I decided to strip apart the Philips Hue Light strip to do a stair light strip hack project. The origin Gen 1 Hue light strip was only 2 meters long and I needed 4m.
I wanted to install LED stair lights for a while now and was just waiting for the right product to come to market. This has just happened with Philips Hue releasing the Hue Led Lightstrip plus and a Hue Motion detector.
The problem was that there are 2 types of Philips Hue Light Strips. Both are only 2 meters long out of the packet, but the Generation 2 lightstrip lets you add extra 1m lengths. There is a trade-off though, you are limited to a total of 1600 lux for the total length. Be it 2m or 10m, so your LED lights will get dimmer the longer you go. The other factor is cost, it can get quite expensive to run long lengths of the newer Hue strip-lights.
- Philips Hue Generation 1 Includes 2m of the light strip. Unable to be extended. Unless hacked
- Generation 2 light strip plus, standard comes with 2m of light strip + available to extend to 10m with extra 1m lengths. If you have a short run of 2 or 3 meters, it will be more economical and easy to just purchase the Gen 2 Hue lightstrip. But if you have a long run like I do, it may be best to do this simple strip-light hack. It will save you money, and you will get a better fully automated lighting solution for your home. Read on for the full DIY instructions.
Philips Hue Controller Zigbee
The Stair lights DIY project I wanted to do was to add 4m of cheap 5050, 60 led per meter light strip, to a Philips Hue Controller. This would enable me to have full power and Lumens to my stairs. There was only one problem. The Philips Hue controller was limited to only a few amps. This required a LED RGB amplifier driver to be installed in line.
It would in theory work like this:
Power Supply —-> Philips Hue Controller—->LED RGB Amplifier Driver—->Light Strip
The LED RGB Amp Driver would also require its own power supply. The total amperage required will be the Total Power draw divided by Volts.
So, for example, I needed 4m of 60 LED per meter 5050 which is a total of 14.4w x 4m = 57.6 watts
57.6 / divided by 12 volts = 4.8 Amps
5050 led strip power supply.
Total amperage required for a 4m 5050 led strip light is less than 5 amps. So any power supply of 5A or more will work.
Inside the Hue Controller
The Philips Hue Zigbee controller would still continue to work with the Hue App.
I had to open up the Hue controller to wire in the power supply. This was so I didn’t have to use a converter for the US to AUS plug
Cheap SMD 5050 RGB Specs
|LED Strip Model||5050,150LED /Roll||5050,300LED /Roll I used this.||5050,600LED / Roll|
|LEDS Per Meter||30LED/Meter 432 lumens/meter||60LED/Meter/ 864 lumens meter||120LED/Meter 960 lumens meter|
|500cm / 5m||36Watt||72Watt||144Watt|
|300cm / 3m||21.6Watt||43.2Watt||86.4Watt|
|200cm / 2m||14.4Watt||28.8Watt||57.6Watt|
|100cm / 1m||7.2Watt||14.4Watt||28.8Watt|
Motion Activated Stair Lights Philips Hue
To make our LED stair lights totally autonomous, we needed to have motion detection. Philips released the Hue Motion Sensor in October 2016, and so it was perfect for our LED stair lighting project.
Only one Hue Motion sensor was required, as it was mounted at the top of the stairs pointing down. This covered both entrance to the stairs with a very high fast response time of less that 0.5 second. We did a full review of the Philips hue motion sensor which turned out to be a fantastic product.
Philips Hue Light Strip Hack
The following items shown below were used for this LED Hack Project.
First was to prove that the Generation 1 Philips Hue Light strip was able to be integrated with a cheap Hitlights LED light strip amplifier booster. This LED Amp was able to control up to 144 WATTS of amplification or about 4 amps per channel. Easily able to control one roll of High (300 LED) per 5m Density RGB Strip Light.
I went with this LED amplifier due to its small size and great current ratings.
You could in theory daisy chain each Hitlights LED amplifier, this would provide endless lengths of 5050 SMD Strip lights., with the same color profile.
