Smart Home: Exploring Philips Hue and Homebridge

I’ve written about setting up TP-Link smart plugs to work with Homekit via Homebridge, so I thought I’d post an update on what I’m using at home now.

We’re currently building our first house and trying to figure out which electricals we want. And while homebridge is cool, it feels like a bit too much of a hack to go all in on it as a full house setup.

We want a few dimmable bulbs in the dining area, but the dimming switches offered by the housing company were way overpriced, so I thought I’d give Philips Hue a try.

Which bulbs

I just got two regular white Hue bulbs, as I don’t really see much need for the colorful RGB bulbs.

The good

Philips Hue respond much faster the TP-Link switch + Homebridge setup. And Homekit integration is really convenient now that it has a dedicated control center shortcut in iOS 11.

The bad

If there’s a physical switch hooked up for a Philips Hue bulb, you often still use that out of habit and accidentally shut off the smart bulb.

So what you really want is a smart lightswitch as well – there are a few on the market and Parce have announced a Homekit-compatible switch for early next year. But none of the options are particularly cheap. And lets be honest: It feels a bit stupid to rip out your conventional bulbs just to end up replacing them with more expensive smart bulbs and switches, for relatively little benefit (dimming and automation).

So what’s the plan

The bulbs work really well, but as with a lot of this stuff, it still feels quite early. Once more standard electrical components support this stuff natively, it’ll obviously be the way to go, but for right now I think we’ll invest in just the few extra bulbs we want to be dimmable and will look at replacing the rest when things have matured.

I also want to try out IKEA’s more affordable Trådfri bulbs, which also work with the Philips Hue hub. Unfortunately though, you will still need the separate Tradfri hub in order for them to work with HomeKit.

The experiment has helped to solidify for me that HomeKit is the way to go: it has far fewer supported devices compared to Alexa, but the convenience of controlling devices from Control Center or Siri is hard to beat.

Basically I want a generic HomeKit compatible Zigbee hub that supports all the lighting systems through HomeKit – no proprietary hub needed. But knowing Apple, that doesn’t seem very likely.

Links

Philips Hue Starter Kit on Amazon.com

Philips Hue Starter Kit on Amazon.de


Also published on Medium.