SmartThings Community

FAQ: Looking at a good Wall Switch for my Hue Bulbs (2018 Short FAQ) ( also applies to other brands of smart bulbs)

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(Gyslain Hamel) #1

Looking for a wall Switch to replace the one I have atm.

What i need it to do is

-Turn on Off
-Be integrated with Smarthings and Alexa (No wifi if possible)
-If it mathers be compatible with Hue Lights

1 Like
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#2

The following is the short FAQ for this topic. It’s very briefly discusses the three most popular options and gives one or two examples of devices for each. At the end of this post is a long FAQ that goes into much more detail.

why you can’t just use a regular switch

You should not use any wall switch that cuts the current to any smart bulb on a regular basis. This is true whether it is a smart switch or a dumb switch.

It’s OK if you just have a power outage once in a while. But if you are using a wall switch to regularly cut the current to a smart bulb, then the “inrush” current that happens every time you turn the switch back on can, over time, damage the radio inside the bulb. This will make the bulbs wear out much sooner. If you read the user guide for your Hue bulbs you will see that they are designed to be on power all of the time.

In addition, there is the problem that every time the power to the bulb is turned off, the bulb cannot hear the next “on” command from the network.

And you definitely don’t want to combine any dimmers that changes current levels to the switch with the smart bulb as you will likely burn out either the bulb or the switch or both. :scream:

So instead, we want to find a switch that can send a instruction directly to the bulb without cutting the power to it. Or a switch that can send an instruction to the SmartThings hub and then the SmartThings hub can send the instruction to the bulb.

That gives you four basic options.

  1. Smart Switch Cover. This is a battery powered device that fits over the regular switch so you can leave the regular switch on all the time but you will still have buttons on the smartswitch cover that can turn the lights on and off.

At the time of this writing there are two of these that work well with SmartThings: the Aeotec zwave smart switch cover and the Sylvania Lightify zigbee version. For various technical reasons, the Sylvania has become a little more popular in the community.

IMG_4398

In .June 2019, Lutron introduced a new zigbee switch cover for use with the Phillips hue bridge that would be very intuitive for guests. It’s unknown as of the time of this writing if it will work directly with SmartThings as well. Like the other two, it is battery operated and fits over the top of the existing switch. No wiring required.

Lutron Aurora dimmer for Hue lights (Z3-1BRL)

  1. A mains-powered auxiliary switch which has a zwave radio inside but is not wired to Control the light fixture.. These are intended for use in a “virtual three-way” with their own master switch, but they can work very well for control of smart bulbs also. The switch will send a message to the hub and then the hub will send a message to the bulbs. The most popular of these is probably the Linear/GoControl WT00Z but there are a couple of other brands and models as well. (Note that you cannot use the GE add on switch for this as it does not have a radio.) These look exactly like a regular switch. Prices on these vary quite a bit, so shop around, and check Home Depot as well as Amazon.

Once the switch is installed, you can use the official smartlights feature to have the bulb “follow” the switch.

Note: If the smart Bulb is on the same circuit branch then you will have to hardwire it to always have power. Check your local township, but in most places this is still acceptable in terms of the safety code. Do be aware that if you have to hardwire the bulb, you will not have any way of turning it off if your home automation system is not working. This is one reason that some people prefer The smart switch covers, because then you can just lift up the battery operated device and use the original switch if needed.

  1. use a battery operated switch. many people prefer to just leave the original switch in place and either put a child safety lock on it or a box cover over it and then put a battery operated switch next to it. Again, the battery operated switch will send a message to the hub and hub will send a message to the bulb. This is a fast and easy solution and typically costs less than the other two options, so it just comes down to the aesthetics. You can see a full list of the battery-operated switches that currently work for this purpose in the buttons FAQ. Read each product description carefully as some other mains powered and some are battery powered.

Many people use a battery powered switch as a parallel means of control for their smartbulbs, so it could even just be the Hue dimmer switch. There are also some battery operated switches like the Cooper “anyplace” Z wave switch which look exactly like their regular switches. So you will have quite a few choices for style and function.

  1. Use a zigbee green energy powered switch that communicates with the Hue bridge

Phillips recently announced a new line of partners who will have wall switches that don’t get wired into the mains but also don’t need batteries. They work just like the existing hue tap switch (the round one), but look like regular wall switches. This will be a good solution for those who are afraid of the batteries running out on the option three devices.

