5 Things You Should Know About IKEA Tradfri: Hue Alternative Smart Home Review

At £25 IKEA’s Tradfri gateway is the cheapest Zigbee smart home hub that you can buy and as a complete alternative to Philips Hue it could pose a major threat.


47 thoughts on “5 Things You Should Know About IKEA Tradfri: Hue Alternative Smart Home Review”

  1. IKEA are selling their stuff much cheaper at their own website than they are on Amazon, so sadly I can't benefit from the usual affiliate links because that would cost you guys more money and that's not what I'm about, I fully recommend you buy directly through IKEA and save yourself the money.

    I have received an amazing amount of personal attacks from Fanboys (Why does IKEA already have Fanboys!?). So here are some answers for them…

    1. "You're only bashing this product because Ikea aren't giving you comission"
    I can prove that's not true: Broadlink make up 99% of my comission, that's obvious if you look in the descriptions for any of my videos, yet I made this video to tell people to stop buying it due to numerour failings at the time: https://youtu.be/FWRrQ-_uwEs Those issues are now resolved, but I've left the video up so that the history is not forgotten. If you think I'm dishonest then you obviously don't watch my channel.

    2. "You're incompetent!"
    No. This software is buggy, it lost one light because I added a new one, that's isn't incompetence, that is a massive failing in the software, you don't have to go any further than this comments section to find other people saying exactly the same thing. This isn't my first rodeo… Below are 6 videos showing that I am perfectly adept at setting up smart home products.

    Broadlink setup video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pdjp6ic99S8
    Lightwave RF setup video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yju7dZnwxD8
    Energenie setup video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ddgIwnlGT6c
    Flic setup video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hwe2VNGteEk
    Soma Smart Shades setup video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0I-y04Ases
    Google Assistant skill setup video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oP3LDKa-MNQ

    3. "I found the setup easy"
    Lucky you. I found it dreadful, see above.

    4. "Tradfri isn't a stupid name, it's Swedish you Xenophobe!"
    Trådlös means wireless, Tradfri means nothing.

    5. "I can move the bulbs between rooms, you're an idiot"
    I'll admit I only tried to move a bulb once, it failed. I tried to move a steering device about a hundred times, it also failed. I logically concluded that you can't move items between rooms. Apparently steering devices definitely can't be moved, it's been confirmed by another user; this is stupid, end of story… but bulbs apparently CAN be moved. Once again I was apparently just unlucky and ran into a bug, removing and re-adding the bulb has allowed me to move bulbs between rooms. This software is terrible and I don't owe anybody an apology for my logical conclusions based in IKEA's software failings.

    6. "One bulb can be controlled by multiple Dimmers and switches, you're just doing it wrong"
    I didn’t manage it in several hours, someone has since said that you pair the remotes to each other!? WHYYYYYYYY??? Why would they not have it so you pair the bulb to the 2nd remote like you did the first? like every other intuitive smart home system. Unbelievable!! No wonder I didn’t figure it out! Pair the remotes to each other, honestly!! Will I even find this in the paper instructions if I open them now? I’m half expecting that I won’t.

    7. "You should have read the instructions"
    If you watch me regularly you’ll see I throw the paper instructions away every time; it’s not just a comedy bit that I do, it’s to show whether or not the product is counter intuitive, if I can’t figure it out without reading the bits of paper it came with then it’s evidence of counter intuition, and that is EXACTLY what has been demonstrated here.

    I stand by this review: Tradfri is amazing for the price, but the product is rushed and it comes off badly for it, I feel that I said both of those things eloquently and with plenty of evidence in both regards.


