Smart lighting options from Philips Hue are quite pricey, but perhaps nothing is more expensive than Hue LightStrips. The good news is that you can save some money by collecting multiple DIY Hue compatible strips.

RELATED: How to get the most out of your Philips Hue Lights

The Hue LightStrip kit costs a steep $90 and comes with two meters of light strips. You can add one meter extension for $30 each. To get the five meter Hue LightStrips, you’ll have to spend $170. However, if you’re willing to do a little assembly yourself (no special skills required), you can get the same length of Hue-compatible LED strips for just over $40.

The only downside is that your light bar won’t work with HomeKit or Hue Sync and the transitions aren’t as smooth as they really are, but if you’re still interested in saving a lot of money then keep reading.

What you need

To create Hue-compatible LED strips, you will need three main components: LED strips, a controller module, and a power supply. Unfortunately, you can only find the correct controller module on Aliexpress, so be prepared to wait a few weeks as it comes from China.

Here’s what you need:

  • Gledopto ZigBee RGB + CCT LED Controller: This controller allows you to change the colors as well as the color temperature of the white spectrum.
  • Five meter LED light bar: You can cut them to a shorter length if needed, or you can buy more if you want something even longer (with connectors).
  • Power supply 12V, 3A: Three amplifiers will help you get the job done on five meters of light bars or less. If you add more, you will need a 5A power supply.

In total, all this cost me only $43.90. The same setup using the official Hue LightStrips will set you back $170, and that doesn’t include sales tax.

Putting it all together

You don’t have to do much to get it all up and running, and it takes about five minutes to put everything together.

To begin, take the six wires at the end of the LED strip and insert them into their respective sockets on the controller module. To do this, use a pen or a small screwdriver to push down on the terminal, insert the wire into its socket, and release the terminal to lock the wire in place.

Here is a photo of what the connections look like so you can match them to yours. Note that the white wire is not actually connected to the «W» connector, but to the «V+» connector. In addition, there are two red wires — one next to the blue wire is inserted into the «R» slot. The other red wire is inserted into the «W» slot.

After all connections are made, connect the power supply to the controller module. Plug the other end into a socket.

The LED strip should light up immediately. If not, check that the green light on the controller is on. If the indicator is on, check the wire connections. Also, be sure to cut the other end of the light strip so that the ends of the wires don’t touch each other. If they touch, it won’t short the light, but it will display different colors than the one you chose.

Once your light bar is working properly, it’s time to connect it to your Hue Bridge and control it from your phone!

Pairing it with Hue

Connecting the light bar to the Hue bridge and controlling it from your phone is just like adding any other Hue light. Start by opening the Hue app and tap the «Settings» tab at the bottom.

Select «Light Setup» from the list of options.

Click «Add Light» in the top left corner of the screen.

Click «Search» at the bottom.

The application will start searching for new light sources. Eventually, he will find a new light bar called something like «Extended Color Light».

From there, go back and add a new light to the room under the «Room Setup» option. This allows you to control the light and turn it on with the other Hue lamps in the room.

At this point, your DIY light strip works like any other light shade and you will never feel the difference in the app.

Again, the downside is that it won’t work with HomeKit or Hue Sync, and the transitions are pretty abrupt when dimming or turning the lights on and off, at least compared to the smooth transitions of the official Hue lights. It’s not that hard, especially when you’re saving a ton of money.

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