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

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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


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FAQ: Philips Hue and Other Smart Bulbs - What sort of light switches to use with them? (Long FAQ)
#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.

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.

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 three 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.

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  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 (coming in December 2018)

If you can afford to wait until the end of 2018, 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 will work just like the existing hue tap switch (the round one), but will 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.

Much more discussion

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


(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 in my post above. Any of the three 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


#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.