, zigbee is subject to interference from Wi-Fi, which Zwave is not. So there are pros and cons to both.

Some people prefer an all zwave set up, some people prefer all zigbee, a lot of people like some of each depending on the specific use case for each device. :sunglasses:

http://thingsthataresmart.wiki/index.php?title=Z-wave_versus_Zigbee


#14

If I read your very informative post correctly, since he is using a Cree bulb in his garage he would need to have a Cree bulb closer to act as a router. His other bulbs are Hue and would be on the ZLL protocol instead of the ZHA protocol. If that does not work then its the distance or construction of the garage that could be causing the issues.


#15

Right: his Hue bulbs, which are attached to a hue bridge, are going to be irrelevant to the Cree bulbs in the outbuilding. The hue bridge forms its own mini network and doesn’t repeat for any of your other zigbee devices.

But he won’t need any additional Cree bulbs. Zigbee bulbs attached directly to the smartthings hub can receive Messages just fine from any zigbee repeater. And they can send their own messages outbound through any zigbee repeater on the same network. The problem comes only when the bulb is trying to act as a repeater and send a message along between two other devices.


(Charles W Farley) #16

To jump back in here… if I didn’t care about the Alexa integration at all, I could stick with another SmartThings hub instead of a different brand, right? Then, if this ridiculousness with integration and can’t-use-this-because-that-is-the-main-thing stuff gets sorted out and I want SmartThings to be my main ecosystem, which I do, I’ll be good to go. In the meantime, if the garage lights are on, I go to the app, choose my “Garage” location and turn them off.

Having to involce all of these 3rd party devices, software, or cold only matters if I want some automation, which I don’t.

Am I correct?


#17

Yes, one smartthings hub per location works just fine as long as you are not trying to have Devices from both locations in one rule AND you don’t want to use a third-party integration like echo or a IFTTT with both locations. If you do want to have devices from both locations in one rule, or you want to involve a third-party integration, then you have to go back to the methods described in the wiki article.

You will be able to switch from one location to the other in the SmartThings mobile app without having to log out and log in again, so that’s the biggest UI advantage of having two locations rather than two separate SmartThings accounts.