I’m currently decorating and fitting out my mums house, and on the lounge. Discussions so far seem to have deduced that smart bulbs will not be of use due to the choice of light, so her hue hub will not serve here. I need a smart option to replace the dimmer as seen here:
So far the only smart light switches I’ve come across this size are lightwave, which requires yet another smart hub for her. I’m looking for a ST compatible option to tie in with her current hubs without any additions. Is there such a thing?
Oh, and I am aware that Fibaro do a dimmer module, but don’t think it’s realistically an option to fit three behind this switch!
Robin will be able to best answer the questions about Fibaro as he has now done two complete houses all with Fibaro kit. I will say that one of the things to remember about any in wall micro is that it doesn’t have to be right behind the switch physically, it can be anywhere on the same circuit branch. Sometimes that means people put it in the ceiling rose, sometimes it can be put in a junction box elsewhere. So you are not restricted just to the size of the back box itself.
Also, in some cases you can use one “dual” micro which can handle two switches and then a single micro for the third switch. That way you only have to be able to fit two rather than three. But it does depend on the exact wiring and load specifications.
There are several good brands of micros, I believe the aeotec nano line is the smallest but there are new models coming out all the time, so do you check the dimensions.
One question we do need to get out of the way since this is an older switch: are there neutral lines coming into the switch box? If so, there is a much wider variety of smart switch options available. If not, you’re pretty much limited to either the lightwave RF, the aeotec nano dimmer, or the Fibaro dimmer in some models. But of course if you move a micro to elsewhere on the line there may be a neutral there.
Also, I wouldn’t shy away from the lightwaveRF just because it has its own hub. That’s not really much different than using Phillips hue bulbs with the Phillips hue bridge, for example. Those are nice devices, they have an official integration with smartthings, they don’t require a neutral, and most people find the aesthetics good. Usually people look for an alternative because of the cost, not because they require an additional hub.
In addition to lightwave RF, there are some other all in one multigang options, where you just swap out the 3 gang smart switch for the dumb switch, and in theory, this should be easy as long as you have neutral lines at the switchbox. (I believe all the brands except lightwave RF require a neutral.) There are available three gang Z wave and zigbee switches.
Unfortunately, the smartthings platform has never implemented what are called “multi channel“ or “multi endpoint“ devices very well. That’s where there’s a single physical device but it has three or four or whatever individually controllable options. So the ones that you would expect to work, often don’t. And there isn’t really anything we can do about it.
There is supposed to be an upgrade coming on the platform side for Z wave multi channel devices, but it’s not here yet.
So… That leaves Wi-Fi devices. if you go to Amazon.co.uk you can find lots and lots of three gang Wi-Fi smart switches. They vary in quality and in safety certifications, but Sonoff and Meross are two good brands.
All Wi-Fi switches will have their own app, typically Chinese, and they work fine with that app. The question is how do you get them to work with smartthings? They don’t typically have an integration and there’s no industry standard for home automation devices for Wi-Fi the way there is for Z wave and Zigbee so many of these only work with their own app.
So now you have to start looking for a “man in the middle” to deliver integration. That could be IFTTT, it could be Amazon routines, there are a couple of ways of doing it.
People with strong technical skills used to be able to “flash” the firmware on sonoff devices To allow them to be used with smartthings without Requiring going through the Chinese servers, but I’ve heard that that no longer works with the newer models. If you’re interested in that, you can check the forums for the most up-to-date information
IFTTT can work well as long as The Internet is available, IFTTT is working, and the smartthings cloud is working. But that’s a lot of points of vulnerability for a light switch. You may be fine with that if it’s a situation where you’d be happy to go over and press the switch on the wall if the automations weren’t working. But it’s something to be aware of.
Also, some models offer two way communication and some don’t.
With one way communication, you could use smart pthings as the “IF” at IFTTT and the Wi-Fi switch as the “that“ and you would be able to turn the switch on and off from SmartThings. But if someone turned on the switch at the wall, smartthings would not know that the state had changed.
With two way communication, the Wi-Fi switch can be either the “if“ or that“ so you can create rules where if the Wi-Fi switch is turned on at the wall then smartthings gets notified of the change in state.
It’s up to each individual device manufacturer whether any given model has one way or two way communication, so you just have to check each one that you are looking at.
Amazon routines can give you some integration with devices that would otherwise be unavailable to smartthings, but it’s almost always one way. So it may be useful, it may not. And again, you’ve added a lot of points of vulnerability for a light switch.
