UK NOOB, basic questions, OSRAM etc

Hi. Noob to smarthome stuff here. Well not so noob, I have lots of old fashioned remote controlled lamps on remote switches and a somfy blinds system using RTS.

I am in the UK.

My wife want an Amazon echo, and it seemed that she might like to control the lights.

We have 9 lamps, 3 E27 LED, 1 E14 LED, 4 GU10 and one an array of lights in a single fitting best dealt with at the wall socket. I’d like to turn them on and off by voice, dim and adjust colour temperature, maybe change colour.

This control would be via the Echo dot, and maybe IFTTT, which I already use and understand.

I was thinking of a smart things hub.
Then adding Osram Lightify bulbs, which i believe are Zigbee and a single smart socket to turn on an off the complex lamp array.

So questions…

Does this sound sensible?
I believe that the lamps will work with the Smartthings hub without an extra Osram gateway, but are there technical reasons to have a gateway, such a firmware updates or the way the zigbee mesh works?
Does it matter whose smart socket I use, is it a good idea to use a zigbee one so as to have a mains powered powerful device on the mesh network?

Welcome! :sunglasses:

Excellent questions, and it sounds like you’ve already figured out most of the answers.

It’s true that once you have the SmartThings hub, not only do you not need the Osram Gateway, you actually can’t use it as the lamps can only belong to one coordinator at a time.

Some community members used to also get the gateway specifically for firmware updates, as you mentioned, but then they would have to go through the whole process of removing the bulbs from the SmartThings hub, adding them back to the gateway, doing the update, then removing them from the gateway, and moving them back to the SmartThings hub. It was doable, but quite a bit of effort.

Fortunately about six months ago SmartThings updated the platform and now the SmartThings hub can issue over the air updates for the Osram bulbs. At least they can for the US models. @tyler or @tpmanley might know if this feature is also working for the UK version of the Osram bulbs as there are some differences.

As for the pocket socket, for the setup you describe, it would theoretically be a good idea to have a zigbee one. Unfortunately that limits your choices significantly, primarily to the SmartThings branded model since you are in the UK. As a practical matter, the bulbs will repeat for each other anyway, so you might go ahead and get a zwave pocket socket if you happen to find a particular device that you like better. There are many more brands making zwave versions, although that may change in the future now that Amazon has released their echo plus system which works independently with zigbee but not zwave.

I suppose the real question is what additional devices do you think you might be adding later on. But given that it’s just one pocket socket, the protocol at this point probably doesn’t matter, you could always add something else for future devices if desirable.

(Oh, I’ve moved this to the projects section so you can get individualized responses based on your own needs and preferences.)

One more quick question: by any chance do you use iOS devices? And in particular do you have an iPad that mostly stays at home? If yes, I might have an alternative suggestion to consider as well.

One more thing…

If your primary interest is just Alexa control of lights, personally I would highly recommend using Hue bulbs with the hue bridge instead of anything directly connected to SmartThings. At the present time the integration is just more reliable. See, for example:

The hub currently includes the firmware updates for the US models. There are some special complexities with the UK firmware but we’re looking at adding those in a future release.


As a co-UK Lightify user, theres a few things you should be aware of that expands on what has been mentioned:

  1. The lights are good & reliable when they are on the latest firmware, and come up cheap on Amazon UK every now and then. Without the latesr firmware you will have big problems (mentioned below)

  2. The only way (presently) to update UK/EU Lightify bulbs is by using a Lightify gateway. They are cheap enough to pick up, but are a faff as you need to pair the bulbs with the Lightify gateway, run a very slow update process, delete them from the Lightify gateway then pair them with Smarthings.


  1. UK Lightify devices on factory firmware have a known buffer overflow issue. Translated, this means that they will stop responding every few days, and any devices that are using them in the mesh (motion sensors etc) will also stop responding until the devices are power cycled for 20 secs

  2. Currently, there is a very peculiar problem where individual bulbs are turning themselves on at random times at 100% brightness. This is a known Smarthings issue that support are aware of, but there is currently no ETA on the fix. I dont have any in bedrooms, but some users have suffered the ghostly effects of being woken up in the middle of the night to a bulb in 100% brightness at 3am!

