HomeKit on the Range: Hue Lightstrips

Originally published at: HomeKit on the Range: Hue Lightstrips - TidBITS

Have a dark place in your home you’d like to light up, such as under the range in your kitchen? The HomeKit-compatible Hue Lightstrips are flexible (literally), easy to install, and bright. So, so bright.

I have had the Hue light strips for a couple of years. They have worked flawlessly. Motion sensors make them even better.

Re: holding the excess power cable in place. I saw a mention of “magic tape” here RevK®'s ramblings: Internet in a box and bought some. It seems to have multiple names - I call it PU gel tape. I’m quite impressed… it is very sticky, yet comes off smooth surfaces like glass and wood ok, although you need to be patient and take your time during removal. I attached a coil of cable a little like yours to a wall recently - I held the coil together with a cable tie (the thin metal wire inside a plastic surround type), then pressed that onto PU gel tape on the wall. So far, so good. I think this could be a quick and easy replacement for your masking tape temporary solution. Here’s the UK link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B08229DWKZ.

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This is where I want to see modular moulding with integral LED lighting (HUE). Snap shoe moulding along a hallway, up stairway, and have a soft, warm light that is dimmable, and if there is a fire, turns on RED or GREEN to help you see way out. Or integrated in the top of crown moulding would accent ceilings. And with motion+dimming, just walking to get water or use bathroom, the path would light up slowly and conveniently.

These are third world solutions for proper lighting - viewed from an European perspective.

Do share your first world solution…

Rob

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I’d love to have candelabras everywhere, but it’s a bit of a fire hazard with kids running around. :slight_smile:

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A well-equipped kitchen also includes the right lighting, that gives you punctual and glare-free light where you need it at the moment. For example, in our kitchen, which was built 20 years ago, there is a kitchen hood with three lights above the stove. The originally used halogen bulbs were replaced years ago by LED lamps GU10 neutral white 4000 Kelvin 390 lm. This way you can see what you are cooking and in the right colors. Best of all: on/off with a switch when needed - no IoT required.

Well, you may not have been aware of this but the Phillips hue system includes bulbs of the type you described, GU10, as well as other types of larger bulbs and they have all the advantages of being able to use switches and full integration with the Phillips hue system so you are able to change the color, control the lights on schedule and remotely via Siri and Alexa. So I agree with you that you need to have more than just strip lighting in a well lit kitchen, but I was able to achieve that all within the Phillips hue system and I have considerable advantage when it comes to control.

I don’t know if good lighting design is unevenly distributed geographically, but I’ve certainly seen a ton of lousy lighting in the US. I haven’t traveled that much internationally, but lighting hasn’t been something I’ve noticed as a difference. I suspect it’s all related to the amount of money spent on construction or renovation—higher-end homes seem to have much better lighting.

Our house has pretty good lighting, but it was built by an Austrian civil engineer in 1984, so it was well done for the time. :slight_smile:

Yes, the original lighting for our kitchen was really poor when we bought the house and when we remodeled our kitchen I installed all new Phillips hue lighting products including the wireless remote switches so people have the ability to control the lights without using an app or Siri. In addition to the GU10 bulbs mentioned above for recessed lighting I also used the light strips Josh discussed for under counter lighting. I also have used the motion detectors and the BR30 bulbs, which are brighter for ceiling recessed recessed lighting fixtures and one of the Bloom lights for a (probably over-the-top) wall wash light.

All in all I have to recommend the Phillips hue system and although the initial cost is greater than with non-smart lighting, the equipment is designed to last a long time and I’ve only had one failure over the years which Phillips covered under their warranty.

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=philips+hue&crid=KAQAKXNZTE6B&sprefix=Philips%2Caps%2C238&ref=nb_sb_ss_ts-a-p_3_7

I think therein lies (some of) the disagreement. You consider programmable control an advantage, while others might think the true advantage is having a simple mechanical switch with no apps, no networking, no programming, no updates, no Siri, nada.

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Undoubtedly true. Using that line of reasoning we could also say an advantage would be to abandon electrical lighting completely, using natural sunlight and windows during daylight and candles and fireplace during the evening. Much simpler, Much less prone to failure and probably cheaper.

However, the thread as originally started by Josh was about hue smart lighting products and not about the pros and cons of whether we should be using said products versus reverting to older technologies. :wink:

And anyway, my response detailing the Phillips hue ecosystem was mostly added to counter the comment by Profile - friedrich.nehl - TidBITS Talk that a traditional, non-smart kitchen lighting system was somehow superior due to the inclusion of GU10 and other form factors beyond strip lighting. (Also contrasting his traditional lighting system as a “first-world” solution versus the Phillips hue “third-world” solution.) I mainly wanted to point out that the Phillips hue system is a superset containing all of the traditional products he mentioned that one would get from a hardware store for kitchen lighting along with a number of products and capabilities which would not be found in a traditional non-smart kitchen lighting installation.

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One thing that’s worth noting here is a point that Josh has made in some of his articles about HomeKit—well-designed home automation should avoid removing manual controls for a variety of reasons:

  • Use in case of HomeKit failure
  • Use by a guest who won’t know the names of things
  • Use without voice interaction (sometimes you want to be quiet)
  • Use without easy access to an iPhone or iPad

As @RobJohnson said, the key word here is “superset.”

