It all seemed so simple... but now I'm not sure: mixing zwave and other protocols

Quick backstory: We are moving into a new home shortly and would like to automate as many functions as possible. First step will be the thermostat, which will likely be the Honeywell RTH9585WF. Stage 2 will be the lighting. I thought it all figured out and planned on the following set up in each room:
Echo dot for voice control
GE Z Wave Plus dimmer for over head light
GE Z Wave Plus switch for ceiling fan
Hue bulbs (purchased as starter kit with hub) in various lamps scattered about

I thought they would all work together and all would be right with the world. However, I am now reading that the Hue hub will not control the Z-Wave dimmers/switches. So, I thought, OK I’ll get the SmartThings hub, but then found that I can’t control the Hue bulbs with that (unless I use the Hue hub too). So, is there one hub that will control both the Z-wave dimmers/switches and the Hue bulbs? If not, what is the best option? Different bulbs to go with the ST hub?

Also, I am wondering something. There are a couple places in the home (kitchen and living room) where the switches that I’d like to replace with the dimmers are 3 way switches. How does that work? Can I just replace one of the switches with the GE dimmer?

Oh, but you can.
I have a HUE RGBW and a White bulb (which I don’t use anymore as I have moved away from smart bulbs). When I was using them I had them paired directly to the ST hub. I do not have a HUE Bridge.
I have 3 Hue RGBW strips that are paired directly to the ST hub and these are working flawlessly.
You will have to load a custom Device Handler and use that to get the strips/bulbs to work to the ST hub but this is not a big deal.

Not that this will help the confusion, but with Hue you can do both direct connection or communication through the hue bridge. The later is the officially supported solution, and IMO, the better way to go anyway.

That’s great to hear. I’ll have to look into that. I’ll probably only have a handful of bulbs throughout the whole house. Now that I think about it, maybe I’ll just use smart outlets where those lamps will be plugged in. Any specific advantages/disadvantages of doing so?

I started out with smart bulbs and then it soon became clear that they were not practical in my use case.
With Smart Bulbs the power has to be continually left on for them to be fully automated. If someone turns the switch that controls the bulb, off, then that’s it, no more smart bulb until the switch is turned on again.
People have blanked the switch off to stop people turning the switch off but personally I do not think that’s practical.
Now I would always go for smart outlets or even an in line z-wave module like the Swiidinter.
Sonoff do one for around £10 but these need to be ‘flashed’ to work direct to ST. Again not to much of a problem depending on your skill level. I have done it so it cannot be that hard. :slight_smile:
There are lots of options out there and as you are in the early planning stages I would have a good look around the forum for ideas.

When replacing a 3-Way or 4-Way main switch with a GE/Jasco Dimmer/Switch, you must also replace the other switches with the GE/Jasco Auxiliary switches (same for both Switch and Dimmer.)

Ge also makes a Smart-Fan switch, which supports adjusting the fan speed in addition to simple On/Off.

When buying Smart Outlets, you have some things to consider… Z-Wave or Zigbee? The GE/Jasco Smart Switches are mostly Z-Wave (although a Zigbee version does exist.) I would recommend you think about the final state of your home, including all of the devices you’ll be adding. The Lowes Iris Smart Outlet (model 3210-L) is nice becuase it is both a Zigbee and Z-Wave repeater. This means your mesh networks will have improved coverage through your house.

A popular low-cost smart bulb is the Sengled Zigbee bulb. Be aware that these bulbs do NOT include the repeater functionality. Whereas a Cree Connected bulb, does (although they cost a little more.)

There are entire discussions in the forum regarding Switches versus Bulbs and the Pros and Cons of both. My guess is you’ll end up with a mixture like most of us.

If you have the Hue Bridge, use the Hue Bridge.

Yes, you can directly connect the Hue Bulbs direct to ST, but if ST goes down, and the app is inaccessible (like last night) you have 0 control of your bulbs.

If you have Smart Lighting rules setup with your Hue bulbs and it’s running locally, yes those Automations will potentially still run based on time or other events of other local devices, but you will have no manual control of these bulbs.

If you have the Hue Bridge, then you have your own little mini ecosystem that will still function on it’s own and full control of lighting via the Hue App or through Alexa and voice control.

There are so many people that have had issues removing bulbs added directly that you have to have the Bridge or another compatible remote to do so.

It’s not worth the pain in my opinion. The Bridge serves a purpose and a great one at that.

While planning for what you expect to work in SmartThings, you also need to pre plan your backup or back out plan so that you can still function in some capacity should an outage occur in any of your environments (ST, Hue, Alexa, Wemo, LIFX). A lot of people don’t plan this out ahead of time, until an actual outage occurs and then get upset or frustrated that nothing works because everything is dependent on one platform:

This is a very good point.
People use Fibaro/Aeotec modules as well which means you can use whatever dumb switch you wish.

