Hacking The IKEA TRÅDFRI LED Power Supply

Just because something is being actively documented and tampered with by enthusiastic hackers doesn’t mean the information is handily centralized. There can be a lot of value in gathering disparate resources in one place, and that’s exactly what [Trammell Hudson] has done with his resource page for hacking the IKEA TRÅDFRI LED power supply with wireless interface. Schematic teardown, custom firmware images, it’s all there in one convenient spot.

Back in 2017, the IKEA TRÅDFRI hacking scene was centered around the LED light bulbs but as the group of products expanded, the rest of the offerings have also gotten some attention.

Why bother tampering with these units? One reason is to add features, but another is to make them communicate over your own MQTT network. And MQTT is the reason you are only a Raspberry Pi and a trip to IKEA away from the beginnings of a smart home that is under no one’s control or influence but your own.

22 thoughts on “Hacking The IKEA TRÅDFRI LED Power Supply

  1. “Why bother tampering with these units? ”
    That is a fair question, I use the Ikea TRÅDFRI at home through my OpenHAB integration. It works flawlessly without hagving to tamper with the soldering iron.
    It is a very interesting resource, and kudos for reverse engineering this product, however there is no need to make life more complicated than it needs to be,

    1. The problem with the stock firmware is that it isn’t very dim at the lowest setting. Especially for the larger FLOALT lamps – the lowest value is still much too bright. Replacing the curve generation function in the firmware with a modified one results in a much more usable night light.

      I also want the light to default to “On” when an external power switch is toggled, something that the Hue bulbs can do. Plus there are at least six GPIO pins available if external integration is desired, such as a local button press, motion sensor or other trigger.

    2. I think Trammell cited that they preferred a different brightness table for the PWM values, to the original table in firmware.

      Also, it’s a pretty in-depth “hack”, his twitter shows some good insight into rev. engineering such a product (MCU, external flash). Good reference material for the rest of us, for when we feel the need to adjust a commercial product.

    3. Youbdonrealize which site your on, right? That said, its not even open source firmware, so much work left to do eh ;)

      But if you think all these modern device work so great, i’ll happily leave you to your Facebook integrated Alexa based devices? Ahbwait you run openhab, so not that trusting/happy with stock solutions either ;)

  2. Cool to see that Ikea used a logarithmic brightness curve instead of a linear one. That’s a major pet peeve of mine that shows up in cheap or stupidly designed LED fixtures.

  3. I am glad to see that at least in this device they used a switching converter to get the 3V for the radio. In bulbs they use the linear ones and it’s quite stupid to see a 6W bulb burning 0.5W while off. The lights that I have from them end up consuming more energy in sleep than active…

    1. Really? I’ve not taken one apart, but from the various articles I’ve seen about the Tradfri bulbs they all seemed to have switching converters as well. I’ve not seen any teardowns with an actual circuit diagram though.

      1. I mean just the part for the radio. What I figured is that the main converter is something around 10-20V and is used to drive a few LEDs in series. From there on they use a linear regulator down to 3V for the radio module, which should consume 10-15mA. This is how you get to around 0.4-0.5W without any light.
        I haven’t opened a bulb to check it, but this is the only reason I can think of for them consuming so much.

        1. I think the 0.5 watt is for keeping the radio on. Remember ZigBee is a mesh network, the light bulbs serve as routers.

          An optimisation could be to half or even less the number of routers if there is enough coverage

      1. I imagine that due to standby current consumption alone, there is worldwide a lot of power wasted.
        Let’s say there are people around the world.
        Let’s say that they all have a single LED light bulb, wasting 0.5W.
        Then this means that we’ll be wasting 3.500.000.000 Watts (3.5GW) on standby power alone.

        Now this calculation is awfully dodgy because for starters many of the people around the world, don’t even have electricity. Though on the other hand those who do… most likely have more then one device wasting 0.5W of standby power.

        Imagine that an average power plant produces 1GWatt then this would mean that in order to supply standby current, we require 3 power plants working 24hours a day only because the modern human is too lazy to bend over towards the lamp and stretch his/her arm a bit to flip an actual switch.

        1. Say a bulb draws 20W on and a smart bulb draws 0.5W off, when the dumb bulb is left on for an hour by mistake it draws more energy than an entire day of the smart bulb being off. The smart bulb has the advantage that it can be hooked up to motion sensors or turned off remotely, so you can more reliably remember to turn it off.

          1. I found that how those two situations balance and which one wins depends a lot on the culture and habits. If you are used to turn off any light the moment you stop using it and you don’t leave lights on for nothing, then smart bulbs will increase your consumption.
            At the opposite end, if you are careless about lights, like to have a lot on, then switching to smart bulbs with sensors and timers will help reduce the overall consumption.

      1. So it’s a quite dim bulb. :-) I have a light on a 12V solar system, so it is mandatory not to waste power. The PIR module consumes about 1mA and the light when on about 1A. I like that ratio.
        In my toilet it is not that good: The PIR sensor has a transformer with several VA. I am not sure what the real standby consumption is, because it also has to drive the relay. The load (light) is 2*35W halogen.

        1. No, I have to correct: One of the bulbs burnt out after about 15yrs. So it’s 35W halogen + 3W LED now :-) But I have to change the transformer if I want to replace the second one with LED. It has 20W minimum load.

      2. I had one like that too. It was using a transformer less power supply. the current was going through either and LED or the zenner diode generating the supply.
        It is silly, but people buying it probably thought that it would save energy while off.

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