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New Video – ZigBee (& WiFi) Smart Light Strip Options – When Philips Hue Is Just Too Expensive!

If you’re looking to add smart light strips to your home but you find that Philips Hue’s Lightstrip Plus options are too expensive, what options are open to you? This is the question I was asking myself when planning to add smart light strips to my kitchen. I firstly wondered whether ZigBee or WiFi would be better for me.

After deciding on ZigBee smart light strips, I wanted to explore all the different options open to me. These include:

Feel free to jump to the specific parts of the video:

  • 0:00 Intro
  • 0:36 ZigBee vs WiFi
  • 1:36 Option 1: GLEDOPTO
  • 3:39 Option 2: SLYVANIA and similar makes
  • 5:01 Option 3: Generic ZigBee light strips
  • 7:22 Color profiles: RGB, RGBW, RGBWW and RGB-CCT (important!)
  • 10:27 Option 4: Build your own ZigBee light strip
  • 12:24 Ending

Video Transcript

Hey YouTube, I’m Tristan, from Smart Home Point. At the end of my previous video, I was talking through how I can install LED light strips at the bottom of my kitchen. One of the issues I had, was they had a three meter run, then a gap, and then a one meter run. So I was looking at fit different Philips Hue light strip options available to me. And none of the options seemed great because of this gap and the fact that I needed a four meter run, which meant buying multiple Philips Hue kits, and obviously they were about on the pricey side.

So today’s video talks through different options that are available to me, instead of Philips Hue’s home light strips. So the first thing you need to think about, is whether to go for Wifi or ZigBee. And I know a very prominent smart home YouTuber, Paul Hibbert, isn’t really a fan of ZigBee. He basically says if you go out and buy a really expensive wifi router, then you just don’t need ZigBee. Well, that is sort of true, other than the fact that you’re continuously entering wifi passwords in every new device you buy. And obviously if you change your wifi password, you’re screwed because you gotta run around your house for hours, reconfiguring everything. But he has is sort of correct in what he said. But for me personally, I prefer ZigBee. I don’t like to have to worry about re-entering my wifi passwords all the time. I like the fact that if I buy a ZigBee device, it just works. I don’t need to faff around with loads of configuration and I can use my default router, instead of going out and spending a small fortune on a really fancy router. So for me, I’m gonna go with ZigBee, Ooh, the ZigBee, for my LED light strips. So what options are open to me and to you, for ZigBee based light strips?

So the first option available to you and I, is Gledopto. And when I say that, I keep thinking of Schmoyoho. Accent on the yoho. You know, Gledopto, accent on the yoho, but I won’t keep saying that, because it would be pretty annoying, so I’ll just say, Gledopto. So the first option is Gledopto, who mainly produce ZigBee based controllers, so in other words, they control from the Philips Hue app or the Echo’s plus side. They control signals from that, into the actual LED light strip. So that’s what the function of a controller is, in an LED light strip. And Gledopto produce a range of ZigBee based ones, but sometimes they produce package deals as well, where for example, on Amazon in America, you can buy a Gledopto, USB powered LED strip, which is two meters long, for around $30 or $40, I think is $30 actually. So that’s quite a cheap option, compared to Philips Hue, which is more than double the price. And Gledopto controllers worked fairly well. In fact, when you look at the, when you compare their functionality to the Philips Hue’s own light strips, there’s actually not that much difference whatsoever. The main thing Philips Hue’s light strips have going for them, is the fades and then transitions between different colors and between on and off states, is slightly better than Gledopto’s controllers. But Gledopto works out less than half the price in many cases, so it’s up to you, whether you wanna go with that option.

For me, I’d probably prefer the slightly cheaper option, because I’m not likely to be changing my colors frequently. If you don’t have Gledopto bundles available to you on your Amazon store, you may see options by Giderwell, or similar companies who also use Gledopto controllers, and then they just bundle a separate LED light strip. For example, there’s an offer on, in Amazon America at the moment, which you get an 80 inch light strip for around $47, which is obviously a lot cheaper than Philips Hue’s own light strips as well. So that’s option one, Gledopto, or Gledopto! Sorry, I won’t. So that’s option one.

