Tag Archives: Ikea

How To Use Ikea Tradfri Bulbs with Philips Hue



When it comes to smart lighting, Philips Hue is the market leader (UK) with a range of bulbs, luminaires and accessories, plus a good app and comprehensive integration to other smart systems. On the other hand, Ikea’s Tradfri is more basic but with the important benefit of being cheap and widely available in Ikea’s stores.

Inevitably, the question crops up… can Tradfri bulbs be used with Philips Hue? The short answer is yes as the Tradfri bulbs use the Zigbee system to communicate, just like Hue. The slightly longer answer is that while it’s possible, there are a number of steps in the process to get the Tradfri bulb transferred reliably onto the the Hue system. This article runs through those steps and the included video will show them too.

As a side note, the cost benefit of Ikea bulbs over Philips isn’t what it used to be, as the price of Hue bulbs, especially white, has significantly dropped in the past year or two, especially with regular 3-for-2 deals. Where the Tradfri bulbs really score though is on brightness. The brightest Hue bulb is around 800 lumens (lm) whereas Tradfri does 1000 lm, which is a noticeable difference. I now have three 1000 lm Tradfri bulbs in my home setup for spaces that would otherwise be too dim using Hue lights.

Let’s cut to the chase….here are my steps to painless use of Tradfri bulbs with Hue.

Part 1 – Tradfri Setup

  1. Buy (or borrow) a Tradfri gateway, dimmer (or other steering device, as Ikea calls them) and bulb(s). Ok, you might not need the gateway and dimmer but my experience suggests it makes life a whole lot easier (you can try going to Part 3 directly). Yes, it puts the price up so maybe this is a chance to ask around and see if you can nip round to a friend’s house to do the first part.
  2. Connect up the gateway with power and a network cable. Wait for all three lights.
  3. Download the Ikea Tradfri app to your phone. Run the app and pair with the gateway – all you have to do is scan a QR code on the back of the gateway.
  4. Continue to the use the app to walk you through the linking process for the dimmer. Pair the dimmer with the gateway by holding down the link button until the lights on the gateway flash. Read the instructions for other steering devices. The app will confirm correct linking.
  5. Plug the bulb into a handy lamp or light fitting and turn it on. The bulb should be lit. Make sure the lamp can be turned on and off easily – you’ll need it later.
  6. Again using the Tradfri app, go through the process of pairing the dimmer with the bulb. Hold the dimmer close to the bulb and press the link button. Watch the app to confirm linking.
  7. The bulb should now be shown in the app and can be controlled with the dimmer. Try it out to make sure.

Part 2 – Update and Disconnect

  1. The next step is to ensure that the bulb’s firmware is up-to-date. Use the Tradfri app to check  and update as necessary. This step is important in case the bulb is an old model with incompatible firmware. Updating to the latest version will remove the incompatibility.
  2. Next, use the app to disconnect the bulb from the gateway. Yes, I know it’s only just been added but trust me. Follow the instructions and use the dimmer. Don’t turn the light off yet.

Part 3 – Connect to Hue

  1. In the next part, you will need to be able to hold the Tradfri bulb very close to the Hue hub. Sort that out first.
  2. I recommend an app called Hue Essentials. It works with both Hue and Tradfri systems, but it’s only available for Android. The reason to recommend Essentials is that it supports a feature called Touchlink. It does have in-app purchases but you don’t need to pay for any of them. There must be similar Hue apps for iOS – look for ones that support Touchlink.
  3. Use Hue Essentials to find and select the Hue hub. Ignore the Tradfri one. You can even turn it off.
  4. Navigate to the part of the app to add or search for new bulbs. It should be like the screen shot on the right.
  5. To reset the Tradfri bulb, you need to switch it off and on six times. A steady quick pace does the job.
  6. Now position the bulb right next to the Hue hub.
  7. In Hue Essentials, press the “Touchlink” button in the bottom right. I find you often have to press it twice to work properly.
  8. If successful, the Tradfri bulb will start to pulse. At this point, press the “Search for Lights” button at the top. With luck, Hue Essentials will find the bulb and add it into the Hue system. Sweet!
  9. That’s it. Now the Ikea bulb is in the system, it can be used as any other Hue bulb. Mine was allocated to “Garden” and then set to come on when motion was detected at the back of the house. I’ve had no problems in several weeks of use.

If you’d like to see these steps in action, then check out the video below which goes through all the steps. It’s about 20 minutes overall. Get a drink.

Any problems or issues, leave a comment below and I’ll see if I can help.


