Hue Lightstrip Plus - Increasing length whilst retaining maximum luminosity

I have searched the internet for technical information regarding the Hue Lightstrip Plus and have found very little so I figured I would create a thread to collect what I find in order to help others searching for the same information required to maximize and customize their Hue Lightstrip Plus based projects.

Please consider this thread a work in progress. Although I will try to keep a logical organization of the information provided, I cannot guarantee it so please excuse the possible hodge podge. I will be glad to integrate any pertinent information others want to contribute.

Lumen output

Declared output: 1600 lumen at 4200K (20.5W)

Even though the lightstrip is extendable up to 10 m, and each meter long extension supposedly outputs 800 lumen, the reality is that the total lumen output is limited to 1600 for a single lightstrip. The power supply provided is just powerful enough to power the provided 2 m of LEDs so extending it further will not result in increased light output. I have yet to find out how this is achieved, whether current is limited in the control unit or it is just an effect of the load on the relatively small traces that with length might start too high of a resistance for the current required.

To reduce the effects of possible voltage drops due to increasing resistance as the strip gets longer, I would recommend a star configuration (control unit to individual lengths of lightstrip) rather than series (lightstrips daisy-chained together sequentially).

Each lightstrip is made of a number of smaller segments. Each segment is about 33 cm / 12.9 in long and the schematics are obviously the same for each segment. On the back of the lightstrip each connection point is connected straight through to the other end. The largest trace is VCC, then C and F, and the smallest are R, G and B.

Included Power Supply Specifications

Input: 100-240Vac 50-60Hz 600mA 24W
Output (Constant Voltage): 24Vdc 20W

Center pin is the positive pin.

Lightstrip Plus segment Schematics

Please excuse my poor ability in creating schematics… but I think this should be easy enough to interpret even though I may have made mistakes in my choice of representation.

Components:

R1, R5 = 78.7 Ohm, ? W
R2 = 294 Ohm, ? W
R3 = 330 Ohm, ? W
R4 = 232 Ohm, ? W

D1 = I believe it is a diode but I am not sure what type

LED1-6 = Light yellow LEDs
LED 7-12 = RGB LED (Blue)
LED 13-18 = RGB LED (Green)
LED 19-24 = RGB LED (Red)
LED 25-30 = Dark yellow LEDs

The pin marked C is for powering the light yellow LEDs that generate the cold white.

The pin marked F is for powering the darker yellow LEDs that generate the warm white.

The pins marked R, G, and B are for powering the individual LED junctions inside the RGB LED. The pin closest to the golden dot next to the RGB LED is the Blue LED cathode. The middle pin is the Red LED cathode and the bottom pin is the Green LED cathode. The pins on the opposite side are the respective anodes.

Generic image I found online of a similar RGB LED:

Cable to connect multiple segments together

I have seen many people stating they used regular ethernet cable to connect separate segments together. Although it surely works, I believe that not to be the best solution. I found a better cable that is more flexible, much smaller, has the right number of conductors, has a larger gauge (less voltage drop over distance, more current,etc) and was relatively easy to purchase online (eBay). The cable I used in my kitchen install was BELDEN 5504UE

I had absolutely no issues soldering it to the lightstrips and it was super easy to work with given its great flexibility and reduced outer diameter compared to ethernet cable. I also prefer the fact that it is stranded cable rather than solid.

Lightstrip Amplifiers

Given the Hue Lightstrip Plus is actually 5ch (R, G, B, C, F), I am having a hard time finding an amplifier that might work. It may be possible to combine two 3 channel amplifiers, one for RGB and one for the two whites but I am not sure as I have not tried yet. The goal of using amplifiers is to get around the limited power of the supplied power supply and surely the limited ability to handle current of the control unit. I have not found specifications of the power components handling the current required by the LEDs (all I can make out is “WK9 58”) but given the size and limited heat dissipation I doubt they even get to 1A.

Alternative Control Units

This seems to be the best candidate…

Wireless electronic ballast FLS-PP lp with Power PWM interface for RGBW and RGB lights (12/24V LED/LED stripes), ZigBee certified product

It is compatible with the HUE ecosystem, handles much more current and is cheaper… but it only handles one of the whites…

Reserving slot for future posts.

I just plugged in seven 1 meter extensions into a single 2 meter base gen2 LightStrip+ (which is actually only 191cm), making a total of 9 meters. I then did A/B tests by unplugging and replugging the 7 extensions. My wife and I could not see a brightness loss from the 2 meter base strip when the 7 extensions were plugged in. I don’t think there is a problem here that needs solving.

I am pretty sure that power loss over a large distance is very minuscule. Also, 9 meters isn’t a large distance even for small wires/traces. I’m not an EE, but I seriously doubt distance would be a problem here, even if I didn’t have empirical evidence that shows there isn’t a problem. :slight_smile: I have come across others with the actual product in hand saying extenders get dimmer, but I wonder if they are using gen1 strips? Maybe their eyes are just better than mine (and my wife’s), but I doubt it!

Edit: FWIW, I came across this:


He uses a Kill-a-watt (measures actual wattage from any device you plug in) and says, “Set the color to the brightest light the unit can produce (4200ºK), though, and the 2m strip now consumes 19.6W. Extend that out to 10m, and it still consumes only 25.0W (only 1.27x as much). My eyes couldn’t detect a major change in brightness in the 2m strip when I plugged in/unplugged the 8m extenders”. The base strip transformer is apparently rated 24W, so this all seems pretty OK. Philips probably knows what they are doing and limits to 10 meters because that requires ~24W.

Glad to hear that the difference does not seem visible but there just has to be a difference which might be more visible in pitch black or maybe measuring it with a light meter… however if you can’t tell the difference then it really doesn’t matter. The LEDs need a certain amount of current to reach their maximum luminosity so if the power supply is only 24W the number of LEDs that can be lit up at their maximum luminosity is limited. Based on what I have read, the power supply that is included is just enough for the main strip. Using a more powerful power supply won’t help as the mosfets used to “dose” the current to the LEDs can only handle the the power from the included power supply… Anyway, an easy solution to ensure the strips get the full current they need is to use the following device:

I purchased one but I have set this project aside for a while so I have not had a chance to see what difference it makes. My biggest worry is that the color rendering of the strip controlled by this ballast will not match my other Hue lights so finding an “amplifier” to increase the current output of the Philips ballast would be a better solution however the ones others have tried did not work very well.

Now that I think of it… when you say you see no difference, do you mean that the total light output (luminosity) does not change regardless how long the strip is? Or you are observing the first part of the strip and it does not decrease when you add the other X extensions? The total luminosity supposedly will NOT increase given the current deficiency… but the luminosity of the main strip should indeed decrease as you add more extensions (to see it you must block the light emitted from the extensions)

By “no difference” I mean we were staring at the 2 meter base strip while I unplugged and replugged the 7 meter extensions and we were not able to say that the 2 meter base strip was any dimmer when the extensions were plugged in. It’s true my test could have been more scientific – I didn’t completely remove the 7 meter extensions from view. I’ll do that tomorrow and report back. I can also put a second 2 meter base strip side-by-side with the 9 meters.

I’m testing this because I need 9 meters and want it as bright as possible. I would definitely use multiple base strips if it made a difference (I already purchased extras).

I’m not sure the electrical requirements scale linearly as you add extensions. The reddit thread I linked seems to suggest it doesn’t.

I came across this:


He used a Hue lightstrip to control more powerful LED strips.

In that video the person did the same thing I was exploring however another video linked below pointed out that the amplifier needs to be of a certain type otherwise it will not work well. Also, the amplifiers commonly found are RGB like the first revision of Hue lightstrips however the 2nd revision of Hue Lightstrips is now RGBW+W (wrote it this way to avoid confusion with RGBWarmWhite). If I recall correctly it has Red, Green, Blue, Warm White and Cold White LEDs so the amplifier needed would have 5 channels rather than the typical 3 or 4. I think when I got to this point I found the FLS-PP which has 4 channels for RGBW and can output 6A instead of 1A like the Philips ballast so I figured I’d give it a try even though it likely meant I’d have to give up using one of the White LED strips (warm or cold). But… I set it aside as free time vaporized with the birth of my second child… :slight_smile:

I think this other thread was another one of my sources of info:

https://developers.meethue.com/content/lightstrip-plus-power-supply-need-consistent-brightness

Edit: Things are coming back to me… the more I think about this. The base lightstrip is declared being 1600 lumens, while each extension is 800 lumens however it is deceiving as the total light output with the power supply / controller (ballast just seems too simplistic for what the controller does…) will only allow a maximum 1600 lumens regardless of the number of extensions. If you had more power available, enough for all the LEDs to operate at peak performance, then you would have 1600 lumens + 800 lumens * # of extensions = a ton of light if you have 9 meters worth of LEDs!

FWIW, the controller doesn’t know about lumens, so I doubt there is some sort of limit at 1600 lumens. I’d guess the main factor is the transformer amperage is limited and the more LEDs, the less current they get.

Did more testing today. Covered the 7 extensions completely and watched the base 2 meters with the extensions plugged and unplugged. There was no noticeable change. Next we put a second 2 meter base strip next to the test strip and found it was noticeably brighter, even with no extensions on either strip! It’s damn weird, I can only think the first strip is a bum strip. Next we plugged the extensions into the second base strip and this time we DID see a slight drop in brightness. It’s hard to quantify. I can say that even with the slight drop in brightness, it was still quite bright. If one wanted to absolutely maximize the brightness, then using multiple strips or an amp might make sense, but I expect it’s not usually worth the trouble and it’s still plenty bright enough for 95% of people.

I ended up using 2 base strips, each with ~2.5 extensions for my ~9 meter run. It looks great! A projector screen will go over it.

The transformers make a very high pitched buzzing sound, even with just 2.5 extensions. It is annoying but can’t be heard beyond ~2 meters and I hope the screen will attenuate it a bit. If there was a possibility to swap out the power supply so the strips could be brighter, I’d probably do it. The black wall eats a lot of light.

It is indeed weird that you are getting different results with the two base strips. Did you try to swap the controllers to see if it was that instead? The controller is actually using high frequency (if I recall someone said 16kHz) pulse width modulation (PWM) to control the LEDs and their intensity which may be related to the high pitch you are hearing however I cannot hear anything even up close… but I might also be a bit deaf at those high frequencies. Judging by the picture you seem to be in the UK so the electronics might be slightly different to accomodate the higher voltage and lower duty cycle (50Hz instead of 60Hz as in th USA). Who knows… maybe that may be enough for the ‘buzz’.

I agree the controller knows nothing about lumens, but as you stated the current available is 1A max so the more LEDs you connect the less each one gets which will result in some reduction of luminous output. If I knew the exact LEDs they used it would be easy to figure out as they typically provide this data on th specification sheets. If you want to max out the output the device I mentioned above should do it but I suspect it will when on a colour other than white as one channel of white LEDs would likely not be connected… in most cases that is what matters most as I only really use the strips for coloured mood lights and not as my main source of lighting… especially when I love LOTS of light (I installed 14,000 lumens of light in my 2 car garage :-)… as an example).

I like what you are doing with your theatre room. I have one too and I too was thinking about adding a strip around the 100 inch screen but never got to it. It would be nice to see the result of your work!

Hey guys,

Have you made or seen any additional progress in this area since Jul?

I have a room where I’m wanting to put Hue or Lifx strips behind the crown molding, but I either need two runs of 40 ft or one run of nearly 80".

I only have one area where I can draw power in the room.

Have you guys seen any hacks beyond the 10M limitation?

I installed two rows of 2ft (so 4ft of lightstrip) under each of 3 cabinets in my kitchen totaling 12ft of Hue lightstrips but to obtain the maximum light and control I used a controller for each cabinet. Given the 2m lightstrip as provided by Phillips outputs 1600 lumens max, I should have just over 1000 lumens per cabinet by using 4 segments out of 6 in the 2m lightstrip (1600/6=266.7*4=1066). Given my intent was to replace the light output of ~900 lumens neon bulbs, I’d say this approach got me there or close enough (lightstrips lumens output actually varies depending on the color settings).

