New to Smart Things switches or bulbs

I’ve have a bunch of GE/Jasco switches and generally I’m happy with them. I would tend to avoid Evolve just because I’ve had some pairing issues with them in the past, but once paired they work okay.

Levitron and Cooper switches work well too, but they tend to be more expensive than the GE/Jasco.

Most Z-wave switches are more of the decora/paddle type, which some people really do not like. I have heard that there’s one now that’s more of a “standard” flip switch, but I haven’t seen/used it myself.

what about the Cree connected bulbs? is that still the same problem with it being “messed up” by someone flipping the switch?

Yes, a Cree bulb would be messed up by turning it off at the switch. It would drop off the zigbee network, and would have to be re-included, which can be a pain…

To clarify…

Bulbs don’t always drop off the network (if manually shut off at switch) and have to be reincluded…but it can happen if the switch operation mimics the reset sequence of the inclusion.

Not to step on toes but this confused me as a newb so felt further explanation might be appreciated by the op :slight_smile:

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So what exactly am I looking for when I pull out the existing switch? White wires going into the switch or white wires I can hook up to a neutral from the wave switch to? Any have a video or a photo explaining this?

Check out the first post in this thread.

+1 for switches if you feel comfortable wiring them up. I just got done with the monoprice switch, which was pretty easy once I understood the module better. The drawing provided was a bit poor and I’m not an electrician so things didn’t line up perfectly.

Bulbs if you fear electricity more than a healthy respect for exposed wires while pressing a configure button on the dumb module… I got around that with my device type the second time though :wink:

is there anything smart bulbs CAN be used for then? I bought 3 Cree Connected bulbs since they were only $15 a pop. Can I use them for lamps or will I have the same manual switch sync issue?

Sure, use them in lamps – that’s what I do. Just don’t turn the lamps off, use lighting automations instead.

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Ditto. I have some GE Link bulbs that I use purely through automation. It’s a really simple way to get into lighting, and in some places it’s perfectly fine.

Bulbs are easier to get started with (simpler to install) and mostly cheaper, I believe, but switches seem like they’d make for a more seamless experience. With a smart bulb, you can’t turn off the wall switch or lamp switch at all if you want to be able to control the light with SmartThings.

The catch with switches is that they mostly need a neutral wire (a third wire in the switch box that provides power to the switch no matter the switch state), and not all houses have that. Whether your house has neutral wires generally depends on the age of the house (or the age of the wiring if it was added or redone later). The only smart switches that don’t need a neutral only work with incandescent bulbs, because they need to trickle a certain amount of power through the circuit to keep the wireless radio in the switch active, and only an incandescent can take that low level of power without actually lighting up.

I would say go with switches if you or someone you know is comfortable doing the wiring.

Ok so pulled out of my switches to start converting everything. Good news I have the need white neutral wire! Confusing news… I have a red wire? Its was a three switch I’m assume the black is the hot the red is the 3 way and the white is my neutral?

If you JUST have three wires, then it’s likely that:
Black is line (from breaker box)
Red is load (to light fixture)
White is neutral

But it’s honestly nearly as likely that things are different… it really kinda depends on who was doing it and how they felt at the time.

Are there just the the three wires? Not a fourth?

…I can confirm that in my house, this is how it was wired. When in doubt…get out the voltmeter/current tester and CHECK.

The red is usually the “traveler” in a 3-way setup. Usually, there are two of them.

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@scottinpollock I was considering setting up my house exactly as you describe. Wire the box so that the socket always has power for the smart bulbs, then use a switch in the box as an input to ST to control the lights. But in this setup what kind of switch would you use? A standard Z-Wave light switch and just not hook up the load, or is there another product that would be better for this scenario?

If SmartThings is out (yes even with local processing hub could get bricked) doesn’t that put you in a position where you have no manual way to control the lights other than the breaker? I can see the appeal, but I’m not sure I’m ready to trust HA to that extent yet :smile:.

I would assume to do this you’d need a standard zwave/zigbee switch but that it just functions as an auxiliary. Think of the zwave/zigbee protocol being the traveler wire. This “wire” would be connected to SmartApp driving your SmartBulbs aka the app is the main zwave switch in a traditional mechanical three-way setup.

I have been using Intermatic CA5100’s, but they have been discontinued. I haven’t shopped for a replacement yet as I still have a box of them left. But if there isn’t a similar item available, any Z-Wave on/off should work for this.

Yes and no. between two tablets, two phones, and an iPod, there is a device in most rooms that can control my Hues, but they come on and go off by timer (via the Hue bridge and my server), so there is rarely a need to use a physical switch, even when SmartThings is not working right.

I’m pretty ignorant to the low level zigbee specification details but I assumed (perhaps incorrectly) that a device could only be directly managed by one controller be it a Hue bridge, SmartThings, Control4 whatever. Control to said device could then be extended to third parties via cloud to cloud integration. If that’s true then if your primary controller (one bulb was added to) goes down, regardless of how many phones/ipads/node.js web services you’re running, you’d be outta luck until you reset the bulb and paired with an alternate controller no?

Or are you saying a single zigbee device can be simultaneously directly controlled by multiple zigbee controllers that are unaware of each other? In that case then yeah I could see how that could provide enough redundancy to feel comfortable.