How to save money on HomeKit with Philips Wiz and Raspberry Pi

Wiz bulbs look great and cost less than Hue, but they need the help of HomeKit. From top to bottom, counting the bathroom fixtures, we have about 40 lights in the whole house. And when we walked in, both of those lights were a hot suction bulb. Replacing those with cooler, more efficient LEDs was one of the low-profile projects I did after the migration.

In Bright Colors: Ars Hacker Certified Philips Hue LEDs

As part of this project, I lit several rooms with Philips Hue smart bulbs, which made custom LED lighting popular at first and simplified. In 2012, these lights, along with the Ecobee thermostat, formed the basis of the HomeKit, since my wife and I are iPhone users and didn't own Echo, Google, or Nest products at the time. Since then, our smart home has grown to include various gadgets here and there, and when we can get by, we aim for HomeKit compatibility. (I think a lot of smart home setups are like this - over time, they're made up of a bunch of products either supplied with the home or all bought separately for specific needs, all after that fact, grouped together by Google, Amazon, or Apple , depending on what tech giants you have on hand at the time.)

I've gone fast five years, and I was ready to add smart lighting to more rooms. Homepage. However, I didn't want to pay for the Hue, especially for multi-colored bulbs - a 60-watt white bulb usually costs around $15, and a full-color bulb costs between $30 and $50 apiece. A company called Meross makes an attractive multicolored HomeKit-compatible lamp for about $15, but the mediocre customer reviews (and lack of professional reviews) made me skeptical. Completely different and incompatible with Wiz (Signify, a subsidiary of Philips that makes Hue bulbs, bought a company called WiZ Connected in 2019, a brief explanation of why the same company has two completely separate lines of the smart bulbs they sell). Wiz bulbs are well researched and cost $12 or $13 per multicolor bulb - the only thing they haven't done is integrate with HomeKit. But for the intrepid DIY-er, there is a solution: Homebridge, a lightweight server software that mediates communication between HomeKit and a suite of smart HomeKit-compatible accessories.

Homebridge Setup

Wiz lights can be seamlessly integrated into Google Homes or Amazon Alexa, but outside of Wiz itself, the lights support devices that Apple relies on Siri Shortcuts. In a home that only uses Wiz bulbs, these shortcuts are probably good enough - you can create separate shortcuts to control different groups of lights as desired. But I wanted to combine it with Hue bulbs and other accessories I already set up in HomeKit so I could control the group of lights using the same commands, and access those commands with the other people I live with. Share and use the same interface. To control everything instead of debugging different applications.


Homebridge is a nodeJS server that runs on just about anything, including a PC or Mac actually, Synology or QNAP NAS as an app. docker container. By scanning a QR code, you can add your Homebridge device as a hub to your HomeKit settings, like a hub that controls Hue lights. From there, HomeKit communicates with your bridge, and HomeBridge sends these commands to your non-HomeKit peripherals in a language they can understand. Homebridge is used to support community-developed extensions, and you can find Homebridge extensions for Wiz lights, Nest thermostats, and smoke detectors, and even order your HomeKit devices through Amazon Alexa.

I wanted to use the old Raspberry Pi 3 I already had, because I wanted something cheap and low in consumption that could only be put into a corner and always on. It used to be a game console emulator, but since I replaced it with the Pi 4, it's gone crazy in the closet. There's a Homebridge Ready Image for Pi that includes software and a web-based interface that easily fits on any microSD card 4GB or larger.

After you flash the Homebridge image and turn on the Pi, Homebridge turns on the Wi-Fi network you're connected to by phone or computer. This opens the simple screen you use to connect HomeBridge to your home Wi-Fi (the easiest way is to have all your devices in one VLAN, which most home networks configure this way unless you specifically set them up differently; if you put your smart home devices On a separate VLAN for security purposes, you can still use HomeKit and Homebridge with them, but here it is out of our reach.) You plan to use LEDs with Homebridge. Nothing prevents HomeKit and Wiz from being used separately, and Wiz has a number of color presets that you can't replicate with Home, but I mostly control the lights using Siri voice commands and HomeKit automation.

The caption to the image in the gallery above shows you the step-by-step installation of the Wiz Plug-in for Homebridge and ensuring all your accessories are added. Instead of using the QR code on the Homebridge homepage to add accessories, I also prefer to create "sub" bridges for each plug-in to make Homebridge more reliable and easier to disassemble in case of problems. When Homebridge detects your Wiz lights on the network and adds the bridgehead to HomeKit using a QR code, all lights should display as normal in the Home app. Homebridge and the Wiz plug-in support the new "Adaptive Brightness" feature introduced in iOS 14, which changes the color temperature of lights dynamically throughout the day. )

I didn't make much effort to secure the Homebridge box, because the Wiz lights are the only thing it's currently connected to, and all connections are done over the LAN. No free internet connection or viewing (I tried adding my Nest Protect thermostat to it, but I couldn't get past the breakdown). You can add 2FA to the Homebridge login screen if you like, and I also recommend doing basic Raspberry Pi security precautions, such as making sure the default administrator password "pi" is changed and making sure the operating system has sudo passwords.. Also, if it's You have a certificate, you can enable HTTPS for the Homebridge web interface relatively easy. Additional security considerations will vary depending on the network configuration and the accessories you use.

This project is not completely smooth. If I turn the lights on and off with the switch, the Home app and the lights sometimes take a minute to see each other, and a power outage completely disrupted the connection between the bulbs and my Raspberry Pi. I might be able to fix it long enough, but my setup is simple enough that I reset everything and did it all over again. But it's risky to do with any DIY smart home project, and my house needs enough light bulbs in every room, which is worth it to deal with some headaches at a much lower cost per light bulb.

The Hambridge approach isn't going to be for everyone—whether you want to buy HomeKit-compatible light bulbs, decide to leave them outside, or just use Google or Alexa to get all of your existing HomeKit accessories, of course, simpler, more intuitive options in use, but it was a quick, easy, and fun DIY project that helped me combine low-cost new light bulbs with expensive old light bulbs and repurpose an old Raspberry Pi. Homebridge has proven to be a suitable applet for different types of projects.

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How to save money on HomeKit with Philips Wiz and Raspberry Pi
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