The one in the US can operate either as a single rocker which looks just Like a regular rocker switch, or is two skinny rockers side-by-side. Both are available in many colors, including black and brown.

image

Much more discussion

The following long FAQ has much more detailed discussion about all of these options if you want to read more. :sunglasses:

1 Like
(Gyslain Hamel) #3

The reason is because my GF is not tech savy, and she doesn<t use her phone as much as me. So she often by mistake power off the switch to close the light.

Since we only have Smartthings and Alexa atm, it’s a bit counter intuisive to ask alexa to close the lights.

Exemple yesterday i had to wake up cuz i forgot to feed the cat. I went upstairs and picked up my phone to turn on the bulb and then off.

So I was looking for a way to fix this. Some on reddit recommand to buy the Philips Hue Dimmer and just replace my wall switch with this. (and fix the wiring) since Philips dimmer doesn’t use wires

#4

Sure, that would be option three or four in my post above. Any of the four options that I listed will solve your problem.

The Sylvania is the easiest because it just fits right over the existing switch. No wiring required. And it works officially with SmartThings, so the installation is very easy. It also cost about the same as the Hue dimmer switch. So it has become one of the most popular ways to solve this problem. :sunglasses:

(Gyslain Hamel) #5

Smart Home is harder then expected as need to know almost every device what they can or can’t do

1 Like
#6

@JDRoberts I like the sylvania method, but do you know if there is a similar smart cover for danish switches?

#7

I don’t know of one. The Sylvania dimmer switch is sold in Europe (it’s a German company). Some people have made their own box plates to put over the existing switch and then just put the Sylvania or a similar device on top of that.

(Ben Erkens ) #8

Wallmounted wired Z-wave switch

Brand Neo CoolCam

This switch can be controlled locally by touching the button and remote via SmartThings hub. When the hub or internet is down, local control is possible. It controls the mains to the lights (standard bulb). But you can switch on/off smartbulbs also.

They are available in US & EU version (Z-wave frequency and size of the mounting).

You need phase and neutral wire to power the switch.

The switch is available in 1- and 2-gang version.

I like them a lot. There is a build-in integral light, blue when the switch is off, red when the switch is on.

Neo CoolCam wall switch Z-Wave EU

NEO COOLCAM z-wave 2CH Gang US Versie 908.4 MHz Smart Remote controle

Check the Z-Wave frequency for our area.

(John Shaw) #9

I have one of these as well. It switches on a bathroom light.
So the fact that this is touch sensitive, is also a safety asset.
As mentioned, this does need a neutral feed.

#10

@JDRoberts Thank you so much for the write up! Is there more information on #2 above? Options on switches to use (would homeseer work for instance? ) wiring diagrams, etc ? Trying to replace an existing dumb mechanical switch with something like this to operate a Hue Beyond pendant fixture.

(Khaled Qari) #11

I just installed 5 of these switches, I have two of them connected to smart bulbs, if I turn the wall switch off and then try to turn on the bulb it doesn’t work.
am I doing something wrong ?
@benerkens
@JDRoberts

(Ben Erkens ) #12

Hi Khaled,

If you have to choose: smart switches and smart bulbs don’t fit together nicely. When the switch opens, the bulb is unpowered and doesn’t receive any commands. You can’t control the bulb anymore (on/off/dim/bright).

Try to power the 2 Smart bulbs permanently. In your example, are they ceiling mounted, wall mounted? Connect them to the line wire without a switch.

The 2 switches you have to control the 2 smart bulbs, you connect them to line and neutral, don’t continu to the bulb.

Then you control the bulb by the switch via the SmartThings hub. With the Automation Smart Lighting you couple the switch to the bulb.

Grtn Ben

(Khaled Qari) #13

I need the switch to work anyways bcoz of the wife

If I dont connect the switch to the bulb, how will they be able to turn it on/off?
even if it does work. If I switch off the bulb from the ST app, and then turn on the switch manually , will it work ?

I guess not?
If you have anyway to manage this let me know
Thanks alot

#14

The Coolcam Switch is a good smart switch for some people, but does not solve any of the problems brought up by the original poster in this thread. Please read the original topic post carefully before replying.

