Newbie, Question about Switches and Bulbs

Hi all-

very new to the home automation game. I’ve been eyeing it for a while, but haven’t done much yet. I recently got a TP-Link bulb just to dip my toe in, and then picked up an Amazon Echo when it was on sale for $90. Of course that gave me the itch! :slight_smile:

I think i’ve settled on smartthings for my hub- that’s why i’m here! That was further cemented by the rumors of Wink’s uncertain future.

So, one of the things I’d been thinking about doing was replacing the porch lights on the house with something smart. My idea was having the bulbs controlled by app/echo, of course, but i thought it’d also be neat to get multi-color ones and be able to change the colors- orange for halloween, green and red for christmas, you know, that sort of thing.

My question is- how would i do this? let me complicate this by saying those porch lights are on a 3-way switch- one by the front door and one by the garage entry to the house. So i figured i’d get the GE z-wave switch and add-on for those. But do I need that? Could i just buy some bulbs (like Phillips Hue or the Sylvania/Osram ones) and have them work together? If I go the bulb only route, I’m assuming one of the switches would need to be “on” all the time, of course. That may be an issue with kids and habit- we’ve lived here 9 years now.

Any suggestions or ideas for this new guy would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Here are three posts to get you started on your journey.

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oh, thanks! i did a quick search but got sidetracked on so many other cool ideas i kinda lost my place. I’ll go check those out.

If you want RGB color, your only option is bulbs. There are ways to group them together.

Right, i knew a switch wouldn’t be able to handle color changes. I was more wondering about the interaction between switches and bulbs for power, which the FAQ links provided has answered for me.

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Be sure to check out some of the projects that people have done at

There are some REALLY smart people here that have done some amazing things. :slight_smile:

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Oh, very nice. Added bookmark to my growing list!

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So i pulled the trigger and picked up the $50 smartthings v2 hub when it was on sale at amazon the other day. Should be arriving tomorrow.

For my color-changing porch-light plan, I was going to leave the “dumb” switches in for now, and perhaps just get some sort of “child-proof” cover so we know to leave them on. Then I was going to pick up some Osram/Lightify bulbs- our local big box is clearancing them out, presumably because they’re the old package and as i understand it Sylvania bought them. As it stands, i can get each A19 RGBW bulb for ~$21.

Does this sound like a reasonable approach? Are the Osrams a good bulb?

This is exactly what I do for our 3 garage carriage lights. Only problem i have is the farthest one sometimes drops off. Cycling power to them bring it back. I have them white normally, but orange/blue during Broncos games, yellow during GA Tech football games, etc.

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My hub arrived yesterday. After figuring out why it wouldn’t connect to my internet (bad hub behind the tv), it took its sweet time updating the firmware.

Then I installed three Osram RGBW bulbs on the front porch. System found two of them right away, and I verified it was all working. I shut off the switch to the front porch lights, turned it back on, and the third light popped up right away. I’m guessing it was setting up the “mesh” off the two bulbs, because the one that wasn’t working was on the far end of the porch, furthest away from the hub.

Added two more bulbs to the exterior lamps on the outside of the garage doors, made a group called “outside lights”. Added this to alexa, and it worked!

After the 45 mins of getting the hub started/updated, the rest took about 30 mins. It’s so cool, and the wife loves it. The kids had a blast telling alexa to turn the lights to their favorite colors.

This is a very dangerous path- now i want to automate ALL THE THINGS!

I highly recommend getting a zigbee outlet plug or switch to extend your mesh instead of using the Osram bulbs. They are known around here for causing more issues with mesh when they drop off the network or when you turn the switch off.

I haven’t had a problem with them since they added OTA firmware updates for the Lightify family.

I only have 4 Lightify gardenspots with the new OTA firmware and once in a while they drop-off line. Zigbee mesh is definitely not an issue with me but possible too many hops since they are out quite far in the garden.

How does one do an OTA firmware for the Osram bulbs? Things I’ve found seem to indicate i need their hub to do it, but the main reason i bought them was because they worked with ST directly and didn’t need their hub.

Would installing their app help?

i think in just found out how:

so now the question becomes “Should i update the firmware if i’m not experiencing any issues?”

That would be it! IMO, always update firmware. never know when they might be security fixes.