Smart bulbs for a dumb guy

Hi All,
I’m very new to the world of smart/automated home, and I’m looking for some help and advice from those of you that have added smart bulbs to your SmartThings system. Santa brought me a SmartThings hub and 2 SmartPower Outlets. A key reason for me choosing SmartThings is because I have a Windows Phone and very few of the home automation systems and devices support Windows Phone.

I’d like to expand my SmartThings system with some smart bulbs. Scanning the discussion forum here, I’ve see mention of GE Link (uses Zigbee Home Automation), Phillips Hue (uses ZigBee Light Link) and TCP (not sure which technology is used).

As far as I can tell, each of these 3 can stand alone (outside of SmartThings), with their own hub for controlling & coordinating the bulbs - and each vendor seems to have iOS and Android (and NO Windows Phone) apps to manage that control.

In addition, from perusing these forums, it looks people have had some degree of success adding each of these 3 to their SmartThings system. I’m looking for some guidance with deciding which lighting system to go with, along with detailed steps for adding bulbs to SmartThings.

My questions:

  • From a capabilities and SmartThings integration/stability perspective, how would you rate GE, Phillips and TCP?
  • I realize that Phillips bulbs costs more - Any other big Pros or Cons of the vendors that I should consider?
  • If I’m using SmartThings, do I NEED to purchase a hub with any of the 3 (i.e. would I miss any capabilities by not having a vendor-specific hub), or can I just purchase a few bulbs and pair them directly to SmartThings?
  • Are there any documentation or guides that cover how to add an manage bulbs from each of the vendors?
  • Are there any other smart bulb vendors that I should look at?
  • If you had to start from scratch today, which bulbs would you go with?

Thanks in advance for your insight!!

@bjindrich, Welcome to ST Bill!

I can’t speak for bulbs other than the GE’s, but I now have 10 of them and I just picked up 2 more a few minutes ago at Home Depot while the wife was getting some of her own things.

I have these connected directly to my ST hub using an updated device type a few of us in the community have put together, as well as using the Pollster app. These bulbs have been rock solid for me, and they’re in every lamp in my house now.

I’m sure others will chime in on Hue and TCP.

@johnconstantelo Thanks, John. Did you also get a (non-SmartThings) hub for the bulbs or did you just purchase the individual GE bulbs?

Smartthings works with GE Link bulbs without an additional hub.

@bjindrich Hi Bill, I just bought individual bulbs and joined them to my hub.

Are you against the idea of using light switches rather than bulbs? The bulbs are easier to install, but I prefer the functionality of light switches over individual bulbs.

With bulbs, you have to have the power source for the light bulbs on… and in many cases this means leaving the original light switch turned on. The challenge with this is if you have other people living in the home, they will often turn off the lights using the switch and then you can’t control the bulbs remotely since their power source is turned off.

The benefit of switches is other people living in the house can turn the switch off like normal and you can still remotely control the light.

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For me, I only use GE bulbs in lamps. I have a ton of GE zwave switches that control groups of lights, like in my kitchen where I have 8 ceiling cans and I want to control them as a group vs individually, as well as control them as normal.

I’m with you. Switches are way more ideal than bulbs.

I agree with the switches vs bulbs argument as well. I have 10 GE link bulbs which I do like a lot, however as mentioned if the switch gets flipped they cannot be controlled which is super frustrating. Another annoyance is that the lights come on one at a time rather than all at once. For example if you have a fixture with 2 or 3 bulbs each comes on and off seperatly which looks kind of tacky in my opinion. Switches, while a little more difficult to get installed, especially with 3 ways, are a better option for sure and solve all those annoyances.


  1. the GE Links only dim to nominally 10%, but the apparent brightness looks more like 40% to me. Incandescent on dimmable switch has far better turndown, and that really looks like 1% minimum.

  2. If you can get the Wink hub in a kit with GE Link bulbs for practically no or low extra cost, then that hub has a bunch of different radio/tranceiver types (more than SmartThings!) that may be worth having in the future. If the manufacturer is able to work out the bugs that are current.

For now the SmartThings hub with special request Zigbee firmware v1.5.4, has enough control over GE Links, that I do not want or need the Wink hub installed.

@ero4444, have you seen this thread below? A few of us have been polishing up ST’s device type to dim below 10%, as well as option for dim rate and a few other things. Using Pollster along with this device type is also a very good idea.

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Yep I saw and forgot about that thread. I don’t grok exactly what Pollster does - wonder if “polling” loads ST more than I need, since I don’t care if the icon is slow to update.

Dim rate, that is attractive - I want some Blade Runner-style timing and dawn-timing… Thanks for reminding me.

all the big companies like Sony Philips Tcp did the worng bet.
they invested tons of money in the smart lights that works with smartphones Wi-Fi Bluetooth and stuff but they are not useful as the VOCCA SMART LIGHT ADAPTER enter link description here
in the future we will not use any other device to control the light then the light switch that you can simply talk to

enter link description here

I started with 3 Philips Hue bulbs for a specific one room application and figured I’d get more on a one-off basis.

I use the Hues with the Hue Bridge because that makes them available via all the Hue Apps out there (including Windows Mobile and Windows 8).

Now I’ve added 3 GE Link bulbs to that same Bridge. Everything working great with SmartThings!

Do you use SmartThings to control them or the Hue Bridge? Or both?

As a quadriparetic, I rely a lot on voice control, and follow a lot of the new technology offerings.

Vocca is a voice-activated adapter that screws into the light bulb socket.

As such, it has all the same advantages and disadvantages as the Clapper.

  1. it’s easy to install.
  2. it’s big and ugly.
  3. if you’re standing in your front doorway and you have one on the porch, one in the entry way, one in the hallway to your right, and one in the kitchen to your left, speaking may activate any or all of them. No granular control for multi unit installs.
  4. it’s pretty cheap
  5. it can only be operated when you’re in the room.
  6. it can’t do anything except on/off, or perhaps 3 way bulb type control.

So it solves none of my lighting use cases, the biggest one of which is to create a pathway of lighting through multiple rooms when I’m going to bed, and then turn off all the lights on that pathway after I’m in bed.

I’m not saying no one would ever find a use for one, but it’s definitely not a competitor for any scene-capable approach.

(BTW, I already have voice control of most of my SmartThings-controlled devices, including individual lamps, using Will Poirier’s Hey Siri method with IFTTT. Including granular control of one lamp in a room with 4. It’s a little clunky, but it works well.)

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Both… But mostly use SmartThings and SmartApps.