SmartThings Community

Dumb light switches + control panel?

Of course… the folks at Brilliant (and a couple similar, but less funded companies), believe a hybrid approach is the key. Even at ~$250 per switch!

I believe it when I see it, until then this is just vaporware…


Which is why I don’t use them. (except for one chandelier.)

Most of my extemporaneous control of smart lighting is by voice nowadays:
“alexa, turn the living room purple”
“alexa, turn the corner lamp 20 percent”

Meanwhile, I do have some touchscreen controllers… and more in process. You can get android smart phones for as little as $15 each. So it’s cheaper than a smart switch, and a lot more versatile.

Imagine you have a Hue color bulb in a room, a Hue light strip, and a Cree smart bulb.
You don’t even need ST to control them from the smartphone. Use Hue widgets or whatever. You can also use Sharptools widgets. Put those widgets in the home screen of a phone, stick the phone to the wall… or use it as a bedside controller.


You’re preaching to the choir, here - I assure you.

But Brilliant has $21 million in VC and various innovation awards. Does not mean they will succeed, of course - I think the price is prohibitive; but “luxury” markets do exist. I think the biggest challenge is for them to offer such fancy technology when, after 6 years, SmartThings hasn’t even come close to the experience Brilliant has been building for 2.


That depends on the type of experience you’re looking for… :wink:


That is tiny… I’m betting with my feet, pocketbook, and personal time on SmartThings. Just hope the Samsung connect transition goes smoothly.

SmartThings got to market (and to a $200 million buyout) with less… Approx $17 million in venture capital, if I remember correctly.

$21 million is definitely not tiny for a pre-delivery startup.

Atmos Home, on the other hand, has well under $3 million and also a simulated product that far exceeds SmartThings’s complexity. Good-luck to those dreamers and the funders they are scamming.

Given that a $15 smartphone can do most of what the $249 ‘brilliant’ control can do, and a $40 Echo Dot can do most of it too, I’m just not seeing where people - unless they are indeed quite wealthy - are gonna go for that control.

The predesigned interface, assuming it’s well designed, would exceed what most people can do on their own. More to the point, don’t underestimate the spending power of the lazy. Seriously, any company that can tap the market for lazy will be a successful one. It’s practically truism… there’s literally no other reason to buy something, including ST. You could build your own HA controller.

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I’m a little puzzled by your statement “confusing controls for houseguests”

When most of us talk smart switches, we are talking about products from companies like GE that makes z-wave or zigbee paddle switches. They look and are modern light switches with the tech needed to talk one of those protocols. They work in outages because they are normal switches for the most part.

Now whether you want to abandon your $45 smart switches when you sell your home or replace them with the dumb switches you took out, is a different question. One would argue that those smart switches ADD VALUE to your selling price, The new owner brings in their own ST or Wemo hub and re-joins the switches to his network and he’s up and running.

Now Wink, i think makes a smart switch that includes Alexa and/or a touchscreen UI for controlling anything else (like a smart app on every light switch). Those are $100+, and I think over-kill.

Personally, I have:
at least 1 GE z-wave smart switch per room OR an outlet module for a lamp (instead)
1 Echo per room (so I can walk in and say “Alexa, turn on the light” and she knows what I meant)
1 ST2 hub

If Samsung has an outage or Amazon or my ISP go out, all my switches work as normal conventional switches. I’m working to replace the lamps with ones that fully integrate a z-wave module with manual control that doesn’t frak it up like those smart-bulbs. Smart bulbs are for renters. Stick to switches with a common protocol like z-wave or zigbee and everything else is adaptable and replaceable.

Personally, I’ll probably die in this house, but if I sold it, I’d probably leave the smart switches and start over in the new house. Because I’m not moving any time soon and the expense of my time to replace switches isn’t worth $45 - depreciation.


Links to stuff:

example of GE smart switch:|G|Base|D27E|27-2_WIRING_DEVICES|NA|PLA|71700000034239053|58700003946878363|92700031954447757&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIj87HyNic2wIVzUsNCh3i4wUGEAQYAiABEgJtxPD_BwE&dclid=COiys8vYnNsCFUa-TwodSMgGhg

I think you know this stuff form other posts of yours I’ve read, but your line of discussion really makes it seem like you’ve gotten side tracked from the obvious solutions.

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I don’t disagree with you on this.
I am saying the price point rules out huge market segments, the ones needed to make it successful.

A bit of history. Timelines not perfectly exact, but conceptually accurate.

20 years ago, a 42” flatpanel tv was plasma and cost $6K or more. The average home couldn’t touch it.

