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New Philips Hue LED multi-color strips for a hefty new price

New Philips Hue LED multi-color strips for a hefty new price

Philips announced today a series of new products ranging from new light strips, Hue Iris, new low-cost white bulbs, etc. 

The new Philips Hue Play Gradient Lightstrip is designed to integrate seemlessly with the Philie Hue Play HDMI Sync Box. Any HDMI device will be able to be connected to the new light strip.

This new light strip comes in three lengths, as it was built with TV sets in mind and you will be able to order it in 55 inch, 65 inch and 75 inch.

The previous light strips were limited to a single color and did not support multi-color, which has now been addressed with individually addressable LEDs to provide quote “immerse home theater experience”.

You will be able to order this light strip on October 16th 2020 for a price of $199. Yes, this is correct. Philips is asking for $200 for the 55 inch version, $220 for the 65 inch and $240 for the 75 inch version. This is more than twice the price of the previous light strip version resulting in a 250% price increase. 

I would like to point out that LIFX has been offering multi-color light strips for under $100 for over 4 years now. But it doesn’t stop there. You will have to pay another $230 for the Hue Play HDMI Sync Box bringing your total price to $430. 

Let’s compare the new light strip with the cheapest version of strip you can find today on Amazon. There are hundreds of TV backlight LED products on Amazon.

The first one I could find supporting music sync without having to use an App on your phone or a remote to run scenes and has a built-in microphone to sync with the TV sound is the one on the right. It is currently priced at $26.59. This is 6.2% of the price for the Hue Strip and HDMI sync box combined.

The lighting experience is certainly not the same as they don’t come with individual addressable LEDs, so if you care about different fading colors at the same time behind the TV, then you could invest $89,99 for the LIFX Z TV strip, which is 21% in comparison to Philips.

The downside with LIFX Z TV strip is that you will have to use an app on your phone, a raspberry PI running proxy software, or a mac pc running the proxy software to synchronize with the sound of the TV.

Granted, Philips has the most elegant solution with the HDMI sync box and no sound interference from other sources and sound sync in real-time, but that price is simply too high.

Let’s compare value. On the left side you see my installation of 64 feet 16 million colors LED strip with remote control, built-in microphone on the switch and app control on your phone. This setup will cost you on Amazon $48,59. Yes, 64 feet of LEDs for less than $50 and it works in conjunction with your TV sound as long as you have no other sound interference in the room. 

It does not offer the individual addressable LED sections to provide multi-color fading, so you can only face from one color into the other or when the sound changes the colors fade and change, but it is always one color for the strip and in different brightness depending on your sound.

 With that said, the new Philips Hue strip has certainly benefits compared to all the other options outlined here, but the price is not justified. Let’s see how the market will adopt those new LED strips from Hue. Time will tell.

Cooper Wired Scene Controller

Cooper Wired Scene Controller

After having read what options are available and people saying that some of those wired scene controllers are not easy to setup… I thought that this could not be rocket science but I was wrong.

I spent one whole morning with reading, research, verbose logging, try and error to finally get this working and before somebody else faces the same dilemma I am going to share on how to get this going. If this is the best approach… I don’t know but it meets my requirements now.

Setup:
– Philips Hue Lights with ethernet attached light hub controller
– Vera Light with Philips Hue Plugin installed
– working scenes applied to lights (5 scenes)

Goal:
– Not having to use the Vera GUI
– Not having to use the cell phone
– Use a wired Scene Controller to enable those 5 scenes

Equipment purchased for goal:
Cooper Wired Scene Controller RFWC5AW
http://www.cooperindustries.com/content/public/en/wiring_devices/products/lighting_controls/aspire_rf_wireless/aspire_rf_5_button_scene_control_keypad_rfwdc_rfwc5.html

Cooper Scene Controller

Steps to start ingration:
1) provide power to Cooper controller
2) Pair controller with Vera (procedure is documented in many places)
3) Scene Controller will show up in Vera as “Scene Contr”