As of this writing, LightwaveRF Remains the easiest way to do this. Their switches don’t require a neutral, they’re reliable, they’re safety certified, they have an official two way integration. It’s just that they are expensive compared to cheap Chinese devices.
There should be quite a few zwave or zigbee alternatives, such as the ones from MCO home or Schneider, but unfortunately, the smartthings platform just doesn’t handle this configuration very well at this time. They may do better in the future, or there may be some individual models which work OK. Hopefully if anyone has one that does work, they’ll add to this thread.
Aurora One has an official U.K. integration for a two gang zigbee dimmer, but don’t offer a three gang.
So that leaves Wi-Fi switches. There are lots of these, but most are not very well engineered and don’t have safety certifications. And they don’t have official integrations with smartthings. But there are two brands, Sonoff and Meross, Which are better engineered with more safety certifications and which have been fairly popular in the community. The Sonoff offers the most integration options, but only for some models and you have to have some good technical skills to implement it.
Otherwise, regardless of the Wi-Fi brand, you have to start looking for a “man in the middle” option. IFTTT is usually the easiest of those, but may only offer one way integration.
There are neutral lines at the switch iirc, but may not be for all the circuits (two were added at a later date), I will have to check. The biggest problem I face is getting a smart switch to fit the double size!
I wanted to avoid another hub for her, as more hubs means more points of failure. As I have to manage her smart home for her, it’s whatever makes my life easier in the long run!
I’m already planning to change the switch, so that’s not a problem. Would a standard on off not suffice? I’ve seen various wiring diagrams of different setups, although the momentary switches do seem to be the way to go…
The box is the standard depth, not the deep one. I guess it’s possible to change, as it’s in plasterboard wall.
Was going to mention these too . Not that I like rotary but you can literally replace your old modules with these and continue using them.
So for push to make of centre off switches in the UK check out click and there mini grid range. I use the Deco range but there is loads of options and at a great price point. Your need to get from a wholesaler though.
The only smart 3-gang smart light switches/dimmers I have seen in the UK are the LightwaveRF and TheDen. Both require their own hubs and currently TheDen is not integrate-able with any other systems including Smartthings. TheDen do either a 3-gang switch or a 1 or 2-gang dimmer. LightWaveRF do a 3-gang dimmer.
The next common option is to use micro modules like Fibaro, Aeotec, Insteon. Fibaro and Aeotec are Z-Wave and could be used directly with Smartthings but Insteon requires an Insteon hub. These are all available in either switch or dimmer versions and one of the big advantages of these is that you would mix dimmers and switches in the same 3 or 4-gang faceplate. These all would also require using momentary switches like the ones mentioned by @anon36505037
The final option is Aurora AOne as mentioned by @mark_cockcroft this fits on the back of many standard dimmer faceplates but possibly not all of them. This can either be connected directly to Smartthings or has its own hub.
Note: AOne does not have a switch i.e. on/off option only a dimmer option so might not be suitable for all lights.
I am currently leaning towards using Insteon micro modules myself. Insteon have recently announced they intend to launch a new hub with multiplatform support including Alexa and HomeKit. It is also possible to use momentary pullcord switches for use in bathrooms with micro modules including Insteon. Another bonus of Insteon is that they also do plugin switches and dimmers for table lamps.
Insteon doesn’t have an Integration with SmartThings other than IFTTT, though, right? (HomeKit is not a new integration for them if you have the right model hub, although they’ve been talking about doing a lot of new stuff now that they have a new CEO.)
Of the two types of Insteon hub, the Pro which supported HomeKit has been discontinued for some time and only supported HomeKit and nothing else. The normal hub which could in theory be used with the above app to link to Smartthings also officially supports Alexa and Google Assistant but not HomeKit.
The supposedly brand new hub referred to in the Insteon blog will support Alexa, Google Assistant and HomeKit/Siri and supposedly be more open to others like Smartthings. In otherwords ‘one hub to rule them all’.
I have friends who have one. It definitely supports both HomeKit and most of the regular Insteon devices. ( they had a big insteon set up before switching to that hub to get HomeKit integration.) I don’t know if it ever worked with echo, they don’t have one. I’ll ask them about IFTTT, but my guess is they don’t have that set up either.
Yes the Pro hub supports the same range of Insteon devices the issue is that it is not controllable by Alexa and Google Assistant nor other options e.g. Smartthings only via HomeKit and the special Pro version of the Insteon app.
The new hub will also have a new app which is already in beta.