Bedside table lamps and wall switch conundrum

I have a guest cabin with a master bedroom and some very nice bedside lights. The wall switch does not control any ceiling lights, but switches the power to the outlets on either side of the bed into which the bedside lamps are plugged. It’s obvious that guests turn off the lamps by the switch on the lamp, so next day the wall switch does nothing. So I turn on both bedside lamps, then turn the wall switch off so guests can walk in, turn on the light, and not stumble around in the dark.

I’m wondering if there is any way to smartify this system. If I removed the bedside table switches, and rewired the outlets to always-on, and installed smart bulbs and a smart wall switch, then guests could have wall control, but how would they have local control? There is no hope of guests using an app–it has to be super-easy, ideally just a button on the bedside lamp that would turn the lamps off individually, but they would come right on when the wall switch was next toggled.

The MOST ideal would be a Z-wave enabled lamp socket with local control, but I haven’t found anything like that.

I recently saw a very elaborate “Smart Home” setup at a trade show and asked the demo guy this question and he looked at me as though I was asking him to solve differential equations. It seems to me that this basic need–to not stumble around in the dark–is a great application for smart switches and bulbs, but I’m getting nowhere at making it happen. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!

Lots of options for these. :sunglasses: See the following:

And this

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If you already have a Hue Hub, just add Hue Dimmer Switch Kit and an additional bulb. Remove your existing wall switch and connect the wires so that your outlets are always hot. But a blank faceplate where the old switch was and then stick this on top. Put the bulbs in in lamps and you are done.

If you don’t have a hub yet, maybe now is the time to get one.

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JDRoberts, thanks for that faq link. At first glance that Aeon switch looks great, but then I find that it requires some kind of Aeon Zwave thingy, and how is it powered, anyway? I saw the Lowes “big button” for Iris but there are so many negatives about that, and it’s expensive, has a fragile battery cover, and sounds like a bucket of problems. Fightingmajor, I don’t have any Hue stuff and don’t feel the need for another layer of hub-ness. I would rather stick with Smartthings-compatible lights right from the git-go. If I took your suggestion I still don’t see how guests would turn their bedside lamps on and off from their bed.

I did a certain amount of searching before posting this question, but–elementary as it is–nothing stuck out as a practical solution.

Replying to myself, here. I was just thinking, “what I need is a Zwave-capable lamp socket.” So I googled for that and, lo! Look what came up:

This might be just the ticket if it will work with Smartthings.

It should work with SmartThings, but it’s huge. You can’t put a lampshade over it. So most people don’t use those.

There are lots of good nightstand options. As well as some that would go on the wall. They’re all listed in the remotes FAQ thread.

Personally, I like the smartenIT 3 toggle. You can use one toggle for an individual light, another toggle for a group of lights, a third toggle to put the group at 50%, or whatever you like.

The smart switch covers which fit over an existing switch can also just be used standalone on the wall or on the table. They are becoming increasingly popular.

And the new Logitech pop buttons are quite nice and have a SmartThings interface, but you do have to buy their bridge as well which makes them more expensive. (The pop is in the middle of this picture)

For table lamps, I like the Flic button, which is the yellow button on the right in the picture. It comes in many different colors. Just stick it right on the side of the lamp. But you’ll need to have a phone nearby that has Wi-Fi access.

So anyway, lots of options. :sunglasses:

I had the same problem with my bedside lamps and wall switch.

My solution for a smart (z-wave remote controllable) table lamp with local switching/dimming capabilities was to use a Nano-Dimmer stuffed into my hollow lamp base.

For the local lamp switch, I used a conventional 3-way lamp socket.

I performed surgery on the socket to separate the switch from the AC supply - both of which need to be wired directly/independently to the Nano-Dimmer.

The 3-way switch opens and closes a common pole to two others. Each quarter turn of the knob takes these other poles, with respect to the common, through an open/open, open/closed, closed/open, closed/closed cycle. In normal operation, these switches power two separate filaments in 3-way bulbs through an off, low, medium, high brightness cycle.

