Echo & Alexa User Discussions and Support Forums

General Category => Smart Devices and Gadgets => Topic started by: itsjustmeee on June 06, 2016, 01:14:36 pm

Title: New here .. need some advice on smart bulbs.
Post by: itsjustmeee on June 06, 2016, 01:14:36 pm
Hello all. I got my Echo yesterday and I totally love it. Now I'm ready for the next step. At first I was looking at smart outlets but now I'm thinking that something like Phillips Hue or LIFX is the way to go. I'm leaning towards the LIFX Color 1000. The online reviews with Cnet and others are amazing but there's some reviews on Amazon that say there's wifi connectivity issues with these bulbs. I really like the LIFT because there's no need for a hub.

Any comments or suggestions would be much appreciated!
Title: Re: New here .. need some advice on smart bulbs.
Post by: DParker on June 06, 2016, 02:19:57 pm
I'd say Hue all day, and twice on Sunday.  Requiring a hub is a small price to pay for the reliability, effectiveness and automation capability that the Hue system brings to the table.  Plus, the per-bulb cost (at least for standard white, non-color bults) for Hue is substantially lower than for LIFX, especially when you factor in the fact that some other Zigbee-based bulbs, like GE Link, are compatible with the Hue hub.  Also, if you're looking to implement any automation, the lack of a hub means that you either need to have a phone or tablet dedicated to controlling your lights via an app, or utilize a 3rd party internet cloud service like IFTTT.  With the latter your automation is dependent on unfailing internet connectivity, and with the former it means dedicating a tablet or other iOS/Android device to being at home and always-on.  A hub is a much better way to go.

Of course, if you think your foray into home automation is likely to extend beyond just light bulbs then you really ought to be thinking about a more flexible and generalized solution (SmartThings and the like).
Title: Re: New here .. need some advice on smart bulbs.
Post by: itsjustmeee on June 06, 2016, 03:03:51 pm
Thanks for the suggestions. The reason I'm tending to lean more towards LIFX are a few things. First, the reviews I've read and seen on Youtube mention that the bulbs are brighter, last twice as long, the app is very easy to use and the colors are much truer and more vibrant. The one advantage I see with Hue would be Siri integration so I could turn the lights off from upstairs if Alexa can't hear me. I just have so many things connected to my router as it is that I wanted to avoid the whole hub thing but I will investigate the Hue more closely.

I would appreciate more thoughts or opinions from anyone who has experience with either!
Title: Re: New here .. need some advice on smart bulbs.
Post by: DParker on June 06, 2016, 03:07:50 pm
Do you plan on using the color bulbs, or just white ones?  Or some combination of the two?
Title: Re: New here .. need some advice on smart bulbs.
Post by: itsjustmeee on June 06, 2016, 03:18:33 pm
This is what I was considering.....

http://www.amazon.com/LIFX-Adjustable-Multicolor-Dimmable-Required/dp/B0161IJ55U%3FSubscriptionId%3DAKIAJIYMMIJN7RU7KVJQ%26tag%3Dreviewedcom03-20%26linkCode%3Dxm2%26camp%3D2025%26creative%3D165953%26creativeASIN%3DB0161IJ55U

I'm assuming that I would be able to group them so I could say "Alexa, turn off the living room lights" or just change one or even the colors with my Echo. 
Title: Re: New here .. need some advice on smart bulbs.
Post by: DParker on June 06, 2016, 03:42:37 pm
This is what I was considering.....

http://www.amazon.com/LIFX-Adjustable-Multicolor-Dimmable-Required/dp/B0161IJ55U%3FSubscriptionId%3DAKIAJIYMMIJN7RU7KVJQ%26tag%3Dreviewedcom03-20%26linkCode%3Dxm2%26camp%3D2025%26creative%3D165953%26creativeASIN%3DB0161IJ55U

Does that mean that you're not interested in automation involving white (non-color) bulbs as well?

I'm assuming that I would be able to group them so I could say "Alexa, turn off the living room lights" or just change one or even the colors with my Echo.

Yes, you can group them...either via configuration in the Alexa app or, I'm assuming, the LIFX account allows for that.  But unfortunately the semantics of the Alexa home automation vocabulary do not currently support controlling colors.  You can only turn things on/off or control dimmer functionality.