Option two is to go away from Gledopto and actually get another ZigBee based light strip and controller, for example, on Amazon America, you’ve got Sylvania, who at the moment have an offer for $44. You can get three, 24 inch light strips and a controller and some connectors, they call it a full kit. And that actually, although you’ve got three separate strips you can connect them together and actually you get a lot of flexibility in how you can configure things and you can extend this up to $240 by just buying more LED lights strips, but pointing them at the same controller. And that’s quite a good option, and it works out substantially cheaper than Philips Hue’s option. If you’re not based in America, like I’m not, you probably don’t have access to Sylvania offers, but if you look at Amazon Europe stores, or Amazon America, UK stores, you’ll see offers for ZigBee based light strips from Innr and Ajax Online or Ajax Online and a few others, they work fairly well as well, they got fairly good ratings. I know with Innr, they’ve got a four meter long ZigBee based light strip for, let me check the price, £70. So it’s 157 inches, four meters long, and it’s basically the same price as a two meter long Philips Hue’s strip. So half the price for, sorry, same price, but for twice as much length.

The third option available to you, is to buy a generic ZigBee based controller. Now, if you just go on Amazon and you search for ZigBee LED light strip, you’ll come up with quite a few different results. I won’t bother listing them all here, or going through them one by one. But what I will say if you’re gonna buy a no-name or no-brand product, is just be a bit careful for things like fake reviews. There’s lot of cases where, especially on Amazon, where sometimes the reviews aren’t all that reputable. So maybe run your product, that you plan on buying through a website like ReviewMeta, which can show you whether maybe, there’s fake reviews or not going on, and obviously steer clear of any products that have, you know, fake reviews going on. The second thing you want to do if you’re buying a more generic make, is look up the company and see whether they have any sort of online presence. Because although Amazon are fairly good at taking back a faulty product in the first few months, if your LED strip fails down the line and you’ve bought from a no-name company that has no online presence, you might be out of luck completely, compared to someone like Gledopto, or Philips Hue, where obviously you’ve got bit more recourse, if it opened to you.

The third thing you should look at and it’s a slightly more technical point, is the cutting interval of any generic light strip that you buy. So this refers to how frequently you can actually cut the LED strip, as is properly signaled on the actual LED strip. And this is quite important, because if you’re running your LED strips under shelving, or along a desk, or anything like that, you want a fairly short cutting interval, because otherwise you might actually not be able to run your LED light strip. For example, some of Philips Hue’s own light strips can only be cut every 12 inches. So if you run in a Philips Hue light strip under a shelf that is only nine or 10 inches long, obviously you’ll have a substantial amount of waste, but also you wouldn’t actually be able to do it, because on some of the older models of light strips, you can only cut every 12 inches. You’d actually either not be able to run that LED strip, or you’d have to have overhang on each side, which would look a bit silly. So it’s better to look at the cutting interval and make sure it’s fairly and fairly short cutting interval, so that you can, you’re more flexible on how you can run your LED light strip. The final point I wanna cover, if you’re buying a generic LED light strip, is the color profile of that light strip. And this might sound a bit boring, but bear with me, it’s actually a really important topic.

If you’ve got an LED light strip or bulb for that matter, that’s just RGB, what that means is it has three diodes, red, green, and blue, and you can actually see this if you looked at a light strip, you’ll have a diode that says R for red, or one that says G for green, for example. And what that means, although that’s good because that can produce color, the actual whites that are produced aren’t gonna be as good, because you’re gonna be limited in terms of the color, the white colors you can produce, whether yellowy, or bluey, or pure white, just from red, green and blue diodes. So what you can have instead, is RGB-W, the W stands for cool white, or RGB-WW, the WW stands for warm white. What that means is there’s an extra diode, an extra LED for white, which whether it’s cool, white or warm white, and again you can see this on an LED strip. So for example, I got W1, W2, W3, W4, and they’ve individually numbered white diodes on an LED strip. And that’s really important to have in my opinion, because any white colors you produce, will be a lot better with an RGB-W or RGB-WW light strip. You might think you’re gonna constantly set your LED light strips to the bright pink, but most of the time, you’re probably gonna have them on a white based color. So it’s worth having RGB-W or RGB-WW. But you will have heard me say RGB-CCT. And what that is is more at the controller level. It actually dictates how the color is merged or mashed together. So for example, once your LED light strip connects to your controller, this will then go off and, you know, you’ll be able to control this in the Philips Hue app, for example.

