How To Control Your Custom RGB Lighting From a Harmony Remote

James Bruce 02-06-2013

custom rgbIf you own a Harmony Remote, you’re probably aware that they can now control the Phillips Hue “connected bulb” – a wifi enabled but extortionately priced $200 LED lightbulb set. But did you know your Harmony Remote can also power the far more reasonably priced RGB LED striplights?


Indeed they can – so there’s no need to break the bank just for a nicely integrated lighting system in your ultimate home entertainment system. Read on to find out how you can control any custom lighting (as long as it has a remote) from your Logitech Harmony.

RGB LED Striplights

These come in strips of 5m typically, with a IR controller, for around $20-$30. You can buy additional strips and power up to 10m from the same controller. 5m is usually enough for mood lighting, whilst 10m would be able to replace all your lighting in an average living room (average in my neck of the woods anyway).

custom rgb

I have a few strips at home, and showed you before how to hook these up to an Arduino to either control them over the Internet How To Set Up Arduino Web Control Without An Ethernet Shield For the last few weeks, I handed over control of the mood lighting in my studio to viewers during the live broadcast of Technophilia Podcast - you can see the results of that in the... Read More , or react dynamically to your media Build Your Own Dynamic Ambient Lighting For A Media Center If you watch a lot of movies on your PC or media center, I'm sure you've faced the lighting dilemma; do you completely turn off all lights? Do you keep them on full blast? Or... Read More center output.

Harmony Remote

The Logitech Harmony Ultimate remote systems are designed to replace ALL of the remote controls in your living room, but generic RGB lighting LED strips are difficult to add since there’s no obvious manufacturer and they aren’t in the database of preset components. Today then, I’m going to walk you through the process of create a custom device for your lighting, assigning and learning controls, and setting up scenes for each of your home entertainment activities.


This month is Home Networking Month and we’ll be giving away lots of lovely home networking gadgets and goodies – including this Harmony system! Keep an eye toward the end of the month for this giveaway, and good luck!

Here’s what you’ll end up with after completing this tutorial (warning: strobe lighting):

Getting Started

Plug your remote into your PC or Mac using the supplied micro-USB cable, and open up the management interface. Turn the remote over so the screen is face down (shown face UP in the picture below!), and make sure you have your lighting remote to hand .

rgb lighting systems


Here’s a video of the following steps if you’d rather watch than read.

Click Devices –> Add device.

rgb lighting systems

Put whatever you like into manufacturer and model number. For what it’s worth, seems a company called Yagu is the maker of the particular set I have, but I put a generic name instead.


rgb lighting systems

Add, and ignore the popup asking if you actually meant one of these other devices. You didn’t.

Select Device type: other, and “it controls my lights”.

rgb remote control


When it asks if you have the remote: Yes, I have it.

Go forward until you get to the process of teaching it Power On and Off. Teaching involves holding the remote about 8-10cm away from the IR sensor on the back of your Harmony device. You may get an error – I had to try a few times before it could recognize the command.

rgb remote control

If your remote has a separate button for powering on and off (my smaller controller does; the larger controller only has one button) – then at the main menu select Change Device Settings -> Power Settings -> I want to turn off this device when not in use, and change the selection to “I press two different buttons for on and off”.

You’ll now need to re-teach the on and off command. Hit “teach command” and do the same process as before. Change the duration to about 0.5 sec to ensure it’s received correctly. Do the same for Power Off.

rgb remote control

Teach The Colours

Click Add or Fix Commands to begin teaching your RGB colour commands. These aren’t preset, so you’ll need to create a new command for each one. You can probably stick with your favourite colours, white, and perhaps fade and flashing lights for parties – adding a new command for every colour may be a little tiresome.

The process is the same as before though – if you encounter an error, try again – this time pressing for a shorter time, or moving slightly.

Assign Commands To Activities

Assuming you already have an activity set up, head over to the correct tab and select change settings. Include your RGB device in the activity, then skip through the rest of the steps and leave them as their default.

