As much as I love the idea of controlling my lights with a phone app, tablet or PC from any location anywhere in the world, sometimes it is handy to switch on the lights at a physical switch, which could be next to my bed or on the lounge table or in the kitchen.
That is where the Philips Hue Wireless dimming kit is so brilliant. The switch itself is portable, but it can also be held on a back plate because the back is magnetic. It can be stuck to the wall with sticky adhesive tap, or it can be screwed to the wall.
The dimmer switch can be paired with up to ten lights at a time, and the switch controls them all at the same time. If the light(s) has dimming capabilities then the switch can also control the brightness levels. Overall it is a brilliant accessory.
A few things to know about the dimmer switch.
- As a standalone it can connect and control up to 10 wireless light bulbs anywhere in the house.
- When the dimmer switch is added to the Philips Hue Bridge it can only control two rooms. However each room can contain multiple wireless light bulbs.
Below are some odd problems that I have experienced:
When I first got my Philips Hue Lights I had them setup perfectly via the Hue App v2. In fact Jo and I could control them independently without any trouble. If I setup a scene, all Jo had to do was refresh or restart her app and the new scene would be there for her to use.
I got two dimmer switches a couple of weeks later and discovered that if my wireless bulbs are set up in different rooms, then I would only be able to set up 2 rooms maximum. I was sure I had read the dimmer switch can pair up to 10 light bulbs and this is true if the dimmer switch is used as a stand-alone unit.
So I set up 3 downstairs wireless light bulbs on the first dimmer switch. I was able to switch them on/off and dim them and the lights. From the app I could control those same lights individually as they were setup in three separate rooms. It worked well.
When I tried the same setup upstairs I faced some frustrating problems.
- Paired the second dimmer switch to the upstairs wireless light bulb that was already setup via the Philips Hue Bridge as a room called bedroom. (make sure the light is on, then hold the On button until the orange light flashes, the lights flicker a couple of times and the light goes green). Tested the dimmer switch, the lights switched on/off and dimmed up and down. Perfect! But wait, I noticed it made the wireless light bulb unreachable on the Philips Hue app.
- So I deleted the light bulb from the app and used the app to search the wireless light bulb again. 3 minutes later it said it was not found. I had to add the wireless light bulb via the serial number (each light bulb has a serial number printed on the neck), which is a major pain in the arse if the light is in a lamp shade.
Note to self: write down the serial number before adding the light bulb to the bayonet connection.
The light was found quickly and I was able to rename it and add it to a room called bedroom. A couple of taps and it was done.
- I turned on the bedroom light with the Hue app and tried using the second dimmer switch to switch off the light. It didn’t work. It showed a red light on the On button. WTF?
- At some point while trying to get those upstairs lights to work I must have added the dimmer switches to my Hue Bridge, because they appeared in the setup list under accessory setup. I tried to delete them, but was unable to as there was no option on the Hue App v2 to delete the dimmer switches. I could only move them to re-order them. The only way of getting rid of them is to install Hue App v1 and to delete them from Device Setup. Quite why the old version can delete them and not the new version is a mystery.
- So I couldn’t get the upstairs to work like I had the downstairs working. No matter what order I tried adding those lights, it wouldn’t work. Forgetting the dimmer switch for a moment another frustrating problem with the Hue App v2 is when one creates a room. Say I create a room and call it “Spare Room” and add the Spare Room wireless light bulb. Then I create a room called “Both Rooms” and want to add the wireless light bulb from the Spare Room and the Bedroom. It does it and tells me the Spare Room has now has no light bulbs, do I want to delete the room called Spare Room? One can’t create extra room scenarios. It seems so dumb.
I’ve spoken to Philips Hue at length on twitter (private message) and they think it is odd (my points 1 – 4) and have their tech guys looking into it.
In the mean time I have gone back having both dimmer switches added to my Hue Bridge and they are controlling two rooms up and down stairs. It is not ideal, but until that problem is resolved it will have to do.