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

Don’t use the GE switch, it’s the same problem. If someone physically turns the switch off at the wall, the switch will still be able to hear the next network command, but the bulbs will not.

The easiest thing would be to use one of the two smart switch covers mentioned just above. These go over the existing switch. You leave the existing switch turned on so that the bulbs always have power. But switch cover has its own buttons which can be used to send an off command (rather than actually cutting power) to the bulbs. Everything works as expected – – there’s a wall switch to turn lights on and off, but you can also automate the bulbs through SmartThings.

These are designed to solve exactly the issue that you have – – providing a switch that can turn the bulbs off without actually cutting power to them. :sunglasses:

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I too am having the same issue with a switched outlet and smart bulbs. The info from @JDRoberts provided above is the easiest for sure. But I wonder if there might be another solution, albeit, a more complicated solution? Could we just replace the actual wall outlet that the bulbs/lamps are plugged into from a “switched” outlet to an always “hot” outlet?

Provided that the appropriate wiring exists at the outlet and switch to do so…

That way the switch controlling the outlet doesn’t actually cut power to the outlet, it just done now through the appropriate protocols those devices are using.

Just my Noob observations…:slight_smile:

I look forward to any feedback. :slight_smile:

That’s mentioned briefly in the first post.

In most US jurisdictions it is legal to wire power to be always on to a ceiling fixture, but there are a few where it is not to code because they are afraid that someone will turn power off at the switch, not at the breaker, and then immediately start unscrewing the fixture to replace it. and electrocute themselves. So if you are thinking about leaving the power always on, you need to first check your local jurisdiction.

If it is legal in your jurisdiction, some people do it. The other thing to consider is that if your home automation system doesn’t happen to be working, you will have no way at all to turn the bulbs on or off if you’ve hotwired them. That may be a problem for some people, and may be considered unimportant by others. It may also depend in part on where the bulbs are In the house.

So as always, different things work for different people. :sunglasses:

How well does the SC7 work? Wouldn’t that be a viable option? Couldn’t you map the buttons to control a light or group of hue lights/VS for the hue light? Therefore, the light is hard wired to be on at all times and the scene controller just provides physical action for on/off? The prevents you from losing control, and also prevents the Hue bulb from defaulting to it’s soft white state.

Sorry I am just following up on this. I think my problem is that my most frequently used switch is a 2 gang (1 switch for the stair lighting and another for the basement lights). Would this approach with a switch cover still fit and look right? I think my use case is still OK, which I know you will agree is all that matters. A GE in wall switch will allow power and turn the lights on with the normal intensity and color. The color and dimming is only needed for TV viewing which I adjust with a virtual switch and harmony/echo integration. Then specific games when I want the Lights a specific color, I made another echo virtual switch integration. The only things I run into is a risk of someone turning off the switch when I don’t want them to (which has not happened yet) but mostly what I run into is when I am down, I turn the switch off manually and my Bloom remains on (not on the switch) but I could have RM have a trigger of the switch turned off and all the lights turn off as well so they stay synced. Does this make sense or is what I am thinking not possible.

I’m not sure I understand what you’re describing.

If you’re saying that you want to have a GE toggle switch on the wall controlling the power to a fixture that has Hue bulbs, some people do that.

Once the switch cuts power on the circuit, though, The bulbs don’t receive any power, so they can no longer hear anything from the network. They’re just off.

When you then turn the switch back on either with the network or at the wall, the lights will come back on just as dumb bulbs will.

So you don’t have to use anything to keep the bulbs in sync with the switch. If the switch controls the power on the circuit then the bulbs go on and off with the switch anyway.

The main issue with this is that Phillips, like other smart bulb manufacturers, recommends that the bulbs be kept on power all the time. It’s possible that the constant turning on and off of the power to the bulbs may shorten their life somewhat. But other than that it should work.

Or am I not understanding something?

As far as the double gang issue, both switch covers are intended to work in a double gang formation, but you’ll have to judge the aesthetics for yourself:


The SC7 can certainly be used. It’s A somewhat unusual device because it doesn’t control the load on the circuit anyway. But it’s powered from the mains. So you have the issue that if it’s replacing the light switch that controls the fixture that holds the smart bulb, you won’t have any way to turn the smart bulb on or off if the home automation system isn’t working. Unless you put it on a different circuit, which some people have done. :sunglasses:

@JDRoberts, thanks as always. I did not know that it is recommended to keep the power on all the time. I will look into those switch covers as it isn’t bad, especially if I add one for the stairs too!

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Thanks for the confirmation! I’m not too concerned with the ‘always on’ piece… Considering that I’m leveraging Smartthings, HomeKit, Echo and the Hue App itself…unless the Hue Bridge dies on me, I’ll always have a way to kill the bulbs. It just may not be through Smartthings vis the switch!