IKEA and Sonos Shine a New Light on Sound



IKEA and Sonos have collaborated on SYMFONISK, a range of speakers designed to democratize the home sound system. Combining Sonos’s expertise in sound and technology with IKEA’s knowledge of home furnishing, SYMFONISK seamlessly fits into the home to enhance everyday life and integrates with the Sonos system.

The SYMFONISK range includes the SYMONISK table lamp with WiFi speaker and the SYMFONISK book-shelf with WiFi speaker. Both products are compatible with Sonos’s own product range and can be steered through the Sonos app.

The SYMFONISK table lamp with WiFi speaker blends into the home in a new way, making it easier to furnish sound. It combines light and sound into one product in order to de-clutter the home with less devices and cords.

The SYMFONISK book-shelf speaker is a great connected multi-functional speaker at an affordable price. It has many versatile ways to blend into a home. It can be tucked away or on display. The SYMFONISK book-shelf speaker can be placed vertically or horizontally.

Both the SYMFONISK table lamp and the SYMFONISK book-shelf speaker will come to IKEA in August of 2019. I think the SYMFONISK speakers look nice, and will appeal to people who want to enjoy excellent sound and a speaker that is aesthetically pleasing to the eye.


Ikea Tradfri Outlet with Samsung SmartThings



Samsung’s SmartThings might be one of the smarthome market leaders but its branded sensors aren’t the cheapest by a long way. Savvy SmartThings specialists are constantly on the hunt for cheaper devices from other vendors but these often require custom code (device handlers) or strange steps to get them linked up.

Coming from the other direction, Swedish homemakers Ikea have their own smart home system called Tradfri. It’s currently more of a Philips Hue competitor as it focuses on lighting but it is expanding and has recently brought a smart plug to market….or as Ikea calls it, a wireless control outlet. It uses Zigbee for communication, and best of all, it only costs GB£9 compared with over GB£40 for the SmartThings variant. Let’s take a look.

 

The Tradfri wireless outlet isn’t going to be winning any design awards. It’s plain white plastic all round, with a hidden white LED at the bottom. Right underneath is a small pinhole for resetting the device with a paperclip. There’s no override button to turn the plug on or off, so keep a smartphone or tablet handy. The unit is rated at 13A / 3kW but not for inductive loads, i.e. no washing machines.

 

Enough of what it looks like…can the Tradfri smart socket work with SmartThings? It certainly can! It just takes a little care and some simple configuration via the SmartThings portal. There’s no need for device handlers or any advanced SmartThings tweaking.

The first step is to get the outlet paired with SmartThings. Fire up the SmartThings app (I’m still using Classic) on your phone or tablet and choose “Add a Thing”. The app will start looking for devices and there’s two gotchas here. One, the Tradfri device needs to be reasonably close to the SmartThings hub and two, the device needs to be reset via the pin hole on the bottom of the case. Just push in with a paper clip for a few seconds and the little LED will pulse at the bottom.

Within a few seconds, SmartThings will find a Thing but won’t know what type of Thing it is or what features it has. This is where the SmartThings IDE comes in at https://graph.api.smartthings.com/. You’ll need to login with either a Samsung or SmartThings account.

Once logged, in go to My Locations and choose your place. I’ve had to redact a few items for my privacy.

Now click on devices to get all the devices in the location. Scroll down through the list until you find the Thing. To make it easy, it’s in alphabetical order.

Click on Thing and then Edit to see the device’s current properties.

Change where it says 2015 Samsung Smart TV to ZigBee Switch and then hit the Update button.

The Thing’s revised entry now has ZigBee Switch and Local processing, which is a good thing. Simply it means that any activity by the sensor is processed locally by the SmartThings hub and isn’t handed off for cloud processing.

Returning to the SmartThings app on the phone, the system now knows that the Thing is a power outlet and has updated the functionality.

Tapping on the screen toggles the Tradfri smart plug with the relay clicking almost instantly. Of course, “Thing” can be renamed to something more sensible, like “Fish Tank Lights”.

And that’s it. The Tradfri wireless outlet is now an integrated part of the SmartThings setup and can be used in Automations and SmartApps, and all for only GB£9, which is a total bargain. As a further benefit, the outlet works as a Zigbee repeater which strengthens the Zigbee wireless network. The only downside I have found is that there’s no physical override button to turn it on or off, but that’s a minor quibble.

To summarise…..if you have SmartThings, the Tradfri wireless outlet works perfectly with it and costs GB£9. Get down to your local Ikea and get stocked up.

Or watch my video below for more details.