On a recent Internet of Things Podcast episode, we took a call from our Internet of Things voicemail hotline segment with a question about Philips Hue bulbs and a motion sensor. Max called in explaining that his Philips Hue bulb automations don’t always work properly, and he’s hoping for a solution.
Max uses some brand of motion sensor to turn on his smart bulbs using an automation he set up with the Amazon Alexa app. Sometimes it works perfectly fine while other times, the Hub bulb doesn’t turn off after the specified time he set up. Theoretically, this should work just fine as certain Alexa devices support Zigbee, which is what the Philips Hue bridge uses for its connectivity.
We suspect Max isn’t using a Philips Hue motion sensor with his bulbs of the same brand. Why? Because Stacey has both the Hue motion sensor and bulbs and they’ve been rock solid for her. She uses this setup both at her current home as well as in her prior residence. So one suggestion we have for Max is to consider replacing the existing motion sensor with one from Hue for around $45.
No, Max shouldn’t have to do that, but it will likely solve the problem. This would remove any non-Hue hub from the equation as Alexa wouldn’t be the “brains” of the automation. Max would then set up his motion sensor trigger and Hub bulbs routine directly within the Hue app. Keeping both the devices and the centralized automation within a single platform reduces complexity, and all but guarantees success.
Another option is for Max to consider waiting for the coming Matter upgrades to the Philips Hue bridge and Amazon Echo devices. Amazon has started to upgrade 17 of its Echo devices to support Matter, although this first effort is focused solely on Matter over Wi-Fi. Thread support will arrive later this year on Amazon Echo devices. And Philips Hue hasn’t yet committed to a firmware update timeline. It will be upgrading the most recent Hue bridge to Matter, and then support Matter over Wi-Fi. Once all of Max’s devices are Matter-compatible his existing automations should work more reliably.
While neither of these options is ideal, this situation does raise an interesting question.
Stacey tends to create smart home automations within each individual smart device application. Without having both Hue bulbs and a Hue motion sensor, Max can’t do that. I do the opposite and set mine up on a central hub. In my case, that’s within the Apple HomeKit app where the automations run off an Apple HomePod mini.
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To hear Max’s question, as well as our discussion on the topic in full, tune in to the Internet of Things Podcast below:
JD Roberts says
As always, the first rule of home automation applies: “the model number matters.“ And in this case, that doesn’t just mean the brand and model number of the motion sensor: as you noted, it means the platform that was used to create the rule that isn’t always working.
(note that the protocol probably doesn’t matter at all in this particular case. On most platforms, including, for example, Alexa routines, it’s possible for a motion sensor of one protocol to be used as a trigger for a smart light of a different protocol and still work very reliably.)
Some motion sensors are just less reliable than others. For example, the Wyze motion sensors are very cheap, but just not as reliable as some others. You can set up an Alexa routine to have a Wyze motion sensor detecting motion trigger a hue light to come on, but if the motion sensor doesn’t report, nothing will happen.
So if the questioner happens to also read the site, if they let us know the answer to those two questions: the brand/model of the motion sensor, and what app they used to create the rule, we can make better suggestions.
I agree that the simplest solution is to get the hue motion sensor, attach it to the hue hub, and create the rule in the hue app, it’s just not the only solution.