Our kitchen is placed in an L shaped extension of our house. When we bought our house it had only simple on/off (dumb) light bulbs in the ceiling. We wanted to be able to dim the lights, so this was a perfect opportunity to replace them with Smart GU10 bulbs.
Making the lights smart and work correctly wasn’t as simple as I thought, 30% of the time one or two light bulbs of the 10 in total didn’t go on or off. I finally fixed it, so let me walk you through it.
Making the existing GU5.3 light bulbs smart – the first plan
So before we go to the Smart GU10 light bulbs, let me first explain the situation an where I started. The extension of our house had GU5.3 (yes the little ones) light bulbs in the ceiling. We could only turn them on or off, and they where old halogen ones, something that we wanted to change.
Because we wanted to replace them with led light bulbs, we needed to replace the drivers. We also wanted to make them dimmable, so we would need a new dimmer and led drivers that are suitable for a dimmer.
Another problem we ran into, is that we couldn’t hookup all the LEDs to one driver. The light bulbs were made in strings of 3 and one of 4 light bulbs. Because I couldn’t pull new wires above the ceiling we would be forced to buy 4 new led drivers.
Dimmable led drivers
There are plenty of lights drivers on the market, but the ones that are dimmable are pretty expensive if you need more then one of them. When you are looking for a led driver you will have to check how much watt your led light bulb is using and how many of them you want to connect to one driver.
We ended up with the Led driver from ELT on Amazon. They cost around $30 each and can dim your lights perfectly.
GU5.3 Led Light Bulbs and the Dimmer
We also needed a dimmer and of course 10 GU5.3 Light bulbs. The total cost of making the GU5.3 lights dimmable would cost us in total:
- 4 Led Drivers – $ 120
- 10 Light bulbs – $ 40
- Gira Dimmer – $ 90
- Total $ 250
So knowing that the Ikea Tradfri GU10 light bulbs only cost around $7, I started thinking. Spending $250 only to dim the lights was a bit expensive, and then still I need to manually control the lights. I couldn’t make them smart.
The only option would be to drop the dimmer, and place a z-wave flush relay in it (which I have used before for my outdoor lighting), but I couldn’t fit it behind the light switch, the back box wasn’t simply deep enough.
Switching to GU10
So figured, why not replace the light fixtures? This way I could use the Smart GU10 bulbs from Ikea, and connect them to my Smart Hub, Homey. I thought that the light fixtures would be expensive, but they were surprisingly cheap.
Replacing the fixtures is really easy, but don’t forget to remove the led driver, you won’t need those anymore.
The total cost of replacing the fixtures and the Smart GU10 Bulbs were only $120!
Installing the Ikea Tradfri Smart GU10
Installing the Ikea Tradfri Smart GU10 light bulbs is really easy. Just connect them one by one while linking them to your Smart hub.
What I did was connect one light bulb, make sure it connected to Homey and remove it again. Why? Because when one light bulb needs to be reset, you will need to press the light switch 6x fast on and off. This resets the light bulb, but if you leave the others connected, they will also reset.
In Homey you can create groups of devices, so you can turn all the spots on and off with one click. You can even set the dim level for the whole group.
What went wrong
So everything looked perfect, I created some flows to turn the light on and off, different scenes for when we are cooking, etc. But I noticed a couple of times the random lights wouldn’t turn on or off.
It looked like the total 20 Ikea Smart Lights (I have other Ikea Tradfri lights in the house as well) where to much for Homey to turn on or off at the same time. So I tried splitting the kitchen lights from the rest, with a delay of a few seconds. But that didn’t help either.
The problem is that the light bulbs are to close to each other. Each light has its own channel in the Zigbee protocol. This way each individual light can be controlled. But Homey is using a slightly wider bandwidth, so there is some overlap between the lights.
This wasn’t going to work, I tried every possible option, delay’s between the lights while skipping one every time even didn’t help.
Fixing the GU10 Smart Lights
I got a tip, after reaching out to the community of Homey, to use the Ikea Tradfri Hub for the kitchen lights instead of Homey self. There is an app that will connect the Hub to Homey, so I could still use Homey to control the lights.
So back to the Ikea, were bought the Ikea Tradfri Hub and a remote (you need a remote to connect lights to the hub! (I didn’t know that, so it was two trips to the Ikea))
I had to go through the process of removing all the lights bulbs, reset them, connect them to the hub, remove it, connect the next, etc all again. Took me a good hour, but it was worth it. All the lights are working flawlessly now.
What surprised me was the range of the Ikea Tradfri Hub. Homey is placed in a central position in the house, on a shelf. But the hub is tuck away in the staircase, surrounded by brick walls. It still was able to easily connect the smart gu10 bulbs in the kitchen.
Some Tips for the GU10 bulbs
Know with the Smart GU10 bulbs you can also do some useful and fun things. Normally when you have a string of multiple GU10 bulbs you can only control them all at once. So they are all on the same dim level. With the Smart GU10 Bulbs, you can control each individual light bulb.
- The lights go on and off just like the normal lights, but between 17.30 and 19.30 the light intensity increase so we have proper light to cook.
- Only the bulbs above the counter are increased to 50%, while the others are gradually dimmed in small steps back to the normal 20%.
- When I need to get something from the kitchen in the middle of the night, something that happens often with small kids, only a couple of lights will turn on automatically with a dim level of 5%.
- If you are going to use multiple Smart GU10 Bulbs close to each other, it can be worth investing a hub from the same brand. It’s really annoying when not all light turn on or off.
- When a hub isn’t possible to use, you can also use a normal light switch to turn the lights on and off and use your smart home device only to control the dim level.
Have you created something cool or useful with the Smart GU10 bulbs? Let me know in the comments below!