Philips Hue Popcorn Fail

I just ran into a major hiccup integrating multiple Philips Hue lights. I have an array or Philips bulbs (cans, and fixtures) all connected to a Hue Hub. The scene control within the Hue app is flawless, with both synchronization and dimming. However, I also purchased some Zooz Scene Controllers (Zwave) hoping to kick off these same scenes. These scene controllers are taking the place of normal light switches. I implemented the scenes in SmartThings, only to be met with the dreaded popcorn effect. This is a show stopper, as this effect is way worse than the benefit of bulb level control over the color. My understanding, after reviewing the other threads, is that this is because SmartThings does not perform groupcasting for zigbee bulbs, and flips them on one at a time. I have tried light groups in SmartThings and it has no effect. The Hue app starts them simultaneously. So here are my options as I see them:

  1. Abandon the Hue CAN lights and switch to line voltage dimmers with normal LED wafer lights. This will keep the lights synced but has no color control
  2. Abandon the scene controllers and stick to Hue switches that talk to the Hue hub. Keeps the color, but locks me into 2-3 very basic switches.
  3. Possibly wire a Hue Dimmer module to the load control on the Zooz scene switches. This would kind of work, but only for the main button on the scene controller. Everything else would still popcorn.
  4. I did see someone claiming that the cloud integration supports groupcasting to Hue if you want to ditch the hub, but that introduces a cloud processing delay. I also don’t know if it is true.
  5. Use the scene controller to control the load to the Hue bulbs, actually cutting power. I would then have to turn on the bulbs via zwave before using them. I would lose control via the Hue app.

Am I missing any solutions? I am working with electricians this week, so the decision on line voltage dimming vs. smart bulbs is an urgent one. Thanks in advance.

P.S. Anybody have a source inside SmartThings that can explain why they don’t support groupcasting in Zigbee? This is a huge problem for lighting.

Zooz Scene Controller - Zooz 700 Series Z-Wave Plus Scene Controller Switch ZEN32 - The Smartest House

My thoughts:

A. Don’t do 5. It won’t solve the popcorn issue, and the current inrush each time you restore power can significantly shorten the life of what are already expensive bulbs. :disappointed_relieved:

B. Here’s a 6. Use Hue scenes (not SmartThings scenes) and actuate them through an intermediary service. This may introduce a slight startup lag, depending on the intermediary, but it should remove the popcorn effect. There are multiple options for this: IFTTT, Homebridge with HomeKit, Alexa routines (not SmartThings routines), home assistant, etc. You may have to experiment a little to see which works best for you, but this can be a pretty easy solution to the problem.

Also, on 2: both Gledopto and Sunricher have Zigbee remotes which work with the Hue bridge and are much more than basic switches. So that can be a nice parallel means of control. (It’s possible, but not easy, to also add these to ST, but that reintroduces the popcorn effect. :disappointed_relieved:) Some models are battery-powered, some can be wired in, so it will require a little research.

And while they offer a lot of options, they aren’t very intuitive for guests. I know some people who add a simpler control nearby for that purpose, but obviously that’s adding more cost as well.


You can also consider wall mounting an inexpensive WIFi phone/tablet as a control panel.


And one more option for 2. These don’t work with SmartThings, but are a good parallel means of control.

Friends of Hue Battery free switches don’t require any wiring, but also don’t require any batteries. They work on kinetic energy. You have to push pretty hard, but otherwise they are quite intuitive.

In the US, they are made by runlesswire. Each switch comes with two different faceplates. One looks like a traditional rocker and you either push-up on the top or down on the bottom. Basically you get on, off, or dimming through the Hue bridge.

But they also have a double rocker, which gives you four actions. (Up on the left, down on the left, up on the right, down on the right)


You can configure these in a couple of different ways. You could use it for four different Hue scenes. Or you can even use the left rocker for on/off/dim and the right rocker to switch between two scenes.

Again, it’s not very intuitive for guests, but no popcorn effect and it works well. We have some of these at our house. (Since they will also work with HomeKit through the Hue bridge, we use the left rocker to turn the HomeKit-enabled ceiling fan on and off and the right rocker to turn the ceiling fan light on and off. But unfortunately that’s not an option in a smartthings set up.)

The biggest drawback of these devices is that they are expensive if you think of them as a single switch, about $60. But if you think of them as a double switch, it’s not bad. So it depends on how you would use them. They also come in quite a few different colors, we got the black ones.

There’s even a third-party app that will let you use them to cycle through different scenes, which a friend of mine is using.