Although I am guessing it can be done, I would personally not run a single lightstrip that is that long unless it was engineered to do so. My concern is mostly on the amount of current that has to flow on the lightstrip’s traces that may either burn the traces or just cause excessive voltage drops that will impact the lightstrip’s performance.

What I do not like about the Hue lightstrip design is that 2m or 10m of lightstrip output the same amount of light - 1600 lumens. You are limited by the controller and the power supply, changing one or the other on its own will not help. I think you would be better off using the FLS-PP (linked above - and comatible with Hue ecosystem/apps last I checked) with an RGBW lightstrip (not HUE which is RGBW + W = RGB with 2 whites, one warm, one cold - do not confuse with RGBWW which often means RGB with warm white LEDs) but you need to do some math to see if one will be enough. If you are not wanting to light up the room with the lightstrip, you could get one with fewer LEDs or lower lumens output to enable powering a long lightstrip with a single controller. I believe this would reduce your chances of color / intensity variances and make control simpler by having just one controller driving your lightstrips. You may still end up with some variation if you use multiple lightstrips made in different batches or of low quality.

Most of my reasoning is assuming you want the maximum light output you can get rather than a gentle color accent.

The test for 7m vs. 2m done by unplugging the strip as an A-B is not going to show you what you want. The reason for this is that the controller sets the output based on the 7m load and it doesn’t change it back for the 2m load. You would notice if you plugged in just the 2m on the brightest setting, then added the next 5m, and the lightstrip will then power OFF (it draws too much power, so it goes off by design), and dim up to max brightness (which is going to draw max 24W from the power supply). Once it’s done this, it keeps that max power and the strips are dimmer proportionally to the length. Simply unplugging the 5m doesn’t trigger the process again to re-set since it hasn’t clipped the power, and it will stay at identical brightness at 2m as 7m. This is why you noticed it with the 2m besides a 7m of a different controller… nothing faulty has happened there!

A lot of people are making this claim about not noticing the brightness difference and I think it’s because they are doing exactly what you have. Makes it very confusing for new buyers and they keep getting that false information!

By the way, my company has designed a 5 channel strip that matches Hue colors and we plan on making a 5 channel ZigBee controller and 5 channel amplifier soon as well. Here’s some pics of the strip if anyone’s interested; https://imgur.com/a/QeXMV

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Very much interested! There are no big players in the ZigBee led strip market other than Philips Hue

I found a Chinese branded led strip by Jiawen that’s claimed Philips Hue support, but not many people have tried it

It’s definitely an untapped market cornered by Hue. The Dresden Elektronik FLS-PP lp is a nice 4 channel device (for RGBW), but it’s missing that ability to maintain nicer, higher CRI white light over a tunable range (the 5 channel approach of Hue). I haven’t tried the Jiawen yet, but I have heard of it. We got started with this to make IoT lighting/devices (ZigBee and Thread are the most attractive to us), but integrate it with the higher end/cutting edge in LED tech for longer lasting, higher quality light. Tuneable white light being a particular focus, so we’re looking at higher CRI (and other newer metrics like TM-30-15), looking at what we can do to improve efficiency, tame the blue peak, and increase the tuneable color temperature range (using simply 2 white diodes and blending between them doesn’t work very well as you widen the range, the middle ends up too pink).

Anyway, it’s a fun space to be in and hopefully you will hear more from us!

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To anyone who may be curious: We’ve just launched our website and can now offer the improved LED strip and amplifiers for the LS+ controller. You can check it out here: www.sowilodesign.com

Also, here’s some pictures from a comparison with the Hue Lightstrip Plus; https://imgur.com/a/p8kZW

Hi,
I’ve been researching this too as it made no sense that the power supply could maintain 800 Lumens per metre strip; up to 10 metres. It simply could not supply the wattage. I contacted Phillips to discuss this as I just want the highest output possible; I suspected this would be multiple base units at 2 Metres each; but wanted to check to see if there was some voo doo I wasn’t aware of that could work over the 10 Metres.
Here is there reply;

“Hi James, we just got a reply from our technical team. The power is evenly distributed across the connected Lightstrip. The total Lumen output of 1600 is based on 2m LightStrip, if extensions are added the Lumen output/meter will be lowered to stay within the capabilities of the power supply. Lumen output & consumption depends on selected colour, approximately 16W when 2m starter is connected. We hope this answers your question well!”

