Zigbee Blubs with status update

Hi There. I’m new here and just getting started on home automation. I’d like to buy a few Zigbee bulbs and connect them directly to the ST hub. My local Home Depot has the Hue bulbs and EcoSmart ones. I wonder which bulbs have the Zigbee status update feature so that the can report back to ST if they are changed with a secondary controller (remote) such as the Lutron Connected Bulb Remote.

The issues are somewhat different than how they’ve been framed. Let me see if I can address the end result you’re trying to accomplish.

Hue polling

If you use bulbs (any brand) with a hue bridge, SmartThings does a heartbeat check on the bridge every five seconds and gets the status of each bulb that way. While it is possible to connect a Hue bulb directly to smartthings, it is not officially supported.

The Lutron connected bulb remote

The zigbee standard doesn’t allow for secondary coordinators the way the Z wave standard does. (Control 4 has done it, but they’re using a proprietary protocol.)

consequently a bulb can belong to either smartthings or to the Lutron connected bulb remote, but not both. Again, regardless of the brand of the bulb.

Some people have been trying to set it up so that the Lutron device talks to the hub and the hub talk to the bulbs, but so far this integration has not been successful. Either the LUtron device keep stealing the bulbs from SmartThings, or the Lutron device drops off of the SmartThings network.

The good news is that since smartThings is a multiprotocol platform, there are a number of button devices, some handheld, some wall mount, which can be used for a similar function. It doesn’t matter what the protocol are for these devices since they will talk to the hub and the Hub will talk to the bulbs. So those button devices can be used either with bulbs connected to a hue bridge or with bulbs connected directly to the smartthings hub.

See the following FAQ for a list:

Alternatively, if you are using the hue bridge then any control device which talks to the hue bridge can be used as a parallel means of control, and smart things will get the bulb status in the next heartbeat check. So there are people, myself included, using the hue dimmer switch In this fashion as a parallel means of control.

There are also some community members trying to get the Hue dimmer switch to work directly with SmartThings, but they’ve been running into some of the same issues as the Lutron device, in particular, the switch dropping off the network every day or two.

So… It’s not possible to simultaneously have the Lutron connected bulb remote and smartthings both as zigbee coordinators for a bulb. Regardless of bulb brand. People are working on getting the Lutron device to communicate directly to the hub, but so far without full success. There are some alternative devices you can look at. And any bulb connected via the hue bridge Will update status to smart things about every five seconds, regardless of the control method used with it.

I hope I have understood the question. If not, just let us know. :sunglasses:

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One more thing…

If you just really like the form factor of the Lutron connected bulb remote, you can use it with a Hue bridge. If you set it up that way, SmartThings will not know that the Lutron device exists, but again, it will pick up the bulb status from its heartbeat check on the hue bridge. ( but you will only be able to use it to control devices connected to that hue bridge.)

The way that you do this is a little bit complicated, and you have to follow the steps exactly, but there is a guy who has an excellent YouTube video that will walk you through each of the steps you need to do to commission a Lutron connected bulb remote to a hue bridge.

The guy does make one terminology mistake: he calls the Lutron device a “pico” remote, and it is not. The pico looks very similar, but it’s using the Lutron proprietary frequency, not Zigbee. His method will only work for the zigbee device, the “Lutron connected bulb remote.”

Also, English is clearly not his first language. I think it’s very understandable, but just to be clear, “hap” is the Hue mobile app and “rooter” is just any ethernet router.

A technical note

So right about now someone usually asks why you can’t use the same commissioning method with the SmartThings hub. And doesn’t this violate what I said about zigbee not allowing for simultaneous coordinators?

The answer is technical: the smartthings hub uses the zigbee home automation profile (ZHA 1.2). The hue bridge and the Lutron remote are using the zigbee light link profile (ZLL). ZLL allows for touchlink commissioning, and ZHA does not. Under ZLL, the Lutron device is not acting as A coordinator, it’s just acting as a switch.

So I went out tonight and picked up one of the Philps Hue White Bulbs. I paired with the Smartthings hub without problem except that it showed up as an Unknown device. To fix this I went into to the IDE and changed the device type to ‘ZLL Dimmer Bulb.’ Everything seems to work great. I can turn the bulb on and off and dim it without problem.

This left me with a few questions:

  1. Given how common the Hue bulbs are why on earth doesn’t SmartThings support them directly?

  2. The offical word seems to be if you want to use Hue bulbs use the Hue bridge and connect it to Smartthings. It seems odd to add a second Zigbee hub when there is one already built into Smartthings? I realize that there may be some Hue software echo system things to consider but other than that I can’t see the advantage?

  3. If SmartThings won’t add specific Hue support shouldn’t they at least default them to basic Zigbee device handlers rather than classifing them as unknown?

  4. I’ve seen mention of several community written device handlers for Hue products. What additional enhancements to these provide and which one should I choose?

Thanks for all your help.

Married for Life

The reason why the official recommendation is to only use hue bulbs with the Hue bridge has to do with the fact that there are multiple zigbee profiles allowed under the standard. The hue bulbs use the ZLL. The smartthings hub uses ZHA. If you connect A ZLL device to a ZHA coordinator, it should fall back to a ZHA profile. So far, so good.

However, ZHA operates on more zigbee channels than ZLL does. The channel that your smartthings hub uses is randomly selected at the time of manufacture. You can get a V2 hub to change if you completely reset the hub (not just reboot it, actually reset it), but the selection of the new channel is totally random and it might even select the same one again.

If your hub happens to be on a ZHA channel which is not also a ZLL channel, like zigbee 14, and then you pair the bulb to it, the bulb will be on zigbee 14.

Now the bulb itself can’t be reset by by your hub because your hub doesn’t do that, and it can’t be reset by most ZLL devices, because it’s on a non-ZLL channel.

So you can end up with a hue bulb which is married to your hub and which cannot be reset to be used with anything else, including a Hue bridge. That led to a lot of customer complaints.

(Note that the reset method is left up to each manufacturer. Many bulb manufacturers use a blink pattern reset. Philips chose not to do that, maybe out of concern that a child playing with the light switch could reset a bulb.)

Lost Messages

there is a separate reason for not connecting the bulb directly to the smarttthings hub, and that’s that there’s a known issue where these bulbs are listed as repeaters by the smartthings system but, along with many other brands, the bulbs can get into a kind of buffer overflow situation where the messages get lost. This is not good.

There is a warning about this on the official support page for the Osram bulbs. If you read the forums you will find that a number of community members have taken bulbs that were originally paired directly to the smartthings hub and move them to a Hue bridge just to avoid this problem of lost messages. However, as noted above, you may not be able to do this with a hue bulb if you happen to be on the wrong zigbee channel.

Note: OSRAM LIGHTIFY bulbs have a known firmware issue that can occasionally cause them to fail as ZigBee repeaters. This can potentially cause other ZigBee devices to fail to update and/or respond.

More Features

The third reason for using the hue bridge is that the bridge itself offers a number of additional features. Smartthings just doesn’t handle color changes all that well. Quite a few people prefer to use the scenes available through the hue bridge. It also allows you to use the Hue dimmer switch, which is an inexpensive switch that is very intuitive for guests and visitors. (The Hue dimmer switch cannot be connected directly to the SmartThings hub at this time, although some community members have been working on that.)

So of course it’s up to you. Some people do use a Hue bulb connected directly to the SmartThings hub, but most people have found that offers fewer features and more problems. If you find it works well for you, that’s great.