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This is all very true from my experience as well. To this list I would also add one bullet point that was important to me in my home electrical remodeling:

  • Use when the Internet is down or otherwise unavailable

When we bought our current house 10 years ago I had a goal to replace the existing lighting system, first and foremost to improve the quality of lighting and second to replace all low efficiency incandescent lighting with modern LED systems. I also decided to try to use the smart systems of the day, starting with the venerable Insteon system. It’s important to know that there was no Siri or HomeKit or Alexa in those days and the Insteon system had evolved from an older X10 automation system. But from the start I always had the goal that anything I install had to have actual switches that normal human beings could operate without a computer or an iPhone and that they were based on local control, meaning if the Internet was down everything would continue to work locally.

So I started to learn how to be an amateur electrician on the Internet via YouTube, I bought a multimeter and an AC test probe and a GFCI outlet tester and I found a good local electrician who was willing to let me do the work that I could do myself and help me to learn while he did the in-wall and in-ceiling work at the circuit level that I did not want to try to do. He also helped immensely with the overall lighting design that I was doing and he wasn’t afraid to tell me when my lighting design ideas needed additional fixtures in order to properly improve the overall lighting coverage of the house. In particular he told me where my later remodel lighting design using the Philips Hue products in our kitchen was inadequate and he had me add four additional fixtures to produce the proper amount of lumens and coverage that a well-designed lighting system should fulfill.

So as I continued through the household electrical upgrades, I started using the Wink system and later the Phillips Hue system, both of which were not available when I began using the Insteon products in 2010. But throughout my learning journey as I continued to upgrade the household lighting, I always maintained the importance of full local control and having switches for everything. There were a lot of IOT (Internet of things) products that came out in the early years that did not meet the above criteria.

But as I said earlier, having used multiple systems over 10 years based on experience, I still believe the Phillips Hue system to be the most complete and functional system and it is compatible with HomeKit, Alexa, and Google home and the products “just work” extremely reliably. It is currently the system I now recommend to others, despite the often higher price of the products.

Despite some early adopter incidents that I encountered over 10 years, I still find my amateur electrician hobby to be a fun thing, both because I enjoy understanding and being able to manipulate and troubleshoot the electrical work in my home, but also it tickles the nerd in me to continue to learn.

My next project, definitely beyond the scope of this topic and message, will be to set up a Raspberry Pi with the necessary software plug-ins to integrate my older Insteon and Wink systems into HomeKit via HomeBridge so I will end up having a single point of software control and integration with my entire home smart lighting system, thermostat, garage door opener and smart locks.

Compared to the software interfaces under iOS for Insteon and Wink, I have found through experience that the HomeKit interface just seems easier for average people to use and understand how to control the lighting when they want to butt in and adjust the behavior manually, while still giving me increasingly advanced control within the evolving HomeKit software that used to require the third-party native control applications. And since Apple has reduced the barriers for third-party products to work with HomeKit and they have also improved the overall functionality of the HomeKit software, I now find I can recommend it to others.

Here are some links in case anyone is interested in any of the products mentioned above:

Insteon Home Automation:

Philips Hue products on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=philips+hue&crid=KAQAKXNZTE6B&sprefix=Philips%2Caps%2C238&ref=nb_sb_ss_ts-a-p_3_7

Wink Platform — I originally liked the Wink system because it was so open to and could connect to so many third-party products. However, I can no longer recommend them due to corporate level takeovers and server-level problems and also their forcing users to pay a monthly fee. That is another reason why I am planning to move those products into HomeKit via Raspberry Pi.

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=wink+smart+home&crid=2S5V73H3U285H&sprefix=wink+smart%2Caps%2C225&ref=nb_sb_ss_ts-a-p_4_10

Using Homebridge to connect Wink, Insteon and other third-party products to HomeKit via Rasberry Pi:

Very true. On a more basic level than home automation, the Chambers where I used to work was refurbished in 2011, and in the process all lights became controlled by motion sensors. Apart from interfering with my afternoon nap (I had to learn how to fall asleep in full glare), this had two adverse effects. First, it became certain that every light would remain on for at least 20 minutes after it was needed; and secondly, when I was working alone the sensor, having accurately evaluated my worth, ignored my presence completely and turned the lights off, forcing me to get up and wave my arms around every now and again.

I suggested to my clerk that he and I could invent (and patent, of course) a device, able to be wall-mounted, that could be used to interrupt the power to the lights manually, and tentatively suggested that we could call it a ‘switch’. Sadly, it didn’t catch on: I’m sure we’d have made a fortune.

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Long ago, I did some work for my mother in the Cornell University Archives. At the time, they were in the sub-basement of Olin Library (so no windows at all) and they were just rows of stacks. I was warned because the lights for each row of stacks were controlled by a timer—you twisted it for the amount of time you thought you’d need, plus some. If you guessed wrong, and someone else had turned off the main lights to the room (which could happen), you could be left in complete darkness when the timer ran out. This was the 1980s, so no one had a cell phone in their pocket for a little light. I never got stuck, but there was a story about someone who felt their way out to a switch in the darkness, turned it, and just about jumped out of their skin when they found themselves face to face with a life-size cardboard cutout of Wendell Wilkie (who ran for president against FDR in 1940—this was the archives, after all, and there was some weird stuff down there).

So yeah, switches are good.