UPDATE: Philips may have just killed 3rd party bulb support. Details can be found here. (12/11/15)
A few months back, I got into the home automation game thanks to encouragement from Dave and Adam. I’ve experimented with a few different platforms thus far, and particularly like Philips Hue alongside Staples Connect.They work well together.
We have a few colorful Hue lights and a Hue Lux in play and my kids especially love the Hues because we can use the Hue Disco app for Android to synchronize light effects to music. I cannot tell you how excited it makes my younger kid. He asks for it by name. And my older kid told me, “Dad, I want all the lights in the house to be Hue lights.” But I told him, “Keep dreaming, boy.” Because the downside of the Hue system is the price. Colored bulbs run $60 each while the Hue Lux soft whites go for $30. Not horribly expensive, but it can add up quickly. Plus the $60 bulbs are only 600 lumens, vs 750-800 lumens provided by Lux and many of the newer 60 watt equivalent LED bulbs.
Fortunately, I found some references online (Amazon GE Link bulb Q&A & Reddit post & SmartThings forum) indicating that GE Link ZigBee bulbs paired with Hue. On a whim, as I was giving up on the Wink hub, I tried mating the GE Link bulbs with Hue. Voila! They worked. Now I had two more bulbs, one A19 ($15) and one BR30 ($20), that work with Hue. That includes the Hue Disco app (Android | iOS) with the very cool fade-in/out way that Hue adjusts the lights.
I also picked up two $15 Cree Connected ZigBee bulbs—brand new at Home Depot. The sales associate had to get them down off an upper shelf as they were not on display yet. Thanks to some help on the Staples Connect forum, I learned that by using a manual pairing mode I could link both Cree bulbs to the Hue hub. (CNET Review of the new Cree Connected bulb) As if that wasn’t enough, I grabbed an LG ZigBee bulb at Best Buy. It pairs with the Staples Connect hub but not the Hue hub. I’m not sure why, but Philips confirmed via Twitter. As the LG is $25, almost as much as a Hue Lux and almost twice the price of a Cree or GE, I may just return it.
Lastly, as Staples Connect (and, yes, Wink) can control a Hue hub, I can do things such as pair a Lutron Pico remote with the Hue/ZigBee lights for rooms that don’t have a switch. We have done that in the living room, family room, and kitchen. $15 for a Pico remote, and no wiring necessary. Plus our house was built in the 1950s and has limited ability for Z-wave or Lutron switches because of the wiring and electrical box sizes.
Things are looking up now that more reasonably priced ZigBee bulbs are coming out and are or will be compatible with a variety of hubs. My kids will be happy.