To start the Philips Hue light strip Hack we had to cut off the original Philips Hue lightstrip from its controller. And wire the Hue controller to the Hitlights LED RGB amp, which in-turn got plugged into the new 5050 light strip. Confused Yet?
Give me power
So we require 2 power supply’s. 1 for the Philips Hue Controller, and 1 for the LED Amplifier booster.
As we are doing this project on the cheap I did some dumpster diving a few weeks earlier and was able to get a 5 amp power supply 12v.
You can also get them fairly cheap as shown above. Or if you just need a power supply to test out your invention, you may already have a car jump starter. Go get it, the output will be 12v for you nice and steady, and will have plenty of run time for you to test out your lighting invention.
Plugging in both power supplies and splicing the Philips Hue controller into the Amplifier proved that we could control and drive different colors.
First attempt failed as the wrong colors were being shown. Blue was always blue but green and red were mixed up. Not sure where this problem originated. (patch leads or amp) but swapping the Red and Green colors around was needed. Simple cut and splice.
Stairway Lighting Ideas Light Strips
My stairs have handrails on both sides so these were perfect to attach the 5050 led strip lighting underneath. I figured there was only need to use 1 of the handrails, as we should be able to get enough light from the 4m of strip lighting to illuminate the whole staircase.
The other Stairway lighting idea I had, was to mount the strip lights to the underside of each step and then drill a hole through the side of the staircase. This seemed like a lot of work. 1st option it is then.
I also wanted a clean install. This meant not being able to see the light strip, controllers or wires. Mounting the light strip to the handrail closest to the wall meant that I could run the wires down the wall to a power supply under the stairs. This power run was approximate 3.5m
Wiring Stair Light Strips, Philips Hue hack
My light strip project was powered from the centre of the stair hand rail. This meant the light strip had to be in 2 pieces. As my cheap 5050 light strip already had cables soldered on to each end, I just measured how much I needed and cut the light strip.
One way I could have made this job more simple and plug and play was to use the pre-made light-strip splitters. These can just be plugged into your led amp driver and then either soldered or plugged in. I just didn’t have any and didn’t want to wait a few days.
Remember to buy the correct splitter for your intended light-strip. Just count the number of outlet pins you need either 3,4 or 6. This one shown above has 6 pins which in intended for the Hue Generation 2 light strip plus which is a true plug and play lighting system. It has a single male 6pin to double female 6pin (male end is removable to make it female.)
Check out the full range of different types and colors of Light strips splitters here.
Can I cut light strips?
You sure can. All light strips can be cut, just make sure you cut them in groups of 3 LEDs. Most times there are cut marks. If there are no light strip cut marks there should be copper solder points in groups of 3 Light emitting diodes.
The 5050 SMD light strip is also commonly referred to as, triple core strips They have a sticky backing tape which is used to attach the light strip to the handrail.
Some people have commented that the older cheaper 5050 light strips had fake 3m sticky backing tape on them. This tape would fail after extended run times of the lights due to heat. The consequence is your LED strip lighting would fall off.
A way to fix this if you have fake 3m tape is to either run a small line of hot glue, e6000 or silicone along one or both sides of the LED strip lighting. This would help to hold it in place.
The other way to hold your lighting strip upside down is to use GriverStrip Light Mounting Brackets, they are fixing clips that are transparent and go over your strip light and attach via a screw to one side. They come in a pack of 100. They are especially good outside if moisture gets under the 3m tape and destroys the glue over time.
With 11.15mm hollow distance, 3mm hollow height, they are ideal for 3528/5050/5630/3014 SMD LED waterproof strip light that are10mm wide. We recommend using 3-6pcs for each 1 meter of strip lighting.
Splicing and wiring up
Once in position, it was time to wire and solder each 4 cables on the strip lighting. I also used very small bit of heat shrink on each cable. We don’t want to short them out and start a fire.