  2. For anyone watching this in November 2020 or beyond, there's some better news about how Tradfri has improved.
    1. The hub seems to get regular updates, I haven't had any issues with mine.
    2. Still the same limited color selection unfortunately on the color bulbs.
    3. Bulb set up seems to work seemlessly now
    3. Not sure if the steering device still talks directly to the bulb but it pairs to the hub and the app updates immediately as lights turn off and on. I tried switching out of range of the bulb to force it to use the repeaters/hub and it worked flawlessly, suggesting the steering device is talking directly to the hub. Switching latency is very low.
    4. Bulbs are easy to move between rooms now with a long press, no forgotten bulbs. Steering devices can't be moved though without factory reset as far as i can see.
    5. Still no widget 🙁
    6. You can set up the app on multiple devices and it will function as you'd expect, it appears to sync for a second or 2 while it retrieves devices when you open it, no account necessary, local control supported.
    7. You can add as many steering devices to a room as you like and they will control all the lights in the room. For this reason I separate lamps and ceiling lights that are in the same physical room into different 'rooms' in the app along with however many steering devices I want to control each one. This isn't very intuitive but it gets the job done and I don't know of any other way to do it.

  3. Can we get a one year later review of these? I'd be great to hear if they've updated anything and what new things they brought to market since then. Thanks again for all the great review, I hate you but I love you.

  4. I know this video is a year and a half old but I wanted to give my 2 cents. I want to give the Tradfri a 10/10 but I can't. I find the setup to be the most problematic thing I have ever had to deal with. I am sure the bulbs work just fine but the setup I am using is Tradfri drivers with Omlopp puck lights. When it works, it's wonderful and really makes my bookcases look awesome. However, anytime the power goes out, there is a high probability one of the drivers will disconnect from the steering device (5 button Tradfri remote) and getting it to reconnect can be hit or miss.

    A little back story, I started off wiring my Billy bookcase with 2 Ansluta drivers, Ansluta single button remote, and 15 Omlopp puck lights. I never had any issues with this configuration. I eventually decided I wanted to wire another bookcase in the same room with the same puck lights. I learned that the Ansluta remote could only control drivers that were connected with each other. Since I could not connect this other bookcase with the other bookcase, I determined the solution was to upgrade the drivers to Tradfri, along with the Tradfri 5 button remote.

    I am not sure what the issue is but the steering device sometimes won't pair with the drivers. I do have a sure fire fix to this but it involves me taking the remote, the driver, an Ansluta power cord, and an Omlopp light to my local Ikea store and pair it there. The only thing I can determine is that in the Ikea store, my phone has absolutely no cell coverage. Based on an associate in the light department, he has seen this problem with other customers as well. Much like you mentioned Paul, Ikea support simply is not trained proper troubleshooting of these smart products. This solution is not feasible long term as I have mounted the drivers on the back of the bookcases and attached the bookcases to the wall. Everytime the power goes out and one or more of the drivers won't reconnect with the steering device, I don't want to have to go through all the work to remove the driver and make a trip to my local store.

    And don't get me started on the gateway. While I don't need it to control the bookcase lights, I like for it to work for integration with Alexa. However, it seems like I have to reboot the gateway at least once per week as it will stop allowing control of the lights through the app, and through Alexa. After the reboot of the gateway, I am often able to control the lights with the app but there is a high probability that the integration with Alexa has stopped working and I have to manually re-add all of the devices in Alexa all over again.

    I am at my wits end with Ikea's Tradfri equipment (I first installed the Ansluta solution 3 years ago and the Tradfri equipment has been installed for a year now). I have turned off the switch on the Ansluta power core until I can either find a similar replace to the Ikea equipment or I can get Ikea to take some ownership for how problematic their equipment is.

    /end rant

  5. Do i need the ikea bridge to pair my lights tothe philips hue bridge or vis versa? And will the ikea bridge work the same way as the philips bridge and sync all my lights up to match my ambilight tv?

  6. Do you know that the Tradfri works fine without internet? Timers work, controlling lights work. I just connect it with my router and then disconnect the internet from my router. Everything works fine except from accessing it from outside. Cool!

  7. Hey Paul, good vídeo! I wonder how you got the pacience to answer to all these people bashing your video 😀

    Anyway, what about the IKEA bulbs with let's say a hue hub? Do they work as expected or are they buggy too?