On a side note, I read that the controller requires two buttons, one for on and another for off? Could this not be configured via a Virtual Toggle switch so it does a toggle on press? This way you don’t burn two buttons for one light?

Sure, as long as you’re using it with a button controller smartapp. As long as smartthings sees it that way, you can have any recognized button activity trigger pretty much anything SmartThings can do, including a virtual toggle. :sunglasses:

Hi, can you please let me know the details of implementing “8) networked switch that does not cut power to the bulb” ? Is it to use something like the Dim with Me app?

Yes, exactly. :sunglasses:

If it’s just for on and off, you can use the official smart lighting feature. Most people really only want the manual switch for the convenience of guests or kids so that there is an intuitive switch. But they do color changes or other more complex scenes with automation or with a multi button switch like the Remotec. In that case you’re just using the capabilities of the bulbs, the switch isn’t involved at all in the same. The remotec is popular because each of its eight buttons can recognize a tap, double tap, or long press, giving you 24 possible scenes in all.

Or they go all in and mount a wall tablet or inexpensive Wi-Fi phone on the wall so they get a color dial.

Just depends on your specific requirements. :sunglasses:

thank you so much for the quick reply!
what i would ideally like to do is control the dimming using a separate physical switches. Specifically, Homeseer WD100+ Dimmer or WS100+ switch (using up and down button taps). What is best way to do this?

Just use any of the custom lighting smart apps that you like. There are several new versions of dim and dimmer, and there’s trendsetter, which is very popular. Or just core which gives you the most options of all.

You can find the others on the quick browse lists for lighting in the smartapp section in the community – created wiki:


And of course you’ll need a device type handler for the homeseer switch:

Ask any additional follow-up questions specific to the homeseer switch in that thread.

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None of the “dimmer following” apps worked for me. Not Trendsetter or Dim With Me and later versions of Dim with Me. Is there a specific CORE dimmer following app guideline?

The core experts hang out in their peer assistance thread. Ask there and they’ll be glad to help. :sunglasses:

I really like the looks and reported operation of these cooper witches, but the Amazon listing specifically notes that they are NOT for LED’s and that this auxiliary requires a master switch - it is incapable of dimming without one. Can anyone with direct experience comment on this? Also, the listing simply says “RF.” Am I to conclude this is z-wave or zigbee RF, and how exactly does ST communicate with them?
EDIT: Just noticed much of the discussion of this solution got moved to a separate wiring thread, but, as this is about features and not wiring, I chose to leave this here. Please advise if y’all think I should move this. Cheers!

This particular thread is about switches to use with smart bulbs. In this case, we are not using the switch to control the current flow to the bulb at all. So the type of bulb is not going to make any difference.

Instead, we are setting up the switch to send a message to the hub and the hub to send a message to the bulb.

Again, for this reason it won’t make any difference what protocol either the bulb or the switch are using as long as SmartThings can talk to both. It’s quite common to set up a Z wave switch to control a zigbee bulb in this fashion. In the case of Hue, there’s actually a third protocol involved, as Z wave switch will talk to the SmartThings hub, the SmartThings hub will use an official integration over LAN to talk to the hue bridge, and the hue bridge will use ZLL to talk to the bulb. :sunglasses:

So all you need is a switch that can send a message to the hub in the same way that it would send a message to a master switch. The hub will get the on/off/dim request and then convert it to a format that the bulb understands through the use of a smart app.

So when you select a switch for this purpose, what you’re looking for is a switch that can be recognized by the SmartThings hub and can communicate with it.

The GE add on switches don’t work for this, because they’re actually invisible to SmartThings and communicate with their own master switch by a physical traveler wire.

But the add on switches of other brands which are Z wave devices in their own right can be used.

I hope that cleared up the “features” issue. :sunglasses:

I’m also looking to implemented a hard-wired solution, using a networked switch to trigger the bulbs via ST. I really like the look of one of the switches noted in the OP (specifically https://community.smartthings.com/uploads/short-url/mIUog0PM9WZuOcU9RPKM6mL9ZFY.jpeg). Can someone point me in the right direction for where to get one? Right now, I have a Lutron Connected Bulb Remote (which I have paired as a secondary controller of my Philips Hue bulbs). It works for the most part, but I don’t like that when I turn off the bulbs via the switch (remote), it first dims the lights down to 10% before turning off. If I then turn them back on via a different control (such as Alexa, the Hue app or ST) it is set to the lowest dim level (I’m guessing the smart bulb remote just sends a bunch of decreasing dimming levels in sequence, so when when I turn it back on it goes to the prior state, which is at 10% dim level). So that is the main thing I’m looking to get around. Would one of the networked switches be able to handle this correctly (auto turn back on to 100% when switched on regardless of trigger) . and also allow dimming control like I have right now w/ the Lutron? Any help or advice would be great!