Paralysis by Analysis: Lighting / Fan Control Switches


(Mike) #1

Hello community…! I’ve been reading and reading and reading and I finally decided it was time to make a post as I feel my question is a bit specific to my house (though that’s probably true for everyone).

I started dabbling with Smart Home devices about 6 months ago and I now have several rooms that have Hue light bulbs in them still connected to dumb switches. This works fine for me, but it does not pass the “guest test” as I discovered over Thanksgiving. So I want to change my light switches so that they can also operate the Hue lights. In other rooms I want to control ceiling fans and in my main bathroom I have a whole idea about setting up a morning routine to manage the various (dumb) lights and vent fan all in a four-gang box.

I’d rather get all the switches from one company as the aesthetics are important to me…and truthfully there’s no way I could live with different color indicator LED lights in the same box (or room for that matter). My house has all new wiring and a neutral is available in every box. I also have everything from single gang to 4 gang boxes where I want to replace the switches, so fitting everything back in the box is a concern.

So here’s some specifics. In my master bedroom I have a ceiling fan (pull chain style) on one toggle switch and next to it is another toggle switch that is connected to the 3 Hue lights that are in the ceiling fan. I want to replace both of those switches with smart switches. I know that GE makes a fan control switch which allows for speed control of the fan and integration with Smartthings and Alexa. I know it also has a blue led. I’ve read about the LInear GoControl accessory switches which have a Z-Wave radio in them to allow for control of the Hue lights, but I also know that they have a green LED in them. In my master bath I will need three smart switches and one dimmable smart switch.

My question(s) would be…is there one vendor where I can get all of these things from so that I can get all the indicator LED’s to be the same color (or can I just turn those indicator LED’s off permanently)? Can I wire up a GE smart switch so that it can do nothing but send a z-wave signal to my Smartthings hub and have it control the lights (not attach a load)?

I’ve looked at switches from Zooz (their switches seem to require a load to always be present so I don’t think that will work with my Hue lights), GE (they seem to have everything I might need), Linear GoControl (they don’t seem to have a fan switch with multi-speed), Cooper (personally I’m not a fan of the look of these) and Leviton (I don’t see many options with them though).

I’m just looking for some advice before I start placing some online orders…and I certainly don’t want to do a bunch of re-work on this. I’m not sure if I’m missing any vendors I should consider either, so any help on this would be appreciated.


Controling smart lights from a wall switch
#2

I’ll let others discuss the wiring, but one alternative is indeed just to configure the Linear/gocontrol accessory switch so that the indicator LED is always off. If the only thing that bothers you is the color of the LED. This is just a parameter change. See the “night Light” section in the manual.

http://www.gocontrol.com/manuals/WT00Z-1-Install.pdf

So if you like everything else about the Linear switch, you can just turn the indicator LED off. :sunglasses:

At the present time, only GE and Leviton offer zwave fan control switches. And the Leviton is a whole different style, you never press the top of the switch, you only press the bottom. Plus it’s more expensive than the GE. Some people like it if they want the fan switch to look quite different from the light switches, but it doesn’t sound like it would suit your particular project. But I mention it just for completeness.


(Paul Haskins) #3

I seem to remember that one was unable to turn off the GE Fan LED. But don’t guarantee that.

I’m sure someone will chime on, can verify you can on GE recetacles and switches.


(Jimmy) #4

GE has everything you need. Also, unless you want color, you will want to pull those Hue bulbs out wherever there is a smart switch.


(Mark) #5

Second that. I don’t think there’s much use for smart bulb + smart switch unless RGB or white color temp is important to you. @Mike1616 what’s your rationale for keeping the hue bulbs?


#6

Also useful for creating zone lighting when all the lights are controlled by a single switch. This is common in basements that people have converted over to be play rooms or home theaters, but where there’s still just one switch on the wall, for example. :sunglasses:


(Mike) #7

There are a couple reasons why I like the color bulbs…but for the most part it’s just because they are fun. I do enjoy showing them off when people come over, or setting them to a particular scene during game days. But I also intend to do some practical things with the color bulbs as well, like changing the color of one in my garage when a sensor in my mailbox has been opened so that I remember to get the mail. In my bedroom I use them because quite frankly I cannot easily differentiate the difference between some colors. Some people are red/green colorblind, I seem to be blue/black colorblind. Changing the color temperature of the lights helps me to avoid wearing black pants with navy blue socks… :slight_smile: But I don’t need or like the lights to be that color all the time though.

Also I prefer the look of the smart switches as they do not show the ON/OFF “state” of the light. Right now having the rocker switches “ON” all the time is mildly annoying to me and confusing to my guests, especially for them when the actual Hue light is off. I’ve read all the various threads that I could find regarding pairing smart bulbs with smart switches and I know it’s going to be an extra expense, but I’m willing to pay the extra money to get the look I want.

In my living room I have a three-gang box and it will have a smart fan control switch, a smart dimming switch (attached to dumb bulbs) and another switch attached to 6 hue lights that I set for various scenes and automations. I do want all the switches in the wall to look the same. I don’t want one to look like it is “ON” all the time. I know that’s getting really picky, but again, to each their own. I was under the impression that I could achieve this look by using an Aux switch from Linear as it does have a Z-wave radio in it. Though I did not know I could turn off the LED (thanks JD). So it might work to use 2 GE switches in there and 1 Linear…can the GE’s also be set to turn off the LED completely on them? The other possibility might be (if this is doable) to have a standard GE smart switch in there and not attach the load to it (can this be done?) that way I could wire it up and have it really just act like an Aux switch. Then I can keep my color bulbs and just have the switch on the wall be there in case someone else does not know the right words to say to get the Echo to turn on the lights.


#8

Looks like it, although you should check each individual model to be sure.

From the advanced configuration parameters page of the manufacturer:

http://www.ezzwave.com/advanced-operation/

LED Light
When shipped from the factory, the LED is set to turn ON when the connected light is turned OFF. This is the default setting and can be changed if your primary controller supports the node configuration function. To make the LED turn ON when the light is turned ON, change parameter 3’s value to “1”. To turn the LED OFF at all times, change parameter 3’s value to 2.


(Mike) #9

Yes, that too… In my case there are six lights in my ceiling in the living room, but the one switch only turns on five of them. There is however a switch about 20 feet away on the opposite wall (by the patio door) which turns on the other single light. Why they didn’t just put in a three-way switch I don’t know. However, since I don’t want to crawl around in the attic space of my vaulted ceiling I plan to eventually set it up so that all six of those lights will turn on when either switch is pressed (or the Echo or Harmony do their things). I don’t think I could make that work without using smart bulbs as JD points out.


(Mike) #10

Looks like I am going to go with GE switches now for a couple reasons. First, you can connect them by inserting the wires into the back of the switches. This is better because space would get very tight in some of my boxes if I had to wire them using the pigtail method that you have t use with the Linear GoControl switches.

Also, I have successfully wired up one of the standard GE switches without any load attached to it and I have it controlling my Hue lights in the bedroom. I simply just wired the Hue lights on permanently and wired the switch up with no load attached and then used the Smart Lighting app to control the ON/OFF toggle (both ways).

I guess I’ll go look now to see if there is a different Smart app that will do it all in one automation because right now I’m having to create two (one for when the light toggles and one for when the switch toggles). But it is working very nicely and so I now have one room that is guest-proof.


(Glen King) #11

This is one of the reasons my look-ahead on my smarthome envisions replacing (not really, wait for it) hard switches with tablets. Take my bedroom for instance. A ceiling fan/light, and two nightstand lamps. Replace the wall switches with a tablet. Put in the home screen of that tablet a widget-switch for each of the four above components, and you’re done. The widget-switches give you a switch whereby you can power/dim the devices, even if they are all smart bulbs. And whereby any visitor can do likewise, with no need to learn your whole smart house system. The homeowner can still say “Alexa, turn the fan light purple” and then “Alexa, turn the nightstands green”.

Of course you don’t remove the wall switches. You get paddle on/off for the fan light, and the lamps of course have their own on/off. So in the event your smarthome comm fails while power remains intact, you can still manually turn the bulbs on/off. Mount the tablet above, or perhaps over, those paddles, and you’re all set.

The tablet of course would then give you all kinds of other capability of your choosing.


(Mike) #12

That’s a nice idea. Provided you could get/make a “smart” tablet that would react to the various “modes” that you can set your configure your house to be in. I certainly would not want a tablet screen ON all night long when I was trying to sleep. But if it could be setup so that it went to sleep when the house was in some corresponding mode then that would be very cool.


(Glen King) #13

Good thought. It could dim based on ST mode via sharptools. Or it could simply be dimmed all the time, until someone walks up to it - at which point its camera detects motion and brightens the screen.
Those are two of many methods of handling that issue.


(Mike) #14

Well I drove all over town tonight to three different Lowe’s stores in order to buy up all the GE switches that they had in stock so that I could make more progress on my project this weekend.

This is the switch that I’m using to pair with the Hue lights in order to keep the color settings working and provide in wall control:

The wiring is pretty simple, I’m just attaching both the line and load wires into the line section on the switch and wiring everything else as normal. This way both the switch and the Hue bulbs stay “hot” all the time. So that allows me to “turn off” the Hue bulbs with the switch on the wall (which really is just sending a Z-Wave signal back to the hub and the hub is doing the real work) and when the lights come back on they retain their previous settings.

As I said before, I did have to add a couple “Smart Lighting” automations in order to account for the bulbs being turned on by some other method that the switch (Echo, Hue, some routine) so that the switch would also turn on…and then one to turn everything off too…

All in all this is working rather well…and I’m now up to 2 rooms that are guest proof with this method.


#15

Tagging @Navat604


(Mike) #16

I should clarify one thing…

I have two automations, one which turns On/Off the lights when the switch is pressed On/Off. I did this using “Smart Lighting”. I also have a second automation that turns the switch itself On/Off if the lights are turned on or off by something besides the physical button. I also used “Smart Lighting” to do this, but in this case I use the Hue bulb as the “switch” which triggers the physical switch on the wall turning on or off. Works very nice.

I can also confirm that on all the GE switches that I purchased that you can absolutely set how you want the little blue LED notification light to behave. Either always off, on when the light is on, or on when the light is off. It’s a feature built right into the device handler. The same is true for the GE outlet which I also added to my collection of “things” today.


(Mike) #17

…and it gets even better. I didn’t know it at first, but these GE switches even support a double-tap ON/OFF feature that can be exposed in the App or in WebCoRE provided you install an updated DTH.

So now I’ve added a few additional routines that I can run based on double-tapping the switch. My new favorite is that when I double-tap OFF on the switch in my office it then turns off the office light and lights up a path for me to my bedroom. I even set the level of the lights first so that they are not glaringly bright. Since this integrates completely with WebCoRE you can basically do just about anything with the double-tap feature. So many more possibilities now.


Upgrading new home: Need to find switches to use with Hue bulbs / no actual power switching
Stateless Smart Switch