Selecting Smart switches and remotes for new home

[This is a cross-post from Hubitat, but I mucked it all up by using bad terminology, so no offense to those helping me there for posting here partially to just start over. Thanks in particular to SmartHomePrimer for helping with the terminology!]

Apologies for yet another thread on smart switches, but due to a recent house move, my system is unworkable and the WAF is crashing. I need help for a quick solution, or at least tangible progress.

So I need to start replacing my dumb switches with remotes and smart switches. I’ll only be doing a handful to start, but would far prefer they match each other. Thinking ahead, throughout the house, I’ll need a wide array of different options.

Just to be sure I don’t run into the same communication issues I had earlier… All of these will be stationary and mounted on (with “battery”) or in (with “powered”) the wall. By “wired switch” I mean controlling the power, rather than end device. Hopefully “remote” is self explanatory, but would be controlling a smart bulb or power socket or whatever.

What I will need in total:

  1. Powered dimmer remote switches for smart bulbs (as being wired, they should have a feature allowing to cut power; that can be a micro switch on it or whatever),

  2. Battery dimmer remote for smart bulbs (I currently have a few Hue dimmers),

  3. Powered remotes to operate a 4-speed fan. It’s currently a dumb fan, but I assume I’ll need to replace the pull-cord switch with a smart module. (See above on being able to cut power.)

  4. Battery remotes to operate fans (see above),

  5. Powered on/off (smart) switches (oddball things like bathroom vent fan and fireplace flue fan), and

  6. Battery on/off remotes (oddball things like swimming pool pump).

Again, not all these will be done at once, but would prefer not to have mismatching switches/remotes later on.

Does all that make sense, or am I going off-track yet again? Does any one company make all these? How close can I get?

Sorry, I may just be tired, but I’m not following what you’re asking for. I have marked in bold above the phrases I found confusing.

(A). I have no idea what you mean by the phrase “remotes and smart switches.” “Remote” typically has one of two meanings in Home automation, depending on the manufacturer. It either means an auxiliary mains powered switch which does not control the load to the fixture but operates by somehow making a request of the master switch. For example, Leviton calls their auxiliary switches for a three-way set up “remotes.” These don’t necessarily have a radio inside, they might communicate to their master over a physical traveler wire.

Or it means a device with buttons which communicates A request to the hub rather than to an end device. The full name for this device class is “remote controller.” These are usually battery operated. The Aeotec Wallmote would be an example.

Now for the trickier bit: the first type might or might not be a “smart switch.” If it has a radio in it, it’s a smart switch. The second type is usually called a smart switch by most manufacturers even though it isn’t necessarily. There are complicated technical reasons for that but it mostly comes down to the fact that you cannot turn on the remote itself from the network. So it’s a smart device, because it will have a radio, but it is not a smart switch. But some manufacturers do call it a smart switch for marketing reasons, like the Phillips hue dimmer switch.

So I’m just completely confused about what you are asking for here. Also, are you making a distinction between a “smart switch” and a “smart dimmer” or not? Used in this way, a “switch” means only a binary on/off switch. But most people don’t use it that way, and I don’t think you are. I just want to be absolutely clear.

(B) again, I just don’t understand what you’re saying here. You said controlling the power rather than the end device. But if you have a light fixture, controlling the power does control the end device. I’m just really lost on this one.

(.C) sorry, this one lost me completely. Do you mean you want a mains powered switch on a different circuit than the bulbs are on? And what circuit branch are you expecting to cut power to with a “feature”? I’m just not following.

(D) whether you are talking about the first definition of remote or the second definition of remote, a remote cannot on its own cause the pump to turn on and off. There has to be a smart device involved that actually does control the power to the pump. So I’m lost on this one. Note that this is different than a smart bulb because the smart bulb has a radio inside of it which the hub for the remote or hub to talk to. But the pump does not. So what device is the remote talking to in order to get the state of the pump to change?

Sorry to be so dense, like I said maybe it’s just me, in which case hopefully someone else will jump in and answer your questions. But as it is I recognize the individual words but not the way in which the use cases are being described.

If I’m not the only one confused by the post, then maybe it would be easier if you dropped all the jargon altogether and just describe the use cases in terms of ordinary household function. Don’t try to figure out where the current is or what’s a remote or whatever. You have a master switch, you have an auxiliary switch for a three-way involving that master. You may care whether a particular device is battery-operated or wired into the wall. You might not. Where you want smart bulbs because of the color changing features are because you already own them, do mention that.

See if you can just describe the function you want the way a guest in your home would view it rather than trying to assign network engineering terms to it.

Is this for a Hubitat Elevation Hub or ST Hub?

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(Also, I’ve moved this to projects so you can get individualized responses based on your own needs and preferences. :sunglasses:)

So I’m differentiating by a couple different catagories…

One is whether it’s powered or battery operated, as to whether it’s replacing an existing switch.

The second is whether its a “switch” or “remote”, where a remote is sending a request. If it’s powered, I want it to be able to control the power as per my first thread (where you helped me when I was asking the wrong question).

edit: To clarify the above, without getting back into, I don’t want to lose the ability to cut power for maintenance or if the system goes screwy. If I have a wired remote operating a smart bulb installed in a closed light fixture, and for some reason it keeps turning on at 2 in morning, I going to want to cut it off. Obviously, this doesn’t apply with a battery remote. /edit

The third criteria is design. I don’t want dimmer buttons if it’s just operating an on/off device (or maybe designed such that it’s a moot point). Likewise with a fan, a generic sort of multi-function design may suit the need, but it shouldn’t have buttons marked as dim up/down, like with a little icon of bright and dim bulb.