BTW, after a little more reading I need to amend my earlier statement to say that even automation of your lights via your LIFX account would also mean dependence on a flawless internet connection (which may or may not be an issue for you), since it's also a cloud-based service rather than controlling things via a local hub.
Title: Re: New here .. need some advice on smart bulbs.
Post by: itsjustmeee on June 06, 2016, 04:00:18 pm
If it works well, I would probably buy additional non-color bulbs for other parts of the house which don't really need anything "fancy". As far as Alexa not being able to control colors, I believe that's incorrect. According to Amazon reviews, it's possible. Also, if you check out this video and go up to around 4:11, you can see an Echo controlling the colors.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VI-CYZsr11c
Title: Re: New here .. need some advice on smart bulbs.
Post by: DParker on June 06, 2016, 04:27:36 pm
If it works well, I would probably buy additional non-color bulbs for other parts of the house which don't really need anything "fancy".

Depending on how many such bulbs you end up using you'll quickly find that the cost of LIFX is much higher than that of Hue (and the other bulbs it works with).  Just something to consider.

As far as Alexa not being able to control colors, I believe that's incorrect. According to Amazon reviews, it's possible. Also, if you check out this video and go up to around 4:11, you can see an Echo controlling the colors.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VI-CYZsr11c

OK, that seems to work...though that's not actually an example of direct Echo-LIFX integration, nor of Alexa understanding how to control colored bulbs.  That's an Alexa invocation of the LIFX "skill", which is also a cloud-based home automation service that is redirected to via the "Ask..." keyword.  Still, it'll do what you want.  The only downside is, being cloud-based, you're dependent on two more things always working (your internet connection and the LIFX service).  But like I said, that might not be an issue for you.
Title: Re: New here .. need some advice on smart bulbs.
Post by: itsjustmeee on June 06, 2016, 04:43:00 pm
So, with Hue, it's not a "skill"? All I would have to say is "Alexa, turn down the lights in the living room (or change colors)" without the additional "tell ___ to"?
Title: Re: New here .. need some advice on smart bulbs.
Post by: DParker on June 06, 2016, 04:52:42 pm
So, with Hue, it's not a "skill"? All I would have to say is "Alexa, turn down the lights in the living room (or change colors)" without the additional "tell ___ to"?

Well, turning on/off or dimming lights doesn't require an external "skill" in either case (Alexa supports that functionality directly).  But changing colors does...in both cases.  My apologies if I gave the impression that I was saying that limitation only exists with LIFX.  I wasn't.  It's a limitation of Alexa's home automation vocabulary/semantics.
Title: Re: New here .. need some advice on smart bulbs.
Post by: itsjustmeee on June 06, 2016, 05:03:49 pm
So, with Hue, it's not a "skill"? All I would have to say is "Alexa, turn down the lights in the living room (or change colors)" without the additional "tell ___ to"?

Well, turning on/off or dimming lights doesn't require an external "skill" in either case (Alexa supports that functionality directly).  But changing colors does...in both cases.  My apologies if I gave the impression that I was saying that limitation only exists with LIFX.  I wasn't.  It's a limitation of Alexa's home automation vocabulary/semantics.

Ah, ok. That really helps to clear things up for me. My house isn't particularly Wi-Fi challenged so that wouldn't be an issue. I have an AirPort Extreme and 2 Airport Expresses throughout for good coverage and it's a fairly small house. I'm still trying to figure out though what the advantage of a hub has over just direct Wi-Fi ( other than Siri integration). That's why I was originally asking about connectivity issues with LIFX and if anyone seemed to be having any problems with them. 
Title: Re: New here .. need some advice on smart bulbs.
Post by: DParker on June 06, 2016, 05:30:23 pm
I'm still trying to figure out though what the advantage of a hub has over just direct Wi-Fi ( other than Siri integration).

Well, like I said, in the case of the Hue bridge (and the SmartThings hub and other solutions) the primary advantage is that for lighting the path between your control software and your lights is completely local.  With cloud-based control, even if your router(s) and ISP are 100% reliable there are still a lot of steps in between your ISP and the server(s) implementing those services.  Plus there's the reliability of those services themselves.  I don't know that there are any issues with LIFX's services, Alexa's/IFTTT's integration with them, etc...but it's still making you dependent on more "moving parts", so to speak.

Also, in the case of more general purpose HA hubs (like SmartThings...which I keep referencing only because it's what I have the most experience with) you have far more flexibility when it comes to automation options and solutions.  Now, if you eventually end up with something like a ST hub you can still use your LIFX bulbs with it, but then you've spent a lot more on bulbs than you needed to.

