Working with Philips Hue lights

I have some Z-Wave and Insteon dimmers I’ve been trying to find time to put in my house since we built it and moved in, 6 years ago. I’m also having trouble with finding good LED bulbs that can be dimmed and don’t flicker. I have a friend who doesn’t use HA and uses Philips Hue lights and loves 'em. I’m thinking that maybe if I use those, since there is an integration for HA, it might make things a bit easier and I could finally control and dim lights without having to find time to put in all my dimmers.

My first question is about grouping lights. A number of the light fixtures in our house have 3-5 bulbs in them. Is it easy, using HA, to group them so I can dim all 4 lights in my living room with one control? I don’t mean with a scene and a preset light level, I mean being able to use a slider, like I do for Z-Wave and Insteon controls, until the light is at the level I want? If I have to set the light level on each of 4 bulbs separately, that’d be a major pain!

Also, for those using Hue with HA, any warnings or issues you’ve run into or anything I should know ahead of investing in them?


Thank you!

Have you found any notable drawbacks or issues to using Hue?

In my opinion: The main drawback of Hue is the price. That’s the main reason I went for dumb bulbs with in-wall dimmers. There’s also some noise around their new cloud registration model. If you use Z2M or ZHA that should be avoided.

If you don’t want / need colored lighting my suggestion would be in-wall dimmers + dim2warm bulbs, but it’s all about preference (and number of bulbs).

Expensive, and the hub has an artificial limit of about 50 devices.

You can solve the latter by using ZHA or Zigbee2MQTT with your chosen coordinator device.

You can’t solve the cost, but then you really are getting what you pay for.

Yes, I was looking at the price. My friend has been using them for 4 years, so I figure they will last a while. I’ve had LEDs (from Sylvania) that we put in when our house was finished and that didn’t even last as long as the incandescents we used! Many of the LEDs I’ve tried have lasted 18-30 months. Philips claims a 25,000 life for them, so I’m figuring on 10 years (1,000 hours a year and allowing for normal corporate overstatement). I’m also looking at white bulbs, not colored ones. So I’m figuring the price over 10 years - but also figuring that a dimmer and several normal LEDs would still cost less. Doesn’t seem like they offer anything that a normal ZWave/Insteon/Zigbee dimmer doesn’t offer, though. (Other than no need to install.)

The problem is finding good LED bulbs that are dimmable and don’t flicker. That’s a real pain. (Any suggestions? For both the E12 and E26 bases - also need rounder E12 bulbs for one fixture, since it’s high up and I need my super-tall ladder to get to it unless I can use the stick with the thing on the end to change bulbs.) I like in-wall for a number of reasons, but finding good non-flicker dimmable LEDs is a pain.

Yeah, that is one thing I didn’t know about when I posted this - that they use a hub. Do I NEED a hub to control from HA? (I don’t have Zigbee - may add it soon.) And the issue about phoning home is a concern for me. We’re out in a rural/agricultural area where we can’t get hard-wired internet. While Starlink is pretty good, it can go out during serious severe thunderstorms and super-heavy rain. I don’t like “phone home” devices because I don’t like anything monitoring my home and habits, but if a connection is required for anything to function, it’s a problem because we do get failures every now and then. (Some of that is my own equipment - my Starlink dish is on a post about 1,000’ from our house, with 1/0 wires for power and fiber optic cables for data and once in a while there’s a power problem or fiber converter issue.) So I’m not about to take chances with anything that needs to talk to the outside to work. (Besides, I think that’s stupid - if it’s local, it should be able to work locally and without an internet connection.)

@Tinkerer, so if I have a ceiling fan with 4 bulbs, I take it that Hue counts that as 50 devices?

The hub - that raises a couple other questions. We have a house and barn, do we need a hub in each building (they’re 500’ apart, outside of wifi range)? And can you use more than one hub in a building?

So they work directly on Zigbee? And by “chosen coordinator device,” do you mean a Zigbee hub or do I still need a special device to control Hue bulbs?

I was thinking, “Hmmm… Hue might be an easy solution and I wouldn’t have to put dimmers in,” but now I’m leaning more toward using the Insteon devices I have for dimmers instead. (I was never big on Insteon and wouldn’t be buying new devices now, but this is before they were in trouble and Aeotec didn’t have their dimmers available yet. At least they work and last.)

Number of bulbs: Most of our fixtures are 3-5 lights each. In my head, on a quick count, I count at least 14 fixtures like that in my head, not counting single light fixtures, so 50 would be too few bulbs for the house.

