Hi everyone. I’m new to the SmartThings community and to smart things in general. I’ve been spending the past 2 days trying to figure out how to get started and I’m hoping someone to give me a push in the right direction.
I have a room that I am tearing up the ceiling and putting in recessed lights. I want to replace those lights with dimmable smart lights. I wanted to get a smart switch that I could control the dimmable lights with also. So someone could use the switch, voice (thru alexa), phone, whatever. I wanted smart lights because I’d like to setup different areas of lights that can be on at one time (or all lights if I want). My favorite switch I’ve found so far is the HomeSeer HS-WS100+ because it has a double/triple tap feature.
But I’m having a hard time understanding how this would work. From what I’ve read online, if the lights get their power though the switch, if the switch is powered off, the smart lights can not be activated using voice or mobile app because they don’t have any power. Does this make sense? How would I accomplish this?
Thanks for any help!
(The Viking AKA "Holy Crap You're a Giant!")
You can have either smart switches or smart bulbs, but not both… You CAN have both, but you’re doubling (or more) the cost and gaining no real benefit…
If you want individually controllable “zones”, either wire the room with multiple switches, or run only smart bulbs and no switches.
I’m a switch fan. It allows all of the functions you want, voice, manual, app control, as well as anyone who has never experienced a smart home can still control the lights as normal.
Depending on your room layout, you could do wall sconces on their own switch to get that “zoned” lighting effect or changing the mood depending on what is lit and when. In our living room one switch controls the wall outlets the lamps plug into, and one controls the overhead lights, so I get the benefit of different lighting effects depending on mood.
You can most definitely have both. With the new Inovelli switches that are coming out soon you can disable the relay so the smart bulbs are always on. Best of both worlds. You still get your familiar switch, and can still use bulbs that change color and dim.
I am not sure of other smart bulb brands but I have both smart on/off switches and Hue color bulbs on the Hue bridge on multiple rooms and they work really well together.
The Hue bulb status knows when the smart switch is off and update the status within 3 to 4 seconds. With this, you can use smart lighting Smartapps and tell ST to turn on the smart switch when you are trying to turn on the bulb.
Some people worry about the longevity of the smart bulb having power cutting off all the time so it’s something you should keep in mind. I took that risk 2 years ago and the bulbs are still functional but it’s possible they could kick the bucket soon.
Another option is to not hook up the load of the smart switch and hard wire the bulb so it’s always On and use ST to control the bulb when the smart switch is pressed.
(The Viking AKA "Holy Crap You're a Giant!")
Now THAT is cool. I didn’t know that was in the works. So the buttons still function for turning light groups on/off, but the load relay is not active?
All good suggestions here. Smart bulbs are more expensive, but much easier to deal with if you want zones. I like them because they don’t buzz or ring when dimmed.
I’d explore fixtures that use GU10 bulbs. Tthe inexpensive IKEA options won’t break the bank and simplifies your opportunities for future upgrades. My suggestion would be Tradfri bulbs with a Hue Bridge to keep cost down and flexibility higher.
When the internet goes out or the cloud connection is down, you can’t control your smartbulbs if you’re not using a solution like the Hue Bridge that maintains local connection. Of course this is another advantage of smart switches, but flexibility is then more limited.
I’d definitely make sure you have a switch that has control of the bulbs even when internet or cloud is out. You can go conventional switch, but not a dimmer with smart bulbs. Hue has a dimmer that links to the bridge, can be programmed, and will maintain local control, but it’s ugly.
Lutron connected bulb remote look normal, but they’re getting hard to find. If you just need one, eBay will get you what you need. They can be linked with the Hue Bridge in an unsupported, but very stable connection. Can’t be programmed like the Hue dimmer, but the Lutron Connected bulb remote will always have control of the bulbs because it pairs to each bulb with Zigbee. So even if the Hue Bridge was unplugged, the remote can still control the bulbs. IKEA dimmers work the same way, but they’re again a departure from the standard Decora style we use in North America.
Given what xamindar said above, I contacted Inovelli. This is what they said:
Excellent question! Yes, we will have this functionality on our, “scene-enabled” switches that will be back in market around early March. The catch is you have to have SmartThings or a HUB that supports parameter changes.
If you have SmartThings, and install our device handler, there’s an option there to disable the relay. I actually use it myself to turn on Hue lights without cutting the power.
I think I’m going to go with this option. I want a good recessed smart light. I’m going to be having 10 smart lights and I don’t want to break the bank. They will need to be white lights (probably 3000k). Anyone have any recommendations as to a good bulb?
From what you want, I’d suggest non smart lights and just smart zone controllers. That way you can reprogram the zones as needed and you would save a lot on your install cost. Smart bulbs are good if you need color changing but often cause problems with larger groups.
As has been discussed, there are many different options.
People commonly use smart bulbs either because they want the color changing capability or because they have one switch controlling a room and they want to set up separate zones within that room.
It’s easy to add a wall switch that will work with these smart bulbs, it just has to be one that does not cut current to the bulbs. That way the bulbs can always hear the next “on“ command and you avoid damaging the bulbs with inrush current.
There are several different ways to do this. See the following FAQ (this is a clickable link)
The inovielli switch Is just another variation on this, but there are other devices available now that will also work.
Yeah, we’re pretty excited about this new feature. It will be on our scene enabled switches (we upgraded the firmware to allow this feature as well as a few other really neat features). We, surprisingly had a lot of requests for a switch that would control a smart bulb. This is obviously tricky in that if someone turns off the power to the bulb, it renders it useless until it turns back on.
So, our engineer came up with a way to disable the relay for local control (ie: manual).
I put together a couple crappy videos here just to show someone on Reddit (don’t judge them haha – I also had the flu and there was construction going on at the same time.
Here’s what was posted on Reddit:
First things first though, I want to apologize for the raspy voice (was battling the flu all weekend) and for the 1970’s basement tile – we’re remodeling down there.
Anyway, I’ll try to explain the video in writing too. Here’s my setup. I have the Inovelli switch at the top of the stairs which is only wired to the light at the top of the stairs. There are three separate circuits that are in the basement outside of the one at the top. There’s the bottom of the stairs, the main part of the basement, and the laundry room.
Before, I would have to double-tap to send a scene to the rest of the switches to turn on. Not a big deal to me, but there were some people in this thread who, “encouraged” us to add the single scene function
Now, I can simply press the button once and all four “sections” of my basement turn on.
Anyway, back to what we were talking about. In the video, the first section is where I have the relay turned on and you can see the light at the top of the stairs (load) turn on/off when I single tap (as well as the scenes at the bottom of the stairs activate).
The next section of the video shows how to disable the relay via the DH.
The final section shows the switch being used without the relay and you’ll notice the switch will not turn off the light (load) at the top of the stairs, but still activates the scene at the bottom.
Once you install our device handler, there’s a toggle that will allow you to turn it on or off (see screenshot).
The other thing you’ll see in the screenshot is the ability to change the maximum dimness based on the time of day for both local/manual and remote control. For example, if you only want your bulb to turn onto 10% at night time when you press it (so you don’t blast everyone with light) you can set it to do that. Whereas, if you’d like it to max out at 60% in the morning when you’re waking up you can do that as well.
We’re creating a child handler to allow for further customization (ie: you’ll actually be able to set the times).
My question had more to do with a SmartThings outage. Say I had the switch set to not use the local relay. Then the hub dies. Is there anyway to reconfigure the switch itself to operate the local relay again? Or do I need a Z wave controller to reconfigure it?
Some of the existing options, such as the go control auxiliary switch, work fine as long as the home automation system is working. But if the hub itself has failed, the switch is useless.
With other existing options, like the smart switch covers, you can just take the switch cover off and the original switch is still in place and operational.
So I just wondered which category your device was going to go into when it comes to System outage planning.
Thanks for jumping in and explaining everything. I did have a few questions that hopefully you could help with.
In the you tube video, there is a short delay after toggling the switch off when attached to the smart light. I’m looking at getting the dimmer switch and if I disable the relay and use the smart switch to dim the smart lights, what will the delay be like? Does that make it hard to dim the lights to the right settings using the switch?
I’m doing construction and can wire these switches and the lights up however I want. Knowing that I want to disable the relay, What is the ideal wiring for this? Should I wire it just like a normal 3-way dimmer switch?
Last question is… is this only going to be available through your website? I currently get free shipping with amazon, is it going to be on there?
Hey @JDRoberts – that’s an excellent question. I’ve passed it on to our team to see. We still have time to perfect this, so I would add this to the firmware for sure.
At the very least if the HUB was down for a prolonged time, the user could factory reset the switch and it would default back, but it would be nice to add some sort of sequence (ie: Tap Up 8x) for it to automatically turn on/off the relay.
I had an idea about this a while back and thought that a company like Lutron and their Caseta line should do something like this:
Create a new line similar to Caseta but with paired Lutron color change smartbulbs that communicated with the wall switch using a data over powerline interface. That way the switch could tell the bulb what to do digitally while having constant power.
I know that the data over power can be a fairly small package and can be limited to the bulb side of the switch without any leakage to the rest of the house power. Redesign of the app and/or switch layout and boom, best of both worlds.
Excellent questions and no worries, I’m happy to help!
I’ll kind of backup here to explain what exactly is happening as it can be confusing and I want to make sure I set the right expectations for the switch. NOTE: it’s hard to explain and I’ve never been great at teaching (my wife is the teacher in the family) so I apologize in advance if this is confusing – feel free to ask any follow up questions!
If Relay is Disabled Ok, we’re going to assume the light relay is disabled with the comments below – I’ll also write a separate section as to the behavior if the relay is not disabled.
Since the switch is Z-Wave Plus, it can only dim up/down other Z-Wave bulbs (and even then, those bulbs must be, “Associated” with the switch – think of that as DIRECTLY PAIRED to the switch as well as the HUB – very similar to how Lutron Picos are setup) using the Z-Wave command.
In other words, since Hue/Osram/LIFX are not Z-Wave, this switch, if the relay is disabled, would only be able to turn on those lights to a pre-defined level (or just simply turn them on/off).
This is because, since those bulbs cannot directly associate with the switch remotely, they are looking for a signal from the HUB (vs a signal from the switch itself like the Z-Wave bulbs can). The signal from the HUB is, “activate scene #1” which is whatever scene you’ve defined in SmartThings. Ex: Scene #1 = Turn on Smart Bulb 1, 2, 3, lock doors, etc.
NET: If using a non-Z-Wave bulb, you will not be able to directly dim up/down in real time – you will simply have an on/off function. Even if you are using a Z-Wave bulb, you will need to make sure they have the capability to be directly Associated. We will be launching some that will later in the year (so you can dim up/down directly from the switch with the relay off).
Relay On This example is if the relay is on
Of course here, you can dim up and down the light, but once you dim down, you will shut the light off, rendering it useless
So, to answer your Question above – if you have the relay off and are wanting to know the delay – if it’s a non-Z-Wave bulb, the delay you see in the video is about what you’ll see on your end (I was using a LIFX bulb, which is not Z-Wave). If you are using a Z-Wave bulb and it can be directly associated, the delay is almost none – in fact, it’s pretty much the same as if you had the bulb on the load itself (of course distance will play an issue here – if it’s a light across your house, then there may be a delay).
I would honestly just wire it as normal – but if you’d like a more technical answer, feel free to reach out to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll put you in touch with Jason, our electrician as that’s definitely not an area of expertise for me!
They will be available at the following locations: Amazon, eBay and Inovelli.com