Philips Hue Dimmer Switch & Apple HomeKit issues

Monday, April 9, 2018 at 12:03 AM UTC

Man, SmartHome really can be rocket science, especially if you have devices from different vendors. I always try to buy HomeKit compatible devices (except for some stupid smart sockets that I don’t need to control manually) as I want to have them all available in a single app. I know, there are some options with other third party apps and servers but I really got used to HomeKit - though it is not perfect. Actually it is far away from being perfect. That is really lame for a product (app) that comes from Apple. Angry

This post is more like a call for help or action to get this running. I have a certain scenario that is not that special at all but I cannot get it to work. Well, it used to work for let’s say some minutes or hours. 

Today I had to reset all my HomeKit stuff due to devices that were displayed but not there anymore. There is no way to remove a device from the HomeKit accessory list without resetting everything - that’s a true pain in the ass, Apple! Please fix this ASAP!

After I reset everything (including ALL devices that use HomeKit, which is quite a lot now) and whispering courses for about 2 hours everything worked fine. Then I wanted to setup my scenario:

  • one Philips Hue lamp
  • one other HomeKit compatible LED light strip from VOCOlinc
  • a Philips Hue Dimmer switch (the new one with 4 buttons)

I created several scenes in HomeKit that control the color of the two light sources - all good. I then added the scenes to the dimmer switch. I assigned one scene to each of the 3 buttons (not using the „OFF“ button of course) - and it worked like a charm.

Now, several hours later it doesn’t work anymore. I even cannot switch the lights on with the „ON“ button. I also cannot turn them off with the „OFF“ button. Well, half of them. The Hue light is controlled perfectly - including the dimming functions via the dimmer buttons (which I did re-assign to other stuff before). I am aware that Philips uses a different concept for the buttons but HomeKit should take control over it, right?

So it seems that the Hue Bridge now takes full control of the dimmer switch and overrides the HomeKit setup.

I did several attempts to fix this:

  1. Deleted the dimmer switch from the Hue app and re-added it again without configuring (there is an option in the app which allows you to do this only in HomeKit)
  2. Set all the button actions (x times press) to „Restore last state“
  3. Removed the dimmer completely which resulted in that the switch was not available in HomeKit anymore

I won’t reset HomeKit again because it took me 2 hours of setting everything up again (I have other devices aside the Hue stuff including HomeBridge and Nanoleaf). I also won’t reset the Hue stuff as I now have 5 bulbs and 2 strips to control in 3 different areas. Not so much, right? But I also lost all my scenes when doing the factory reset which was crap (I thought my stuff was synced properly to the Philips account but it wasn’t).

My workaround

I cannot switch my 3 scenes for the above setup via the dimmer switch. I just can use it to turn both on and off. Since the VOCOlinc strip is not a Hue device I cannot control it via the switch, too. Fortunately I can setup an automation in HomeKit to do this. Since I have a controllable Hue bulb that I can turn on and off with the switch, the automation can react to the state of this bulb to control other devices and scenes. Short: when the Hue bulb goes ON the strip is also activated. Same for turning both off. This will always use the last state (scene) used.

For some reason the state of the lights is not always synced back to the HomeKit app but this might be a bug.

I have to mention that I am using beta versions for iOS 11.4 and tvOS (don’t know the version right now) and Apple TV as the control center and I hope this is just a buggy release of HomeKit and soon to be fixed (again). HomeKit experienced a lot of updates and bugs during the betas over the past 2 years. The Hue app is the latest as of today and so are the devices.

If you have any hints what’s going wrong here I appreciate any comments or messages. Smile

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