Note that one of the poles alternates between open and closed with each quarter turn of the switch. It is the common and this pole that should be used to control the Nano-Dimmer in a “momentary switch” configuration. From the open position (I marked with a horizontal line of paint across the knob), the light can be toggled (on/off) with two turns - emulating a momentary button press. Pausing after the first turn causes the Nano-Dimmer to dim up and down, alternately. Dimmable bulbs are used instead of 3-way ones.

3-way lamp socket surgery was delicate and should only be attempted with great care.

Drill out rivet heads from inside socket. Remove rivets, socket and insulating cap to access switch internals. Rivets can be replaced later with small machine screws.

The neutral supply wire is connected to the socket’s neutral binding post and to N on the Nano-Dimmer. The live supply wire is connected only to L on the Nano-Dimmer.

The switch’s common pole was intended for the live supply. It was designed to switch this to the other poles - one of which is wired to the central socket contact and, from there, to the bulb. Now this central socket contact must be wired directly to OUT on the Nano-Dimmer. To this end, I harvested a terminal from another socket, split them in half (actually, ~ 2/3-1/3) and fit them both back in the same slot with the top one flipped. The bottom remained connected to the switch common. This is connected to COM on the Nano-Dimmer. I was able to bend the tail on the central socket contact under the screw on the top terminal. This is connected to OUT on the Nano-Dimmer. To insulate these from each other, I added a sleeve of shrink tubing to the bottom one and folded it over to separate it from the top one.

For my socket, the other switch pole of interest was conveniently connected to another terminal. I harvested a terminal from yet another socket and replaced this one so as to have a wire binding screw on it. This was connected to S1 on the Nano-Dimmer.

Remote control may be done indirectly with smarts (SmartThings) or by direct association with a Z-Wave dimmer/switch. For example,

Or through another Nano-Dimmer behind a wall switch. You can use one of theirs or a conventional one.

Unfortunately, after completing this integration, I stumbled over a Nano-Dimmer “feature”. That is, when its momentary switch is held for 20 seconds, it resets. With other switches this might not be too bad but, with my lamps’ modified 3-way switches, “holding” a switch is one turn while “releasing” it is one more. One turn without the other, therefore, will reset the Nano-Dimmer. This is really bad because normal behavior for operating such switches is to give it just one turn and such behavior will cause a reset!

A reset will take a Nano-Dimmer out of the network and break associations others have with it. Putting it back in a SmartThings network doesn’t help because it is given a different Z-Wave node id – leaving the associations broken. Of course, these can be fixed but it is not reasonable to do so every time after someone operates a lamp switch “normally”.

Thankfully, Aeotec support came to the rescue with a firmware fix for the Nano-Dimmer. Firmware 1.03 adds this configuration parameter

Using the Z-Wave Tweaker, I set this parameter to 129 (0x81) to disable the function associated with bit 2 (factory reset on 20 second hold of an external switch).

As of firmware 2.00, the default behavior is to not factory reset on a 20 second hold of an external switch.

I ended up using another Nano-Dimmer (with no load connected) behind my wall switch and associated it (group 3) with the Nano-Dimmers in my lamps. Each lamp Nano-Dimmer is likewise associated with the Nano-Dimmer in the wall. This results in a wall switch toggle action toggling the action last taken on any of the Nano-Dimmer switches.

This video brings us tandalizingly close to the dream:

They wire in a z-wave module into the base, but don’t connect or replace the lamp’s pull chain switch. The module they used has wire inputs for a switch.

i put smart bulb in my bedside lamp, and use the app, alexa, and a minimote to control it. I leave the lamp on all the time

I had a similar situation where I wanted RGB bulbs in two lamps controlled by a switch. I bought a GE Zwave switch and put it in the wall, but only hooked up the Neutral and Line wires. I then jumpered the Line and Load wires together so that the outlet was always hot. Next I got two Sylvania Lightify bulbs and put them into the lamps. I then used the Smart Lighting smartapp to turn the lightbulbs on when the switch was turned on. I also setup the opposite rule so that if I turned the light bulbs on directly (like with Alexa), the switch turned on too.