  8. She would not have a clue what Zigbee is, Paul, as I realised looking looking at the Ikea website for Tradfri – I was in need of a Zigbee repeater and one of my (helpful) blog subscribers pointed me to the Tradfri range, specifically their (cheap) rrepeater. Like others starting down the Zigbee route (I'm a WiFi ESP8266 man at heart – as is blindingly obvious at tech.scargill.net) and insights like this are useful. You briefly mentioned alternatives saying you'll not find cheaper out of China – and that's why I repeatedly buy from China – supporting untrained middle-people when it comes to technical purchases is just dumb. That's a useful video.

    And yes I have Zigbee kit from Zemismart and Itead. The Zemismart E14 RGBW lamps are good (their GU10 WiFi RGBWW lamps I use in the kitchen in a group of six – marvellous) and as you might expect the Zigbee DIY from Itead (Sonoff) also looks like a good performer. Both of these companies supply Zigbee gateways – Zemismart's gateway is hardwired, the Sonoff one is wireless – both of course use the cloud which is why I'm experimenting with Itead's pre-programmed Zigbee USB dongle (zigbee2mqtt),

  9. Complaining about an ugly box (what you gonna do with it? put it on your bedside table to look at?), punching electronics.. You've lost me after 2 minutes already. Thumbs down.

  10. Smug little guy, clicked away after he was talking about the "unboxing" experience. Its 25 bucks you tool, rather have a 35 euro product and a nice box? You tool.

  11. Tråd = thread/wire, fri = Free. So you can say that stupid name as "Thredfree" and it sound similar, and ugly box = cheap and practical, I never cares if the inside of a packing look nice as long as it is functional.

  12. My Tradfri arrived today from Amazon. I was sooo excited and then sooo disappointed. The Symfonisk remote did not connect with the Tradfri Gateway at all! I called Sonos and Ikea support, they each had no idea how to make the units connect. 'Im sending the Tradfri back to Amazon and returning the Symfonisk remote back to Ikea. I guess I will use the Sonos app on my iphone to control the volume, etc. of my lovely Symfonisk bookshelf speaker. Not exactly how I envisioned I'd use it. :-(. If you can assist me, please let me know. My desire was to use the remote on either my work desk or my night stand to control the speaker. Thank you.

  13. BTW, you should help promoting mass messaging to Amazon, Google, Ikea and all those guys, this could be a way of everyone mass spamming them requests… I dont even know to whom I should write to ask for compatibility requests… for example, should I ask Amazon to have tradfri remotes working with alexa or should I wirte to Ikea to ask them to make their products compatible with amazon zigbee hub?

  14. Ikea is part of the zigbee alliance… meanning that in their time things should work…. Said that, I bought a hell lot of Ikea zigbee stuff, but I simply hate that fact that I have to buy the gateway instead of using my Echo Show, which is stupid… I'll be more than happy to throw away those 33 Euro paid for the Ikea Gateway if they decide to make their remote controls and color bulbs work directly with "She that should not be named"

  15. I actually had purchased some tradfri lights, switch and a gateway in 2017. They were cheaper than the hue bulbs I have. November last year 1 GU10 bulb started to fail, it won’t turn on anymore. A month after, second bulb failed and week after 3rd bulb failed. I tried the two bulbs into a different fixture and only 3 leds lit up, shows 100% on the app but looks 1% on the actual bulb. I thought I had saved money by going to the tradfri solution but they didn’t last that long.

  16. This devices can be more smart if you use it with Node-Red. I see here a lot of useless comments only complaining with no sense. Be serious, complaining the name of a product and the box…

  17. Hi Paul, great video again. Do you know if IKEA has unbroken the broken things you talk about in the video, or are they are still more broken than a broken thing on a broken day? (steering device
    , multiple controls for one light, IFTTT, etc)

  18. Hi Paul, Nice vids, Info with a laugh. Whats the Ikea rotary dimmer remote that you use in this video? I can only find the remote for SYMFONISK speakers (or is that it?) The only actual ikea light dimmer that I found (except the 5 button remote) is the push button one, but I'd like to be able to turn a dail to change brightness. Thanks in advance for answering! Cheers, Patrick

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