How To Control Your Custom RGB Lighting From a Harmony Remote include device

Next, hit customize activity. Add a new command, select your RGB device (if it isn’t appearing, you didn’t do the previous step – go back, and make sure its added as a device used in that activity), select Command in the second column, and in the value section, select the colour you want from the items you added earlier. Save.

custom rgb

That’s it! You can now assign different colours to all your activities, or even set up a special activity for just the lighting. I added a “party” activity too, which turns on the Xbox for Dance Central and switches all the lights to colour strobe mode.

Do you have any other tips for using a Harmony remote? I’d love to hear them in the comments.

Related topics: Harmony Remote, Remote Access.

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  1. Abrar
    September 25, 2018 at 3:20 am

    Harmony Hub has "Conrad Lights" in its database that provides similar generic RGB LED Strip with IR Remote. Search that in Manufacturer and Model.
    Most of these strips respond to its pre-configured controls and may not need customization.
    Try if it works for your purpose.

  2. Aaron Morgan
    July 13, 2017 at 5:45 pm

    this may be a silly question but how far can my harmony hub be from the LED strips? I have an Echo dot that "talk" to the Harmony hub and would love to get them working together to turn these lights on and off.

  3. alex
    July 14, 2016 at 5:12 pm

    Try APA as manufactor and model APA1616 :)

    • Elmo
      November 5, 2017 at 12:53 am

      You're awesome. Works like a charm

    • Jamie
      December 27, 2017 at 3:52 pm

      This kind of works for me. Some of the buttons are mixed up. Perhaps I can search for a different model.

  4. Jan
    March 27, 2016 at 1:31 am

    Thanks for this!

  5. Jon
    December 19, 2015 at 7:22 pm

    What if your RGB lights are controlled by an RF remote? How do you add to Harmony Ultimate then?

    • James Bruce
      December 19, 2015 at 7:52 pm

      You don't. Harmony controls IR devices. It's not an all-in-one smart home controller - it needs to be combined with other systems like OpenHAB for a complete solution.

  6. Anonymous
    October 24, 2015 at 1:03 pm

    Thanks. Really helpfull!

  7. Will
    January 1, 2015 at 11:14 pm

    Hi: can I do this with the Logitech Harmony Home Control, or do I need the ultimate remote?

    • James Bruce
      January 2, 2015 at 8:54 am

      You should be able to, yes. The only difference as far as I can tell is the LCD touchscreen - the software used to program should still be the same.

  8. Casper
    September 22, 2013 at 10:38 pm

    Excellent, great video!

    Got a few questions though:
    - When you use the dimfunction to 50% and then you put the power off. When you turn the power back on, does it stay on the same dimm percentage? Or do you set this in the logitech software?
    - When you want to have the lights on 2 different places in the living room; is it smart to use 2 different systems, or use the 1 IR controller and split it to 2 different lightstrips?
    - I have all my audio equipment in a closet and I use the logitech RF blaster to control my devices. But I want the lightstrips behind the tv, where there is no ethical place for the IR RGB reveiver. How do you (IR) control the lights without having to push the buttons 10 times. I dont want the receiver visible. Is it smart to place the IR RGB receiver in the closet (near the blaster) and make a larger powercord to the lightstrips?

    I hope you are willing to answer my questions,

    Greetings from The Netherlands!

    • James B
      September 23, 2013 at 7:56 am

      Hi Casper.

      - There is no dim function on LED striplighting; or rather, the LED controller allows the brightness to be raised or lowered, but not have a specific value set, so you couldn't assign "50% brightness" using the remote. If you're talking about doing this manually, then yes - it retains the last value.

      - The remotes are not individually keyed, so if you buy two of the same set with the same controller, one remote could control both. Since each controller can handle up to 10m of LED strip though, that would be kind of pointless, you could just chain them together and use a single controller.

      - If you want to hide the receiver, then a long power cord is your only option. You'll need 4 core wire, and can buy the connector bits and pieces from most eBay shops that sell the strips.

  9. Lamar
    June 24, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    will this work with a harmony 1100?

  10. Daniel Voyles
    June 20, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    Sooooo, where do you get the light strips???

    • Daniel Voyles
      June 20, 2013 at 4:59 pm

      Sorry, just saw the link.