I recently decided to add another lightbulb to my Hue network. When the single bulb arrived from the Apple Store, I broke out the ladder so I could put in the fixture that's high above my dining room table. Piece of cake, right? Wrong. It took me 4 days to get it working correctly.
When you install a new bulb you have to tell your Hue controller about it, so the bulb can join your home's Hue network. You do this using the Hue app for iPhone or iPad. The instructions in the box were a little vague, but I eventually found the "Add New Light" button in the app. You turn on the bulb, tap a button, and you're done. Except when it doesn't work, as it didn't for me. After a few minutes of "searching for new lights," the app gave up with "no new lights found." You can bet that I tried it several times.
The app gives you the option of adding a new light "manually." To do this, you need to enter the light's serial number. But that number is not on the box, it's on the bulb. So out comes the ladder again so I can get the serial number.
Long, frustrating story cut short-ish: Manually adding the light didn't work either. Although the light did turn red just before the app reported "no new lights found." Arrrgh.
There is no troubleshooting information for this situation on the Hue website. Google turned up nothing either. (Although I did learn, as an aside, that the bulbs you get with the Hue Starter Kit can't be used with another controller. Good to know.)
There's a toll-free number on the bulb's packaging, which I hoped would lead me to tech support. A recorded message told me that "due to the holiday" no one was available to take my call. This was on July 5th, one day after U.S. Independence Day. When I tried again later that same day, the message had been changed and now said to call back during East Coast business hours, and on a weekday.
I found a tech support request form on the Philips website. I filled it out, but it asked for things like "model number" which aren't provided on the bulb's packaging. When I submitted the form, I was taken to a page in Dutch. I think it said "thank you." I later received an email (in English) saying that I'd get a response within 24 hours. That was 2 days ago and I'm still waiting. Yes, it's a weekend in The Netherlands too, but the email didn't say anything about Monday through Friday only.
Feeling pretty frustrated that I can't use my $50 light bulb, I had an epiphany. Hue uses ZigBee, which is a mesh network. But perhaps the bulb needs to talk directly to the controller when it is being added to the network, instead of relying on relaying by peers. (I also use Z-Wave controllers, and that's true for that technology.)
So up the ladder I went (again), then I disconnected a lamp in the bedroom and brought it close to the Hue controller. I put the new bulb in the lamp, followed the steps in the app, and it worked perfectly! Finally, my new bulb was configured and usable. I was so happy I almost didn't mind having to put away the ladder and bedroom lamp. Almost.
My recommendation is that before you put any Hue lightbulb in its final location, install it in a lamp near the controller and get it added to the network. It's a simple concept, but apparently too big of a secret for Philips to share with their customers.
UPDATE: Philips tech support replied (after the weekend) with the suggestion that I download LightStealer from The Philips Hue Community. It's not an official Philips website, but has a bunch of great resources about the Hue lights. From reading there, apparently the ZigBee spec for linking is that the devices need to be within 30 centimeters of the hub. (LightStealer says that the linking feature is called "touchline" for a reason, they need to be basically touching.) These are terms and requirements that are completely undocumented by Philips. as far as I can tell.