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Philips Hue (smart bulb) whole home installation with circadian warmth and brightness schedule


ajmccaus
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Control4 Philips Hue Driver Features and Cost  

4 members have voted

  1. 1. What features in a C4 Hue driver are you willing to pay for, if those features were better than the existing C4 Hue driver and at least as good as a Hue dimmer switch or the Hue app?

    • smooth dimming with no lagging or continuing to change after the switch button is released
      3
    • scenes synced with the Hue app and able to be recalled in programming, including color scenes
      4
    • Rooms and Zones (Groups) synced with the Hue app and not limited to 13 only
      3
    • reliable and consistent on and off control
      4
    • time of day (e.g. circadian) control of brightness and warmth or color, like different scenes recalled based on the time of day the switch button is pressed
      5


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After doing months of research, testing, and implementing my own DIY smart lighting system using Philips Hue and Apple's HomeKit, I decided to embark on my Control4 lighting journey this past September. This post is to summarize what I was aiming for, what I did, and the outcomes for the benefit of anyone that might want to do something similar. I'd also like to emphasize the limitations and issues with the current Control4 Free Philips Hue driver, those limitations being a significant impediment to reaching my goals with the system.

I'm new to the forum and Control4 and have read through much of the content available on implementing Philips Hue lighting in C4. Many of the issues I see people dealing with are related to the issues I've found with the C4 Hue driver, and could be fixed with a better implementation of the Hue API in C4. Although I'm not a C4 dealer, I am a fairly technical user with software and hardware design experience. My C4 system covers a home theatre, lighting, and security (Overhead garage door control, locks and doorbell camera). This post will be focused on specifically the Philips Hue lighting integration with C4, so on to that.

Requirements

Overall I wanted a lighting system with:

  • Automatic time of day brightness and warmth (color temperature) control, so that the lights are less bright in the morning and at night, and also warmer when less bright
  • full color lighting in some rooms, e.g. bathrooms and bedrooms have dim red light by default when activated late at night so as not to disturb sleep, and some rooms have full color scenes for relaxing ambiance and dance party purposes
  • Control via any app (C4, Hue, HomeKit, etc) and physical switches to replace my existing switches (i.e. no hue dimmer switches fixed to the wall next to my dumb switches with tape or some barrier preventing the power being cut to the bulbs)
  • A great user experience consistent with normal light switches, as no one is interested in having to read a manual prior to using the lights in my home
  • A way to turn off the power to the bulbs when necessary, from the physical light switch
  • Consistent aesthetics for the switches around the house, especially with multi-gang switch banks
  • Occupancy on, occupancy off, and vacancy mode in most rooms, with intuitive automatic switching between the different modes
  • Compatible with my existing home as a retrofit
  • As cost effective as possible while nailing the above key features

I started building this system with HomeKit and Philips Hue and ended up with 1 Hue bridge, over 40 hue bulbs, 3 Hue motion sensors, and 5 Hue dimmer switches.

The system worked reasonably well but I quickly ran into the limitations of HomeKit which prevented reaching my ultimate goal. Those limitations that C4 (at least on paper) addressed were:

  • No way to backup the code, so if anything went wrong with the AppleTV HomeKit Hub I'd have to start from scratch again
  • No physical switches available that satisfied my requirements for aesthetics and function
  • Limited capability for implementing advanced programming and variables
  • Limited product integration support (although this is completely addressed by setting up a HomeBridge server for HomeKit)
  • Random glitches that are intolerable for mission critical applications like door locks and primary lighting
  • Me being solely responsible and able to fix the system when broken

Implementation

After looking at options for physical switches I decided on using Control4 essential switches which have the following advantages over other options out there:

  • Can be set as keypads to control the Hue lights while maintaining power to the bulbs, so that I can control the bulbs via control4 and other means (e.g. Hue app, HomeKit)
  • Can be set up with consistent functionality for single, double, and triple tap on the bottom and top switches, along with other non-hue lighting circuits
  • Can also control the load to the hue bulbs so I can turn off the power to them completely if I want or need to
  • Can be tied into the control4 system seamlessly to control or be controlled by other control4 devices
  • Are aesthetically pleasing especially compared to putting hue dimmer switches beside the load switches or covering the load switches in some way
  • Are a good price for the functionality they give, about half the cost of the regular C4 switches. Mainly the difference (for the switches, not dimmers) is the essential switches don't have advanced control of the LED lights on the switch itself like the regular switches do

For the circadian schedule I used a driver from Janus Technologies (Control4 Circadian Lighting (drivercentral.io)). I also installed ceiling motion sensors from Nyce which worked alongside my existing 3 Hue motion sensors. I recently learned about a Hue motion sensor driver from UnilogiQ (@Bogdy, Control4 drivers | UnilogIQ) and will update when I get that installed and configured.

Outcomes and Issues:

 

Since there's no way to save a draft here I'm going to post this and come back to complete later.

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