My LIFX Journey

lifx
wifi
project_lighting

(Eric) #1

TLDR
Warning Contains Spoilers: I have a lot of LIFX bulbs. As I added more they became less reliable. I figured it out, it was painful. I like color bulbs better than white ones. I have a lot of LIFX bulbs. During the Hue issues over the past week my lights worked fine. :grin:

Preface
I tell this story because I have had a lot of fun times and hard times with my LIFX bulbs, this story will be about my path to happiness / success / working lights which might help others who have gone as crazy has I have.

Like many, the real catalyst of me getting hardcore into home automation was the Amazon Echo. I put off getting an Echo for a long time as I knew it would lead to me sending a lot of money. I actually got a launch Echo and sold it to someone as I didn’t trust myself. Prior to the echo the only home automation I did was:

1 – In door light switch to turn on our pantry light when the door was opened.
2 – MyQ Garage Door automation.
3 – Hands free kitchen sink, I can’t tell you home much I love this.
4 – Hands free soap dispensers.
5 – A couple Wemo Insight Switches
6 – Short time with Insteon which I really didn’t like.

After ordering the Amazon Echo in June the flood gates opened. I now have 152 devices connected to SmartThings (not including virtual devices).

Now the story.

My First Ten
I purchased my first z-wave dimmers for my kitchen and sure enough I didn’t have a neutral wire. Instead of calling an electrician I decided to replace the 10 existing lights in my kitchen with 10 LIFX Color 1000 BR30. Not cheap. I also purchased a couple Cooper RF9500 as I couldn’t use normal dimmers to control these. The bulbs worked fine. However I was having trouble getting the dimmers to work with existing ST device handlers, so I wrote my own. I then had trouble using the existing SmartApps attempting to keep the dimmers in sync, so I wrote my own.

We really light the ability to change the color and specifically the color temperature based on the time of day. It was also a very expensive but fun way to teach my son his colors.

Additions
I then purchased 7 more bulbs. 4 in the dining room and 3 in the foyer as they didn’t have any neutrals either. After a few days I noticed that 1 light wasn’t always working so I returned it and got a new one. The new one worked fine.

Color 1000 vs White 800/900
I’ll just say this. The color version is about twice as much. If you catch Amazon on the right day you can get them for about $10 less than twice as much. My perception only, if you use are a white light connoisseur I have found the Color 1000s do slightly better lights and seems to dim a bit lower. I returned all of my White 800/900 lights. I’ll leave it at that.

Initial Problems
I then purchased 6 more. 3 lights for our upstairs hallway (same Color B30’s) and 3 LIFX Color 1000 A19 bulbs. They worked, however I started getting inconsistent results from my lights as a whole. For example, if I was turning all my lights on at once 23 at once some of them wouldn’t turn on. I had 100% light action success about 85% of the time. After doing some research I learned some wireless radios have trouble handling more than 30 wifi devices. I used the Verizon Fios Quantum AC1750. I purchased 2 x Ubiquiti UniFi AP AC PRO along with a Ubiquiti UniFi Cloud Key. I also got a Ubiquiti UniFi AP AC LR long range for the backyard (I have 2.5 acres). Basically setting this up without doing anything special solved my problems. All of my lights started working just fine. I thought I was in the clear. In case you are wondering I had the radios setup as auto everything (channel, power, …). I know, I know…

More Lights
I think is it. I don’t I’ll buy more lights than this last purchase. I got another 14. Family Room and my Office. This is when the #%&@ hit the fan. After adding the lights, I had 100% light action 0% of the time. Not once did all of the lights I expected to turn on / off / set level / set color do what I told them as a whole. It did not matter if I used their HTTP API, my Group of Groups DH or their app directly. I spent 6 or 7 days trying to figure this out, tweaking power settings, channels, locations of the APs. Nothing worked.

Resolution
I did a bit more research and found that most routers have issue with 30+ clients, wireless or wired. The router I was using Verizon Fios Quantum AC1750 had issues with 65+ give or take a few devices. I have almost ~90. I have all these lights now totaling 35, 16 security cameras, 9 nest protects, 1 nest, 3 phones, 3 tablets, and every tv, roku, xbox, desktop computer, & server are hard wired. I didn’t realize I had that many devices. I replaced my Verizon Router with a Ubiquiti Edgerouter Lite. After making this change I had an immediate change in behavior. I was looking at a 100% light action about 99% of the time. A lot better but still not good enough. I tweaked a few of my wireless settings like turning on Band Steering and Airtime Fairness. Still not 100%. When all said and done I had 6 lights (not all in the same room) that were regularly not doing what I wanted them to do. So I processed a return from Amazon. When I got the new bulbs I replaced the first bulb. The new bulb worked immediately but I was still not seeing 100%. After about 8 hours I replaced the second bulb. It worked and I immediately got 100% light action 100% of the time. It’s been 5 days and I haven’t replaced the last 4 and I am still at 100% all the time.

What fixed it? Was that one bulb the problem? I don’t know for sure, but all of my lights work now.

I hope others will learn from this and feel free to ask if you are having LIFX issues.


LIFX color bulbs $39.99
Recommend smart color lights
FAQ: Best smart light bulbs to use
(Dale Allsopp) #3

@whoismoses
I’m in your camp. I have 54 LIFX bulbs - 90% work very well, a few are problematic. LIFX has been great about swapping out the bulbs when I tell them there is a problem, but it requires time to submit. I ended up with three Eero routers, recommended by LIFX, before I got the performance that I expect to have. Here is couple of examples of why I love this Home Automation so much:

The LIFX bulbs are mostly controlled by my Google Home perfectly in addition to Samsung Motion sensors, I rarely use Alexa to control them. One of the 54 is a LIFX color strip that i use to illuminate a piece of art on the wall- it is fantastic.

I have one question I am hoping you or someone else can answer. Unfortunately it is very difficult to get a garage where I live, so I rely on Flood Lights to keep my Driveway “safe.” I am intrigued by the BR-30 Night vision LIFX bulbs, but I need to know how they perform with generic motion sensors that come with Flood Lights. Can You or anyone that has experience comment so that bulbs 54-57 are valid purchases?

Thank you in advance


(Eric) #4

I don’t use any LIFX bulbs in this way. Mine are always powered on. If you put them in one of those fixtures they will be powered on/off throughout the night. Likely not often enough to reset them. So, if there is no motion the light will be off and you won’t get the benefit of the infrared light as the whole light will be off.

I keep my driveway lit all night, not just with motion.


(Dale Allsopp) #5

Thanks for this. That is what I am afraid of. I am going to see if leaving it in “TEST” mode will keep it on all night. That way i can trigger it @ to be on. Would be great to get it to turn RED (for example) if there is motion.


(Mario Fuchs) #6

Thanks for sharing your experience.

I had similar problems with LiFX and when I bought a new router (ASUS RT-68U) all problems dissapeared.
Now, with the “Better LiFX Bulb” device handler and WebCore I’m about to embark on a deeper integration mission :slight_smile: