Controling smart lights from a wall switch

Sorry if this is the wrong location, I’m new to Smart Things.

I’m looking for a way to control some smart lamps on my home theater with a couple caveats.

  • I want to retain the ability to turn on / off from a wall switch (kids, wife, etc.)
  • I would like to have a remote or tactile device to change color / mood / etc.
  • I don’t want to do this through a phone or app. I’m to lazy to turn it on, open the ap, etc. I just want to push a button.
  • not interested in talking to my lights. (it’s bad enough I talk to myself)
  • I want this integrated in some manner to Smart Things.

My thoughts so far are:

Hue. they have a wall switch and a puck that will allow for a couple presets but I’d really like to use some brighter or other smart lights and they are $$$ in comparison to some other lights.

I saw a video of the lightpad switch controlling a Hue lamp but it looks like it was just a demo and not released yet. being able to control color from the switch is a nifty idea. This along with the ability to control some scenes from a Logitech would keep things simple for the family.

Any thoughts on other options? again, I’d like to be able to use other lights than the Hue system If possible…

I’m still wading through the forums but haven’t seen anything else yet.

thank you

What I did…

Good question, and one that gets asked in the forums two or three times a month. :sunglasses:

So we actually have two different FAQs for it. Short one and a long one.

I’m guessing from some of The terms in your post that you are in the UK/Europe? If so, the device selection may be a bit different, but the basic concepts are the same.

If by chance you are formerly from the UK but now live in Canada, then the device selection is the same as the US.


If you are in the UK, there is a nice popp battery operated switch Which works well with smartthings using custom code and is very popular for control of smart bulbs. But there are a lot of other options as well, as you will see from the FAQs.


So first read the short FAQ linked to above so you get the basic concepts and understand the different categories of options. After that you can either go through the long FAQ if you want a lot more details or just start looking at device options.

Also if you have any following questions, do specify the region that you are in, as the device selection does vary.

Thank you both for your responses. JD, I’m in the U.S. and had / have read both of those faq’s. I was hoping there was a cleaner solution out there. The cover over a light switch really doesn’t work for me. It seems, at this point, no one has really designed a “smart” light switch specifically for “smart” lights. Something with a fader or two to communicate with a hub for smart features and a small toggle at the bottom for hard on / off. I can’t imagine it would be that difficult to design / implement.

For the moment, I’ve purchased as pair of Hue color lamps to test with. I’m connecting them to a Lutron Switch (not dimmer.) for general access into the room, this should suffice as the Hue lamps will default to white when turned on / off from the switch. For color / mood, I’m going to pick up one of the $58 Harmony remotes from Walmart and set a couple presets. This should give quick and simple functionality.


I was thrown off by the use of the word “lamps.” In the US those are commonly called “bulbs,” while in the UK they are “lamps.” The distinction becomes important, because Phillips makes both table lamps and bulbs. Those in the US will assume that any reference to “lamps” is to something like this:

Not this:

So it can change the responses you will get.

I just want to clarify that you were not intending to have the Lutron switch actually cut current to the bulbs.

If you read the user guide for the bulbs, you’ll see that they are intended to always have power, and for the bulb itself to decide how much power to draw.

That’s not a dimmer versus bulb issue. Rather it’s that when the current is cut and then restored, there is a surge, called “inrush current,” which can overtime damage the radio in the smart bulb, making a very expensive bulb that much more expensive as you can easily cut the life of the bulb by about a third. :disappointed_relieved:

there’s no safety issue with just an on/off switch – – it’s just a cost issue because of the potential damage to the bulb.

It won’t be a problem if the power drops because of a rare occasional power outage. But if you are using the switches every day to cut and restore power, then you don’t want that to be the same circuit as the bulb itself. Regardless of the type of switch.

But maybe I’m misunderstanding what you are describing, and it’s a battery powered Lutron device. If you could give the model numbers or product links in these kinds of discussions it makes it easier, as there are often subtle but important differences from model to model. :sunglasses:

LOL. Well, I take issue with my U.S. brethren. As I lighting designer for 40 years, to me, a bulb is something you plant in the ground. A lamp emits light. :slight_smile:


Like this?

1 Like

That’s actually what I was intending to do. The fact that the lamps / bulbs return to a default white, works in my favor for the general access in to the room. The only time I’d use the color feature is when we actually sit down to watch a movie.

The room is more multi-purpose than dedicated media room so having the general on / off switch go to white actually works well in my situation. I’ve set up a couple scenes with color and dimming in ST and my goal was to access those in some manner from a logitech remote.

From what I’m reading however, while the functionally it’s getting me what I want, it may be short term or a costly solution in the long run.

Are there other RGB / RGBW fixtures that don’t suffer from having the power cut at the wall or is this endemic to smart lights?

Thank you

It’s just an issue of inrush current damaging the radio in the smart bulbs – – it would apply to any brand and model. Check the user guide, but if it tells you the bulbs are intended to always be on power, that’s normally one of the reasons.

Heat management is much more difficult for smart bulb than for a smart switch, so the bulb radios are much more vulnerable.

Gotcha, I’m probably going to re-think what I’m doing in that room. I’m a bit underwhelmed with the color of the Hue lamps. The reds are o.k. but the blues are pretty weak. Not enough saturation.

thank you again.

1 Like