Can ZigBee connect to the internet

Philips Hue: How to increase the range of your smart lighting system

This article was originally published on June 26th, 2018 and expanded and updated on August 1st, 2019.

Philips Hue is able to bridge up to 100 meters. The control center, i.e. the Hue Bridge, can theoretically still reach LED lights at this distance. Thick walls, several floors of a building and other sources of interference naturally reduce reception. The result? Difficulties switching on and off, motion sensors do not react as desired or accessibility is not guaranteed at all. The Hue app then displays this accordingly, causing frustration.

It is actually very easy to expand the Philips Hue wireless network, to stabilize it, so to speak, and to prevent problems from arising in the first place.

The limits of the Philips Hue range: The standard ZigBee

The smart Philips Hue lighting system from Signify has always relied on the ZigBee wireless standard. It is located in the 2.4GHz range and, similar to WIFI, enables quite high, but also interference-prone ranges. That didn't change with ZigBee 3.0 - the latest "version" of the standard for smart home peripherals. However, this will increase the compatibility between products from different manufacturers in the future, which is important when increasing the range.

A current Hue Bridge (apart from Hue Bridge Version 1) is already designed for ZigBee 3.0, but at the same time remains fully compatible with older lights with ZigBee and, above all, the ZigBee Light Link (ZLL) protocol. Why do you need to know ...?

Each Philips Hue light can be a repeater

What you might not know yet: Philips Hue also uses the Pro version of the standard for ZigBee 3.0, which creates larger mesh networks with an overall low energy consumption and high stability. At the same time, ZigBee Pro allows, for example, every Hue light to act as a repeater. And that without your intervention.

In other words: Every Signify lamp that is regularly connected to the mains and switched on (i.e. it can also be switched off via the Hue app) independently amplifies the ZigBee signal and thus increases the reception quality right up to the bridge. Incidentally, this also applies to LEDs from other companies with ZigBee, for example from Ikea (Trädfri), Innr or Osram Smart +.

What does that mean in practice? If an incandescent lamp does not want to connect to the far away Hue Bridge, reduce the distance (obvious!) Or install another Hue-compatible lamp between the two components. If activated, it passes the signals on and amplifies them. In all likelihood it should work better now.

Moves the Hue Bridge to a more central location

Another option that you should consider: Place the Hue Bridge in your household more centrally. Since it has to be connected to the router via LAN, a suitable LAN cable can be used to find new places where the bridge can better communicate with the lamps.

If you don't want to or can't lay cables, you can use powerline solutions such as the AVM FRITZ! Powerline 1220E Set Power LAN (Shoplink). Signals from the router come directly to the Hue bridge via the power grid. This allows you to stably transfer larger amounts of data over several floors in the house.

The FRITZ! WLAN Repeater 1750E (Shoplink) with an existing LAN port is also useful and possibly even more flexible. The small periphery is in contact with your router, reinforces the home WiFi and has a connection for your Hue bridge. All you need is a free socket. The repeater is suitable for almost all current routers - also from other manufacturers.

Another bridge helps in larger buildings

The complexity increases if you want to equip your large home with Philips Hue. In the basement is the router with a connected bridge, in the attic you would like to set up a room with Hue gadgets such as Hue Play and Hue Sync? Perhaps you even come up against the limit of the maximum addressable lamps of 50 pieces? Then only one more bridge actually helps, which you can also purchase separately.

Don't worry: the Hue app lets you control multiple bridges, and alternatives such as iConnectHue even make multi-bridge management easier. Because said app or the Android counterpart Hue Essentials can access all lamps across bridges - that's convenient. The disadvantage is likely to be that there could be difficulties with Alexa, which can only come into contact with a Hue system. Apple HomeKit, on the other hand, is more flexible.

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The advantage of two bridges is that all lights can be reached within your own four walls - even if the building is much larger.

Additional accessories to increase the Philips Hue range

You don't need more Hue LEDs, but still want to increase the range? Keep an eye out for other accessories that you can integrate into your smart home. For example, the Osram Smart + Plugs socket, which also functions as a repeater, is very practical.

The manufacturer BitronVideo sells its Smart Home adapter plug (Shoplink) explicitly as a repeater. The same applies to the useful dimmer socket adapter (Shoplink). In general: Most ZigBee-based products, especially smart sockets and lamps, have the ability to act as repeaters. This is also because this is a fundamental feature of the standard.

When the next visit to the furniture store comes up, smart home fans may also get their money's worth. With the Trädfri signal amplifier, Ikea sells a small gadget for the socket that takes on exactly this task. Trädfri uses Hue ZigBee like Philips, so that the repeater may also be suitable for other systems. Admittedly: I haven't been able to try this myself yet.

This is how I strengthened my Philips Hue

I also had a few problems with Philips Hue, even though I live in a normal apartment that is less than 80m² in size, but which is rather nooks and crannies. Originally, I didn't want to move my Hue Bridge to a different location, but after moving around and buying new furniture, I decided to do just that. Now the bridge is practically in the center (in the hallway) of the apartment to ensure optimal accessibility.

Nevertheless, there were annoying difficulties in the somewhat more remote rooms, more precisely in the children's room and in the kitchen. This was remedied by a Smart + Plug socket in front of the entrance to the children's room for an old lamp and an inexpensive warm white Hue LED (shop link) as a ceiling lamp near the kitchen. In addition, a motion sensor takes care of the preferred lighting during the day and especially at night. Since then there’s no more trouble.

Philips Hue Lightstrip Plus: When a layman beautifies his kitchen

The purchase of additional lamps, sensors or smart sockets is certainly associated with costs. On the other hand, it will of course make your apartment even smarter. And let's not kid ourselves: that's exactly what we want when we already call the Philips Hue our own ...

Did you have problems with your Hue installation? How did you get it under control?

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