Multi zone switch... I'm new


You have several different options for this, depending on exactly how things are wired.


The fan/light combo is a whole separate issue, and assuming you currently have a wall switch for that, if you could describe how that switch works (is it fan only, perhaps with a pull chain for the light, or is it fan and light) and also give us the brand and model of the fan as well as exactly what kind of bulbs it has in it, then we can start talking about your options for that.

Now for the five lights zones:

Smart bulbs

Smart bulbs are the simplest. That doesn’t mean they’re the best solution, but we’ll talk about this first just because they’re the easiest.

If you replace all of the existing bulbs, whether they are canned lights or screw in bulbs or lightstrips, with smart bulbs, and you leave them powered on at all times, then you just need a battery powered multi button switch which you could put anywhere on the wall. Or a similar Mains powered multibutton switch which doesn’t actually control any of the current load.

When you use one of these, the button press is sent to the hub and then the hub sends the correct instructions to the smart bulb associated with that button.

Everything works fine as long as The SmartThings cloud is available. If for any reason it’s not, you have to go back to using the original switches. A lot of people just put a child lock on the original switch and leave it in place, but there are other ways to handle that as well.

The following FAQ lists the various devices that can work well for this.

In particular, Remotec makes an 8 button device where each button can recognize tap, double tap, or long press, giving you 24 control options from the one device. And it’s about the same size as a single gang switch.

There are also some mains powered devices that might work for you. They’re listed in the same FAQ.

Another option is to use a $20 Wi-Fi phone and wall-mount it.

Finally, there is a switch is not listed in that FAQ, from homeseer, which can control one load but also can do single, double, or triple tap on both the top and the bottom of the rocker. This is very popular for zone lighting, such as one tap for the whole room, double tap for just the dining area, etc. However, it may not suit the wiring that you have for some complicated reasons and of course it has to be explained to people. It looks just like a regular single rocker. So if you’re interested in that one we can talk more about it. You can see this one looks just like a regular rocker switch.

OK, so that’s the smart bulb option.

Micro controllers

There are several different brands of micro relays that can be placed in the wall either at a switch or at the ceiling fixture. Using them for a set up like yours can be complicated and also expensive, but depending on the exact wiring, might be possible and allow you to use your existing bulbs. But again it depends on the existing wiring.

The micros aren’t super small, but they can usually fit in a switch box behind the existing switch or they can fit in the ceiling.

There are some community members who have set up as many as six of these along with momentary switches, essentially creating their own button panels. This can be a really elegant solution, but you might need to rewire.

@Mike_Maxwell has done some really good looking implementations with these:

Separating the zones

You may also be able to have an electrician separate the zones. You then might put one switch in each zone that just controls that zone and use one of the options above to give you a consolidated controller with a button for each zone as well. Advantage of this approach, although it’s usually more expensive, is that the switch in each zone will still work to turn the lights on and off in that zone even if the SmartThings cloud is not available. Basically the zone switches work just like regular switches even if the Internet is out or the SmartThings cloud isn’t working. But when the home automation system is working, you also have the use of the consolidated button controller. Like I said, this one costs more money, but some people like to have that “Plan B” option built in. In This approach, you would use a regular Z wave switch in each zone plus the consolidated button device. But again, you don’t have to do it that way.

So you have a lot of choices. :sunglasses::level_slider::bulb: If you use smart bulbs, you can use battery powered switches and have as few or as many of them as you like.

If you use microcontrollers, it depends on your exact wiring as to how many you would need, but you can probably get by with one additional consolidated controller Plus however many micros it takes to get the zone control that you want.

Or you could have the greatroom rewired so that each zone does have its own individual zone switch as well as a consolidated controller. But that option is more expensive.

Take a look at the FAQ link and see if anything there looks interesting to you and then we can talk more about it.

Again, though, the fan/light combo will have to be handled separately. If you use a wall mounted phone as a home automation dashboard, you could include the fan and fan light controls on that, but you’ll still need two separate devices inside the wall, one to control the fan and one to control the fan lights.

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