Controlling IKEA Trådfri bulbs with Philips Hue bridge

I wanted to be able to control a specific lamp with my Logitech Harmony remote, so I did bit of research. I wanted to join the Philips Hue ecosystem, but haven’t been able to find the bulbs I need so far. For this specific lamp I needed an E27 bulb with 1,000 lumen and preferable a CRI higher than 90. Otherwise I would compromise the quality of the light just for playing around. If I was to going to play, I should at least be able to maintain what I already had.

I found out Philips Hue as well as IKEA Trådfri actually implements the same standard: Zigbee Light Link (ZLL), and should be able to work together. Well, at least since recently. From what I learned, IKEA seriously fucked up in their first versions which supported only Zigbee Home Automation (ZHA) instead of ZLL. And at the other end, Philips removed support for ZLL to ZHA fallback. So, now I needed a pretty recent bulb, or a firmware update of the bulb with an IKEA Trådfri gateway I wasn’t planning on buying.

I bought the following to get started:

Adding the bulb
I followed this guide to pair the IKEA bulb with the Hue bridge. My bulb was from batch 1746 (printed on the box close to the barcode) and is firmware version 1.2.214 which is good enough (should be at least 1.2.x). I had to retry the pairing process a few times, probably because I didn’t turn the bulb on/off fast enough (six times) when trying to reset it. But finally it showed up in the Hue app, and I was able to turn it on/off as well as dim it. Excellent!

Philips Hue Bridge 2.1
The bridge was super easy to configure and just works. I haven’t played with API’s etc. yet, but can enjoy the big Philips Hue ecosystem and endless integration possibilities. I see absolutely no reason to start building a system based on the relatively new IKEA gateway when you only need the slightly more expensive Hue bridge to use everything developed for the Hue system.

First thing after being able to control the bulb with the Hue app and the Dimmer switch was to set up my Harmony remote. This turned out to be difficult because of bugs in the Logitech Harmony software. I already had Hue set up for a Hue emulator running on openHAB, so I removed this. After doing so, the Harmony app kept detecting the Hue bridge without being able to pair with it, even when disconnecting both openHAB and the Hue bridge from the network. The trick/work-around was to search for a Hunter Douglas PowerView Hub. Cancel the search, then try again to search for the Hue bridge. After this I was able to pair with it. The same problem occurred after changing IP address of the Hue bridge. Having two bridges is not supported and you can’t even configure the right one if you actually have two – so one of them must go offline before configuring Harmony. Great work, Logitech.

Anyway, after setting it up, it was very easy to configure the “Watch TV” activity to dim the bulb down using the pre-configured Nightlight scene. However, this immediately turned out to be a problem: If the bulb is already off when turning on the TV, it should stay off. It seems that even simple rules like this requires more sophisticated methods.

In openHAB 2.2 it was very easy to get the Philips Hue binding working, and the first project was already defined: Dim the bulb to 30% when turning on the TV and the current dim value is higher than 30%. First thought was to use the Hue emulator in Hue, so the Harmony would control this and then build the logic in openHAB from there. However, I decided to simplify this while at the same time decoupling the logic from the Harmony remote and make it generic. By using the Samsung binding for my TV (alternatively a network binding would suffice), I could create an item-based rule like this:

rule "TV"
    Item TV_is_on changed from OFF to ON
    if (DimmableLight1_Brightness.state > 30)

Power consumption

  • Philips Hue Bridge 2.1: 1.7 W
  • IKEA Trådfri E27 1000 lumen LED bulb: 13.0 W (on)
  • IKEA Trådfri E27 1000 lumen LED bulb: 0.3 W (off)

Philips is planning on supporting Zigbee 3.0 in the bridges in first quarter of 2018. This will be backwards compatible with ZLL, so IKEA bulbs should continue to work, since they now got the ZLL implementation right with the latest firmware.