LIFX Developer Zone

Raspberry Pi 2.4ghz Wifi Knocks Bulbs Offline?!?

So after struggling with bulb stability for months, I’ve narrowed down the culprit!

I have a raspberry pi (version 3) connected to the wifi network, and whenever that thing engages in lots of network traffic, my LIFX bulbs start to drop like flies.

I’ve tested this by transferring large files and doing other things that initiate a lot of network traffic from the pi, and it’s very consistent. Every time the LIFX lights get sick.

If I do the same tests from other wifi devices (e.g. laptop), there is no interference with the LIFX bulbs.

So my next test will be to purchase a 5ghz wifi dongle for the pi to see if that solves the interference.

Has anyone else seen this?

We haven’t seen this issue at the LIFX offices but i am going to talk to our QA superstar and work out some sort of test scenario in our cages.

Thanks for the report.

For what it is worth, I’ve noticed this behavior with many other 2.4Ghz devices on the same network and the other LIFX bulbs. If I had to take a guess, I’d bet there is something going on with how the LIFX bulbs are dropping packets that are not intended for them. Potentially some left over mess from the mesh style networking the bulbs were supposed to use.

It could also be that if you have a high number of 2.4Ghz devices on your network that the LIFX bulbs are seeing the traffic they can use be divided so much that they simply drop off the network and attempt to reconnect, but only to again see that they are not being provisioned enough bandwidth by the AP and reset again.

In my case I’ve tossed my bulbs onto their own wifi and double checked that the channel being used is one that is free and clear and also in then lower range. (I’ve heard rumors that LIFX bulbs, especially 2nd gen and older, can have issues with high channel numbers)

As a result I have almost 100% reliability on the bulbs for a few months. With the exception of a single bulb that I have a support ticket open that we’re trying to resolve.

agentkt,

Did you setup a new SSID on your current router to address this or are you using a separate router and SSID?

thanks…

@REX, I am using a separate router

Thanks agentkit - I went ahead and setup a guest SSID on my router last night since I dont currently have a spare. I was instantly 100% better and continue through today. Of course it will take another week or so to validate, but so far I am very encouraged by the results - I finally have stability again on my lifx bulbs and the response time of the bulbs to the commands is greatly improved.

Just as an FYI - I have over 50 wifi clients on my network including four wifi cameras constantly broadcasting and six lifx bulbs so maybe I have a crowded 2.4 or I have lots of traffic with the cameras as @mattfarley suggested. Hopefully the stability continues and I will resume adding additional lifx bulbs. It is very frustrating to see how many people in this community are having similar issues and lifx support is having such a hard time resolving them.

I personally am of the opinion that LIFX bulbs are not necessarily hub-less. Maybe if you have a relativity quiet wifi network, but people buying smart bulbs rarely do. We’re usually the lovers of the IoTs.

This is really interesting. I’ve been having problems with Lifx dropping off the wifi for some time, and always thought it had to do with the number of devices. I’m at around 60, with 27 lifx bulbs, 11 Sonos speakers, some Belkin Wemo outlets (gradually being replaced by SmartThings), and some cameras.

Of note, I also have 4 raspberry pis. 2 pi2, and 2 pi3. I have never particularly noticed that the pis cause issues, but I did notice that the lights are a vastly more stable if they live in their own double-NAT’ed SSID.

I had to convert that SSID to a “bridge-mode” SSID today so that I can apply some beta firmware updates to resolve some stability issues with the LIFX Z strip lights, and now I’ve been having random lights drop in and out of the wifi all day. Once I can verify everything is updated, I’ll stuff them back behind that double NAT and see if they go back to being stable.

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This weekend I separated my entire wireless network into two access points:

Linksys / SSID “Alpha” / Channel 1 = Only LIFX Devices
Netgear / SSID “Bravo” / Channel 11 = Everything else (Wireless)

They’re all on the same network/subnet (no double NAT) – but the reliability is perfect so far! I’ve been spamming large file copies with my Raspberry Pi on Wifi, which previously caused all the LIFX devices to get sick, but now since they’re on separate access points on different channels, there seems to be zero interference.

To summarize:

All devices on the same access point = Medium LIFX Reliability
All devices on same access point and Raspberry Pi Spams = Zero LIFX Reliability
LIFX banished to their own access point = Rock Solid Reliability

It’s a shame that LIFX can’t make products that place nice with others :frowning:

Even on separate subnets, my LIFX lights will go offline (and stay there until powercycled) if they’re on the same subnet as everything else, even if they are on a different access point. What really confuses me is that I have 27 LIFX bulbs and strips. And if I put them on the same network as everything else, almost every time, 2 will go offline. And not always the same two. Never just one, and almost never 3 or more. 99% of the time, just two go offline.

