SmartThings Community

Looking for advice on my first project: entryway smart lighting

I have a similar setup as yours — a 3-gang box for the street-side lamp, front porch, and front entry. If you have a HOA that requires the street-side lamp to be on at sunset thru sunrise, then I WOULD NOT recommend ST to “smartify” that light. The system is too unreliable for that light to be turned on and off EVERY DAY by ST. I use this Honeywell programmable digital switch (RPLS740B1008) to control that light:

Works EVERY time for the four years that I’ve been using it: supports Daylight Savings time, no batteries, saves program settings in the event of a power outage, only need to re-set the time if the power outage lasts longer than 3 hours (only been tested for ~35 mins.) So far, it’s kept our HOA gestapo (that drives around the community in the evenings) from sending me nasty-grams that my street-side light isn’t working. I haven’t physically touched that switch in over two years (had to adjust the time because it loses 1 minute in two years).

I think the Z-Wave switches you’ve mentioned are great for the other lights. I have the paddle version of the GE 12727 installed in strategic locations around the house — very reliable switches for me as are the dimmer switches.

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I agree with @elf. Determine your use case. If it is just on a timer a semi smart switch is probably good enough and often cheaper that a zwave one.

I have a bunch of the $12 motion switches in my house in areas where I only need motion triggers (bathroom/closets)

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Ahh ok, thanks @JDRoberts, this is great to know. I’m sure I should be just fine with a little delay if I want to trigger another smart action somewhere else with the press of the switch. The wow factor will still be plenty for the wife and kids (and me) :wink:

Again, super awesome to know about. Once I get my hardware hooked up I will certainly look into playing with associations and central scenes. :+1:

I guess overall, instant status of the Leviton and Cooper devices won’t be what would make me pull the trigger on them then if I can still achieve basically the same effects with possibly a slightly longer delay.

One thing I am very interested in, however, is the different programmable features that various switches offer. As I understand it, some switches offer higher degrees of customization (ramp up time vs instant on, ramp down time vs instant off, max and min brightness setting from the switch itself, brightness level upon turning switch on (default setting vs just going to the previous setting, etc). These are all things that I would most likely definitely care about when making my final choice. However, I have only read here and there about which switches support certain programability and what switches don’t support that feature. Is there a discussion, or document, that goes over these features, or lack of features, in more detail??

Haha… excellent question @helios. So, what is currently wired up is a true 3-way switch (not a dimmer), with one switch at my front door and one at the end of the entryway going to my hallway. So what I want to do is install a dimmer switch (the “master”) at the front door and have the “slave” in my hallway gang box. I have read this other great post by @JDRoberts which does an excellent job of explaining the “3-way concept” with smart switches. So that all makes total sense, however I’m still not 100% on how I am going to go about wiring the new smart 3-way dimmer setup. I guess it ultimately depends on what hardware I decide to go with, correct? (a non RF slave that requires the traveler wire to communicate with the master or a complete wireless communication method where traveler wire would not be needed?) Still kinda fuzzy there but I’m sure it will make sense in time.

Ok, that was the loooong winded answer. Short answer, yes to 3-way dimmer, no to Z-Wave bulbs. (Wife wants an actual control at the entryway so she can control the dimmer the old fashioned way… .still working on selling her on the extra convenience (and expense) of the wonder of smart dimmer switches… once it’s all installed and running she will see the “light”) :smiley:

Thanks for the suggestion @elf! I hadn’t considered this actually but it’s a great alternative! I am curious though as to why you say that you’re not confident ST would get the lights turned on every day? Just more complex system so higher chance of something going wrong? Or something else?

I do actually live in an HOA but they’re pretty laid back overall and I don’t believe that is one of their rules requiring lights to be on every night. Guess I better confirm that though!

Ok, I better close this novel in fear of getting the TL:DR gong! Once again, thanks to you all for the wonderful assistance provided here!!!

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Just to be clear, all three reporting options:

One) “hail” (the Lutron patent method, licensed by Leviton and Cooper)

  1. " Association"

Three) and “central scenes”

are Z wave command sets which the manufacturer of the switch has included in its firmware. You can’t add them yourself later.

Typically a manufacturer will have chosen only one of these options, if any. A few manufacturers have more than one, particularly for multibutton or multi function switches where association could be particularly useful.

