Control Issues

Ask any of my friends, especially those who knew me when I was very young, and they will confirm that I have control issues.  It is why I directed most of the plays I wrote while in school, why I prefer debates to math competitions, and why I enjoy event planning so much.  I like being in control.   

Choosing Philips Hue

When I purchased the Echo Dot and Google Home, I wasn’t thinking about using it for Smart Home control.  Especially not to control any security features in our home – I am too paranoid to ever buy those connected deadbolts or garage door openers.  Lighting control was another matter – I can safely play with that, right?

I chose Philips Hue because it was one of the earliest systems to work with Google Home.  It also had a pretty inexpensive starter kit and A19 light bulb.

Meeting Hue

I placed my starter kit bulbs in the two lamps on either side of our bed.  I have Google Home in our bedroom and wanted to see how good it was at controlling connected devices – and because I thought I couldn’t pair the bridge to more than 1 device at a time.

It was very frustrating at first.  One or both of the lights were often unreachable so I could not control them using voice.  At times I thought Google Home was just not good at controlling the lighting system, but then I did some research.

Control Issues Caused By Me

Here is the list of  what I was doing wrong:

  1. The Philips Hue bridge needs to be connected via cable to my wifi router, which was in a different room and on the opposite end of our home.  It was a bit far away from where I had the bulbs set up.
  2. I didn’t have a network of Philips Hue bulbs that extended the range of the bridge from my home office into our bedroom.
  3. I was being too impatient with Google Home.

Happily in Control

Ten bulbs later and I rarely hear the words, “[Light Name] seems to be unreachable. Try again later.”  Unless my husband or I accidentally switch the lights off manually.  

I even enabled the Philips Hue skill on the Echo Dot and can now control my lights from both devices.  Yes, the bridge can be paired to both the Echo Dot and Google Home at the same time.  And if both devices fail, you can still control the lighting system using the Philips Hue app on your mobile device!

The developer in me loves the pre-programmed routines.  I have my bedroom lamps gently fade in when it’s time to wake up during the workweek.  Yes, my ordinary lamps are now dimmable thanks to my A19 Philips Hue bulbs. My hallway and bathroom light turns on when it’s time to prepare for work.  And I have a “go to work” routine that turns off all the lights when it’s time for me to head out.

It gets addicting.  I don’t miss my interaction with our light switches.  I am constantly thinking of ways to tweak my space so I can have better lighting scenes.  

I also love their white ambiance bulb.  I use it in places where I need brighter light for working.  I can control the whiteness of the white light and set different scenes to match my activities.  It can be soft white for dining or bright white for working.

Alexa vs Google Home

Even my husband, who used to fight with siri all the time, is growing to love our mini smart home.  He actually declares his preference of Alexa over Google Home openly now.  He thinks she’s smarter and works better.

I am still on the fence about that.  Alexa connects to more devices, but she had a 2-year head start.  I still get more correct answers to questions when I ask Google Home.  And Google Home doesn’t wake up from mis-hearing its wake word unlike Alexa who just suddenly comes to life in the middle of a show we’re watching.

Don’t get me wrong, Alexa is amazing and I love her.  But I’m not giving up on Google Home just yet!