And with CCT, you have one color wheel and in that color wheel, you do all the RGB, the color stuff and you can also select whites as well. It’s the color wheel you’ll be accustomed to, if you buy your Philips Hue’s own products. If you don’t have an RGB-CCT controller. So for example if you’ve got an RGB-W controller, what you’ll actually end up getting in the Philips Hue app, is two separate color wheels. One of them will allow you to control color and one of them will allow you, the separate one will allow you to control whites. Some people like that, but in general, that’s not what Philips Hue’s own products offer, so if you’re looking for maximum compatibility with Philips Hue’s own products, then buying an RGB-CCT controller, is a worthwhile thing to do. But obviously they are separate to the LED strips, which have, which can either be RGB-W or RGB-WW. So the CCT aspect is actually coming out there from the controller perspective as opposed to the light strip perspective. Okay, so if you’re buying a generic strip, look out for those four things.

The final option open to you, is to actually build your own light strip. You may have guessed this is what I’m actually gonna be doing, by the fact that I’ve been waving around this light strip and a controller, but by building your own, you don’t need to be your mad scientist or anything like that. It’s actually fairly simple and I’ll be talking through it in depth, in my next video. All you need is a controller, a ZigBee based controller, whether that’s RGB-W controller, or RGB-CCT controller, I’ve gone for the CCT Gledopto controller, and then you need a light strip. So an RGB-W, or RGB-WW controller, and then all you actually do, you get the wires, after you’ve run and installed your light strip. You get the wires, you wire them in, on one end of the controller and then on the other end, you literally just power it in. And that’s it. It’s a lot easier than actually, well, in my opinion, it’s a lot easier than going out and buying a generic LED light strip, or at least it’s a lot safer than doing that, because you’ve got more control over what’s actually happening. And it also works out substantially cheaper than Philips Hue’s own offerings. For example, I bought this controller for less than £20, or less than $20, and I’ve bought this five meter long length of RGB-W light strip, for, I think it’s around £15, around $20. So in total, I’ve spent around £35, or around $40, on five meters of ZigBee based smart light strip. So I’ve ended up with more than double the length, for half the price of Philips Hue’s light strip offerings. And obviously size does matter, as does price. And this is a lot better option. And actually the LED’s I’ve got on this LED light strip, are actually, they are a lot denser, produce a better quality lighting overall, than Philips Hue’s own offerings, so again more for less and the quality’s actually better as well.

I’ll cover how you actually do this in the next video, but for now, this video has wrapped up… different options available to you for ZigBee based light strips. I hope you found it useful, if you did, please click the thumbs up button and don’t forget to subscribe. Thank you.

About Tristan Perry

Tristan Perry is a software developer who is passionate about tech gadgets, DIY and housing. He has therefore loved seeing smart homes hit the mainstream. Tristan also has an academic background (in Math & Computer Science), and so he enjoys digging into the technical ways that smart home devices work.

Tristan owns close to a dozen Amazon Echo devices, way too many Philips Hue bulbs and lightstrips, a boat-load of Ring Cameras and Doorbells... and a bunch of other smart home devices too (from Reolink, Google Nest, GLEDOPTO and others).

If you have any questions, feedback or suggestions about this article, please leave a comment below. Please note that all comments go into a moderation queue (to prevent blog spam). Your comment will be manually reviewed and approved by Tristan in less than a week. Thanks!

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