First dilemma:
1) The settings of this scene controller are not intuitive and very misleading
2) This was never designed to trigger Vera scenes as it was designed to communicate directly with other Z-wave devices
3) You will not find any place where you can define the buttons of the controller and/or which scene to trigger
4) You will NOT be able to select the Scene Controller for any scene creation when you define what your scenes should do (red x)
5) Whatever you do, you will not see any scene data/information in your scene controller settings (Control, Advanced or Scenes) until you created what is described below and after that you will only see your scenes under Control and under Advanced in the line scenes but you will see nothing under the tab Scenes.

Logic to get this working:
1) You have to understand that you have to define your scenes first without any involvement of this scene controller
2) Those scenes should be able to run without any settings or integration of the scene controller and you should check them via your Vera GUI if those scenes do what they are supposed to do BEFORE you start messing around with the scene controller
3) Once if you have your scenes working you have to add triggers to those scenes which means your scene controller complements your scenes by acting as a trigger and not via the settings of the device in your Vera GUI

Programming the scene controller:
1) Pick your first scene in my case “Lights Relaxed” (this scene should already exist and should be working) and then click on triggers and add a new trigger.
2) Select the scene controller (in my case ID123 see screenshots below with settings and trigger)
3) Select “A scene is activated” and this is the ONLY option you will need for any scenario
4) Give it any name you want
5) Where is says “Scene” you have to enter a number between 1 to 5 which represents the buttons on the Scene controller in my case 1 (see screenshot)

Repeat those steps for all 5 scenes until you have all buttons assigned.

Here comes another tricky part now…

Powering off lights failures:
1) There is the “All off” button on the scene controller and I could not get this to work despite all the workarounds I could research on the web and in this forum but I found a different way to address this
2) If you don’t have a way to power off the lights, any button you press wills start the scene and the scene will stay on and the blue LED on the scene controller will go on and off as you press the button but nothing will change
3) You can even press the different buttons on the scene controller and change between scene but assigning a scene where you power off the lights will not work. This is extremely frustrating.

Working solution:
1) You create a new scene which is “All Lights OFF” and you test this scene BEFORE you integrate the scene controller
2) Once you have your scene, edit the scene and do the exact same procedure as above where you assign a button to it but instead of picking a number between 1 and 5, you assign the number “0” and counter intuitive you have to select again “When a scene gets activated” instead of what logically would be “When a scene gets deactivated”.

cooper_settings

Cooper Advanced Settings

Trigger_for_button

Result:
1) When you press button 1, Lights relaxed scene gets executed, the blue LED goes ON
2) When you press button 1 again, Lights OFF will get executed, the blue LED goes OFF
3) When you press button 1, Lights relaxed scene gets executed, then you press button 2, Lights Night gets executed and you will see 2 blue LEDs ON but as soon as you press one of the two executed buttons/scene, the Lights OFF scene gets executed
4) I don’t need the “All OFF” button at all and it doesn’t even do anything

Additional troubleshooting note:
For whatever reason sometimes when you do all this trigger creation stuff and you don’t save after every step, you might end up with some of the buttons not working as they should despite all the settings showing up correctly. I had this twice. When this happens don’t try to modify around but go straight into the trigger section of your non-working scene controller button, remove the trigger and add a new trigger even if the settings you enter will be the exact same ones you can read on your screen. Sounds very weird but I had this 3 times until I get all my 5 buttons working as they should.

I hope this summary helps other people saving hours of time trying to integrate the cooper wired scene controller into their Vera network.

Additional recommendation to plugin developers:
Cooper Industries released a very sophisticated document about their hardware and settings and conditions which should be a great foundation for a proper plugin for Vera because I am sure that my implementation is not how it should be done and it doesn’t even use all the features and functions that product could provide. Take a look here…

http://www.cooperindustries.com/content/dam/public/wiringdevices/products/documents/technical_specifications/advancedtechinfo_V2.pdf

Thanks.

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