These do not require a neutral either.
These allow for full automation and also should your internet or ST fail, physical switches still work.
This is the road I have ended up going down. If all else fails I have to use my finger. :wink:

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And the problem w/smart plugs on the lamps is once someone turns off the lamp at the switch, the light is dumb again and won’t turn on regardless of what you do w/the smart plug.

If you want your family to actually successfully use lamps w/a smart bulb or a smart plug, you’re likely going to find that you need to provide them an extremely easy and reliable alternative to just turning the lamp off at the switch - either voice control they actually remember to us (and how to use) or a separate smart button device for the lamp on/off.

I went w/smart bulbs and button controllers, as we don’t have (and don’t want) voice control devices like Echo/G Home in every room. My family had problems breaking old habits and just kept turning off the lamps with smart bulbs at the switch. This defeated the smart purpose, and is also bad for smart bulbs. So I added button devices into the mix, specifically Aeon Minimotes (but there other options).

Plus for button device controls for lamps:

  1. Can be much more convenient (easier to reach) than the actual lamp switch itself, so family is more likely to use the button device.
  2. If button device has multiple buttons you can program different options (but keep it simple - family will forget quickly).
  3. Visitors “get it” pretty easily (I have labels on the button devices)

Minus for button devices:

  • Mine (and most) are not connected to power, so you have to charge them up or replace batteries periodically
  • Button devices can “walk off” and disappear for a short period of time in some cases (unless they are attached to a wall or furniture). Several of my minimotes are connected via velcro to keep them from going on a walk-about. Others are left unattached and can roam about a particular room a bit for user convenience.
  • The particular button device I use (Aeon Minimote) is old stock and after tracking them down to order, you also usually have to order replacement batteries and replace them yourself (involves connecting wires in the minimote, not just a normal battery swap). There’s a post here on it:

There was also a thread here recently on buttons that might help:

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Huge point not to be overlooked. When using Smart Bulbs and powering on and off via power switch / outlet, it is terrible for the longevity/life of the bulbs. If you go the switch route, use dumb bulbs or as Dana pointed out, the button route where actual power to the bulb is not severed.

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The outage thing brings up a good question. With the GE dimmers/switches, do they still operate as physical switches in the event of an outage? I assumed they did, but haven’t seen one in person yet, so I don’t know.

As far as the lamps go, we’ll have Echo Dots in the 2 rooms where we have lamps and both are located such that it would require a good bit more energy to physical turn off vs. using voice commands. So, I think my wife and I would learn pretty quickly.

Also, I do not have any of this equipment yet as I am in the planning stages. So, I’m just kind of navigating it all. Originally I thought the Hue buh would run any kind of smart bulb/switch/whatever, so I was going to buy one of the $50 starter kits. Now, I’m leaning toward the switch/dimmer combo with a few smart outlets running off the ST hub. Once I get the all up and running (starting with one room as a proof of concept) I can add on as needed.

Yes they still work.

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The nice thing about the Hue bridge and Hue lights, is you still retain some “smart” control (via Hue app, and voice via Echo should still work, I believe) over your bulbs if SmartThings platform isn’t responding. If you have standard zigbee bulbs controlled via ST, then when ST is down the bulbs are dumb.

I think above is correct, hopefully someone else can update if not.

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Ya that was one of my main reasons for using the Bridge.

Also one of the biggest reasons I try to convey to people not to have duplicate devices discovered in Alexa that could cause a potential hiccup in her tying to recognize SmartThings versus Hue natively. If your Hue Bulbs are already discovered via Alexa / Hue, there is absolutely no reason to have Alexa discover them again from SmartThings, and to turn off the option in the “Amazon Alexa” SmartApp in ST and only select SmartThings devices that Alexa can’t discover via other third party apps directly. :slight_smile:


Thanks, I missed that (or forgot I had read it) in your earlier post. :slight_smile:

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A new House is always exciting! Good luck with the project! :sunglasses:

You’ve gotten a lot of great advice so far. The following FAQ might also be of interest:


Added to the thread that @JDRoberts posted above, I have created a How to document for those that have the Hue Bridge and Hue bulbs and have installed the webCoRE (Rules Engine) SmartApp in SmartThings.

This how to is a step by step for how to integrate between webCoRE / IFTTT (via Webhooks) / Hue Scenes.

This might be phase 2 or phase 3 of your project, but I wanted to throw this to you for when those “How would I…” questions might come up. :slight_smile:

How to: Activate a Predefined Hue / LIFX Scene from SmartThings / webCoRE