I know you really like these switches and you bring them up in many different threads, but they just aren’t an appropriate solution here. They cause exactly the same problems that a dumb switch would. :disappointed_relieved:

When the power is cut to the smart bulb, then the smart bulb cannot hear the next “on“ command from the network. And when the power is restored to the smart bulb from the switch, the inrush current can damage the radio inside the bulb, significantly reducing the life of what are already very expensive bulbs.

So the coolcam switches are just not a solution to the problem brought up in this particular thread. And since this is an FAQ thread, it’s even more important to keep the posts on topic. Thanks.

#15

You are not doing anything wrong. The coolcam switches are not a good solution with smart bulbs and should not have been added to this thread.

Instead, you need one of the other switches discussed in this thread which work by sending a message to the hub which then sends a message to the bulb. They do not cut the current to the bulb. There are a number of different options for this, some battery powered and some Mains powered, And they’re all discussed in the early posts in this thread. And many of them are smart switches which will work just fine as long as they don’t cut the current to the bulb.

But the coolcam just are not a good match for this use case unless you are willing to tie off the wiring, which can be done, but is a lot more Work than just getting a switch which is made for this purpose.

(Ben Erkens ) #16

Hi JD,

When you connect the Smart bulb to a permanent power (live + neutral), you can control the Smart Bulb with any smart switch (even an other type than the Neo CoolCam! :innocent:).

Via the SmartThings hub you can control a Zigbee bulb by Z-Wave Switch or Z-Wave bulb(s) by Zigbee switches…choose whatever you need, for the price one can afford.

Here are 3 options:

You push/toggle the button of the smart switch, the light(s) with the smart bulb(s) goes on or off.

You use the app, the light goes on/off.

You use Automation in the SmartThings, the light goes on/off.

Then you have full control of the smart switches and the smart bulbs.

How? There are many ways…

#17

Sorry, I didn’t see this post earlier. You can use the Homeseer For this only if it is not on the same circuit as the bulbs and you use the double tap or triple tap options for it. Or you can tie off the load line if you are comfortable with electrical wiring.

Most people use the gocontrol WT 500 auxiliary switch, Which is a mains powered Z wave switch that is not designed to control a load. And you usually pay less for it. So you just follow the wiring diagrams that come with it.

For it to Hue beyond, though, I would just wait a month or two until the new “friends of Hue ” battery-less wall switch is released. Those should work very well.

#18

Yes, I know all that, And all of that is already discussed in great detail in the existing long FAQ which has been in this forum for several years.

But this FAQ is a short FAQ intended for switches which are already designed to work with smart bulbs and don’t require the special wiring.

The long FAQ is already linked from this thread. We don’t need to open up all of that again which tends to lead to multiple posts from individuals about their particular project and makes this FAQ less and less helpful to people.

Please respect the FAQ organization. It is intended to make the forum a useful information resource for people at all technical levels, including those without electrical wiring experience.

(Ben Erkens ) #19

Hi JD,

Is this thread a FAQ or just a new question about something that is already explained in the real FAQ?

The title of this thread is not correct?

“FAQ: Looking at a good Wall Switch for my Hue Bulbs (2018 Short FAQ)”

The first thing to do with a combination of a smart switch and a smart bulb: hardwire the bulb to the mains. Then come back with questions when you need help.

This is not a flame :fire:, but the guy new to smart automation hasn’t read or understood what is in the FAQ that you mentioned.

Grtn Ben

#20

This is a real FAQ. It’s in the FAQ section of the forum. The first post was a real question from a real person, which is true of many of the FAQs in that section. But they represent a question which is asked many times by many people.

This topic is intended to be a brief discussion of easy answers to this particular question. That’s why it is called a short FAQ.

The hardwire option you mention is not an easy answer to this particular question. It raises all kinds of other issues which I don’t want to talk about in this FAQ, but which are discussed in the long FAQ. (Wiring a device in a way which is different from the manufacturer’s instructions, as you would have to do with the Coolcam, is by definition a complicated answer and can be against US safety code. )

We don’t assume that people have read the long FAQ if they are reading the short FAQ. We do link to the long FAQ for people who want either to look at more complicated solutions or want more details.