Being able to control your lights with your voice is just one of the many unique features brought to you by Amazon’s Alexa series. Through integrations with products like the Philips Hue Light bulb, your lightbulbs can connect to your internet to be integrated with your Smart Home hubs, namely, Amazon Alexa.
However, nothing will kill your technology buzz like finding out that your Smart Home hub has stopped connecting your Philips Hue Light bulbs. Here’s how you can troubleshoot your Philips Hue bulbs and get them back on track with the Amazon Alexa Smart Home Hub.
(1) Power Cycle the Hue Bridge
Philips Hue products connect to the internet through the Hue Bridge SmartHome platform. The Bridge is what tells all the bulbs what to do and when, and it also determines what bulbs you’re trying to use through mechanical designations.
Many errors with the connectivity of bulbs can be remedied by power cycling—turning off and turning back on—the Hue Bridge that connects all the others.
When the Bridge is running, it stores all kinds of information and rewrites its memory several times per minute. This memory can get clogged or end up with critical conflicts when left to run for too long.
When you power the Bridge down, it will wipe its RAM (Random Access Memory), or the part of the computer’s brain where it stores individual session information. A lot of time, critical conflicts in the RAM of a computer piece can be solved by wiping the RAM with a power cycle.
(2) Disable and Re-Enable the Alexa Skill
The Alexa Skill can also lose its connection to the Hue Bridge.
The easiest way to fix this is to remove the Alexa Skill from the Hue Bridge’s memory. When the Bridge pairs with your Alexa Skill, it will remember the device data.
Suppose there’s an error where the Alexa cannot connect to the Bridge, but the Bridge is still registering the Alexa Skill as a connected device. In that case, you may be able to solve it by disabling the Alexa Skill.
To do this, go into the Alexa App, tap more, then go to the Skills & Games tab. Open the search bar by tapping on it and enter “Hue” into the search bar, then tap Disable skill. Give the devices a second to forget each other’s data, then tap Enable to Use to re-enable the Alexa Skill for the Hue Bridge.
(3) Fix Alexa Group Issues
Alexa doesn’t view your Hue Bridge network as a single network of lightbulbs. Instead, the Alexa connects to each lightbulb individually and will show each different lightbulb as an individual device. However, it also makes use of the Hue Room Groupings.
So, for instance, if you have Hue lights in one room, the Alexa will control each bulb individually and the Room Grouping you designate in your Hue Bridge. This means that the Hue Room is sometimes not in the same “group” as the individual bulbs.
This discrepancy can cause the Alexa to fail to be able to control one or more of the individual bulbs in a group, even though it’s able to control the room grouping. You’ll need to change the information for your Alexa SmartHome Groups to fix this.
Start by opening the Alexa App and tap the devices icon in the bottom-right corner of the screen. This will bring you to the leading Smart Home screen where you can make, edit, and control groups of smart devices in your home.
To add a new group, tap the Plus icon and select “Add Group” from the menu. When you do this, you’ll be given a populated list of common room names you can choose from, or you can enter your unique character.
Tap Next to get started adding devices to your groupings. You’ll be brought to the Define Group menu once you hit Next. Choose any devices that are located in the room you’re grouping for. Include any Amazon Echo devices, smart bulbs, thermostats, and Sonos speakers.
All you’ve gotta do after that is hit the “save” button, and you’ll be all set to control your room’s smart devices with your Amazon Alexa device.
(4) Resets as Needed
At this point, if you are still having issues you should consider resetting devices to see if that solves the problem. Your Alexa should be updated, first of all.
Next, consider resetting individual lights as needed (particularly if the problem is only in one or a few lights).
Any app can be deleted and reinstalled with minimal risk. Although settings will be lost, a simple delete followed by a fresh install will solve many smart home connectivity problems.
Lastly, you can perform a hard reset (“factory reset”) on the Hue bridge if nothing else works. Sure, you lose some settings, but it may be worth it to alleviate the problems.
Fixing Unresponsive Lights
If you only have one light that won’t respond in your grouping, start by checking the Philips Hue app to make sure the lightbulb is reachable. If the lightbulb is listed as Unreachable, you have a few options right off the bat.
