When looking at buying smart bulbs there are a plethora of choices on the market. Each manufacturer offers their own unique aspects to their products. This means that you may look to different brands for your smart bulb solutions. However, as there is no unified standard for smart bulbs, it raises questions about compatibility.
Creating a smart home with both LIFX and Hue bulbs is entirely plausible. These bulbs have different specs which make them desirable for different purposes. But, do they work together? LIFX and Hue cannot work natively together using their own apps. But, they can be controlled together using a smart home hub, such as HomeKit, SmartThings, or Alexa.
Both these manufactures apps are feature rich and give a vast range of features. Yet, as they can’t control the other manufacture’s bulbs it means that if you do want to control both, third-party apps are the only way.
Which third-party smart home app you choose will be dependant on what other smart home devices you own.
Controlling LIFX and Hue together with third-party apps.
Smart home hubs are extremely useful and allow you to control many different smart products all from one app. Both LIFX and Hue have native support with the leading contenders for smart home systems.
This is because the smart hub acts as a translator and communicator. It gives instructions to any supported smart devices or bridges connected to your network. This is extremely beneficial over having to swap between 20 different apps on your phone to control your house.
|Smart home System||LIFX||Hue|
Here is a list of the smart home ecosystems that are supported by LIFX and Hue. Using any of the hubs on this list that support both systems will give you the ability to control them together:
Which system you go for in the end will be entirely dependent on your requirements. As well as what smart home devices you have already.
The smart hub support for your other devices may not be as wide and cause incompatibilities.
Using any of the above list will give you full control over the LIFX and Hue bulbs. This will give the ability to group them together and control both systems simultaneously—as if they were the same bulbs.
Some hubs come with Zigbee support built in, such as the Alexa Plus. This means that you wouldn’t need to use or buy a Hue Bridge. Instead, Alexa will act in the exact same way.
If you hate having lots of smart home hubs surrounding your router, this may be the option for you.
It is however recommended to keep the original apps installed. Third-party apps cannot control a few native features, such as slow fading wake-up routines. As well as this they don’t give any diagnostics as to why the bulbs may not be working, or give the ability to update the firmware.
Why aren’t LIFX and Hue compatible?
The fact that you can’t control both Hue and LIFX together is natively is annoying.
Whilst third-party control surfaces do solve this issue, for the most part, it still raises the question of why these bulbs aren’t natively compatible?
LIFX and Hue are incompatible due to the nature in which they communicate between the bulbs and control surface. LIFX use your home Wi-Fi network. Hue instead uses the custom and open protocol called ZigBee to communicate.
What is ZigBee?
ZigBee is a communication protocol based on the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) 802.15.4 standard. This standard relates personal area networks and the ZigBee standard have been used for well over a decade.
ZigBee is used as an alternative to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and finds its main applications in low power, low bandwidth devices. Just like our Hue Smart Bulbs.
As well as this ZigBee works as a mesh network, meaning it can use other bulbs as bridges to communicate with bulbs far away from the hub.
This gives ZigBee advantages over Wi-Fi, as it means the bulbs have an overall lower power consumption, as well as the fact that using a mesh network gives ZigBee bulbs greater range of control, as can piggyback on the other lights in the network.
But with all these features it does the mean that you need a hub, this is so that you can communicate from your phone (Using Wi-Fi) to the hub and onwards (using ZigBee) to the bulbs. On the other hand, LIFX just uses Wi-Fi so there is no requirement for a hub to communicate with the lights.
Compatibility with other brands?
The fact that these two brands use different protocols to communicate, we can see that it isn’t a case of manufacturers locking down their bulbs. Instead, it’s caused by communication incompatibility.
However, whilst these brands don’t work together that doesn’t mean all brands are incompatible.
Hue’s system works natively with a wide range of other manufacturers. This is because many manufacturers base their smart products on the ZigBee Protocol. This means there is no barrier to communication.
Many manufacturers take advantage of this, and brand themselves as ‘Works with Hue’. This gives customers an easy way to find lights that are compatible with the Hue ecosystem.
There are many brands that work natively with Hue, this includes:
- IKEA TRÅDFRI
- GE Link
- Osram (Lightify)
On the other hand, LIFX bulbs use their own protocol within the Wi-Fi signal, this means that you don’t require a hub as your phone can communicate directly with the lights. However, this does also mean that LIFX doesn’t have any third-party bulbs support, as these bulbs will use their own codes and signals in the Wi-Fi spectrum.
Here are some related questions that you may have around this topic! Hopefully, if you do still have questions on the topic, they’ll be answered below. But, if you do still have any questions or suggestions, drop a comment below!
Can you use voice assistants to control both LIFX and Hue bulbs together? (Siri/Alexa/Google Home)
Using any voice assistant, you can easily control both LIFX and Hue bulbs together. To be able to control these lights you will first need to group them together in the respective app.
After grouping the lights together, you will then be able to simply command your voice assistant to change the lights together. Do note that different assistants have different syntax for controlling your lights.
“Alexa, turn on the living room lights!”
“Hey Sir, set Kitchen lights to blue!”
“Okay Google, turn off the bedroom lights!”
Can I turn on LIFX bulbs with a Hue light switch?
Controlling LIFX bulbs using Hue switches is dependant on which ecosystem you have bought into. Using systems such as Alexa or Google Home will not give you the level of control required.
However, with a few systems like Apple HomeKit, the amount of control offered is greater. This includes the ability to assign functions to the buttons on any of the different Hue light switches.