I cannot overstate the impact that equipping the flat with Philips Hue lights has had. These seemingly innocuous light bulbs behave much like any other. You can switch them on and off at the wall like normal bulbs, but the magic happens when you command them to change colour, brightness and saturation via the Philips Hue app, or like me via a direct command to the Bridge via a http request.
The Bridge is a puck-shaped device that you plug into your router and this then communicates with all the bulbs within its radio-range. For bulbs that are too far away from the Bridge, the message is communicated through all available bulbs. This way a command can reach all the way through a large house (or comfortably through a small flat like ours).
Here’s the Hue Bridge (the circular device with the blue lights). You can see that I’ve found a cool place to tidy away all my home control devices: in the empty space previously occupied by a obsolete hot air heating system vent. The Hue Bridge shares its home with a Hive controller, a Sonos Bridge and a LightwaveRF Link. All devices are out of view until I need to look at any of them.
The Philips Hue App vs. direct control
The app itself is not great, purely because it takes a while to load up, and I don’t like the way that it behaves. I think the app was not designed for someone like me, who wants to press one icon and get the lights exactly how I want them.
A rather extreme example: how lighting can change the atmosphere within a split second (don’t worry, our bathroom isn’t often that pink!)
Direct control (http request) is the best way to control Hue as far as I am concerned. I do away with the app altogether and use the control pads throughout the flat. This incidentally was before Philips brought out a new device that can do this – the Hue Tap.
Basically, the pad is pressed to select a colour, this sends a radio signal which is picked up by the transciever attached to the Raspberry Pi. Domoticz acknowledges that the button was pressed, and then sends an appropriate request or requests to the Philips Hue Bridge via the network. I say requests because you can send as many commands in one go as you like, up to about 10 per second.
You can get a list of all the commands you can send to the Bridge, as well as how to set up the Bridge to accept these commands at the Philips Hue API site.