Smart Wall Switches for Harmony Elite/Alexa


#1

I’m pretty new to smart devices so I’ve got plenty to learn. My smart devices to date are a Echo Dot, Nexx Garage door opener, and a Logitech Harmony Elite with Hub on the way.

I’m wanting to add some smart wall switches that can be controlled via the Harmony Elite and/or Alexa. There are so many brands and I’m not sure what works with what. Do I understand correctly that if I purchase a SmartThings Hub along with some smart switches it should all work together?

If so then what smart wall switches would you recommend that are good quality, easily installs into switch box, and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg? I’d probably just start out with a couple to begin with to control some basement on/off switches to some fluorescent ceiling lights.


#2

In the US, There are now many different wall switches that will work with Alexa, whether you have SmartThings or not.

In general, Wi-Fi switches will be able to work directly with echo.

Switches that use Z wave, zigbee, or one of the proprietary protocols like Lutron will have to have an additional hub/Controller to work with echo. SmartThings can give you echo integration with Z wave or zigbee devices.

Like a lot of electronics, switches tend to fall into good/better/best categories, and the exact switches you will choose depend on your own personal needs and preferences, including your budget. :sunglasses:

The following FAQ discusses various features that switches might have and why you might care about one or another. The light switch discussion starts around post 40:

Harmony is likely to be irrelevant to your switch selection. Although you can add some light switches to some harmony activities, it’s not usually the way you’ll control them if you are using echo. Instead, you will either use the native integration for a particular switch brand, or again you would use a hub like SmartThings. Harmony is very helpful for echo control of audio/video devices, particularly home theater equipment, but not so much for lights. :sunglasses::bulb:


#3

Thanks JD kind of skimmed through that thread but will read it more thoroughly tomorrow.

So looks like you first need to decide whether you want you want a WiFi or Z-Wave switch. Wemo is mentioned a lot for a WiFi switch that appears to be decent quality.

When it comes to Z-Wave switches is it better to go with something like the Lutron Caseta with its own hub, or SmartThings hub that can work with several different brand switches?


(Michael Sammon) #4

ST can work with many switches. I do not recommend Wi-Fi switches becauss your Wi-Fi has to be strong and the switches, I have one WEMO, and they feel warm and you press the bottom of the switch to turn on and off. I like the z-wave switches so much more. Feels and operates like a basic switch. I think Lutron is nice but a good wuality switch out there is the GE Z-Wave switch.

Ive helped many people install and those are great quality. Find the compatibility list here.


#5

Lutron uses its own proprietary protocol, not Z wave. They are discussed in that thread that I gave you. As it happens, I really like Lutron switches and use them in my own home. But again different things work for different people.

One of the first questions is what other Z wave devices you might use. That’s because Zwave is a mesh network where the mains powered devices, including light switches, can pass along messages for other devices, in particular battery operated sensors.

If you intend to use Z wave sensors, then using zwave light switches means you will have more Z wave repeaters, which can be helpful. Otherwise you will have to add additional devices such as plug-in pocket sockets or in wall receptacles that are z wave in order to act as the repeaters.

( each protocol can only repeat for devices using the same protocol, so zwave repeats only for Z wave, zigbee repeats only for zigbee, Lutron doesn’t repeat for zwave, etc.)

On the other hand, if you intend to use zigbee sensors, not Zwave sensors, then it won’t matter if your light switches aren’t zwave because they won’t help with your sensors anyway.

But the best thing is to really start by reading the device class features thread, it should answer most of your questions and then you can come back if you have any specific follow ups. :sunglasses:


#6

Wow what a wealth of information I definitely came to the right place! It’s hard to predict what smart devices one might purchase in the future but I’m thinking besides the switches, a lock, smoke/carbon monoxide detector, and possibly a Nest thermostat (or other brand).