1 Like

Hi I’m also a UK lightify user and although I never experienced the ghosting effect of lights turning on I did have numerous failures. I have since ivested in a Gatway to do the updates and although it’s a bit slow it’s pritty easy once you know how.

Edit: just to be clear since I update them they haven’t missed a beat and have been working perfectly.

It says it can update with out the gateway but as above there seems to be a issue with the UK visions so untill it’s fixed it’s worth doing manually.

I’m using smartthings and Google home as my set up and as I understand it’s much better than Alexa especially for coloured lights. I can say things like “OK Google set the dinning room light to baby blue” it seems to take loads of random colours, aswell as cool white/ daylight white and such. Where as I don’t think Alexa has got that yet, maybe wrong.

Yes the great thing about smartthings is it is both ZigBee, Z-wave and earthernet, so it leave you with options to find the best products to suit your needs.

1 Like

As the above - I’d advise against buying Osram if you want to use it with SmartThings.

Yes they may be cheap, but you will pay for it in the long term. Having to update them periodically via the Gateway is a nuisance that you can certainly do without.

Pair that with lights sometimes coming on randomly and it’s just not worth the hassle.

I’ve just replaced all but 1 of my Osram bulbs for Hue ones. £50 for a hue starter kit (Hue Bridge & 2 bulbs), then £40 for 4 Hue Bulbs.


So, the advice is, er, hue lights with a hue bridge, and someone’s smart socket.

I think I have been scared off the osram lightify bulbs for now.

I’ve decided to test the water with a direct tp-link light bulb to control from my alexa/echo dot.
Then I can go with a hue bridge and some hue lights and bridge them to my alexa/echo dot setup. I’ll try some legit philips hue and a single innr compatible.
Last I think I’ll get some very cheap wifi smart sockets and again, add them to alexa/echo dot.
The thing I no longer seem to have a need for is a smartthings hub… mmm.

Why do I need a smartthings hub?

1 Like

The hub is the glue that holds everything together. If you want to start creating some serious home automation rules, the SmartThings hub will allow you to do that.

Even simple things like a motion sensor turning on a light - SmartThings does that. If all you are interested in is turning on and off single devices then you won’t see the full benefit of SmartThings.

1 Like

I understand. Whilst I can see the joy of home automation, my objectives are modest, and suited to my wife. Hence, lights on, light dim, light off, and play some music on my sonos. The one I’d love to add is blinds up and blinds down, but talking to SOMFY, my blinds supplier, I need to shell out some 450 to link my blinds into a system, before I buy a hue bridge and/or a SmartThings.

Thanks one and all you have been very helpful.

Now… when I have time for some home automation fun all of my own, then I shall know who to ask.

1 Like

If you use the hue bridge, you can also use the Hue motion sensors to turn on the Hue bulbs, so you won’t need SmartThings for that. But if you want the hue motion sensors to turn on a pocket socket, something not connected to the hue bridge, then you would need Apple HomeKit ( assuming the pocket socket works with HomeKit) or some hub to stand in the middle. (Phillips hue has an IFTTT channel, but their devices can only be used as the “that” not the “if”). SmartThings can be that hub as long as it can talk to the pocket socket.

Smartthings can handle a wide variety of devices and also allows you to set up really complicated logic, the “if A then B but only if C and not if D” Type stuff. So “when Michael gets home, turn on the entryway lights, unless JD is already home and asleep in which case just turn on the hallway night light.” There’s no way to do that with just a Hue bridge and a hue motion sensor. Or even with HomeKit. It’s the “unless” which trips everything up. But SmartThings can do it, particularly if you use a community – created rules engine called webcore.

If all you need is pocket sockets and light switches and smart bulbs with voice control and some simple time based rules, then you don’t need SmartThings. And if you have an iOS phone you can toss in HomeKit and Geopresence rules and some simple sensors. But you’re still stuck with very simple if A then B logic. And it’s a pretty limited set of device choices. Still, it’s enough for many people.

Once you go beyond that, and most especially once you start wanting more complex rules to run your automations, then you will probably need SmartThings or a similar full-featured hub. :sunglasses: