Philips Hue light bulbs use a Bridge(transmitter) to connect between your network and their smart lights via a ZigBee protocol called Light Link. Can you control the lights directly with your own xBee radio?

I'm most interested in creating my own custom mechanical dimmers and tactile buttons, switches, levers, etc!

Osram Lihgtify and Cree bulbs apparently use Light Link over xBee as well.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Would a better option be to communicate with the Hue hub via wifi? I'm looking at this idea (physical Hue controls) as well. \$\endgroup\$
    – Taraz
    Commented Dec 21, 2015 at 22:13

2 Answers 2


No you can not. The Hue network is a ZigBee Light Link network, and a ZigBee Light Link Network uses "secret" ZLL security keys. Home Automation networks use public security keys, and hence if this was a Home Automation (HA) profile network then you could do this.

The Hue Lights will join a HA network, so if you can create a HA coordinator and reset the Hue Lights then they will connect to your HA coordinator and then you can bind standard HA dimmers etc. You can do all this with the TI ZigBee HA gateway (based on beaglebone), from here: http://www.ti.com/tool/CC2531EM-IOT-HOME-GATEWAY-RD

The challenge would be to reset the lights and get them to join the HA gateway, you could use Lampsteeler, but timing would be tricky as the light "may" just join back to the Hub.

After the Lights have joined the TI HA Gateway you can play around with the HA Gateway UI, there is a bind option which you can use to "bind" a HA switch to the Lights, I have done this already so know it works. but you loose the ability to control the Lights through the Hue App as they will no longer be connected to the Hue Hub... Unfortunately there seems to be no way to make the Hue Hub join a HA network, although the ZLL spec states that this must be possible.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ The ZLL secret key has been leaked, does this change the situation if I do not care about the copyright of the key? My idea is to build a dimmer that works with the HUE bridge since philips no longer make their livingwhites adapter. \$\endgroup\$
    – heeen
    Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 13:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd assume that if you contracted with Philips to become a certified device maker, you'd also be given a 'development guide' which would describe the 'api' between devices and the hub, what responsibilities devices have, what things they must respond to, how they describe their capabilities, etc. Without that guide, you'd have to reverse engineer one or more existing devices to figure out what your devices obligations were. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 23, 2018 at 20:08

Can you control the lights directly with your own xBee radio?

Yes you can. Look for the node-red-zblight node for code examples of how to easily control a Hue or even cree connected Zigbee bulb from a Xbee Pro S2C using the ZHA protocol.

I am already doign this by forming the packets as they are well defined in not only the Xbee documentation but also in the project I mentioned above.


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