I hope this helps others too. I simply want the brightest 10M white light run I can get, so one unit wont be the way.

Cheers
James

Hi James,

Thanks for sharing the info. You can get away without buying multiple Lightstrip Plus boxes if you’re looking to brighten up 10m of strip. I mentioned it before, but there’s amplifiers that can bypass the limits on the controller. Just make sure they are high enough quality so they can switch on/off fast enough for Hue’s 1 KHz PWM signal. If not, the low end dimming gets distorted so they are either too bright, or completely off at those lowest settings. This messes with the colors too (as color mixing is just different dimming values on different channels).

Not to plug Sowilo DS again shamelessly, but we have amps that can handle this, and also strips which match all the Hue colors when paired to their controller but with much improved specifications. At 10m, the Bifröst-84 Pro is also cheaper.

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Hi,
thanks for the reply and the reminder. What do you mean by "and also strips which match all the Hue colors when paired to their controller ". Can you “pair”/make your strip appear in the Hue devices and be part of routines etc in Hue? This strip will share a space with other Hue lights so ideally I want to have them work together and one app for Alexa to integrate with would be ideal.
Also, can you remind me where I can find out more about the Bifrost-84 Pro please - and is it possible to ship this to Australia and use Aussie power at 240AC?
Sorry, a few questions in there :slight_smile:

Cheers
James

What this means is that you can literally use the Lightstrip Plus controller from Hue, remove the 2m strip that it comes with and replace it with our Bifröst strip and the colors will match with the rest of the Hue system. You don’t get this with other 5 channel strips because the Hue strips has a fairly particular balance of output on each channel and also use a special low color temperature white LED for the warm white that is rare. We balanced each channel output, and use the same low color temperature for the warm white so there’s no mismatch in the colors.

We did design Bifröst though to meet specifications and demands for the pro market so there are some notable differences otherwise. The CRI is much higher (95+), the efficiency is ~50% greater (~110 lm/W @ 2200k, ~137 lm/W @6500k), almost triple the lumens per meter for Bifröst-147 Pro (~70% higher per meter for 84-Pro), and heavier 3 oz copper weight to reduce voltage drop over length and improve heat dissipation/lifespan, and we use stronger Tesa 4965 tape on the back. Anyway, you can check it out on our site I posted earlier, www.sowilodesign.com.

PS: We do ship to Australia (drop us a line through the site and I can price out the order and shipping), and 240VAC is no problem. You can use essentially any power supply that takes 240AC and outputs 24VDC. We use Mean Well HLG series most of the time because of how reliable and efficient they are.

@SowiloDS - I quit building upon my Hue setup as their pricing, when compared to the lumens output, is excessive. For that reason I switched to LiFX as I like their 1100 lumen output per bulb. In my kitchen I have 4 Hue controllers to provide full coverage for the strips on top of the cabinets and under the cabinets. Given these are the last Hue lights, I wanted to change the controller so that it can be handled by SmartThings directly without ST to Hue integration (I want to take the Hue bridge offline).

I just finished trying this controller:

Frankly put… it sucks.

I was hoping to reuse the Hue light strips mainly to avoid all the wiring work but their 5ch configuration makes that nearly impossible. I was hoping you had designed a ZLL controller but I could not find any information on it. Are you planning on releasing one?

If not, I might just have to replace the strips with RGBW and use this as a controller:

From the specs you provided, your strips are awesome and fit my desire for lots of light, but I really want to get rid of the Hue bridge so if that is the only option… then I can’t.

Tiny contribution to a very useful post:

I was unable to obtain BELDEN 5504UE at less than 50 feet, even on ebay.

Your OTHER options:

  • RJ12/RJ14 phone wire is 22-24 gauge – better than CAT5.
  • If all you have is CAT5 and you’re worried about voltage drop, just run runs of CAT in parallel, reducing the resistance in doing so.
  • leftover doorbell or garage-door controller wire (usually 22ga).
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