Greetings! First time getting into HA, Planning Ahead

(Jamaal Okeen Ephriam) #1

Greetings all,

I’ve been floating around this forum on topic discussions for a while now as I’ve been researching the viability of getting a little into home automation and I think SmartThings might be a winner for me. Just a little about me, I do program a little, but I don’t consider myself a pro. I do some websites on the side, and I know a little C#. That said, before I make the jump, I would like a little help on evaluating my game plan as well as answer one or two questions.

So what I did first was start out writing what I want my rooms (or zones I guess you could call it?) to do. I only plan to do a few rooms first and then branch off from there as I get better:

My Room

Between the hours of 5:00am - 12:00pm, if my room lights are on, I want them to turn off automatically. The exception is only Friday when I want them on all night just in case I’m working. In both cases, should the morning sun come, shut the lights off automatically.

By 7:40pm (6:40pm savings), I want the lights to come on in my room automatically.
If the sunlight detector detects atmospheric light below a specific threshold, then I want the lights to turn on either to a specific level in relation to the amount of light available, or fully on (since my lights are dimmable LEDs).

Smartthings v2.0 Hub
Cree Connected 60W Soft White (2700K) x2: $28.00
Aeon Labs Aeotec Z-Wave Gen5 Multi-Sensor: $49.00


The loft is a little tricky as I’m not entirely sure how to handle it. There are three flood lights, and one fan light. Two of the flood lights are controlled by two switches (non independent). This means that if one switch is set to the off position and the lights are already on, then the other switch’s on position becomes the off position for the lights (stupid -_-). The third light is controlled by its own switch closer to the stairs.

What I want to do is set those floods to Cree LED 2700 700Lm Flood lights which do not have Z-Wave, and add a Z-Wave dimmer to my hall connecting to the loft which has a switch that controls light one and two (the first switch mentioned earlier). There will then be another Z-Wave dimmer to separately control light three. I have not decided how to handle the fan light, but it will most likely have a Z-Wave dim on it as well.

One big problem I see (I think) is determining the state of the switch on light one and two since there would be a fader in the hall, and an analogue on/off switch on the other side. Depending on the position of the analogue switch, this could reverse the state of the dimmer (possibly giving it an inaccurate reading where on is now off) which would be undesirable.

For that problem, not sure if the only solution would be to put yet another dimmer on the same switch, and have the hub reset both at the same time. Considering the second switch is used by another room to light a path to the bathroom, I can’t simply get rid of it.

GE Soft White 700L 2 Pack Flood Lights: $17.97
GE Z-Wave Lighting Control Dimmer Switch: $40.00

Those are my two biggest areas of concern as some of the other rooms mirror a similar scenario (with the hardest being the two switches one light scenario). Nothing fancy just yet. Later on, I might add some door sensors here or there and hopefully some programming to use my phone as a presence sensor to light a path to my room on late nights.

Lastly, I want to ask what is the general difference between professional home automation and consumer grade home automation? More motors (lol)? Also, I’ve run into OpenHAB while on my research. I’ve been hearing that it can get pretty dicey on the setup especially for new comers. I’ve worked a tiny bit with a Linux platform, but still have some to learn. I’d figure that worst comes to worse (if at all), I’ll scale my needs or my experience to that if necessary.

Thanks all for the help!

(Ron S) #2

Welcome to the madhouse, @XTREEMMAK! You will get the answers soon enough!

(Jamaal Okeen Ephriam) #3

Anyone want to take a stab?

BTW thanks @smart

(Brian) #4

I can quickly add that your “reverse” light situation is called a 3 way switch (unless I read too fast/misunderstood), and that it is very common and there are tons of switches and setups that will take care of that. Search this community, you will find lots of solutions.

Also, in my opinion, automate the switches, not the bulbs for family approval factor. People tend to use things that are convienient, and wall switches are still easier than pulling out your phone.

(Lee) #5

I cannot comment on everything, but your light switches are not unique. It really sounds like a standard 3-way switch configuration. I have a Leviton dimmer and they sell a matching “remote” switch (VP00R) it will actually allow you to manually dim from either switch. The GE Z-wave dimmer uses a less expensive remote paddle in a 3 way setup, but I you need to pay attention to how you wire them up. This is the correct way to go, I don’t think you want to stick multiple Z-Wave switches into a 3-way configuration that might create a nightmare.

(Jamaal Okeen Ephriam) #6

Ahh thanks all :smile:
As you said, I found a few of the posts mentioned in regards to both three way switches and z-wave enabled three way switches (the later is handled differently). When I talked to a few people also, they said that the switch down the hall will need to match the zwave which will function as the master, while the other as the Auxiliary.

This might be asking for too much, but is the button on some of these zwave dims an instant off or is it an LED indicator light off (example: )? Only in certain cases would it be nice to switch to an on/off state instead of stepping through a controlled dim state to turn on the light manually (much like this:

Is that what that is or is it something else? If it’s something else, then no worries.

In any case, so far so good. Everything looks doable and not so bad. I’ll be starting with my room first with two lights and then branching out through the house. This is going to be fun :smiley:

(Ron S) #7

Hey @sidjohn1! Our in house switch expert! :slight_smile: wake up notification has been sent to you! Do respond!

(Lee) #8

Referencing the Leviton it has a paddle that switches on or off. The little section on the top of the switch selects brightness. If you press the left side it dims the right side it brightens. It has two LED indicators one for on and a second on the top part shows the brightness level. So, when you set the switch at a brightness level, turn it off when you turn it back on it returns to the that level.

(sidjohn1) #9

My default on GE switches a top press turns the light on, a bottom press turns the light off. Press and hold top brightens the light while press and hold bottom dims. Yes, your master and aux switches need to match in a 3 -way install. The aux switch is rather dumb and only talks to the master, it does not talk zwave/zigbee and will not pair to a hub… that is the job of the master.

(John Crighton) #10

Hi, Newbie here too, but I have done other things with X10.

A neat solution to 2/3 way switching is to have two momentary/retractive (bell push) switches, and one single module behind (this can go behind either switch). In my case X10, but Z-Wave will do the same. I’ve done something similar in my hallway (downstairs switch to operate upstairs light, second switch upstairs to do the same).

I used this diagram:

I hope that helps.


(slowly replacing X10 with Z-Wave)

ETA: The module allows dimming from either end.