15 years ago, less expensive rear-projection units came along. Lower picture quality, but 1/3 the price.
They started showing up in upper-middle class homes.

A decade ago, breakthroughs began occurring as economies of scale became available. (and Govt mandated the change to Digital broadcast.)

Today? Today, you can get a 55” 4K LCD screen for $500 or less. And it does a lot more.
Smaller units can be had for less than $200.

So today, virtually every household that has TV has an HDTV.

Back to Brilliant: there’s no way the mass market lays out $249 for a light switch. Regardless of laziness.

However, the mass market is laying out for Echo Dot and Google ‘dot’ at $40.

Soooo… I’m saying the price point for mass market penetration for something like Brilliant has to be around $60 or less.

That was in reference to having both dedicated wall switches and touch-screens, where I was thinking a smart phone or tablet next to the switches. So, guests might try to use the touchscreen just to operate the lights on the switch. But, others have convinced me to abandon the idea of using screens for anything but a couple in key places for occasional advanced control.

Most of my dumb switches will need to be changed out for remotes to control smart devices, since I’m planning on adding color bulbs/LEDs. Yet, where replacing an existing switch, it might as well be powered, and preferably allow some way to cut power to the circuit (as a backup if things go screwy or for maintenance).

I have mild unease in going with the aforementioned remotes rather than switches, since it obviously requires having smart bulbs. Not only would I need to leave the smart bulbs, but it could be adding a burden on a buyer by trapping them into that paradigm. But, my first focus is designing what works for me, and worry selling when/if I sell. And, if I can ever transition to LEDs like I’m dreaming of, then that’ll be a moot point.

It’s nice to have choices. Alexa can actually hear you ask for stuff, but (aside from voice control) can’t answer the most remedial questions. Google Home can answer most any reasonable question, but can’t hear you. :unamused:

Honestly, “most” market segments is having a couple few bulbs in the living area or maybe a strip of LEDs over the sink. Most segments would only need one, and three quarters of why they’d buy it would be as a status symbol and/or they saw some movie where a guy gets laid because they have automated blinds.

Myself… I’ve been thinking of getting the NEEO for half again as much, and I don’t even need to get laid.

I have no clue about this product; haven’t even watched the promo video. Just saying.

This is such a fascinating thread. I spent hundreds of hours building HousePanel and now I don’t even use it much myself. Alexa plus cheap Zwave switches are hard to beat. But I do love the look of it on my wall. I loved learning that I can buy a bunch of cheap android phones and now mount one in every room. My wife is going to love me for this (NOT). By the way, she hates it when I speak Alexa so I have started using my smart watch with Google Assistant to talk to my smart switches. I can skip the Alexa prompt and it is always on my body.


I may be biased, but I see touch panels (alongside tactile switches) becoming very popular in smart homes; but, indeed, we are at the infancy of this industry. The product has to be powerful, convenient, simple to install, reliable, … and sufficiently affordable to place in “every” room.

I don’t think a homeowner needs to be “quite wealthy”; but, $250/room is a hurdle.

There are others trying, though:

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I think the key variable is you seem to really want those colored smart bulbs. Which needs an app/remote to work.

I’m really anti-smart-bulb :slight_smile:

I’m still using your SmartTiles on two cheap android tablets! Been using that since I got into ST, and one old phone on its own since before that with OK google and tasker. So I share your bias.

I just think they can’t be too expensive.

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Hi @Roguetech,

In that case, let me give you my combinations for automating my house.
What I have rigged out:

  1. I have a 3-way setup for 2nd to 3rd floor staircase which I am not comfortable with modding to a smart switch myself. So this is what I did. I ordered 2 of these 2x2Button (Z-Wave) controllers which fit over the existing light switch cover with some 3M Velcro tape and installed a Cree Connected LED light bulb in the light fixture so that I can have a dimmer light system.

  2. For places the swap is easy for me I have installed these Zooz Switches which have AirGap built in and have both (Toggle and Deco Switch and a Dimmer versions) and install dumb LED bulbs from Amazon or Costco.

In the end it all comes down to Choice.

Also, if you are still interested, ActionTiles is a great way to have dashboard for your house.
I have 2 setup for major locations so that I can control/monitor my lights/premature/motion in and out of my house.


Number 1 is certainly an option, but… I don’t like the styling. (See my next post for why.)

Number 2… Is tantalizing, since they use ubiquitous styles that could be matched with other brands. But, as you say, they control the power rather than device. Using smart bulbs isn’t just something I’m being hard-headed about (aside from being a First World problem). I want my color.

But… if I could find wired switches to control smart devices with an “air gap”, using either a toggle or paddle switch… Well… I think I’d still be lacking one more requirement… dimming.