So just another option. :sunglasses:

@JDRoberts Thank you for the awesome responses. I am leaning toward both triggering non-ST-scenes from the scene controller and getting some switches/remotes that directly work with the Hue bridge. I have been trying to avoid adding Amazon and Google to this setup, as we are going voiceless. Maybe I can hookup a hidden echo dot in a closet somewhere to get it on the network. Do you know if Amazon routines can be utilized without a physical device? I know their re-ordering service can be used with Samsung appliances without a device.

1 Like

Yes, they can, but you do need an Amazon account to use their app to set them up.

Great. It will enable some features without introducing listening devices and cameras. Some people enjoy privacy :slight_smile:

1 Like

Choice is good. :sunglasses:

i have learned over time to keep st and hub separate. as @JDRoberts mentions, i have both the Gledopto and Sunricher and the small tablet on the wall.

1 Like

So if I have this right, this setup would work?

  1. ST with Zooz scene controllers
  2. Create lighting scene directly in the Hue (family prefers this anyway)
  3. Scene button press would activate an Alexa routine
  4. Alexa routine would activate a Hue lighting scene

And the old limit has been removed of alexa routines requiring a motion or contact sensor as a trigger? Would I need to have ST issue a custom action to Alexa instead?

It’s correct for one through four. The limit still exists in that and Alexa routine can only be triggered from a sensor or a Flic button. So you need to have a custom virtual device which you can turn on and off like a switch from smartthings but which will look like a sensor to the echo routine. For right now, there’s a groovy version that you can use for this. For the future, a community member has already created an edge driver that does the same thing, so I feel confident it will continue to work after the groovy cloud is discontinued.

See the community FAQ:

FAQ: Can I trigger an Echo Action without Speaking to It?

@JDRoberts / @TheSmartestHouse Do you see any reason someone couldn’t connect a Hue switch module onto the load carrying terminals of the scene controller? Then the large main button would directly link to the Hue bridge, and would be able to cycle through Hue scenes. Any lighting commands issued from the additional 4 buttons would still popcorn, but I’m guessing the large button is primarily a lighting control button. Depending on use case, this may be a hardware fix.

We don’t have much experience with Hue devices but it doesn’t seem ideal to cut power to the Hue module since it’s supposed to act as a wireless receiver. And if you connect it to the load terminal on the Zooz ZEN32 Scene Controller, that’s how it’s going to control the Hue switch, it will cut power to it anytime you turn the main button off. Ideally, you should control any Hue devices remotely via SmartThings from the ZEN32 Scene Controller so using wireless commands only and not making any electrical connections between them.


The Hue Switch module is a very odd little device, but won’t work as @blueyetisoftware imagined it, so I think the question is moot.

It’s a battery powered module intended to sit behind a dumb wall switch where the wires have been fused to bypass the switch all together and keep current permanently on to the Hue bulbs.

Then when someone uses the switch, it just sends a pulse to the module (which again is battery powered, it’s not connected to the circuit at all) which then tells the hue bridge about the switch activation.

So in terms of the wiring, it’s exactly the same as permanently connecting the wires, putting a blank faceplate over the switchbox, and then putting a battery powered hue dimmer switch on top of that. (Which some people do. ) it’s just that this one is designed to fit inside the switch box and use the existing dumb switch.

None of that is going to work with the Zooz scene controller in the mix because the zooz device itself needs power, which you won’t get from the Hue module.

and while I suppose it might be possible to find a way to wire the Hue module downstream from the Zooz so the hue module could respond to the switch being pressed, I don’t think there’s physically going to be enough room in the switchbox for both and it’s not going to meet code in most US jurisdictions. On top of that, the electronics in the Zooz are going to make it very difficult for the Hue to get signal out past it.

So that’s the long answer. The short answer is that it’s an interesting idea, but those two models won’t work together.

1 Like

Thanks for the responses. Makes sense to me. I wasn’t thinking to actually carry a load on the Zooz, just powering it through the neutral and having the hue module sit on the load terminal as well like it would on a regular switch. I suspect the power coming into the neutral terminal might cause the Hue module some issues though. @JDRoberts I assume that is what you meant by them be incompatible. Thanks again.

1 Like

If you just want something on the wall that will cover the Hue module, maybe the battery-powered ZEN34 Remote Switch could work better here for purely wireless commands. You’d still need to run all of the rules for programming it through SmartThings though.

1 Like

I tried the option of not using the Hub-Bridge integration and instead going through the Cloud-Cloud integration for Hue. I can verify that it did not fix the popcorn effect, and in fact was worse. In addition to the popcorn effect, I also started seeing lots of missed commands with lights not turning on or off. The lights were grouped in ST, but it appears that the Cloud-Cloud integration still turns them on one at a time.

1 Like