Any certified Z wave device has a “conformance statement” listed on the official Z wave alliance site and you can see exactly which command sets it supports. Note that these do vary by model, so you have to find the exact model that you are considering.

http://products.z-wavealliance.org

For example, here is one of the Cooper models. You can see that it supports hail. (Eaton is the company, Cooper is the division, and aspire is the model line.)

For some weird reason all of the Leviton devices have disappeared from the official site this week. They’re usually there, so I think this must just be a glitch in the site. They may be updating the list for their new Z wave plus models.

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Ahhh ok, this makes sense, thanks again! While I don’t know how their methods differ yet, I’ll definitely use http://products.z-wavealliance.org/ as a reference while deciding which way to go.

I’m tired now, but the following thread explains more about the different methods:

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Beautiful, thanks! Yep I’m fading too… going to give this a read tomorrow. Night all and take care!

Of course, 100% reliability probably doesn’t exist in the HA world, but the ST platform seems to have more than its fair share of problems. I’m not trying to scare you off of ST, but a quick search of the forums reveals a notorious history of ST user/community issues. The latest:

http://status.smartthings.com/


Personally, I’ve had no serious problems with ST, overall — just some missed firings of scheduled routines every now and then. But my automation needs are fairly simple and straight forward. Even so, it does get annoying when something doesn’t work when it should. For example, I have simple routines that control my landscape lighting — one failed to turn on my front landscape lights two days ago; one failed to turn off my backyard landscape lights three days ago. Those problems where probably related to the ST backend/server issues mentioned in the above threads.

Anyway, what I was sort of getting at in my first post was to probably avoid automating certain aspects of your home that may have severe consequences because of ST unreliability — if you fully automate your front door or garage door, you might return home to find an unlocked door or open garage door. Having said that, there are individuals (like @JDRoberts) who fully rely on HA, so yeah, needs vary.

Automate with ST, but your second job will be a baby-sitter. Of course, you probably can’t go wrong with automating lights first … maybe, hopefully, sort of :wink:

BTW, I need to buy more Z-Wave GE paddle switches and outlets :grin:

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Gotcha @elf, that makes sense. One thing that I have had in the forefront of my planning was the concept of local vs remote management dependencies. As I understand it, certain devices like the GE z-wave switches were local devices, so even if my wifi went down or the ST online servers were hiccuping (or vomiting), my schedules, routines, whatever you want to call them, would ultimately be managed (or at least stored) locally within my home network by the ST hub itself so I could have almost full assurance that triggers would be reliable. Perhaps I am over-simplifying how everything is configured, but I’d like to think I’m close. :wink:

I also am intrigued by front and garage door control management but definitely won’t venture there until I am much more educated in this wonderful world. As for my front porch and streetlights, I’m definitely going to fully consider something like the Honeywell programmable switch. It doesn’t appear to currently be any cheaper at the moment than the GE paddles or especially the zooz switches, but looks like a darn quality device regardless.

Thanks again everyone… Did I already say I love this community? :hugging:

So close, and yet so far…:wink:

I suspect that “local processing” doesn’t work quite the way you expect. (It doesn’t work the way hardly anyone expects.) For one thing, routines do not run locally regardless of the devices included.

Since I just put up two posts on exactly that topic this morning, I don’t want to duplicate them here. Just read the following post and then the one that comes right after it in that thread.

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Lol, gotcha, thanks @JDRoberts. I just read the Trouble with RBoy Lock Smart App thread and that makes sense.

Good to know that if I use sunrise/sunset as a trigger then it is now controlled via the cloud and not locally.

It’s also quite unfortunate that even if you are on your local home wifi, the SmartThings phone app cannot directly communicate with the hub without going out to the Internet. Would love to see that feature added, and then it would just ping back to the server when possible/needed with the latest changes made locally.

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Just to clear this up once and for all: Zooz switches are not built by GE / Jasco, they are manufactured in a different factory. They look very similar since there is not much room for design update when it comes to traditional light switches.
Zooz toggle switches will also work with GE add-ons for 3-way installation since the signal is transmitted through electrical impulse.
It will probably take some time before GE/Jasco bring their Z-Wave Plus line to market since they’re most likely waiting for big box stores like Home Depot or Lowes to start placing large orders, and these guys move sloooow as a rule.
As usual, let us know if you have any product-specific or manufacturing-related questions, we’d like to be as transparent as possible when it comes to functionality and sourcing of our products!

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Thanks for the correction, I’ve updated my post above. :sunglasses:

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@Simmeltron - I am not sure whether I understood your comment quoted above. If you install a smart dimmer you can still control it from the master and/or from the remote… at least this is the case with Leviton Vizia RF+ zwave dimmers. Since you have an existing 3 way system, the extra wire can be used as the traveler to connect the master to slave. My Leviton switches came with easy instructions on how to wire it all up.

On another note, I’ll tell you my setup in case it may be of interest to you. My front door light and my driveway lights both turn on together via SmartLighting app so I don’t have to walk to both switches (either one will turn the other on as the assumption is I would always want both sets turned on at the same time). The SmartLighting app turns them on/off based on sunrise/sunset however for the driveway I used a switch and for the front door (porch) lights I used a dimmer. The dimmer turns on at 20% as a default which is still plenty of light given I installed two 120W equivalent LED PAR38 bulbs… if it is linear then it may be around 50W equivalent of light. I then added a motion sensor pointing down at my porch so that any movement causes the lights to go on to 100% for a short while (or as long as there is motion) and then back down to 20%. This only happens when the lights are already on. Aside from the cool effect of the entrance glowing brighter when someone approaches my front door, it saves energy, and it may scare away potential intruders as it is a sign their presence was already detected. The motion sensor is attached to the same junction box where I have a dome camera so if they look up to see why the light turned brighter… say cheeeeeese :smiley: This actually happened in several cases. The difference between regular motion lights and my setup is that my lights are always on but they just glow brighter when there is motion. I am not worried about false motion detection as the 120W equivalent LED bulbs actually only use about 23W more or less.

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Thanks for the confirmation @TheSmartestHouse. I was assuming that was the case and it’s good to know for sure. I’ve actually been communicating with Agnes on your team via email in regards to a possible purchase and making sure that I order exactly what I need. Now to get one of those 5% off coupons and free shipping… :wink:

@aruffell, yep I’m pretty sure we’re on the same page there. I understand how I would use the traveler wire for my smart setup as long as what I purchase would need that. And most likely it is going to. I think what you may have been confused about where I was talking about z-wave dimmer vs z-wave bulb itself. Currently, there is ONLY a 3-way switch there. So that is the primary reason I’m going with a z-wave dimmer switch itself so my wife can still control it from the switches as opposed to only being able to control the dimming via a mobile app.

Also, thanks a bunch for sharing the setup you have for your entryway. Very impressive!! I never thought about a dimmer for the porch light, but that’s a great application for it I must say. :smiley: However, I’m wondering how LED bulbs would hold up in outdoor conditions? I live in the Pacific Northwest (eastern WA state)… we can get some hot summers and some coooold winters as well.

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Good question… I live in Texas so you should be ok with the heat as mine have done well but I can’t say about the cold. I am guessing the light bulb specifications should say what their operating temperature is. CFL and tungsten will eventually both go away so they better have a viable LED light for you!!

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Yes, each bulb should have specs for temperature range.

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Forgot to mention that if you’re looking at dim bulbs, your local Home Depot should be able to recommend dimmable outdoor LEDs for your local climate. Their stores are stocked individually. :sunglasses:

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So I’ve been researching several different dimmers and realize that one thing may be just as important if not even more than build or physical looks (to me at least) is (im not certain I’m calling it by the correct name) is the programmable parameters of different dimmers and how it appears that they may vary significantly from switch to switch.

I was just about ready to pull the “trigger” (no pun intended) on the zooz dimmable switch, but if I read correctly, the only programmable parameters available for that switch is the led light status and up/down direction (in case of upside down installation?).

If I understand correctly, other switches offer a much richer set of configurable parameters, such as max and min dim levels, ramp up and ramp down rate, default dim lvl vs last dim lvl on switch turn on…

I probably don’t understand this fully yet, but it seems safe to assume that each different brand/model of switch contains it’s own firmware that allows for different settings…

Would greatly appreciate knowing if I am somewhat on base or totally out in left field? =)

Good to know thanks, however I’ve been done wrong one too many times by my local HD and have been giving my business to the Lowe’s across the street ever since. I’m sure the same advice applies there still… :wink:

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