But again, the importance of all this depends on your own priorities.
Title: Re: New here .. need some advice on smart bulbs.
Post by: itsjustmeee on June 06, 2016, 06:30:26 pm
I'm still trying to figure out though what the advantage of a hub has over just direct Wi-Fi ( other than Siri integration).

Well, like I said, in the case of the Hue bridge (and the SmartThings hub and other solutions) the primary advantage is that for lighting the path between your control software and your lights is completely local.  With cloud-based control, even if your router(s) and ISP are 100% reliable there are still a lot of steps in between your ISP and the server(s) implementing those services.  Plus there's the reliability of those services themselves.  I don't know that there are any issues with LIFX's services, Alexa's/IFTTT's integration with them, etc...but it's still making you dependent on more "moving parts", so to speak.

Also, in the case of more general purpose HA hubs (like SmartThings...which I keep referencing only because it's what I have the most experience with) you have far more flexibility when it comes to automation options and solutions.  Now, if you eventually end up with something like a ST hub you can still use your LIFX bulbs with it, but then you've spent a lot more on bulbs than you needed to.

But again, the importance of all this depends on your own priorities.

But from what I can see on Amazon, the price of the Phillips and the LIFX bulbs are the same ... about 53 dollars. This video seems to illustrate the difference between the two very well ... And is also why I'm leaning more towards LIFX.

https://youtu.be/IctFtj-xikk

Title: Re: New here .. need some advice on smart bulbs.
Post by: DParker on June 06, 2016, 06:58:04 pm
But from what I can see on Amazon, the price of the Phillips and the LIFX bulbs are the same ... about 53 dollars.

I was referring to the white (non-color) bulbs, which is why I keep asking you whether or not you plan on using any.  Using Amazon as the benchmark for those as well, LIFX's white A19s are about twice the cost per bulb when compared with Hue or GE Link bulbs.  And all three have the same estimated lifespan.

This video seems to illustrate the difference between the two very well ... And is also why I'm leaning more towards LIFX.

https://youtu.be/IctFtj-xikk

It does appear that the LIFX app is easier to use than Hue's, and their colored bulbs do seem to perform better.  But colored bulbs have never been of any value to me, so I haven't tried any of them and can't offer any input on that part of the equation.
Title: Re: New here .. need some advice on smart bulbs.
Post by: Yoda_One on June 06, 2016, 09:37:50 pm
I use Hue color bulb mainly for the light quality. When I using the Samsung Tablet vs Pixel C vs reading, the different hues make perfect sense which I change from white to yellows. The mild green / blues are great when watching LED TV. My home mainly have LEDs, a few sun light fluorescence which turn on when entering the area, a few small floods type lights in bookcases which are controlled using TP-Link controllers and managed by Echo.
Title: Re: New here .. need some advice on smart bulbs.
Post by: itsjustmeee on June 09, 2016, 09:19:50 am
Thanks for everyone for the advice. I ended up going with Hue and ordered the white starter kit with 3 additional white bulbs (so 5 white bulbs total). The more I thought about it, the whole color thing sounds really cool, but I probably wouldn't use it that much .... and I can always add them as needed.
Title: Re: New here .. need some advice on smart bulbs.
Post by: itsjustmeee on June 09, 2016, 09:27:56 am
One more question. Can Hue be set up to respond to both Siri AND Alexa's commands?
Title: Re: New here .. need some advice on smart bulbs.
Post by: Yoda_One on June 09, 2016, 10:17:57 am
I do not believe so since they are two separate systems but there are a lot of Hue apps out there which might have that option through a IFTTT interface. I am not i fan.
Just look through Apple App Store.
Title: Re: New here .. need some advice on smart bulbs.
Post by: DParker on June 09, 2016, 11:07:25 am
One more question. Can Hue be set up to respond to both Siri AND Alexa's commands?

Yep.  From the Hue system's perspective, Siri and Alexa are just two different clients.  When you give your Amazon account access to your Hue bridge...via the Hue cloud servers...it's not an exclusive arrangement, and you can give that same access to any number of other client software systems simultaneously (including Siri, IFTTT, etc.)

