SmartThings Community

Retro Fitting Light Switches - What is available in the UK


(Harry Dodd Noble) #1

I have trawled the forums, and I seem unable to find the item I am looking for. I imagine it is because it doesn’t exist but for someone that is just starting with SmartThings I am just amazed at the seemingly large expanse of options for light switches.

I want to replace my current dimmer switches for SmartThings compatible switches. I have the following requirements:

  • 1 switch per light (which are normal 60W/100W or G9 Bulbs (so can’t use Hue also don’t want to))
  • Dimming must be available without SmatThings/Internet Connection
  • Switch can also have other functions (e.g. Double/Triple Tap)
  • Ideally switches have an LED indicator which can be colour coded

I don’t mind about cost and have reasonable techincal ability. Happy to order from the US if they support 240V

Any help much appreciated. I really want to use ST, and happy to spend time developing within the ecosystem but currently seem unable to find the right products :frowning:


#2

You can’t order anything from the US because the Z wave frequencies are different from UK and they won’t be able to talk to the U.K. Version of the SmartThings hub.

As far as what’s available in the UK, as long as you have a neutral at the switchbox, there are a number of zwave options. Vesternet has a very good selection.

http://www.vesternet.com/smart-home/technologies/z-wave/lighting-sockets/wall-switch

If you don’t have a neutral at the switchbox, see the FAQ for UK lighting, it covers about a dozen different options in detail:


(Harry Dodd Noble) #3

Thanks @JDRoberts. I’ve looked over the ST post but can’t seem to find anything in there or elsewhere but will have a look at Vesternet.

Although ZWave is different in the UK I believe Zigbee is the same?

I was thinking of ordering some from Alibaba or getting them custom made - what sort of requirements would these require?


#4

There are two separate issues with zigbee:

  1. zigbee frequency is the same worldwide, but different countries have different laws about how strong the transmission can be. The US allows for the use of “boosted” or “amplified” zigbee which transmits at a strength almost double that allowed in the EU. So you just need to be careful when buying from other countries that they are not amplified zigbee devices.

  2. The second is much more significant and is the one that trips up a lot of people who try to buy stuff on Alli Baba.

The zigbee standard allows for the use of different “profiles” and these are not interchangeable, they don’t even use the same addressing schemes.

SmartThings uses the “zigbee home automation profile 1.2” (ZHA 1.2). Devices which are certified for this profile are the ones which are most likely to work with SmartThings, although they still may need a custom device type handler.

Devices which use other zigbee profiles may be able to pair with SmartThings but either don’t work at all or won’t stay paired. This has been a common problem for people trying to buy offbrand devices.

It’s a particular problem when buying from Chinese sources because there is a frequent translation issue. Zigbee is very popular in China, and many manufacturers use their own proprietary communication protocol, which is allowed by the zigbee standard.

It often happens that if you ask a seller if their device uses the zigbee home automation profile, they think that because it is a home automation device using zigbee, that’s the same thing as being ZHA certified. But it isn’t.

So to increase the odds of success, make sure you ask for a copy of their certification before purchasing from a place where it is not easy to return a device of the wrong profile.

You can also check the official zigbee alliance website, but their listings are often out of date and won’t show the newest devices.

http://www.zigbee.org/zigbee-products-2/#zigbeecertifiedproducts/?view_30_filters=[{"field"%3A"field_41"%2C"operator"%3A"is"%2C"value"%3A"551c72aa37b6dfa00fb984a5"}]&view_30_page=1

( in contrast, the Z wave alliance website is generally not only up-to-date, but a few months ahead of when devices actually come to market.)

http://products.z-wavealliance.org


(Harry Dodd Noble) #5

Interesting - thank you for the detail!


#6

SmartThings is primarily a cloud-based system, so if this is a requirement, SmartThings may just not be for you.

Also, by “SmartThings/Internet connection” did you also mean without the SmartThings hub running locally? There are only a few things that do run locally without access to the SmartThings cloud, but there are some. If you take those out, it leaves even fewer options.

However, The good news is that Any switch which controls the current load to the fitting, regardless of protocol, should work from the physical wall switch even if you’ve removed the SmartThings hub all together.

SmartThings does not provide a local UI controller, however, so if the SmartThings cloud is down or your Internet is not working the mobile app on your phone will not work even though it is on the same LAN as the hub. (Technically it could, but that’s just not how smartthings is designed).

So it really comes down to the exact details of what you want to accomplish. Are you just asking if physically manipulating the wall switch could still dim the lights? Or did you want to be able to also do it from a tablet or phone? Do you need to be able to Control groups of devices or devices which you’re not on the same circuit as the switch?

Any “loadbearing” switch that works with smart things should be able to turn the light on and off from that switch even if smartthings itself isn’t working at all.

Given your aesthetic requirements, I’m surprised that you rejected the option in the UK VFAQ to use inwall modules. These devices do control the load and so work just like a regular mechanical switch when SmartThings is down, and you can use many different types of switches with them. Some quite high end. I know you’ve mentioned that you’re in a flat – – is the issue that you can’t get that type of wiring approved but you can just swap out an existing switch?

As far as the colored LED indicator, that one is trickier if you want to combine it with the “works if SmartThings is unavailable” requirement. There are some, like the Phileo button, but they are not load controlling so they won’t work if SmartThings is not working.


(Harry Dodd Noble) #7

The reason for the ability to dim without SmarThings if the internet is down I still want to be able to dim my lights (not so worried about the LEDS in this scenario though). I also don’t want to be reliant to have to dim my lights via my smartphone - I would like to be able to do this via the wall switch. Equally I want the flexibility to be able to control everything from my smartphone if out of the room/house.

The main function of the LED is to be able to change colour depending on chosen function (e.g. heating is on show red), or light in on so LED is dimmed, light is off so LED is brighter)

I’m a bit confused by the inwall options - I was unsure how this would work whereby I could control the switch by SmartThings and by the switch on the wall but also that the switch would provide extra functions - e.g. double tap would put heating on.

I currently have Control4 (which has all these functions) but I want to move over to SmartThings but perhaps the required functionality just isn’t there yet with the light switches?


#8

The in wall modules can communicate to smart things, so they can tell smart things that the switch was double tapped, so you could have that then trigger another event like the heating – – but that part would only work while smartthings is operational. That’s always going to be true.

Any device which controls the current load to the fitting, including the in wall modules, can continue to perform that function even if smart things is down. So the wall switch is physically connected to the in wall module via the wiring to the fitting, and that part will still work for dimming.

As far as indicator lights those will always require the SmartThings cloud at this time. It’s just the way SmartThings is architected.

Have you considered using a wall-mounted tablet for things like the indicators? That’s a very popular approach with smartthings. It only works with the smart things cloud, but it does give you a lot of options.

Smart tiles is a very popular third-party dashboard app that works with smartthings. It can run in pretty much any browser. So you just select whatever tablet you like. You can customize the colors, tile size, and exactly which devices show on each tablet. And you can tap the tiles just like you can in the smart things things list. So you can turn things on and off or change light color, etc. from the tablet – – as long as the SmartThings cloud is available.

www.smarttiles.click

So you just you could get just dimmer switches for the lights control and add a dashboard for everything else.

There’s a thread in the forum where people discuss various customization options, including hardware: