Light Switches and Secondary Controllers

(Jeff) #1

Been with Smart Things since the start, and for the most part love the setup. I’ve got most of my lights hooked up through Z-Wave, which is great for automation. However, manually turning them on is still a bother, and I’m interested to find out what you all are doing.

  1. It’s getting a little old having to use my phone to turn on and off lights when I’m in my house. Has anyone gotten a secondary controller/keypad to work?

  2. Related, having people staying over who don’t have a smart things app makes existing in a dark house a little difficult. I’ve had to turn on lights for them remotely, or just leave the outlet turned on and have them switch the lights manually.

I talked to Smart Things support a couple of months ago about this issue and they said that they haven’t heard anyone complain about this issue. How are you all dealing this? Am I missing something simple, here?

(Chrisb) #2


Did you put in Z-wave light switches? The far majority of lights that I have hooked up all use z-wave light switches to replace the physical light switch. In fact this was sort of mandatory for me. While I’m a geek who loves to live on the bleeding edge (and therefore willing to put up with some challenges that accompany that effort) my wife is anything but. She doesn’t even have a cell phone… no, that’s not a typo. I didn’t say she doesn’t have a smartphone, I said she doesn’t have a cell phone. Weird, huh?

Anyway, all of my changes have been done with the eye towards not removing any existing functionality. Which of course doesn’t help you…

So, what options? Well there’s a few I would explore, depending on your environment:

  1. Theoretically you should be able to setup a secondary controller with individual z-wave devices. I’ve never attempted to do it, and I don’t know how well it will play with SmartThings, but it’s supposed to work as far as I know. Check with support if they’ve helped anyone else set this up and which devices they’ve used.

  2. Get a cheap tablet as a “universal remote.” Load SmartThings on the tablet and you can do everything your phone can do. You can get some (slightly older) Android 7" tablets for relatively cheap these days. Granted, this isn’t as cheap as some of the z-wave remotes, but it’s an option. A tablet could be left for guests to use or left on the counter or end table where you often sit to make it convenient to grab instead of your phone.

  3. If you can get a z-wave swtich/outlet device in a more convenient place (for instance, if you have a wall outlet that’s more accessible or at a higher point on the wall from where you have your light module plugged in) you could put a device with a push button in this outlet and then “tie” the two together via a SmartApp like Wireless 3-way. This way when you turned one on it would turn the other one automatically.

  4. For floor or table lamps, you might want to look at the HA05C ( This device screws into the socket, then you screw your bulb into that. There is a button on the unit itself to turn it on and off. This button would be real close the to were you’d reach to turn a lamp on or off anyway.

  5. For regular guests, if you’re feeling ambitious and they have an Android device, you can setup tasker commands for them. I’ve done this for my kids tablets. Not they just tap and icon on their home screen to turn on/off devices in their rooms.

(Av8rdude) #3

@jeff_keen I’ve been using z-wave remotes as secondaries for a few months now. This was a must for my non-tech family members to be able to control the lights. So I have a z-wave remote in the livingroom, master, and basement. I like the basic GE remotes. They are $12 or so on amazon/ebay.
Here is the thread explaining how to pair them to your system. I think the specific instructions are on page two.


(Jeff) #4

@chrisb I’m not using any z-wave light switches because the floor lamps and table lamps I’ve got don’t wire up to my physical light switches. That’s part of the reason I wanted SmartThings in the first place. I used to use X-10 for the same purpose, but z-wave works better, besides the annoyances I listed.

@av8rdude Huh, I guess I could try the remote. I’d much rather have a keypad like this wired into smart things, so I could program button 1 to operate such and such lights, but I haven’t been able to get it to work. It recognizes it as a device, I just can’t do anything with it.

(Chrisb) #5


Check out the link that @av8rdude posted above, specifically post 3615 on page three of that linked thread:

The trick, here, is that you’re not pairing the controller with SmartThings. Instead to pair the devices back to the secondary controller.

(Jeff) #6

@chrisb That looks promising! I tried to get that to work using my 45601 (instructions are for the 45600) and since it doesn’t operate using the numbers during setup like the 45600 does, I had to try and translate using both manuals. Didn’t quite work.

Do you know if I need the outlet I want to control unpaired from the Smart Things Hub before I can add it to the keypad?

(Jody) #7

This is apparently an old link, but how do you set up the GE Remote as a secondary controller. I have it connected to ST as a z-wave remote, but I don’t know how to make it do anything.

(Christopher Masto) #8

Which model? The instructions for both are in the other thread - ZWave slaves + "Real" virtual devices

It sounds like you’ve already added it as a secondary controller (“connected to ST as a Z-Wave remote”), so you just need to add the lights you want to control to the appropriate buttons. The process for this is nothing special, it’s in the manual for the remote. Note this is all done with the remote and the light switches, it doesn’t involve ST at all.

(Jody) #9

Thanks for the response. I did get it working after deciphering the instructions. I was thrown off by the fact that the instructions say that secondary controllers cannot add or remove lights, yet that is exactly what you have to do. Appreciate the rapid response.