Light Switches - where to start? (UK)

( The most current version of this information will now be maintained in the new UK lighting controls FAQ. As new devices are added you will find them at the following link:

VFAQ: Lighting Control Options for UK SmartThings )

Before we get too theoretical, I just wanted to do a quick recap of the options that are available right now for those in the UK.

1) choose one of the inside-the-wall micro relays from the official compatibility list and have it installed on the circuit where there is a third wire. Even if there isn’t a third wire in the switchbox itself, there’s still one on the circuit somewhere. It may be at the ceiling fitting, it may be somewhere else in the wall, but it is there.

If you want to add a new faceplate to create a push button “momentary switch,” you can modify many switches to work with the in wall relay.

For a high end, elegant faceplate, some community members choose the Legrand Adorne frontpiece to go with the in wall relay. You aren’t going to use most of the electronics from the Legrand, you’re going to connect their switch to the SmartThings-compatible zwave in wall relay instead. But the results can be fantastic. See the following topic for examples from one community member, including a video showing how to attach the faceplate to the relay.

Pros: you will have full control of whatever is on that circuit, it’s officially supported by SmartThings, and it will make sense to visitors. There will still be a wall switch where there always was. If you add a Legrande adorne face plate, you will have a lot of very interesting styles to choose from.

Cons: it may require an electrician’s help to figure out exactly where to put the relay on the circuit. Also depending on the other hardware and wires that are in the switchbox, some people find a need to replace the existing switch box that is in the wall with a deeper one to make room for the relay.

If you want to add a LeGrand face plate, you will have to do some modifications to it to get it to work with the relay. And the LeGrand devices are beautiful but expensive.

2) Use smart bulbs without a wall switch, and control instead with motion sensors, automated schedules, voice, mobile phone, and fully-integrated handheld remotes

This is a very popular European approach for Phillips hue bulbs, and it is worth considering. As long as the wall switch is always left on so that there is power to the bulb, you have a lot of choices about what you can do.

At my house, we mostly use voice. Many community members primarily use motion sensors to control the lighting.

Those with sophisticated design sense tend to really like the “mood cube” which uses a SmartThings accelerometer (available in the UK multi sensor) inside a cube that you designed so that as the cube is turned in your hands, you switch to different light. Fun and practical. I happen to particularly like the design that @Pete built but there are several examples in the forums. This works great, it’s just not a conventional wall switch.

The Aeon Labs minimote is probably the most popular handheld remote in the community, it comes in white or black. Fully integrateable with SmartThings. Small and modern. Widely available. But it’s not a wall switch.

With any of these options, the old wall switch is just left always turned on. And you will have full control of any devices that are connected to SmartThings. But it can be confusing for visitors.

Pros: full control of all SmartThings connected devices, your old switches work fine in an emergency

Cons: leaving behind 20th century ideas of wall switches, visitors may be confused

3) 3 wire zwave switches with one button (if there is a blue neutral wire in the switchbox) There are some three wire Zwave switches that would probably work quite easily with SmartThings, such as MCO, TKBHome and Duwi. For a full remodel or new construction, these are worth considering. They are seen in some hotels and apartment buildings.

A paddle switch with only one button that is a Z wave certified device will probably work out of the box with SmartThings if you have the wiring to support it. A multi button switch may require custom code.

So this model most likely will work without needing custom code, but the two or four button version of the same switch may not. Single button models typically cost about €40.

Pros: a wall switch that is a wall switch

Cons: requires three wires in the Switch-box, Some brands and models may require custom code to work with SmartThings.

4) Partial integration with lightwave RF

There are some members who have created a technical hack which provides a partial, and I want to emphasize partial, integration with existing lightWAVE RF switches. The lightwave RF switches can work in a two wire switch box. However, the solution that currently exists requires a great deal of technical skill to implement.

Pros: Choice of several models that look just like conventional UK switches

Cons: only a partial, and you have to run your own server. Also, there can be a noticeable lag between the time you flip the switch and the time the light goes on.

5) Phillips hue dimmer switch as a parallel means of control

Phillips has just released a new dimmer switch which is a small vertical four button device that can go on the wall or on the table. Sells for about €20. It can control from 1 to 10 smart bulbs to go on and off in a group. Or one scene from the Phillips hue bridge. was carrying it but now says it will not be back in stock until late November. This device does definitely exist, I have one, but they may be hard to find until early December.

This device does not integrate fully with SmartThings, it just allows you to control one set of bulbs with the physical button. There are community members trying to add more features to it, but that’s what we have right now.

Pros: inexpensive, intuitive, works well to control smart bulbs, no lag, good for guests and kids, battery operated so no wiring involved. Combines well with the options from point 2) above where the lighting is usually controlled through motion, voice, or schedules but adds a simple button switch as well.

Cons: cannot control any other kind of device, not fully integrated with SmartThings, maybe hard-to-find until December, May not match the decorating style.