Bulbs, switches and sensors, oh my....what to buy (device class features FAQ)

Vibration Sensors (Accelerometers)

In addition to the regular motion sensors, there are more expensive ones that also include vibration sensors. These are usually marketed as “multi sensors.”

Different ones will have different Added features. The vibration sensor itself will be used to detect when a large appliances running, like a washer. When there’s a knock or collision of some kind. Or when the sensor itself is moved, which is often described as a “tamper alert” if the device is marketed as part of a security system.

This last feature can also be used as a tilt sensor. One popular and very cool project is to put one of the sensors inside a wooden cube and then have each side of the cube trigger a different home automation event. Lots of variations on this in the community.

brand notes

The fibaro multisensor is very small and intentionally looks like a colored eyeball. Some people love this look, some find it creepy. Motion sensor plus temperature, light, and vibration. Its vibration sensor is used as both a tamper alert and an earthquake detector.

The Aeon Labs multisensor includes a lux sensor. It’s rated for outdoor use, but only if you disable the motion sensor, as it’s very prone to false alerts when outdoors. Still useful for light and temperature detection. Also a popular indoor motion sensor.

The SmartThings multisensor is very unusual in that it combines an accelerometer (tilt sensor) with a contact sensor. So it’s a two-piece device. It’s particularly popular as a garage door sensor where you want to distinguish between four states: open, Opening, closing, and closed. It does not detect motion of other objects nearby, but it does detect its own motion as its position changes. Also popular for the mood cube projects.


To be honest, from an engineering standpoint I’m amazed whenever any of the doubletap smartapps that use precision timing works in a cloudbased system like SmartThings. The problem is that the round-trip time just varies a lot. This makes it extremely difficult to capture a true double tap on the switch.

Because i’m quadriparetic I don’t use this feature at all myself, so I don’t have any personal experience with it. From what I can tell from just reading the forums, it seems to break, regardless of the app or switch you’re using, pretty often. Which again I put down to different processing times because of the cloud architecture.

It would probably be best to start a separate topic in the smart app section of the forum and just ask if people are successfully using any double tap smartapps at this time. (Look for answers from people other than the author of a particular app to get a full picture.)

Meanwhile, as of April 2016, there is a new line of switches from homeseer which offers both double tap and triple tap functionality that should work well with SmartThings because it uses an entirely different method. Instead of trying to precisely time events that are sent through the cloud, the switch itself determines if it’s a double tap or triple tap and then sends a single code to the cloud. this removes most of the problems with lag.


Holy crap everyone, thanks for all the responses, especially @JDRoberts. I was honestly only expecting to get maybe a few words at most from the responses. This has significantly helped.

I was expecting people to just say “get these, they were great, that’s what I use, don’t get these, they suck” haha!

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And that’s the great thing about this community. Those with the knowledge are happy to pass it on.
… And then there’s me! I know just enough to break stuff and pass on totally useless knowledge!


Yeah, this community is certainly different from many other forums I’ve been on. Usually when you post something like this, you get flamed and ridiculed. I was very hesitant to post at first.

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There’s not much of that in here at all. It really is a huge base of knowledge. I’ve learned a lot from a lot of people.

Use the search often to see if your question had been answered. And if you find a conversation about the subject, post in it about your experience too, even if the thread is old.

Check back often and be active. You can get all kinds of crazy ideas and inspiration from this place… I know I have.

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@JDRoberts, @fstbusa, @tlrdstd, @johnconstantelo

I’m reading up on the in-wall light switches. Do you guys know if there are any dimmer switches that are (not sure the best way to say it) “data only”…if that makes sense? For example…I install a dimmer light switch…and I set the dimmer to 50%…all it does is send the 50% brightness event to an assigned bulb…it doesn’t actually do any physical dimming.

Does that make sense?

The main reason I want this is because I don’t like the placement of the kitchen light switch, and we have another light switch that is in the perfect place, and it’s never used. So, it would be cool to install a dimmer switch in the light switch I want to use, but use it to dim and control the kitchen lights…

there are some battery powered switches that would work. You would also need to replace the kitchen switch with a dimmer or replace the kitchen bulbs with smart bulbs.


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The plan is to install all LED bulbs in the kitchen (only 2 bulbs). Then I wan to use a completely random light switch, that doesn’t even go to the kitchen lights (it actually goes to a plug that is never used…ever). I want to install an in-wall dimmer switch in that light switch, and use it to control the brightness of the kitchen lights as well as to turn them on and off. Because the placement of the kitchen light switch is in a terrible place, and that other switch is in a perfect place.

That’s what I mean when I say “data only” it does not perform any physical dimming or switching…all it does is send the signals to the ST hub, and the actions can be managed from there.

