You should only consider the Gledopto Zigbee 3.0 LED Controller Pro
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I have an apology to make. In a previous article, I recommended the Gledopto GL-C-008 LED strip controller and its brethren as a cheap alternative to Philips Hue Lightstrips. As it turns out, previous products from Gledopto, those that aren't Pro models, had some serious flaws of which I wasn't aware off at the time.
Fortunately, Gledopto has addressed these flaws in the recently launched Gledopto Zigbee 3.0 LED Controller Pro and other Pro models. But, should you still trust them?
The biggest flaw in previous Gledopto LED controllers was that fact that they weren't capable of acting as routers. Having mains-powered devices act as routers is what makes Zigbee such a useful protocol. Thanks to the meshing capabilities, an endpoint can be unreachable for the hub and yet, it will still be part of the same Zigbee network.
Mains-powered devices, such as those from Gledopto, should all act as routers. As energy consumption isn't an issue for them, they can help expand the coverage. Because you're likely to have more than just a single LED strip, they would make for great routers.
Many users have reported this issue, so it's safe to assume that it applies to most, if not all, previous Gledopto LED strip controller. There are examples to be found on GitHub and Reddit, both of which show a graph in which the controllers aren't routing.
Gledopto doesn't provide public OTA updates
While the above-mentioned issue potentially could have been fixed with an update, Gledopto doesn't and, according to their statement, can't provide any at this time. According to the official Gledopto Reddit account, this is due to them not having their own hub. That reasoning is believable, as IKEA TRÅDFRI bulbs also can't update when connected to a Philips Hue hub. But they can be updated when using IKEA's own hub.
While Gledopto products are generally cheaper when compared to their counterparts from larger companies, they aren't exactly cheap either. Gledopto should, in my opinion, start investing time into finding a solution. At the very least, they could provide firmware updates to those of us using Zigbee2MQTT, ZHA, SmartThings, and the like.
Gledopto updates do reportedly exist
Though I haven't been able to confirm it myself, some Reddit users are claiming that firmware updates for Gledopto products do indeed exist. They claim to having received the same product as they already had, but running an updated firmware. If this firmware updates actually exist, the very least Gledopto could do is publicly publish them.
What's new with the Gledopto Zigbee 3.0 LED Controller Pro?
As far as I can tell, the Pro labelling basically means that this LED controller is the next-generation model. The best way of identifying the newer controller is by its colour: It is black instead of white. According to Gledopto, the Gledopto Zigbee 3.0 LED Controller Pro has the following improvements:
A greater range of up to 30 meters, and it can act as a router and extend your Zigbee mesh network.
Lower standby power (10 mA) and a much lower startup time.
The lowest brightness setting is dimmer, and colours are more accurate at lower brightness settings.
Transitions from CCT to RGB and back again are much smoother. The same applies for dimming and changing the colour of the strip.
The previous controller chop, a TI CC2530, has been replaced with Silicon Labs EFR32MG21A010F768IM32. The firmware for this controller chip has been updated to be compatible with Zigbee 3.0.
While I have not tested the Gledopto Zigbee 3.0 LED Controller Pro (yet), many of the upgrades are plausible due to the new chip it is using. It is overall faster, has more RAM and storage, and perhaps most importantly, it has up to over twice the amount of output power.
Up to 4.5 dBm
Up to 10 dBm
8051 Microcontroller Core
Up to 256 kB
While all the upgrades do sound promising, there are still good reasons to wait until the Gledopto Zigbee 3.0 LED Controller Pro has been thoroughly tested. As a reminder, my order is already placed, and I will be reporting on it as soon as I have it in my hands.
The Gledopto Zigbee 3.0 LED Controller Pro is not certified
As with all other products from Gledopto, the Gledopto Zigbee 3.0 LED Controller Pro is not certified by the Zigbee Alliance. While the product, as it is, might fulfil the requirements and could in theory be certified, it would be nice to have it confirmed. The certification does confirm that the product works as you would expect it to and would give proof of interoperability.
Does the Gledopto Zigbee 3.0 LED Controller Pro flicker?
There aren't many reviews on the latest LED strip controller from Gledopto to be found. Despite that, one review on Amazon does stick out. According to one customer, the LED strip flickers at low brightness. This wasn't something I've experienced with my non-Pro models, but as the Gledopto Zigbee 3.0 LED Controller Pro has a lower minimum brightness, it could be possible. On the other hand, it could also be down to the power supply and LED strip the customer is using.
To buy or not to buy the Gledopto Zigbee 3.0 LED Controller Pro
As things stand, I do not recommend you buy this product. At the very least, wait for reviews to be published and further reports to be filed on Amazon. I do hope the Gledopto Zigbee 3.0 LED Controller Pro is everything the previous model should have been, but despite that, Gledopto does have some catching up to do, especially when it comes to OTA updates.
About Liam Alexander Colman
Liam Alexander Colmanis an experienced Home Assistant user who has been utilizing the platform for a variety of projects over an extended period. His journey began with a Raspberry Pi, which quickly grew to three Raspberry Pis and eventually a full-fledged server. Liam's current operating system of choice is Unraid, with Home Assistant comfortably running in a Docker container. With a deep understanding of the intricacies of Home Assistant, Liam has an impressive setup, consisting of various Zigbee devices, and seamless integrations with existing products such as his Android TV box. For those interested in learning more about Liam's experience with Home Assistant, he shares his insights on how he first started using the platform and his subsequent journey.