In fact you can even develop your own client software that accesses your Hue account, or access the bridge directly and submit commands/information requests to it via your web browser.
Title: Re: New here .. need some advice on smart bulbs.
Post by: itsjustmeee on June 09, 2016, 11:42:05 am
One more question. Can Hue be set up to respond to both Siri AND Alexa's commands?

Yep.  From the Hue system's perspective, Siri and Alexa are just two different clients.  When you give your Amazon account access to your Hue bridge...via the Hue cloud servers...it's not an exclusive arrangement, and you can give that same access to any number of other client software systems simultaneously (including Siri, IFTTT, etc.)

Nice. that's what I was hoping for! Thanks.

In fact you can even develop your own client software that accesses your Hue account, or access the bridge directly and submit commands/information requests to it via your web browser.
Title: Re: New here .. need some advice on smart bulbs.
Post by: itsjustmeee on June 15, 2016, 01:28:33 pm
Well, I have my Hue system up and running and for the most part it works great. Occasionally though with Alexa I will tell her to turn the living room  lights on which she will do but then she will say "I'm sorry living room lights doesn't seem to be responding" or something like that even though it actually did respond.  Is that something that happens to anyone else or is it fairly common?
Title: Re: New here .. need some advice on smart bulbs.
Post by: DParker on June 15, 2016, 01:49:05 pm
Occasionally though with Alexa I will tell her to turn the living room  lights on which she will do but then she will say "I'm sorry living room lights doesn't seem to be responding" or something like that even though it actually did respond.  Is that something that happens to anyone else or is it fairly common?

I had that happen occasionally as well with my Hue bridge.  The most likely cause was the Hue servers receiving your commands as passed to them by the Amazon servers, but nthe acknowledgement not making it back within the expected amount of time (due to network congestiin, sever load, etc.)  It's mildly annoying, but doesn't impact functionality in any way.
Title: Re: New here .. need some advice on smart bulbs.
Post by: itsjustmeee on June 15, 2016, 02:35:41 pm
Occasionally though with Alexa I will tell her to turn the living room  lights on which she will do but then she will say "I'm sorry living room lights doesn't seem to be responding" or something like that even though it actually did respond.  Is that something that happens to anyone else or is it fairly common?

I had that happen occasionally as well with my Hue bridge.  The most likely cause was the Hue servers receiving your commands as passed to them by the Amazon servers, but nthe acknowledgement not making it back within the expected amount of time (due to network congestiin, sever load, etc.)  It's mildly annoying, but doesn't impact functionality in any way.

Thanks for all of your help here. I'm curious, is there actually some command to give to the Echo to find out what the wifi connection speed is?
Title: Re: New here .. need some advice on smart bulbs.
Post by: DParker on June 15, 2016, 03:02:29 pm
I'm curious, is there actually some command to give to the Echo to find out what the wifi connection speed is?

I don't think so, but if you're asking that in connection with this issue then that really wouldn't tell you much anyway, since it would only give you an approximate throughput figure for data transfer between your Echo and whichever Amazon server it's connected to.  The delay, if there is one, is likely to be mostly somewhere between Amazon and the Hue servers (and possibly the Hue servers themselves).
Title: Re: New here .. need some advice on smart bulbs.
Post by: Yoda_One on June 15, 2016, 03:22:57 pm
+1
Title: Re: New here .. need some advice on smart bulbs.
Post by: DParker on June 15, 2016, 03:42:02 pm
I should also add the two legs of communication  between the Hue server and your bridge (one leg to the bridge and then another back to the server) to the occasion.
Title: Re: New here .. need some advice on smart bulbs.
Post by: itsjustmeee on June 15, 2016, 05:30:26 pm
I just got 3 more B & W lights. One problem I seem to keep having is that sometimes not all lights will respond. For example, I have 3 lights in my living room. When I give the command to either turn them off or on, once in a while one light will not work. When I go into the Hue app on my iPhone, it says that it's "unreachable" but when I tap on it in the app, it responds so it clearly is reachable. I'm not sure if it's just my hub placement or what. Any suggestions?
Title: Re: New here .. need some advice on smart bulbs.
Post by: Yoda_One on June 15, 2016, 05:35:29 pm
Have Echo search for your bulbs.,............ Alexa find my devices.
Title: Re: New here .. need some advice on smart bulbs.
Post by: zagu8 on June 22, 2016, 12:13:17 am
im using philips hues and its the best... there is also a chinese alternative. not as good as philips but works with philips hue bridges