I think maybe the confusion is from that I want a mix of ALL of these (though, again, not to be installed all at once). But, obviously I’d prefer to have a single design regardless of how it’s doing what it’s doing. Fans would be remotes, but some battery powered add-ons and some wired. Lights will a mix of remotes and switches, with some smart bulbs and dumb. And the oddball stuff.

Lemme know if my explanations still don’t make sense (or have been made worse), or if I missed any item.

“(Also, I’ve moved this to projects so you can get individualized responses based on your own needs and preferences. :sunglasses:)”

Ummmm… Thanks… Sounds reasonable.

Hubitat, though now you have me curious why/if it’ll change the answer :slight_smile: Indeed, keeping the ST hub in the mix would be a small price to pay, even assuming I can transition everything I currently have. (Hell, if it checked all my boxes, I buy another ST :wink:.)

The terminology still isn’t really what most people would use, but let’s see if we can just cut to the chase.

You can’t use just a remote with the fan because there has to be something that controls the fan motor for the remote to talk to. (Unless you were just talking about putting smart bulbs in the light kit for the fan and controlling those.)

If you want everything to look highly similar, if not exactly the same, just go for a plain rocker switch for everything. A master smart switch, an auxiliary switch, a wired switch which has been wired to not Control the load to smart bulbs, a wired switch with multiple scene options, even fan motor control.

Look at the following three brands: GE, Zooz, and homeseer. The features are a little different, but the look is very similar.

Fan switches

See the FAQ, but a lot of people Use two switches side-by-side, one for the lights on the fan and one for the fan motor. (Note that you have to get a model specifically designed to control a fan motor. You cannot use a light switch to control a fan motor.)


Wired switches or dimmers to Control Power to fixtures with dumb bulbs

You can choose any of the three brands, they look very similar, but do check the feature specs carefully.

Homeseer on/off Switch

Homeseer dimmer

GE Devices

Zooz Devices

Shop around on all of these as prices do vary.

The Homeseer are fancier and have more features, but they’re all fairly similar.

Scene management for smart bulbs ( Devices which will not control the load to the fixture)

The same homeseer devices above can do double tap and triple tap which are sending a code to the hub, not varying the current, so that’s a good way to handle controlling smart bulbs. Although maybe not so intuitive for guests.

Another alternative is to get the linear/go control auxiliary switch. Unlike the GE auxiliaries, this one does have its own radio so it can talk to the hub and then the hub can send a message to the bulbs. But it is not intended to control the load, so the wiring is simple.

Just remember that when you go this route, you cannot cut power to the bulbs with the switch, so they won’t work if your home automation system is not working. A lot of people just keep their original switch for that current branch and put a childlock on it to remind people not to use it unless it’s an emergency. See the threads I gave you before on hue switches for more discussion on that.

Battery operated device for smart bulbs

There’s really only one battery operated device that looks like a regular rocker, and it’s not a perfect match. But it is an option.

Otherwise if you’re OK with the battery powered ones looking different, the Hue dimmer switches you already have work well and are a good price.

There are a bunch of additional ones in the buttons FAQ, but they won’t look much like your other devices:

I personally like this one, but there are a lot of choices


Just remember that most of the battery operated devices have to be matched to an additional smart device, either a bulb or something else, in order to actually make something happen. By themselves all they do is send a message to the hub. That’s pretty much what “remote” means in a home automation context.


BTW, at my own house since we care more about function then aesthetics, we use Lutron switches wherever possible, use Phillips hue dimmer switches and tap switches to control smart bulbs, and use some other remotes including the logitech pop buttons (which are easy for my service dog to use). So different things work for different people.

But if you want everything to match across the device classes you listed, I think you need to go with a rocker look.

I forgot, Inovelli switches are also popular in that style


Once again, you have outdone yourself. Way too much for me to read through tonight! But, didn’t want to delay on giving my thanks.


I agree the terminology in this thread is confusing. It’s like OP is trying to create/define new terms for devices that already have pretty standard terminology?

There are Smart Switches/Dimmers that will give you two additional buttons by double tapping up or down.

For example, one of my GE Smart Dimmers (Z-Wave Plus) is set up so it will control a set of can lights like a normal dimmer. I have my iron connected to a Peanut Smart Plug.

With these two devices I have the following flexibility.

If Dimmer’s Double Tap Up Button is Pushed
With Iron
Turn On
With Dimmer
Turn On 75%

If Dimmer Changes To Off
With Iron
Turn Off

If Dimmer’s Double Tab Down Button is Pushed
With Room Switch
Turn Everything Off in Room

This is why I say SmartSwitches. You get:
Works even when the internet is down just like a dumb switch.
Will resume its previous setting if power is loss.
Very flexible with rule engines and settings
Serves not only a load Switch but also as 2 additional remote buttons that are assignable for whatever you like.

YMMV but if you want a good WAF, then remember, KISS…Keep It Stupid Simple

Looking at your above request, even I would be confused as to what works what…