- B+ Black 12v power
- R Red LED power
- G Green LED power
- B Blue Led power
Philips Hue Zigbee Hack Works, It really works
So the Philips Hue Light Strip hack works. We can display all the colours and dimming also seems to work. Not as good as the original hue controller but it works all the way down to 0.
The Hue combined Hitlights RGB amp seems to dim in steps like 100-80-60-40-20-0%
I wasn’t too concerned with dimming, as the led stair lights will be always set to full brightness. Just wanted to show that it could be done, some reports I had seen online with cheap controllers, showed dimming not possible.
An interesting observation was as soon as the Light strip is started, either by an app on the phone, or motion detector the red Led momentarily illuminate. For some reason, the Red Light emitting diode is being triggered first. It’s only a split second but it’s noticeable enough to comment on.
Check out our you-tube clip of our safety lights in action.
Total Cost of Philips hue stairs light strip project
- Philips Hue Lightstrip Gen 1
- 5050 5m SMD 300 led 60 led/m
- Hitlights Light strips power amplifier booster
- Philips Hue Motion Sensor – Click above for prices.
- Power supply 5A – Free dumpster diving $0
- Second power supply 1 Amp – Used an old 1 amp power supply for a router $0 (this was so I didn’t have to use a US to Australian power adaptor)
- Solder iron, heat shrink – Free on hand stock $0 Check out our heat gun reviews for heat shrinking cables.
- My time – 3 Hours $ Priceless
Hue compatible wireless electronic ballast FLS-PP lp with Power PWM ZigBee certified product
Thanks to WSH for letting us know about the FLS-PP aftermarket Philips Hue controller. This all in one device is perfect for those of you who want a simple plug and play solution to installing your light strips and not wanting to solder in cables or amplifiers.
- Ready-to-use wireless electronic ballast.
- Suitable for 12/24V RGB and RGBW light strips.
- Controlling features: dimming, color tone adjustment, grouping lights, saving and using predefined scenes smart phone, tablet or PC by a web application (requires RaspBee Gateway from Dresden elektronik)
- ZigBee Light Link certified
- Compatible with ZigBee systems like RaspBee, Gateway, Philips Hue and OSRAM Lighting
- Firmware Up-gradable
The FLS-PP lp is a clever wireless ballast, it guarantees you a lighting strategy in your Smart home. Control it via the RaspBee gateway from Dresden Elektronik, via the handy USB gateway “ConBee” or via the Philips Hue Bridge and the Osram Lightify Gateway. This is because they are all based on the ZigBee Light Link standard. So many options.
It is compatible with most Philips Hue 3rd party apps, so you can control your light strips using the FLS-PP without having to purchase the expensive Hue controller. I have one on order so I’m looking forward to doing a detailed review on it soon.
- – Frequency: 2.4 GHz
- – Output: 4 channels PWM 0-100%, each 12/24 VDC, total current 6 A max.
- – Input: 12 / 24V, For monochromatic and two-channel hot-cold white lamps only possible in conjunction with RaspBee Gateway
- – Standby power consumption: <0.35W
- – Control of lighting by constant voltage source
- – Control by the RaspBee gateway And web application
- – ZigBee certified product
Philips Hue Light Strip installation conclusion.
In the end the Light strip hack install went great. For the total cost of about $80. (not including the motion sensor) I was able to get full Zigbee auto control of my stair lighting. Color changing Hue lights if we are in the mood, with the Android Hue App. We just set it to a white / blue light which goes well.
There is a massive cost saving here by doing this Philips Hue light strip hack compared to regular halogen lighting. Better money in your pocket every year, then going to the power companies.
I now have 2m of leftover original Hue light strips and 1m of the 5050 which definitely will get used for something else, like under kitchen cupboard lighting.
The plan is for the whole house to be Philips Hue enabled, they are expensive but worth it. The latest Gen 3 Hue Globes are fantastic with true color representation. Google Home is also currently involved with voice commands to turn on the lights. It works really well. Check it out.
Thanks for all the help I have received over the last few months especially through Reddit r/hue, hopefully, I have helped someone else.