Philips Hue Light Strip hack using 5050 RGB SMD for Stairs

philips hue stair lighting home automation

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 two 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.

lightstrip plus hack
Generation 2 Philips Hue Light Strip
  • Philips Hue Generation 1 Includes 2m of the light strip. Unable to be extended. Unless hacked
  • Generation 2 light strip plus, the standard one 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 light strip. But if you have a long run as 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.

Items Required Hacking the Philips Hue Lightstrip Gen 1

Philips Hue Controller Zigbee

The Stair Lights DIY project I wanted to do was to add 4m of cheap 5050, Coloured 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 inline.

It would, in theory, work like this:

Philips hue light strip hack plans
Soldering Hue controller to a fly lead.

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.

The 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.

philips hue light strip controller inside hack mod
Hue Zigbee Light strip controller back
Philips hue controller hack
Inside the Philips Hue light strip Zigbee controller

Inside the Philips 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 Model5050, 150 LED /Roll5050, 300 LED / Roll  I used this.5050, 600 LED / Roll
LEDs Per Meter30LED/Meter 432 lumens/meter60LED/Meter/ 864 lumens meter120LED/Meter 960 lumens meter
500cm / 5m36Watt72Watt144Watt
300cm / 3m21.6Watt43.2Watt86.4Watt
200cm / 2m14.4Watt28.8Watt57.6Watt
100cm / 1m7.2Watt14.4Watt28.8Watt

Motion Activated Stair Lights Philips Hue

Philips hue motion detector on stair lighting

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 entrances to the stairs with a very high fast response time of fewer than 0.5 seconds.  We did a full review of the Philips hue motion sensor which turned out to be a fantastic product.

It is wireless and lasts around a year with rechargeable AAA batteries.

Philips Hue Light Strip Hack

The first was to prove that the Generation 1 Philips Hue Light strip was able to be integrated with a cheap Amazon 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 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 light strip from its controller. And wire the Hue controller to the LED RGB amp, which in turn got plugged into the new 5050 light strip. Confused Yet?

light strip hack 5050 smd hue
Test Run before installation, only half the LEDs are active.

Give me power

So we require 2 power supplies. 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 12v 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 a 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.

wiring stair lighting light strip
Wiring up strip lights prior to soldering

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 approximately 3.5m

light strip under stair handrail
Light strip hack supply cable painted black. Can you see it?

 Wiring Stair Light Strips, Philips Hue hack

My light strip project was powered from the center of the stair handrail. 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 were 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. Yjr newer Philips hue Gen 2 uses 6 pins which is a true plug-and-play lighting system. It has a single male 6pin to double female 6pin (m the ale end is removable to make it female.)

Can I cut light strips?

You sure can. All light strips can be cut, just make sure you cut them into 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. Just cut them with the power off please.

The 5050 SMD light strip is also commonly referred to as, triple-core strips They have a sticky backing tape that 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 fabric glue, or silicone.  Place it along one or both sides of the LED strip lighting. This would help to hold it in place.

Griver Strip Light Mounting Brackets

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 are 10mm wide. We recommend using 3-6pcs for each 1 meter of strip lighting.

Just remember that the width and height for the standard light strip are 0.43″ x 0.11″ (width x height). But the Philips Hue Plus light strip measures 0.59″ x 0.19″ so it is wider.

Splicing and wiring up

Once in position, it was time to wire and solder the 4 cables on the strip lighting. I also used a 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 stair lighting home automation
Automatic stair lights led philips hue
Philips hue light strips hack 5050 smd
stair color lights motion activated

I painted the white cable black, to blend into the brick wall. Powered it up and went WOW it’s bright. 


Philips Hue Zigbee Hack Works, It really works

So the Philips Hue Light Strip hack works. We can display all the colors 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 an 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. I 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 a motion detector the red Led momentarily illuminates. 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 the youtube clip of our stair safety lights in action.

Hue compatible wireless electronic ballast FLS-PP lp with Power PWM ZigBee certified product

Wireless electronic ballast FLS-PP LED stripes ZigBee

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 on smartphone, 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.

Key Features:

  • – 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 a 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 Hue 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 mod hack compared to regular halogen stair lighting. Better money in your pocket every year, rather than going to the power companies. Plus I can even have Philips Hue outdoor lighting now. Inside and out.

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.

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  1. This mod assumes that you already have the Hue Hub (which either comes with the Gen 1 or 2 strip kits) or off eBay for 20-30 bucks.

    While this hack is great, it does waste a whole strip of Hue. You’re better off getting the zigbee ballast off Amazon and used the Gen 1 light strip by itself.

    Other than that the mod looks straightforward.

    • Thanks for the extra information on the Wireless electronic ballast FLS-PP lp with Power PWM interface for RGBW and RGB lights. This is a cool product.
      I did think about using it. I may still one day. Very tidy all in one package. Good reviews on amazon, another option for strip lights.

      • Is it possible you could most more pics of the wiring, as it isn’t very clear even zoomed in which bit is which. Does this change significantly for the Lightstrips Plus?

        • Sure picture sent, light strip plus is simple to use / install and can just be clicked together but at a much higher price. Not sure about modding the Light strip + but im sure it can be done

  2. Hello, nice hack.
    The hue lightstrip 1. gen does not seem to be available anymore. The dresden electronic controller is not cheap and is recogniced as two lamps (RGB and cw/ww).
    So I thought about building my own Zigbee-Controller.
    Ikea Trådfri makes it easy: all bulps contain an seperate Zigbee controller module. So all you need is the Trådfri bulp (warmwhite, whitespectrum or RGBW), disassamble it ald free the zigbee module. It needs 3.3V, so you need a stepdown converter from 12/24V to 3.3 (1-2€ on ebay)
    To pulsemodulate the lightstrip, you need a LogicLevel MosFET module (1-Chanel: 1€, 4-chanel 3,70€).
    And of course, power source and a lightstrip.

    You can build what you need: single colour controler, dual white controller and RGBW. Depending of the Ikea bulb you use as source for the zigbee module.

    In jiawen e27 (about 20€ at gearbest) there is also a well working zigbee module which will work fine.

    I wrote an instruction, sorry, german only. But many pictures. If someone wants to translate it, feel free to do so, I put it under creative common licence.

  3. Can you please share the pinout of the Philips HUE led strip? I only see a + sign but no RGB on the led strip.

  4. Hi, fantastic hack…. I’m just about to start looking in to the hue strip lights. Can I ask if what you’ve done is compatible with the apple homekit? Providing you used the 2nd gen hue bridge?

    • Yes, it is compatible with the apple home kit. I only have used the 2nd gen square bridge. It is hard to find the first generation light strip controllers now.


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