I’ll do some more tests to see if separating the channels makes a difference for me.

I am not sure what type of router everyone here is using, but I can tell you that Netgear routers only support 32 wifi clients per band - and this is not a recommendation, it is a hard limit. I was using the r6400 and saw this consistently. My lights were dropping off constantly. I upgraded to a Unifi UAP, which supports 250 simultaneous clients per band, and now I have no problems. I don’t think any consumer routers support more than 64 devices, but I may be wrong.

When I say no problems, I mean that I have no problems using Alexa to control my lights - Alexa works 100% of the time for every single light I have. The Android and IOS apps by LIFX are all but useless and never know the state of some of my lights, and cannot control them all unless I reboot the bulbs - but I tell alexa to do it, and it works fine, no reboot needed.

My recommendation would be for the LIFX developers to call Amazon’s developers and ask them to borrow their code to see why it is so much better.

I have less than 20 wireless devices and was experiencing instability until I bought a second AP and put the bulbs on their own AP and wifi channel.

I have a Cisco Meraki MR26 AP that the LIFX devices connect to. The Meraki is a (effectively) 2-radio system that supports 128 clients per radio. So I’m not hitting a limit there, and the LIFX connect to a Meraki-NAT network, rather than the main network, so they’re isolated and they can’t talk to each other.

I also have a Linksys VELOP 3-node mesh system that has everything else on it. I have not tried connecting the LIFX bulbs to the Linksys, since it’s new, but when I had all my devices on the Meraki, there would always be a couple that dropped off.

With my Raspberry PI 3’s connected to the Linksys Velop, I was getting really bad packet loss. Sometimes just to the RPI3’s, and sometimes network wide, like it was doing something the router didn’t like. Took the PIs and isolated them in their own SSID on the Meraki, and the packet loss problems went away. And with them in a separate SSID than the LIFX, I haven’t had any drop-offs from the LIFX either.

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Kevin,

I think there are several common themes that we keep seeing over and over again. One for Gen 1+2, which I use, and the second with Gen3, which I have not bought due to all of the issues.

  1. LIFX Bulbs like to be left alone.

Solutions users have found are either to put them on a separate access point and or SSID, or by putting them on their own VLAN.

For your test environment, I would recommend having as many “other” chatty devices on the network with the bulbs at the same time. And I would also use an Ixia Cloudstorm, or other device that simulates heavy network loads of disparate types. I would slam the bulbs with broadcast and multicast traffic from one of those tools and see how they respond. Determine if it is directly related to a quantifiable amount of broadcast traffic, and if there is a threshold after which the bulbs can no longer handle it. Could be horsepower or code that is causing the bulbs to overload.

  1. DHCP Problem with V3 bulbs.

I have not experienced this because I’m not buying gen3 until the folks on this forum start screaming HOORAY! However, I would build a VM host with every type of DHCP server you can get on there, and test 20 or more bulbs first without traffic, and then with traffic from your storm generator. You may have to byte the bullet and buy a bunch of chatty apple products using Bonjour, and that may do the trick as well. Next, I would purchase the routers that you can’t put on a VM, and that are specifically called out by the many helpful folks on this forum, and test each one of them in the same way. Which ones are working and which ones are not? And then the why? Why are some routers not having issues with DHCP, while others are?

With these two tests, and packet capture logs, you should be able see what situations cause the bulbs to flake, and send that on to your software developers so they can fix both the LAN protocol and the DHCP issues.

If your management gives you a hard time about the expenses of the recommendations above, gently let them know that LIFX will be out of business very soon if they choose to take the cheap and slow route - because the youtube reviews that in the beginning touted LIFX as the best smart bulbs on the market are quickly being eclipsed by reviews that tout the bulbs as a waste of money and completely unreliable. I say these things not because I am angry, but rather because I REALLY want you guys to succeed. Your bulbs are the best, and the final step is to get the connectivity problems worked out - before Hue and others catch up with the quality of your hardware. If the reputation of LIFX continues to be slammed, there will be no bringing the company back from that.

I hope this helps, although it may already be things you know.

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+1 what Rooster said! x100

Almost 4 years later, this post is incredibly relevant. Lifx DHCP problems will be with us into 2021