That switch above should be able to do just that. You will need a physical way of dimming your kitchen lights in order to control them. Whether that is a zwave dimmer that replaces your current kitchen light switch or replacing the bulbs with smart bulbs.

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You could put smart bulbs in the kitchen, two bulbs are pretty budget friendly, even the hues…

You could then either cap off the offensive light switch our just ignore it.

Then use a remote button controller, like a Minimote to turn the bulbs of and on via a smart app.

Such as… (on a Minimote)
Button 1 - lights on at 25%
Button 2 - lights on at 50%
Button 3 - lights on at 75%
Button 4 , lights on at 100%

Also, you could go from 25 to 100 by pressing the appropriate button.

And a second press on each button would turn the lights off.

And you also have the use of the long press on each button.

This remote could be mounted on the wall, and you can use multiple remotes, one by each door.

This would give you a huge amount of flexibility, and could probably be done for less than $100.00, if you get the hues and one remote.

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The Cooper 9500 is one of the most popular choices, as it looks just like a regular switch.

There are lots of other options:

Or you can also use a $20 wifi no contract phone and use SmartTiles (.a very popular 3rd party customizable dashboard for SmartThings that runs in any web browser)


By the way, the distinction you were trying to draw is between a “load controlling” switch, which controls the amount of current sent to the light, and one that works just as a “remote” or “wireless controller.” The wireless controller may be wired into mains power on a different circuit, or be battery operated.

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I’m not the OP, but I gleaned a lot from this thread. I’ve read through it several times now, trying to store it all away. Based on this and some other research, I have purchased:

With these – and the Schlage smart lock I picked up in the clearance/returns section of Home Depot today – I’m looking forward to expanding my smart setup and (hopefully) writing some code soon!


I’ve learned quite a lot as well.

I ended up ordering 3 more OSRAM Lightify Tunable White 60W bulbs, the SmartThings pocket socket, the Aeon Labs Z-Wave minimote, the SmartThings motion sensor and the SmartThings multi sensor…mainly for the temp sensor. I’m going to play around with the minimote to see if I can use that for the kitchen lights instead of the normal light switch. It will also be nice to be able to set up some rules like when I go to sleep to shut off everything…same for when I leave the house.

I’ve been really happy with the OSRAM bulbs and don’t really have a need for color right now. The only time I can see wanting color would be for notifications or something.

This thread hadn’t really gotten into wall switches, that’s a whole different topic.

You should never use a dimmer switch (smart or not) to control the current load to a dimmable smart bulb. You can burn out the switch. A dimmer switch controlling current to a compatible dimmable dumb bulb is fine.

You can use a regular binary on/off switch on the circuit with the smart bulb. Or a dimmer switch on a different circuit (or battery-operated) to control the bulb remotely.

See the following topic. It was started for Hue bulbs, but most of it applies to any smart bulb.

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There’s a light switch FAQ on dimmers that are not on the same circuit, it should give you some ideas:

You’re right, I just misspoke. Thanks for the correction, I fixed mine. :sunglasses:

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I use the GE Z-Wave Smart Dimmer (in-wall) and I find they work fabulously. Pushing the top part of the switch turns on the light, the bottom turns off the light. Holding the top brightens, holding the bottom dims. The switch returns to the last dim state when you turn it on.

My wife didn’t like how hard you needed to push the switch to get it to operate. It takes more than the normal amount of pushing to activate the switch than a normal wall switch. I don’t find it a problem. Installation is easy if you have a common (typically white) wire in the box, it requires rewiring if you don’t. I have an old house, so in places I had to pull a white wire from the junction box to the switch box and I have a 3-way installation for which I didn’t install the GE dimmers because a) I don’t want to take the time to figure out how to install the system as 3-way and b) there isn’t enough room in the box for the wires needed to install it.

Because of my wife’s concerns, I installed a Leviton Decora Z-wave Controls universal dimmer at another location. That unit has a single switch (on-off-on, etc) and a rocker switch that controls dimming. The rocker seems somewhat fragile, but I haven’t had it long enough to see if it will last. The switch requires less pressure to operate than the GE. Wiring was the same, although the Leviton has pigtails while the GE has terminals.

Both of these are Z-wave devices, so they act as Z-wave repeaters. I have decided in rooms that do not have Z-wave switches to put a Z-wave GE switched outlet, mostly to act as a repeater. I have absolutely no problem with connecting Z-wave devices in my house!

I would love to hear your opinion on wall switches as I’m looking at adding some basic light switches and fan control switches in my house.

I’ve installed about 25 of the GE in wall switches. I have 25 more to go. So far, I love them. I’ve had no problems with them, at all.

I like that I can turn the led on/off/never

I highly recommend them.

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