Wink Experience: It's not me, it's you


(Benji) #1

Or is it?

New to the forums (hi!) and here’s my story.

I’ve loved the idea of HA for years and at the end of last year I decided to dip my toe by way of the Wink hub. It was cheap and I only wanted to experiment with a four bulbs to give me some idea.

Adding the bulbs was a pain but we got there in the end, not long after Winks servers went down and everything stopped working. Even before I went into all this I knew that requiring an internet connection permanently was the dumbest idea around but it was just an experiment so I lived with it planning on moving to bigger and better hubs.

Some months went by and since we’re only ‘automating’ four GE Link bulbs it was okay, then the recent big outage hit and all hell broke loose. Even after receiving my ‘repaired’ hub back from Wink, nothing worked even though they promised it would continue right where it left off (I suppose that’s actually accurate). So we had to re-pair all four bulbs again for it to work and was still a pain.

I recently got round to using the store credit they provided and while $50 might seem a lot, it’s actually only really $35 after you account for their $15 shipping costs. Anyway, I brought 16xGE Link BR30’s to do my kitchen and corridors…

Pairing was an absolutely NIGHTMARE. We’d do one bulb at a time and the results was usually one of the following:

  1. The bulb would pair successfully.
  2. The bulb would flash to indicate that it paired but the app never saw it.

Wink’s resolution to this was to reset the bulb and to reset the hub… every time it happened and while one bulb by itself was okay to reset, when you have four tied together on one light switch and you’d already paired three of them, you had to go back and unscrew three of the paired ones first.

  1. The bulb would flash to indicate it paired, the app never saw it pair but when you go into your bulbs you have a generically named ‘GE Link Bulb’ which might sometimes work.

  2. A bulb would pair but would shortly later stop working.

  3. Here’s the best part, while pairing all of the new bulbs, the original four bulbs we got right from the start…became ‘lost’ by the hub, i.e. they were showing the disconnected icon even though they were switched on and working just fine before we started pairing the new bulbs…

I’d always known I was going to switch to a better hub, I always felt light the Wink Hub was just a cheap introduction into HA but the app has been horribly buggy on both Android and iOS. I’d had my eye on Smart Things and Revolv but Revolv is still AWOL and I didn’t like that Smart Things also required an internet connection.

Then I read about Smart Things II and I’m almost set on this being my next hub but I have two questions:

  1. When will STII likely be released.
  2. More importantly, is the unreliability I’ve been having with my simple light bulb only setup a result of me doing things wrong, the GE Link bulbs being notoriously unreliable or it’s the Wink Hub that’s unreliable?

What I’m getting at is, will things be a lot more stable/reliable if I simply switched to the ST hub using the exact same bulbs? Right now I barely trust Wink to automate my bulbs let alone smart door locks…

Your input is appreciated and thanks for listening.


(Tim Slagle) #2

I use GE Link bulbs without any problems all over my home. Wink is garbage IMO.

Hub V2 is slated for Q3 right now.


(sidjohn1) #3

Smartthings is not perfect, but is consistently getting better. There are still occasional outages that effects a small subset of users at a time. The worst I’ve experienced is i had to wait for 5-10 sec for a light to turn on when i opened a door. and i think its happened 2x in ~3 yrs. As far as paring devices goes it just works most of the time. When it doesn’t it typically due to it not being a supported device… yet or its been paired to another hub and still holds the old hub config. both are fairly easy to fix. I think you will be happier with the current V1 hub than you are with wink. :wink: The V2 hub will come out when smartthings thinks its ready. I know some of the employees are testing units in their homes. As @tslagle13 mentioned its currently slated for a Q3 release but most of us have watched it slip from Q1 -> Q2 -> to now Q3 and possibly Q4. V2 will come, but don’t hold your breath for it.


(Benji) #4

Good to know! It does indeed seem like it’s a Wink issue given your experiences and from what I’ve seen around the web.

I don’t expect things to be perfect, I don’t expect lights to turn on as fast as a normal light switch, but the way that Wink behaves? Not even close to being market friendly in my opinion.

One thing I really like about the ST hub and I sincerely hope they carry this over to STII… WIRED ETHERNET. Now I know that might seem strange hating wireless since I now have a bunch of bulbs that are wireless but, I really hate using WiFi unless it’s absolutely necessary, I really wish all HA products would communicate through power like Insteon does.

Anyway, I have some questions about motion/occupation sensors but that’s for another thread…


(Scott G) #5

I agree with all the above comments about STII. I also have a number of GE Link bulbs (18 in total). I haven’t had any significant issues with them in at least 5 months. I will give 2 standard warnings though:

  1. Zigbee bulbs (like GE Link) are on the same general frequency as Wifi, so they can be prone to interference. Other users here with ST have had some trouble due to this, but ST has improved their zigbee firmware and I haven’t seen complaints about GE Link bulbs in quite a while.

  2. These smart bulbs are intended to be always on. If you have them connected to a physical switch that gets used a lot, you may see communication delays as the mesh has to reconfigure its routing a lot. The bulbs could also be inadvertently reset by flipping power to them. The majority of my bulbs are on a switch that is typically off, and those will sometimes take a minute or two after power is turned on for them to restore communication with the hub. Any of the bulbs that I leave on 24/7 and use motion sensors/phone to control are much more reliable.

Both of these issues can be minimized. 1) by practicing good network management practices (great thread somewhere in here on it) and 2) by recognizing how smart bulbs are intended to be used and sticking to smart switches when it’s a better fit for the use case.


(Benji) #6

I’ve definitely found this to be the case, my GF and I are used to leaving the switch on always but if the power is cut or one gets switched off, it usually have to re-pair them to the Wink Hub as they just stop responding to commands. Ironically only today I managed to switch on two nightstand lights (after being off all night) and have them work perfectly/‘rejoin’ without intervention.


(Huy Nguyen) #7

If you have a lot of GE bulbs wired to a switch, why not get cheaper led bulbs and just get a GE Dimmable zwave switch instead? I think wink also supports generic zwave switches.


(Benji) #8

Yeah it’s only recently that I realised that alternative way of doing it, so I went out and brought a lot of those $5/2 pack Philips A19 LED bulbs though they aren’t dimmable.

That being said the cost of ‘dumb’ BR30 LEDs and the dimmer would have worked out roughly the same, though 4 bulbs is probably the break even point.

In the kitchen we actually have an advantage in that we now group an additional two bulbs together to switch on with the main bulbs, that are on two other completely different circuits. It seems the people who built this house like light switches…