Recess lights and possible automation ideas

(Hemanshu Patel) #1

I have bought new home last year and I was hoping to get recess lights done throughout the house.

I did calculate and I think it will be around 45 lights counting both floors and all rooms that I can think of…

I also have found one electrician which says he will charge xx$ per light and all material is mine.
So I’m posting here for the project ideas that you guys might have, some things you have used in your house which you liked or not liked, something new that worked or not worked, etc.

What I was hoping for is the ability to dim the lights, possible colors to the light and definite integration with ST.

I’m sure people would have done Recess lights integration with ST, Whatever I could learn from your experience will help me.

of course everything also depends on final budget as well. I haven’t decided to ask him to do all 45 lights at once.


Are you in the US or the UK? Or Canada? The devices available will vary, so I just want to be sure.


Probably the easiest choice is to just get the Phillips BR 30 bulbs. These do color changes. You will need one Phillips hue bridge (either the round one or the square one will work, but the square one is the newer generation and will also work with HomeKit) for each 40 lights as well. (A bridge can actually support 50 devices, but that leaves you some room to add switches or motion sensors.)

These are officially supported and work well.

Osram Lightify

Another alternative is to get the Osborne Lightify recessed kit. It’s a complete kit and does do color changes. If you only buy one it costs about $50 per light but you can bring the cost down by buying multiples. I’m going to give you the Amazon link so you can look at the device, but you might be able to get a better deal elsewhere if you are buying a lot of them. If you are using them with smart things you do not need the Osram Lightify “gateway” although if you get one you will be able to update the firmware on the lights, so it’s up to you. Most people using SmartThings don’t get the gateway.

This device is also on the official “works with SmartThings” list.

Dumb bulbs, smart switch

If you don’t need color changes, it will be both simpler and much less expensive to use regular bulbs and just get a smart switch. So it really depends on your own requirements.

Smart switches to go with smart bulbs

The one thing you don’t want to do is to combine a smart bulb with a regular smart dimmer switch. The two devices will confuse each other. Fortunately, there are a number of alternative methods for using a switch to control smart bulbs. If you want color control, at the present time the easiest way is to put a Wi-Fi phone or tablet on the wall. If you just want to switch to do on/off/den and control color through automations and your phone, then there are a number of good options:

So there are lots of different choices, it just depends on your budget and your own preferences. Just know that if you want color changing bulbs that’s going to at least double your cost and maybe more. :sunglasses::bulb:

(Hemanshu Patel) #3

Awesome @JDRoberts
As I have previously mentioned in these forums you are our encyclopedia for Smartthings.

Yes I was hoping for bulbs where I can change colors as well as turn them on/off/dim via smartapp.

Adding smart switch and smart bulb seems not-smart idea…

I live in US by the way. There ofcourse will be budget constraints for having $50 SYLVANIA kit for all, almost 45 odd lights is little costly( budget won’t get approved from high command :frowning: )

Would this work?

Smart switch per room
two or more Philips hue hub( including basement I have little over 5000 sq feet)
Philips hue bulbs.
As of now I’m not sure how will I synch between smartswitch and hue hub.
Or I can use hub for coloring purpose only and on/off/dim via switch.

I don’t have any hue devices yet, So I’m not sure how their app works, but I suppose I will be able to turn them on/off/dim via hub as well as smartswitch…


See the switch FAQ, there are multiple options. :sunglasses:

(Ben W) #5

I had a similar situation with about 50 recessed lights. I did a test with Hue, while awesome with color changing, ended up not making sense for most of the application. Do I really want color changing lights in the kitchen, or stairs?

I went with smart switches instead. Cheaper overall, about $45 for dimmer that can control 6+ recessed lights. Money saved allowed for motion activated lights everywhere in the house.

All lights are linked and work at the same time. When you have a large smartlight mesh you run the risk of a single light not responding to a command or being orphaned. With a lot of lights sending the off command can give a trickle effect, where 2 or so respond at a time.

I ended up with Hues in a few places like over my kitchen Island between rooms, with color changing. It is a nice party effect and use it around the holidays.

(Kevin) #6

Any place you don’t need color the Cree retrofit is highly recommended by me and many others. It has a very natural looking light, very clean install, and dim’s well.

You can get them for anywhere from 15-20 on Amazon or at Home Depot. HD is the only place I’ve found that carry Cree, which is my preferred LED light both these retrofits and their standards bulbs. Any place you have more than 3 bulb’s to automate, a smart switch that does dimming will be your better option.

For color, it’s kind of a toss up. I have an Osram retrofit bulb with color, and its fine. I think it looks very good. I does not ‘fade up fade down’ when you turn it on and off, it is instant. Which some may not like, I’m indifferent to it. The Cree’s mimic incandescent bulbs really well. The color on the Osram is as good as the Hue, and maybe better at some colors. I think the retrofit lights look better as they are a sealed unit. Also they work better in a wet environment like a bathroom which recommend sealed cans.

I pulled all my Cree bulbs and put in Hue br30’s a few weeks ago. Why? Well I got them on sale, and never got around to buying a smart switch. So for the cost of 6 br30’s on sale, I came out better than a few smart switches. So far I like it, but I also live alone and dont touch switches. So the spouse and kid approval factor and learning factor doesn’t affect me.

Word of warning, so far it has been seen by at least a few people here. There is a ST bug that if you have say >8~10 zigbee bulbs of the same type directly connected your ST experience goes to crap. I did this with Cree bulbs, others have seen it with all Osram bulbs. But it has been reproduced and can be fixed by deleting bulbs. So I now pair all my Cree’s to the Hue bridge. Osram its more difficult so I haven’t moved them. The other ward of warning is that Hue has a hard limit of 62…I think 62, and recommend below 50 devices per bridge.

Doing whole home lighting…is not trivial nor easy. Any place you have switches controlling >3 bulbs, a smart switch is about the best bang for buck, until you need 2 switches (ie 3way) which adds on another 20 bucks. Still dealing with kids/family its easier to automate at the switch. Color: 3 major choices, Osram, Hue, Lifx. All have their pros and cons. Osram is kinda segmented off on its own but still very reliable. Hue is a whole ecosystem, but does have the history and ability to move from HA system to HA system. Lifx very open, but being wifi has that issue of range, and too many can overwhelm consumer access points. Zwave/Zigbee in wall switches work really well, until you have an issue that requires throwing a breaker.

Honestly start small. See what you like. I first wanted all rgbw. Then didn’t. Now I’m back to rgbw all the things lol.

(Hemanshu Patel) #7

Yes it make sense. I’ll probably end up using smartswitch and normal dimmable lights everywhere but few places where it would really be needed.

(Hemanshu Patel) #8

Thank you so much Kevin.
Cree looks good, but I like Daylight white. So I’ll look for cree’s with daylight.

Between, i have two story family room, would 65 watt equvi(the one you shared) would be enough bright? family room is 15X21 and I’m thinking of 6 or 8 recess lights.

(Gabriel Rodriguez) #9

Sorry for bringing this alive again,

So if I am not looking for the fanciness of changing color, individual/group light control and using an app, it looks like the best choice is dumb LED’s with a smart switch, now, which is the most recommended brand for dumb led’s?

I am running BR 40 and I believe BR20 (or 30) in my house and I just basically want to be able to either turn them all on and off via alexa and if possible set it up with a door sensor that if anybody opens the door from a set time frame (10pm-6am) all the lights will turn on.

thanks in advance.


It’s generally true that a dumb bulb that draws a little more current will work better with a dimmer switch, whether that dimmer switch is networked or not. The usual line is right around 10W.

Both Leviton and Lutron have done extensive testing of how specific bulb models work with specific dimmer models, and their charts are worth taking a look at. One thing you can see is that Sylvania and Phillips dumb bulbs tend to work better then most of the other brands, in particular, they can dim much lower.

The specific brand/model of switch will matter as well. For example, the GE zwave switches just don’t dim very low regardless of the bulb you use with them. The older Leviton models were better, but the newest Leviton models are noticeably better yet. Lutron switches offer more adjustment features, so if you’re willing to spend some time testing various parameters you can usually get the best performance from those.

Just as an example, I like FEIT dumb bulbs, which are well engineered and inexpensive, but are also towards the lowest end of the energy draw chart. They won’t necessarily work well with the GE switch, but they are on the Lutron compatibility chart and can work very well with them if you adjust the parameters appropriately. But if I had Leviton switches, I would probably choose Sylvania bulbs instead.

On the other hand, if in your particular household you never dim lower than about 25%, you have a much wider choice of bulbs and can save yourself some money by choosing a lower wattage value model.

So you can’t just pick a bulb brand and say that will be the best. It’s the combination of bulb and switch that matters.

When you find a switch that you’re interested in, that manufacturer will probably have a list of recommended bulb models, and that’s worth researching.

(Gabriel Rodriguez) #11


Wow very thorough explanation, thank you so much! this are some pointer that I am definitely taking for dimmer switches, but in my previous post I meant to say for regular on and off switches, I see that you talked about the GE ones, some one in another thread recommended those to be good choices.

thank you again!


The GE switches aren’t particularly good switches – – they’re inexpensive switches which are good enough for most people. But other brands will offer more features and better engineering. Still, the GE switches are very popular primarily because of cost. Which is fine, cost matters, particularly when you’re putting in a lot of switches. And if you just need regular on/off switches, there are even fewer features to worry about. :sunglasses:

The following thread might help. The discussion of light switches starts around post 40.