New to Echo and SmartThings - First project in new construction

Hi all, I’ve spent the last week doing research on a new living area we are finishing in our basement. I’m interested in Echo to tie voice control to our in ceiling and in wall speakers, but to justify the move I’d like to be able to tie fans and lights in too. I know that the ceiling fan thing is always a topic, but most of the topics I looked at were old so I figured I’d ask.

This is all new construction - sheet rock just went up. There are two rooms that are set-up identically. Each room has a fan - with no light - and can lights in the ceiling. A single gang box with a combo fan/dimmer controls both the fan and the lights. One 20amp 12-2 comes into the wall switch box and wires to the switch which then feeds the 12-2 going to the fan and the 12-2 going to the can lights.

The best case I see would be to put a ceiling fan control in the canopy and a micro dimmer behind the wall switch. This should allow me to control the lights with the hard switch or ST, right? As far as the fan, I’d love speed control with ST, but I’d settle for simple on and off and control the speed with the pull chain. I have complete access to the fan - as it isn’t mounted yet but the only access I have to the can lights is at the signle gang box. The fan control is fairly big so room might be limited although the box is a deep model. I’d prefer to NOT cut in
a double gang.

I’d like to:
Retain wall control
Voice controlled lights (on/off/dim)
Voice controlled fan (an/off would be acceptable - speed would be amazing)

I haven’t purchased anything yet, so I’m open to anything although I would like it to work with Alexa.

Suggestions? Hardware recommendations?

Thank you for your time.

I use echoes extensively in my home. I also use GE smart switches. The lights can be controlled by the GE switches as well as the fans. Just get the fan switches for those. You will have voice control via echo, wall control with the switches, and control via the app. They all work very well together.

I highly recommend that you look into askAlexa, EchoSistant , and CoRE smartapps. Three very powerful apps that will help bring your HA to a new level. They are all third party and can be daunting, but well worth it.

Keep asking questions and utilize the search function.

Thanks for the fast reply, but isn’t the single gang box the limiting factor here?

I couldn’t find any single gang switch that would control both a fan motor and a dim able light.

Yeah… I totally spaced on that part…

But… New construction still in work right? I’d cut that drywall and out in a new box before it all gets finished.

I really did consider that. But the wall is shared by an in the wall coffee pot on the other side - which is one reason I went with a single gang combo box. Getting the wife on board is gonna be hard enough. I need to sell it as - it all works as you would expect at the wall BUT look what else you can do. She see’s me cutting into the wall and moving the coffee pot at the wet bar then ST might become a non-issue as I move somewhere else by myself. :slight_smile:

Since this is New construction, I agree with @bamarayne – use one of the fan – specific wall switches and you’ll have low/medium/high control at the switch and through SmartThings automation, and at least on/off through echo for the fans. (I just don’t remember if echo sees The fan switches as having a level or not, but it will definitely see them as a switch.) You could also set up a virtual switch for each fan level and control it through echo that way, although that’s more set up work.

In fact, since it’s new construction, if it was was me I’d just set it up as a double gang wall switch with one switch for the fan light and one switch for the fan. Or a triple gang if you need one switch for the fan, one switch for the fan lights, and one switch for the regular lights.

There are two z wave fan switches, One from GE and one from Leviton. The Leviton is somewhat more configurable but costs more. And Leviton has kind of a weird design for their Z wave switches, it’s like a rocker switch but only the bottom part of the rocker works. So some people don’t like that, but you get used to it pretty quickly.

If you’re buying lots of switches, zwaveproducts.com often has volume discounts, although they don’t have free shipping unless you’re buying at least $100 most of the time. They sometimes have free shipping specials.

Their return policy is OK, not as good as Amazon, so don’t use them for things that are going to sit in the box for a while. But if you’re buying devices for immediate install, you might save some money by using them over Amazon. ( they also sell individual products through the Amazon website, but it’s usually 5% cheaper if bought from their own site.)

And prices do vary a lot, so it does pay to shop around:

Finally, you probably already know this, but several zwave manufacturers, including GE and Leviton, are getting ready to release new models of most of their devices that will have zwave plus chips instead of the current “Z wave classic” ones. Zwave plus is fully backwards compatible, so it’s fine if you have devices of different generations on your SmartThings account.

The main advantages of zwave plus are that it has significantly longer range and somewhat easier pairing, well is better battery life for the battery operated devices.

I haven’t seen zwave plus versions of the fan controllers announced yet, but definitely the regular light switches.

Anyway, these are starting to trickle onto the market, so if you could wait another 4 to 6 weeks you would probably have a lot more choices as far as zwave plus goes. but I know sometimes you need to solve a problem immediately. So it’s just something to be aware of. :sunglasses:

Get a smart wall switch. Don’t like my rather expensive Hue can lights in my kitchen connected to a dumb wall switch.

I think you can control a dimmer smart switch thru Alexa, just need dimmable LED can bulbs.

My GE fan switch works perfect with Alexa on a 23 year old ceiling fan. Just used the standard smartapp. “Alexa, turn on fan 33%” I know there’s some fancy/custom apps you can install. Instead of %'s you could say low, medium, high. That’s too much work for me.
I should note, I’m a pretty low tech guy. The standard ST apps should be able to control the basics… As of now, I haven’t tried the fancy apps that are mentioned on this site. But! When the snow starts to fly here I’m gonna dive into it.

I’ll probably be bugging all of you smart guys.

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It sounds like a double gang box solves all my problems. That’s no issue on one of the rooms, but it’s a no-go on the other. And 1/2 a solution isn’t any better than no solution.

Maybe I wire it up as a dumb setup and see what comes out in the next 4 weeks or so.

What is amazing is I see this exact topic (although usually with just ONE hot feed to the fan/lights) all the way back to 2013 and everyone keeps saying that one will surely be release soon.

So a micro-dimmer in the wall box and a fan controller in the fan shroud isn’t an option?

Would this work as a solution for the fan?

I would then say to maintain control without an application use a z wave remote.

What about something like the Aeron Labs micro dimmer in the wall box for the lights:

And their micro switch in the fan shroud:

This would give me lights on/off/dim at the wall and via alexa and also would give me fan on/off/speed at the wall, plus on/off via alexa, right?

Thoughts?

You never heard me say surely one all-in-one fan and light controller that fits in a single gang box will be released soon. :wink:

Up until 2016, the radio units were just too big. You need two separate ones, one for the fan motor and one for the lights, because the physics of those are different. So you put all that stuff together, and it just doesn’t fit, at least with the Z wave classic devices.

It’s exactly the same reason why up until now you couldn’t get a zwave light switch with a built-in motion detector.

With zwave plus, it is possible to make the radio devices smaller, so we may yet to see it someday. But nobody has certified one yet.

As for this:

So a micro-dimmer in the wall box and a fan controller in the fan shroud isn’t an option?

Sure, you can do that, but then you don’t have a wall switch for the fan. I like having a wall switch for the fan. :sunglasses:

The two devices in two different places options are things that people have almost always used for retrofits because they only have a single gang switch box. Or because they didn’t have a neutral at the switchbox.

That’s not an issue with new construction, so why not use a double gang switch and make everything easy, including for visitors and kids and people in wheelchairs? (Just sayin’…:wink:)

If you can’t go left or right with a double gang box… just put another single gang directly above or below it.

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I agree a double gang box fixes my issues. The problem is that in one of the two rooms it just isn’t an option because of an in the wall coffee pot on the other side of the wall. The rough in box for the coffee pot comes right over next to the single gang box on the other side of the wall. I could have moved the coffee pot back a stud, but the wife felt that was too deep into the cubby.

You must be a divorce attorney. :grin:

lol, I wish…

Not that it matters, but this is the ‘planned’ dumb switch.

Understood. In a case like that, putting one device at the fan shroud makes sense. So then maybe you want the controls in each of the two rooms to be identical.

Also, you probably already know this, but there are some battery operated devices that you can stick on the wall Next to an existing switch if you do want an on wall controller for the micro. That gives you a bunch of additional options, although you are then adding a third device. But you add a third device if you use a handheld remote as well.

Choice is good. :sunglasses:

That’s a nice device, but once you go with that you won’t want to switch to the Z wave switches because they will feel like they have fewer features. Where if you go from the pull chain to the automated Z wave devices everybody’s going to think it’s a huge improvement. :wink:

Yep, but the killer feature for the z-wave would be the wife asking alexa to turn the fan up or down from her theater seat.

I’m not asking for alot, I only want it ALL. :joy:

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Ahhhhh… No one should be talking during the movie… I’d go with a remote device! No one gets up. No one talks. The movie is not interrupted!

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