Smart switch with smart bulb behind it

Hi, I had been renting for a while and as an easy smart solution I bought a bunch of LIFX bulbs and it worked for me quite well. Now I moved to the place which I own and I want to install smart switches which are convenient that give voice commands all the time and I won’t have to give instructions not to touch the switches but give commands to Alexa.
So I bought a smartThings hub and about to install it, and I know that I can control LIFX from there, but the questions is what are the right switches?
I need a switch which can control a “dumb” lamp and actually work as a smart switch, but for cases where there is a smart bulb behind it, it has to keep it powered in order to control and just basically send a command to the hub instead of actually triggering the power. And I would need an option to select a mode to operate because I would love to use the same switches for the whole house.
Ideally, I would need a dimmer option, where for smart bulbs behind it would just pass a setting via the cloud, and ode dumb bulbs actually control the voltage.

This is a very good question, and one that is frequently asked. Fortunately, we have a community FAQ to answer it. :sunglasses:

First things first, though, you will not likely be able to use the same model switch for both smart bulbs and dumb bulbs. You will probably have one kind of switch for smart bulbs and one kind of switch for dumb bulbs.

The exception: switches that do double tap

There is one exception to this: if you get the kind of smart switch which has different tap patterns, like single tap, double tap, and triple tap, then you can use the single tap for dumb bulbs which are on the circuit branch controlled by that switch, and use the double tap and triple tap to control the smart bulbs.

Because the double tap works by having the switch send a message to the hub and then the hub sends a message to the bulbs, it does not control the current directly for those bulbs.

However, the use of double tap and triple tap type patterns tends to be very confusing for guests, and not everybody likes it. :face_with_raised_eyebrow: So that option is available, but not that many people use it. If you would like more information about the switches which offer different tap patterns, let us know.

Discussion of several different methods for combining switches and smart bulbs are in the community FAQ

For discussions of the best kind of switches to use with smart bulbs, see the community FAQ. There are a number of different methods described there with examples of specific device models. :sunglasses::level_slider::bulb:

The topic title is a clickable link:

FAQ: Looking at a good Wall Switch for my Hue Bulbs (2018 Short FAQ) ( also applies to other brands of smart bulbs)

The general rule for using Smart switches with Smart bulbs behind them is “Don’t.”
However, if you don’t mind a little sneaky wiring, you can do it. What you do is wire the bulbs so they’re always receiving power and wire the switch to the line and neutral, but leave the load unconnected. Then, if you haven’t already done so, add the SmartApp Smart Lighting to SmartThings and set up a rule that “mirrors” the switch to the bulb(s). That way, whenever someone toggles the switch on or off, the bulbs follow suit, but you also have direct SmartThings control over the bulbs.

2 Likes

I’ve read the FAQ but it looks like there is no solution… I wonder why nobody created it, I think it would be popular. It should be relatively easy to create one with switch on the side (may be even inside, behind the cover, so lets say switch with a short tap will send a hub notification, but with long tap would trigger actual power if needed to power down a smart bulb behind it. Dirty hack as a direct connection behind the switch is too dirty and I do not think that is legal in California.

As I mentioned, this exists, but for several reasons is the other way around. The single tap will control the actual current to the load. It’s the double tap which only sends a message to the hub, and therefore can be used with smart bulbs.

As far as a switch which does not control the load at all, those are certainly legal if you get one designed for that purpose. Then you just follow the manufacturer’s wiring instructions. :sunglasses:

In a smartthings platform context, that is typically intended as the accessory in a virtual three-way. That’s discussed in the FAQ.

It’s just that then that model switch cannot be used with a dumb bulb. However, you can use the matching master switch with the dumb bulb, so they will look the same. They just aren’t an identical model.

That would be a hassle to explain to guests, the trigger conditions should be configurable. If my smart bulb will die I should be able to switch to dumb bulb mode without buying another switch.
And thanks for those two links, and that was my actually another question about 3-way controls for dumb bulbs? Can I set it up to control single dumb bulb so one will always be connected and another (master) will actually do the triggering?

Most switch manufacturers want to make sure that the switch will operate as a mechanical switch even if the home automation system fails. And there are some jurisdictions that require that, although it’s not part of the national code. That’s why the single tap always controls the actual current. In part it’s to make sure that first responders could turn on lights in the home, or turn power off to the fixture, without having to have any special knowledge.

The exception to this is A switch which is designed to be the accessory switch in a three-way set up because the assumption is there will be a master in the same room that would operate the lights in that room. In fact, that’s no longer necessarily true with Home Automation systems, but to be honest the code hasn’t caught up with that use case and so they are allowed.

That’s why the single tap usually controls the load.

I’m sorry, I don’t understand this question.

I have two switches controlling one dumb bulb ( 3 Way Light Switch ). I wonder how I implement that with smart switches. Seems like they always trigger the load, but actual light in attached to one of them.
Looks like I have to get rid of those smart bulbs or use them in fixtures which are not controlled by switches. That would be probably the easiest way and proper way. Sigh, I loved my LIFX.

It depends on how you feel about the aesthetics. You can use a smart switch cover, mentioned in the FAQ I linked to above, over pretty much any switch. The Original switch stays turned on, but you can use a smart switch cover without cutting the current to the bulb.

The Sylvania lightify dimmer switch could be used at both switch positions.

The new Lutron dimmer switch is nicer looking, but it doesn’t come out until next month and we are not sure if it will work directly with smartthings or only for smart bulbs attached to a hue bridge.

It would also be possible to use the gocontrol accessory switch at both locations, but you would have to Hotwire the load from one of them, and it sounds like you don’t want to do that.

I’m tired now, so I will have to leave it up to other people to continue the conversation. But I think you do still have choices. :sunglasses: