Default Operation of Things when they are Dumb

Hello Everyone!

Rookie Home Automation user alert!

Undertaking an extensive remodel of our townhome and we’ve decided on a Samsung SmartThings hub with Leviton switches and outlets.

Assuming I have Leviton “smart” switches and outlets throughout the house, what happens to them when the Samsung SmartThings Hub is:

  1. Not working/present/dead/unpowered
  2. Powered but ot connected to the Internet

I’m sure this is an obvious question but as a rookie, I need reassurance…


The short answer to your question is it doesn’t work unless the hub is up, running, online, and with a working internet connection.

The long answer is a lot more complex. There are some devices that run locally. Here is a link to some information on the subject. I’m sure others that have researched this issue more that I will give you some additional and more authoritative information.

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Welcome! It’s a good question. :sunglasses: It depends on the specific brand and model of the switch, as well as how you have installed it.

The Master Switch

A “master” switch is generally installed as a load controlling switch, which means if the Internet is off or if the SmartThings cloud is unavailable or if your smartthings hub is removed altogether, The switch still works just like a regular dumb switch would work. Turn it on and the light fixture comes on. Turn it off and the light fixture goes off. However, that only applies to using it just like a dumb switch and physically using the switch on the wall. You won’t be able to use the phone app to control the switch.

Any special features, like a double tap to turn on a light in another part of the room, or the single tap normally turning on several lights on several circuits might or might not work, but probably won’t work.

An auxiliary switch in a three-way lighting set up, like one Switch at each end of the hallway that both control the same light

In the set up, the exact model of the devices matters a lot. There are some devices, specifically those that use physical traveler wires to communicate to the master switch, which will still do that basic on/off even if none of the home automation system is working.

But there are other models which use a “virtual 3 way,” where the auxiliary communicates to either the master or the smartthings hub wirelessly rather than directly through wires. Again, depending on the exact set up, those might or might not work if the home automation system wasn’t working. But probably they won’t work. The master will still work. So in that hallway example, it might mean that only one of the two switches worked if the home automation system was down.

If making sure that every auxiliary switch Will still have on/off capability at the Switch if the home automation system is down is important to you, you need to select models that have that capability, as not all do.

Wallmount remotes, including any battery operated devices and switches that were wired to bypass the load

Many people use various kinds of wall mount remotes, including multibutton panels, tablets with fancy dashboard apps, individual buttons, etc. Those can be a real convenience factor.

In this case, it’s generally the same as the wired auxiliary switches. There are a few models which might still be able to work even if the Internet was down or the hub was missing, but not many, and you need to look specifically for that feature if you want it. In general, the wallmount remotes won’t work unless the full home automation system is working.


Master switches are typically wired so that they will function just like a regular dumb switch if the hub or the cloud or not available. But only the basic functionality for that single circuit will operate in these conditions. Fancy features like double tap and multi circuit control usually won’t work.

Other devices, Including mains powered auxiliaries and battery powered devices typically won’t work. There are a few exceptions, but if you want that feature, you need to look for it specifically when you select devices.

Hope that helps. :sunglasses:

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@PhilB brings up a good point… If the smartthings cloud is down or the Internet is down but your hub is still working, there are a few automations which can still work with some specific devices, and that does include some of the Leviton’s. That’s what is meant by “local processing” – – things that the hub can do even if the SmartThings cloud is not available.

For example, you could still have a motion sensor cause the switch to come on.

However, you still can’t use the phone app unless the SmartThings cloud is available. You won’t get any notifications. And schedules based on sunrise or sunset will not work. But if you had scheduled a specific Leviton lightswitch to come on at 7 PM every night, that can still work even if the Internet is down.

So there are a few automations that will still run even without the SmartThings cloud. That’s a separate question from whether the wall switch will work like a manual switch if the home automation system isn’t working.

Sorry this stuff is so complicated – – it’s just the way the system is designed because it’s cloud-based. There are a lot of specific details that matter. :sunglasses:

Thank you everyone for your replies. So there are three possible modes of operation for my future smart home:

  1. Everything works as intended using my ST Hub and its associated smart Things.
  2. The Hub is powered and functioning but is not connected to the Internet; this was referred to as “local”
  3. The Hub is not functioning at all

In #2, the Hub and its still connected Things may be capable of a range of functionality from 0-100% depending on the Thing and locality of Hub processing, which varies by release. From my research, at this stage of the industry, it is almost impossible to say what will happen unless you try it

In #3, all “programmed” features go away and Things default to electro-mechanical functionality. In my case, if I ensure that all switches are mechanical (not remotes) and capable of normal electrical switching (including carrier wires for 3-way switch setups), then the (smart now dumb) Leviton lights and outlets will still work as one would expect.

I will be attacking the rough-in wiring next week. My take-aways are:

  1. Wire everything as if the home were “dumb”
  2. Ensure there is a neutral in every switch box
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Yes, that’s essentially it. At the present time for situation number two, the only automations that can run are the official smart lighting feature and a tiny bit of smart home monitor and that still depends on the specific devices and device Type handlers being used.

As far as planning, the other thing I would suggest is deep back boxes on your light switch boxes. 47 mm at least. Regardless of the specific device or protocol or platform you select, if A switch has a radio in it, it takes more space in the switchbox. And the Leviton happen to be particularly deep, about 36 mm just for the switch, and you have to have room for the wires, including any wire bundles, as well.

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