Idiot Proof Light Switch

I am new to SmartThings and trying to add light switches to make the lighting at my place smart. The thing is I want people to be able to use the switches as normal, in addition to having smart control. It seems that if I switch a paddle switch into off position, but then smartthings turns it on, the switch will look off… and you would flip it to ON and the light would then turn off? Are there any smart light switches that are basically just buttons that you press to activate instead of the traditional up and down operation? I assume no switch has a servo and actually moves. Also… as far as dimmers go, I’d like to add a few of those, is it easy to have smartthings turn on a light, but I walk over and adjust the dim? I really don’t want to confuse guests and the less technical people in my life with my own automation convenience.

Thank you for any suggestions.

I am not too sure about Z-Wave buttons but I am almost certain that somebody does make some. As far as Z-wave paddle switches, most of them are always in a neutral position so that you can press the top half to turn it on and the bottom half to turn it off. They don’t stay up or down but rather in the middle. I am currently installing a case in my home and it works the exact way that it seems that you would want them to work.

I did this to get over that out of sync problem

Most of the Z-wave light switches I have seen are fixed-position switches with momentary buttons in the up and down positions.

eg. If you tap on the top side of the switch the light comes on and if you tap on the bottom side of the switch the light goes off… but the switch doesn’t physically switch to an on or off position – it just temporarily depresses to that position then returns to the neutral position (eg. momentary switch).

Edit: Note that these switches include the z-wave chip, the switch/paddle, and the relay/dimmer all in one unit. Other alternatives include the approach @Mike_Maxwell was talking about where the switch is just acting as a controller which communicates with another device which controls the load (like a GE Link bulb or an Aeon Micro).

Every zwave switch I’ve used is a paddle above momemtary buttons. They all function exactly as you describe.

I personally use the linear wd509z dinners because they work well with LEDs and are affordable.

TZ04 inlay relay from TKBHOME can be set to on/off, momentary or toggle

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Yup, same as the aeons, except you can buy the aeons from sevaral sources in the US, none of which have websites being blocked for suspected malware distribution…

Good to know @Mike_Maxwell, Only good part of TKB is that you can choose different regions. Plus this is a dual relay, I wonder if Aeon has a dual relay module. There are other quirks in TKB, It has metering but the values reset if you have power outage.

We’ve not heard from the OP, the threads drifted a bit, I think we lost him/her…

I’m here, glad to know they are momentary, makes more sense that way. How about dim action, do you hold to dim, momentary to turn off? I want to be able to automate a turn on at 60%, but walk up and turn it up to 100% if needed, or vice versa.

Yes, for the switches I referred to, a short-press/tap turns the unit on. A long press performs the dimming. You can also use the SmartThings mobile apps or some SmartApps to dim to a specific level. If you are on Android, you can use Tasker + SharpTools to control the dimming level from any Tasker event/state (eg. voice commands or widgets on your homescreen)

So… If my internet is out, will I still have control of the light? Smartthings just sees the switch, and its state, unless I tell smart things to change its state right?

Right. You can still control the switch like normal from the wall regardless of the connectivity status of your hub (or if you even have a hub at all).

Cool, thanks Joshua. So you are using the Jasco switches?
Cody mentioned the Linear wd509z, but I can only find wd500, although maybe a typo being next to “dinners” instead of dimmers.

So a follow up question, most of these type of traditional switches will be perfect for me, except I have a few hue lights I am using, and it seems some sort of switch that isn’t a real switch would be nice for them. Is there a controller that functions like a switch that can be paired to specific light bulbs via smartthings?

Typo. Sorry. WD500Z. (I tend to post from my phone. Big thumbs.)

The GE switches are useless if you plan to use anything but incandescent lights.

I primarily have Intermatic CA600 dimmers throughout my house. Unfortunately, the Intermatic CA3000 relays which have the same design/exterior are really loud. Typically, relays are used for fans and non-dimmable loads so I primarily use the dimmers throughout the house.

I also have Intermatic CA5100 controllers which do not directly power a load and are purely used for controlling other devices or scenes/activities. Note that SmartThings doesn’t currently support direct association which is required to have a controller directly control another z-wave device without requiring hub-logic. There are two relatively straight-forward options though:

  1. Buy a device like the Aeon Minimote which can perform the direct association. And as a bonus, this device can also be used as a remote to control devices or trigger phrases.
  2. Use a SmartApp which requires that the hub be available and online for the event to be recognized and fired.

Per the comments by @codytruscott - you should consider the type of bulb you plan to use as well. Incandescents are your ‘traditional’ light bulb and typically provide a warm, natural light which is dimmable. CFL bulbs started taking over the market as energy efficient bulbs, but typically had a cooler color that some people feel is less natural. The early generation CFL bulbs were not dimmable, but you can find plenty that are dimmable today. LED bulbs are starting to take over the market as they are very energy efficient and have long-lifetimes – initially, LED bulbs were much more expensive than their CFL or incandescent counterparts, but the prices are starting to come down and are becoming more reasonable considering their long life.

I should acknowledge that the statements about bulbs are generalizations and there are many products attempting to buck the trends. I would recommend going into your local hardware store and checking out the different bulbs if you have questions. Different models have different color temperatures and sometimes it is easiest to see this in person.

I saw this super smart product maybe it will help you
its a smart bulb adapter that you can talk too

Ok, so I’ve been playing with this setup, and I have a few issues. I like that I can turn lights on, and thats great, but I’d like them to turn off by themselves if I am not in the space, BUT, I’d also like smartthings to remember I had them on recently, and turn them back on if I return, but not always turn on when I come into the space. Is that possible?

Its great to have stuff automated, but there is no way to really program every possible scenario, and have that as a mode, but so if the “smart” system could follow me more that would be amazing. This may be a custom app type situation, which isn’t really over my head, but I have not yet begun to dive into the IDE on a programming level. I’d love lights to turn off without motion after 5-10 minutes, but if I come back withing 30-60 minutes turn back on without me flicking a switch, but beyond that, allow me to turn on other lights or the same lights as I wish.