- Check the Light Switch
Philips Hue lightbulbs must be turned on from the light switch, or they’ll cease to function. Turning off the power to an individual outlet is an excellent way to save energy and reduce your carbon footprint. Still, Smart Devices always require power to maintain their connections to Smart hubs.
While this may sound basic, please do us a favor and check the switch anyway. It’s always a good place to start.
- Your Network Is Too Small
Smart Home devices also need to be close enough to a hub to be connected to the corner. While it might be tempting to stretch your network as far as you can without adding a second hub, this could cause your devices to stop functioning correctly.
Suppose the bulbs at the edge of your network’s range are consistently having issues. In that case, you probably want to consider expanding your Smart Home network with additional hubs to provide a more stable connection to devices outside your current operating range.
- There’s Interference
It’s also worth noting that interference on your Wi-Fi connection can cause your Smart Home devices to start acting wonky. Philips Hue products operate on the 2.4 GHz connection band alongside your typical Wi-Fi devices. But with so many devices connected to one bar, it can be strenuous for your devices to communicate.
It’s like trying to talk in a crowded room. It can be hard to hear your conversational partners with everyone around you chattering. This is what happens to your Wi-Fi bands when you have too many devices connected to them. They get crowded, and all the chatter of the different devices communicating at once can muddy the waters and make it hard for your devices to interact correctly.
To fix this, you’ll need to change the channel that your Philips Hue products are connected to. Luckily, Zigbee has an integrated GUI menu for this. So, you won’t have to break into the under-the-hood stuff as you used to for things like this.
Open the Zigbee App. Make sure all your Hue lights are turned on for this (don’t worry, you can turn them back off once you’ve changed the channel!). Go to the Settings and Tap “Hue Bridges.” Next, you’ll need to tap the “Change Channel” button, swapping your ZigBee products to a different Wi-Fi channel to reduce interference.
Note that you’ll need to ensure that all your Hue lights are turned on during the channel change. Otherwise, not all the bulbs will switch to the new channel with the hubs.
- Reset the Alexa Grouping
If your lights aren’t labeled as “Unreachable,” the problem may be with the Alexa grouping. Open the Alexa app and select “Devices” from the bottom right-hand corner of the menu. Open the group your light is a part of and search for the unresponsive bulb. Then, tap the little tick next to the unresponsive light to disable it.
Save the grouping to disable the light officially. Please give it a second, tap the tick to re-enable the morning, and hit save again. Ask your Amazon Alexa to turn on the group to ensure that the light has been re-enabled and is up and running.
It’s also possible that your Hue bulb was removed from the group by accident. This has been known to happen with Alexa groups. So, it’s not a sign of anything insidious. Just another problem with another consumer technology piece that “doesn’t exist,” according to the manufacturer. You know, the works.
Be Aware of What Third-Party Tools You’re Using
Third-party tools for managing your Smart Home devices can cause lights to be added to groups multiple times accidentally. This interference in the code will prevent the light from functioning correctly.
For instance, using Hue bulbs with Samsung’s SmartThings software can cause Alexa to have multiple instances of your lights in her grouping. When you add your Hue Bulbs to SmartThings and then SmartThings to Alexa’s Skills, SmartThings will add all of your Hue bulbs to each group a second time. So, be aware of what Third-Party apps you use to ensure a smooth transition between the different apps.
Some third-party applications allow you to choose which devices can be seen by Alexa. SmartThings used to enable this, but the feature was mysteriously removed from the application as Samsung is overhauling the SmartThings platform to provide a more well-rounded service.
VPNs and firewalls are also notorious for interfering with smart home devices. Generally, a VPN or firewall can cause a connectivity problem without giving any indication that the VPN is the source of the issue. Many of us only identify this as a problem after having spent hours trying every other fix in the book.
If you are on a VPN, it may be worth disabling it before calling tech support or returning a “defective” device. Try your connections again and see if the issue is resolved.
It can be frustrating to have your electronics malfunction, but troubleshooting is just part of interacting with technologies of all kinds.
Philips Hue lights aren’t perfect, but they’re an excellent Smart Home integration for your lights. They provide unlimited customization and integration with other applications; first and third-party proprietary applications support the Philips Hue lights.
So, if you haven’t checked them out… why not?!