Good dimmable dumb bulbs are way easier to get, than good dimmable smart bulbs. I just saw this the other day, and you can do further research from here.
The best LED light bulb EVER made is $3.50. Excellent CRI, No Flicker, Even Dimming. - YouTube

And if you are absolutely 100% sure you have to do smart bulbs, Hue bulbs are fine. I personally would however integrate those bulbs directly to HA with a zigbee dongle (google it), without any Hue hub.

I would not do Insteon either. The company shut down (?) its service last year. You probably would not be able to find any anyways.

Thanks! I’ve done some research, but I keep finding materials published by the manufacturers, so I feel I don’t get good unbiased information.

I’m just fine with a dimmer. I’m using primarily ZWave these days. Haven’t gone to Zigbee yet - but I have no problem getting a new hub. (I seem to remember ZWave and Zigbee were two different types of meshes, but it’s been a while since I looked into that. I think I remember one reason I picked ZWave was because it was a mesh and that meant that not all devices had to be in direct range of the hub. (Or was it something about how nodes were added? I don’t remember for sure.)

That’s what I was thinking, since I don’t like devices in my house phoning home when it’s avoidable. But will the lights work without either? From what I’ve read, it sounds like they use bluetooth so I can use my phone, but that they also use Zigbee, so I’d have to have either a Zigbee hub or the Hue hub. But if the LED info you included gives me a good way to be sure I have good LEDs, I’d rather use them with a dimmer than spend money on smart bulbs that I know will need replacing. (Yes, everything breaks, but remote dimmers can last a LONG time and I don’t know how long a smart bulb will really last.)

My issue is that when we built this house and I was making decisions, I was also heavily involved in the construction - working closely with the contractor on the house, but also doing all the site work (like building the driveway and the road to the barn, smoothing out and contouring the land with my tractor and so on), so I did not have the time I would have liked for research.

There were, at the time, several things I didn’t like about Inseon. One was that it was proprietary. And it was hard to get good ZWave dimmers and controllers. I was trying to get Aeotec dimmers, but there were supply issues. (I don’t remember just what.) So my only choice was Insteon. Another issue was ceiling fan controllers - the only one I could find at the time was Insteon. But they misinformed me and told one one controller could handle multiple fans.

I didn’t know that later Insteon made a lot of stuff that required connecting to their hub to work and that, when the company ghosted, that bricked most of their devices people had bought. I also know it’s up again and operating under a group that is apparently unrelated to the original company. But, still, it’s never been my favorite. The problem is I have a lot of Insteon dimmers (that don’t need the hub that phones home or anything) and really do not want to shell out the amount it’d take to replace them with Aeotec or other ZWave devices. (Other than the ceiling fan controllers - those I really need to find something good that can handle multiple ceiling fans.)

I’d rather drop Insteon, but it’s not something I can do without spending too much cash at this point.

Sorry, based on the socket types E12 and E26 we are in totally different markeds (we use E27 and E40 here in Norway) so what I use is probably not available where you live. You would probably be better off asking this question to a professional in your area.

Yes, to use Zigbee in HA you need someway to communicate with the devices. Take a look at

You need something with a Zigbee radio that knows how to manage those devices.

The Hub does that, but so do ZHA and Zigbee2MQTT (with a suitable coordinator - the radio).

ZHA and Z2M don’t “phone home” either (well, Z2M sort of does in that the UI pulls the images for the dashboard directly from GitHub, but that connection isn’t required).

Well, 4, yes :wink:


Yes. You can only run one ZHA instance, but you can run any number of Zigbee2MQTT ones, and they even document what you need to do for that.

Go with ZHA or Zigbee2MQTT then.

General thought about this issue: If I use smart bulbs, like Hue, I have to leave the light switch on and turn lights on and off with my phone. That’s a pain! Also, for some rooms, I leave the lights on for a good while. For instance, I’m in and out of my study all day. I don’t work set hours and work in spurts sometimes, so those lights can be on 18 hours a day. That’s over 5,000 hours a year, so Hue bulbs, with 25,000 hour lifespans, that should last over 20 years in most cases would last 5 years in there. (And I leave some downstairs lights on because it makes it easier for me to see going down the stairs and I can’t turn them on upstairs.) So I think Hue would, over time, cost a lot more and I don’t want the pain of trying to use my phone to bring lights up on dim only to find out I turned them off with the wall switch and have to get up and turn them on.

I was thinking this would work for my study, due to an unusual wiring situation there, but the wall switch issue would be in the way. So I may not be using Hue at all. If I do, I’ll be using the Sonoff USB dongle for it.