Cheap Hue/HomeKit LED Controller

As previously mentioned the majority of the lighting in my house is Philips Hue. When it came to adding LEDs I was very much against the idea of spending £70 for two meters of Philips Hue tape. I knew there would be a better solution, one that would let me use generic LED tape. After researching I found the perfect solution, an LED controller that supported Zigbee.

Initially, I bought a few MagicHome controllers. These were rather inexpensive and already have a Homebridge plugin. While I was happy with the setup of these LEDs, the end result was rather janky. My Hue lights would come on, then about 2 seconds later the LEDs would follow. This wouldn’t do… While browsing Aliexpress I found some Zigbee controllers from Gledopto. I was sceptical about how well they would work but decided I’d order two, to see if they faired any better. After messing around with them, I’m sold!

When the controllers arrived I was very impressed. I like the fact that these controllers work with a DC jack or bare wires. Although, the unit doesn’t come with a power supply, I recommend using something above 2 amps, which is what I’m using. Gledopto has a range of different controllers, I went for the RGB+CCT controller as it gives a full range of colour and whites (CW/WW), like my Hue Lights. When buying be aware that some expose as two fixtures, one for colour and one for whites. For a full breakdown on the different types check out this reddit post. I bought my controller here, which appear as a single fixture.

When it came to ordering the LED tape for this I wasn’t sure which route I would go down, as I’ve already got a bunch of RGB LED tape. But, these RGB LEDs aren’t very good at replicating whites, hence why the controller has separate inputs for warm and cold white. I thought about ordering some CCT tape and using it with my existing RGB tape. Weighing this up I prefer the idea of a single strip of RGB+CCT tape, which I bought here. If you do want to use two separate strips, connect the positives together and wire the rest as expected.

Setting up Strip Controller

When the RGB+CCT tape arrived it came with header pins. I didn’t want to waste a bunch of jumper cables so cut off the end and exposed the wires. If you ordered the same LEDs the wires inside are colour coded. To connect them to the controller hold a screwdriver in the hole and insert the stripped cable. Looking at the size of the pads, I’m not looking forward to soldering the next section of tape…

After wiring in the LEDs, you’ll want to connect the controller to the mains, when you do this the tape should illuminate. You can use any Zigbee Bridge such as the IKEA TRÅDFRI or Amazon Echo Plus to add the light. To connect it to the Philips Hue Bridge use the Add Light wizard in Light setup on the Settings tab. This new light will appear on the Hue app as Extended color light 1, you can then rename it and assign it to a room. I also spent some time adjusting the scenes so that in my living room they would appear as blue and pink.

If you only wanted Hue support then you can jump off at this point. But, due to Apple’s rules, these won’t appear in HomeKit… this looks like a job for Homebridge!

Homebridge Setup

Exposing these controllers to HomeKit was simple. If you haven’t already got Homebridge setup, check out my previous post. When I started messing with Homebridge, I came across the homebridge-hue plugin but didn’t think I’d need it. Now that I’m trying to expose something from Hue to HomeKit I couldn’t live without it! To install this plugin type the below command:

sudo npm install -g homebridge-hue

Once installed you can then begin to configure the plugin. As you’ll only want to expose lights that Hue doesn’t expose to HomeKit the config will very concise. If you do need other parameters you can check out their configuration wiki here. To expose these lights add the below code to your config.json file—if you have other platforms, add this as an extra:

"platforms": [
{
      "platform": "Hue",
      "users": {
        "001788FFFExxxxxx": "xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx",
        "001788FFFEyyyyyy": "yyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy"
      },
      "lights": true
    }
  ]

After this, you can save the config and startup Homebridge. When starting Homebridge it will kick out an error. Press the link button on the Hue Bridge and Homebridge will start up fully. The console will show a code and ask you to add it to the config.json file. If you’re using PuTTY to copy, highlight the user text. You’ll then want to delete the two users from the above config and replace them with the one you copied. To paste this move the text cursor to where you want to insert it and right-click.

Homebridge will now sync up to the Hue Bridge on startup. You will need to restart Homebridge when adding extra lights. This is so that Homebridge can discover them.

Overall, I’m extremely happy with the end result of this project. So far I’ve bought and setup two RGB+CCT Gledopto controllers, and have still spent less than the two-meter Hue Strip. I’ve had these strips for two weeks and have had zero issues. The colour output is great and they sync perfectly with my Hue Lights. As I said before, I’m sold. If you have any questions about these controllers drop a comment below and I’d be more than happy to answer them!

List of Equipment

– Gledopto RGB+CCT LED Controller
– RGB+CCT LED Strip
– 12V 3A Power Supply

For more information about Gledopto and the range of products they make check out the below links, all the products listed that support ZigBee will work using this guide method.


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38 Comments

    1. This is definitely something I’m looking at. but at the moment am sticking with the written guides! My plan is when I next move house to go back through all my posts as videos as I install it 🙂

      Reply

  1. Why does it not work adding to the HomeKit directly after paired with the IKEA-gateway? And how can it work by using home bridge as a gateway instead? I was thinking that the gateway was added to HomeKit and not the bulbs.

    Reply

    1. The reason they don’t pair directly is that Apple doesn’t allow third-party devices to be accessed directly, which is why Homebridge is required 🙂

      Reply

    1. Hey, they probably mean they won’t work natively with HomeKit, but like the LED Controllers, just connect them to your Hue system then you can expose them with the above guide! 🙂

      Reply

  2. Hey Sam,

    Great write up — question for you,
    I have a RGB LED Strip, the RGB Gledopto controller, and an Echo Plus.
    I do not have a Hue Bridge.

    Do I need a Hue Bridge to get this to work with HomeBridge? Or do you know if it works without the Hue Bridge, using the Echo Plus instead?

    Thanks again!

    Reply

    1. I’m not sure if there is a process for using the Echo Plus with Homebridge, and after a quick google can’t find any immediate suitable plugins. I’m also planning on writing a similar guide for connecting the Gledopto controllers to HomeKit using the IKEA TRÅDFRI gateway (using Homebridge), which might be a cheaper alternative to buying a Hue Bridge.

      Reply

      1. Thanks! I do have the TRÅDFRI so I’ll use that. Do you lose any functionality by using that over the Hue Bridge? Also I assume it’s as simple as using the homebridge Tradfri plugin instead of the Hue plugin?

        Reply

      2. Actually, I just set up the GLEDOPTO with the Tradfri gateway + app, not sure if you tried it recently or not, but I think there’s a firmware issue in changing colors. Is this something that’s resolved with using Homebridge and changing the color via Homekit rather than the Ikea app?

        Reply