The device used in the video is very much like a Nano-Switch. Unfortunately, it does not use the local lamp control (pull chain switch) at all. It is totally dependent on external smarts to tell it what to do.

My solution uses a Nano-Dimmer instead and, with a hacked native 3-way lamp switch and dimmable bulb, one has full local control (on/off toggle and dimming). One also has full remote/smart control.

I was in a similar situation, I have two bedside lamps, mains fed and attached to the wall. The previous implementation had switches on the lamps, but I replaced the lamps with non-switched ones so that they were always live (in order to go smart).

I started with the everspring z-wave bulb holder solution. They are big devices, but work well for on/off, and have local control via a button on the holder. However, I soon decided I really wanted dimming.

So, I switched the bulbs and holders out for Aeotec Z-Wave colour LED bulbs (also large, but worked in exactly the way I needed) and combined this with a Popp z-wave switch, which has dimming.

The Popp switch (I’ve only used one, you could use one for each lamp) is just above the headboard, attached to the wall. I’ve never changed the batteries in it, it’s been going for a couple of years now I think. It effectively has 4 buttons on it, and you can buy different face plates for it, some of which have two switches.

Now, the switch controls the lights and the colour is always set to a yellowy orange, which is preferable as most blue light is eliminated.

Physical switching is what I wanted from the video, but they didn’t tackle it like you did.

opening up a three-way switch seemed like a lot of work. I really wish GE or Everspring would make a lamp kit, rather than bulb socket devices, etc. Retrofitting a lamp shouldn’t be this hard :slight_smile:

I think you misunderstood the video. While it appears that the smarts can be controlled by a momentary switch, no such switch is wired to it. The pull chain switches are not momentary and are not wired to the smarts. They are parallel to each other and both are in series with the smart switch. In order for a bulb to be on, both the smart switch and its pull chain switch need to be on. Essentially, a smart plug could perform exactly the same as the smarts in the video.

Physical (existing) switching is what I achieved. I also think there is a market for a smart lamp socket with a local switch but, AFAIK, no such device exists – so I made one.

Ross, I saw your write up of socket surgery with the Nanodimmer. Do you have any photos of the process you could share?

Unfortunately, I did not take pictures while I was fumbling through this process. By the time I was done, it was too late.

I will, however, dissect another, provide pictures and do some hand waving…

For this purpose, this is a 3-way socket I got from Home Depot. From memory, this seems to be the same as the ones I actually used. I believe the Amazon product referenced above is essentially the same thing.

  1. This is what the top of the 3-way socket looks like. The knob (cropped from picture) points down.


  1. This is the bottom of the socket.


  1. The “common” side (neutral (N) post on left, knob on right).


  1. The “switched” side (knob on left, neutral (N) post on right).


  1. Parts after drilling out rivets.


  1. Switch exposed, top flipped over exposing finger.


  1. Switch components (left to right): body, common bar with finger, knob with retaining wafer and switched bar with finger.


  1. Switch components inside, disassembled (left to right): common bar with finger, switched bar with finger and knob with retaining wafer.


  1. Switch components outside, disassembled (left to right): common bar/post and finger, switched bar with finger and knob with retaining wafer.

A. Replaced switch components (surgery simulated in photoshop)


Components from left to right:

  • Shortened common bar/post harvested from another switch. This will sit above the next component and will need to be insulated from it. It will be wired to OUT on the Nano-Dimmer. The finger from the top of the switch (figure 6) will need to be straightened and tucked under this screw. This will power the bulb under the control of the Nano-Dimmer.
  • Shortened common bar/post from this switch. This will sit below the previous component and will need to be insulated from it. It will be wired to COM on the Nano-Dimmer.
  • Common terminal harvested from another switch. This will replace the switched bar (which no longer needs a contact in the socket) and will be wired to S1 on the Nano-Dimmer.

Carefully put the pieces back together, replacing the rivets with appropriately sized machine screws.
Wire to Nano-Dimmer and tuck in lamp.