After reading through the whole thread JD linked to I’m thinking about going with the Lutron Caseta switches. Just wait for a sale on the Dimmer Kit with Smart bridge with one or possibly two switches. I want to replace a 3-way switch at the top of my stairs and of course a regular switch on the landing. Read that using a Lutron Caseta Dimmer at the top and the Pico remote at the bottom would be a good easy solution.

Additionally pickup up a ST hub when on sale that way it will handle any Z wave & Zigbee devices I might get in the future.

Do I understand correctly that Lutron Caseta switches now support ST’s?

Just so I’m not misunderstanding when you wall mount the Pico remote to replace an existing wall switch it does just fit over the front of that box correct? Can you link to exactly what I will need to mount it?

Also are you not given a choice of colors on the Caseta Dimmers… it seems like they are all white? Looks like you do have a color choice on wall plates though. Not having a ivory or light almond wall plate to compare… thinking the latter might better match my walls.


#7

Caseta devices come in several different colors, Including black, ivory and almond. Some Home Depot’s can special order the other colors for you, Amazon sometimes has them, otherwise Westside Wholesale usually has them.

Since the pico is a battery operated device, you can put it anywhere on the wall that you want. Some people will put a blanking plate over the existing auxiliary light box, others just put the Pico someplace else.

The official SmartThings/Lutron integration is cloud to cloud, so you will need the SmartBridge or SmartBridge pro to make it work.


#8

Ok thanks was hoping the Pico remote had a mounting plate or whatever that would fit over the existing light box. Guess I can cover it with a blanking plate and then mount Pico right next to it. So I would need Wallplate bracket PICO-WBX-ADAPT & Lutron Claro Wallplate? Does this look odd mounted since it wouldn’t set flush against wall?

Where do you get the wall plate as shown in your photo for a Caseta dimmer switch on one side and regular switch on the other? My switch at the top of my stairs also controls a light above the stairs so I would need that type of wall plate.

This dimmer switch in the kit should work fine with fluorescent lights used strictly in on/off mode correct?

Good I’m able to see the model numbers for different color dimmers. One thing I’m still not seeing though is an option to purchase the dimmer kit in anything but white?

I usually prefer to buy from a Amazon when I can since I have Prime and I can track sales via Camel, Camel, Camel. If I have to wait until Black Friday I will.


#9

That’s a standard “one rocker one toggle” combination wall plate. Any big hardware store should have them, including Home Depot.

I’m sure Amazon has some as well. They come in all different kinds of styles and colors and switch combinations. The Lutron Caseta switches fit into a standard rocker wall plate.

Yes, you can use a Caseta dimmer switch set just to on/off with fluorescent lights. Just check the specs on each individual model to make sure the amperage is a match. I use the following one instead, just like the looks of it better for an on/off switch. This one does require a neutral, though.

As far as I know, the smartbridge and smartbridge pro only come in white, so the starter kits only come in white. See the lutron caseta thread linked to above for more details.

The ADAPT Is really intended for when you are replacing an existing wall switch with the pico. The Adapt piece will fit down into the switch box, The pico will fit into it, and the wall plate will go over everything. The adapter piece is really to keep the pico from falling inside the wall

If you’re just going to stick the Pico on the wall someplace, you won’t need the adapt.


(Michael Sammon) #10

Consider this @mike2874
Lutron requires a bridge to connect to SmartThings hub
Z-Wave switches do not require a bridge
connect to the hub directly
if ST goes out of business
you can still connect your z-wave switches with just about any hub
Z-wave is just a no brainer to me


#11

If SmartThings goes out of business, the Lutron switches will still work just fine and you won’t have to buy anything else. :sunglasses:

Lutron is compatible with HomeKit, echo, google home, harmony, control 4, Wink, and a bunch of other platforms, as well as having their own IFTTT channel. So I actually think the “if smartthings disappears…” argument goes to the Lutron side.

But both are good choices, it just depends on the needs of a particular situation.

For me, the biggest argument in favor of the zwave switches is if you’re going to be using other Z wave devices, since the switches should pretty much cover your repeater needs. But the Lutron switches are generally better engineered and super fast, so they have their own pluses as well. Different things work for different people. :sunglasses:


#12

Thanks guys for both of your responses I appreciate your opinions however different.

@Michael
I do like your enthusiasm for Z-Wave switches and GE in particular. I can see both Pro’s & Con’s with Z-Wave vs Lutron after reading the thread JD linked to. Since I have a 3-way switch I think going with the Lutron will be easier for me unless I decide the white color scheme in the kit just won’t work for me.

@JDRoberts
I didn’t realize the Lutron Caseta switches fit into a standard rocker wall plate so that clears that up.

The Caseta dimmer would only control one 4’ shop lights (2-40 watt bulbs) in a suspended ceiling so I’m assuming the switch that comes in the kit will be sufficient. I need to stay with the one in the kit since it’s a better value otherwise may have to reconsider Z-Wave.

It’s a bummer the dimmer that comes in the kit only comes in white still trying to decide if it’s a deal breaker or not. My walls are cream colored so not sure how white switches would look. Guess we’re only talking about one dimmer and one Pico being white so will have to think about this. Suppose any additional dimmers/Pico’s could be something other than white.

Guess I’m still confused on mounting the Pico remote. I thought you originally said you couldn’t mount the Pico in the switch box replacing the original switch but now sounds like you are saying you can? If you can wouldn’t it be better so maybe the Pico would be more flush mounted?


#13

Sorry I was confusing. I’ve been tired this week. You can’t use a pico to replace an existing auxiliary switch in the sense of wiring it in place. It won’t use any of the wiring.

But if you use the adapt piece it’s specifically designed to safely fit a pico into an existing light box but keep it up above the wiring inside the box. So it can go into the same physical place as the old auxiliary if you want, but only the new Lutron master switch will be actually wired into the circuit.


#14

No problem I was hoping you could mount it in the existing light box… and you can so that’s great news. I suppose if it does set back in the box too much the existing wiring could be an issue though.


#15

That’s with the adapt piece is. The pico itself is very thin and the adapt piece will hold it up. Here’s the installation guide:

http://www.casetawireless.com/Documents/0301710a_Caseta%20Advanced%20Inst.pdf

I note that Lutron says the picos will only work with with their own face plate. People do use other face plates with them, as you can see in some of the pictures, but I don’t know if there is a specific issue.


#16

Thanks for the info!

Well I would use Lutron’s but they don’t have a “one rocker one toggle” combination wall plate do they?

Picked up ST hub this morning Amazon has it for half price can’t beat that.

I’m beginning to think that maybe Lutron Caseta retailers don’t discount this line or certain models/packages, and if they do very little. Looking on Amazon and using Camel Camel Camel it really doesn’t show the LUTRON P-BDG-PKG2W-A Caseta Wireless Smart Lighting Deluxe Starter Kit any lower than the current price. Web searches are showing pretty much everyone charging the same price.

Have you seen the Caseta models/packages discounted any on Black Friday?


#17

Lutron Caseta devices are very rarely discounted online. Individual Home Depot and Lowe’s stores will discount them in store when they are overstocked, but you just have to be lucky to find those. I have gotten several switches at about half price from local stores, but I just pick them up if I see them. Every once in a while they’ll be listed in the deals category, particularly from Lowes.

If you get them at Lowes or Home Depot you can use their regular coupons, so that helps a little.

I also got a couple of Lutron Devices from jet.com when I had one of their good coupons. Jet offers volume discounts, so if you were buying three or four of something you can save a little money there.

And every once in a while there will be a sale at Walmart.com , but sometimes from third-party sellers. Again I think it individual locations getting rid of overstock items.


#18

Just checked jet.com which I’ve never bought from before. I’m wanting to buy the Lutron Caseta Dimmer Kit with Smart Bridge for wall and ceiling lights Model: P-BDG-PKG1W which includes the Pico.

Is this the same kit from jet I’m not seeing a model number? https://jet.com/product/Lutron-Electronics-Inc-WHT-DimmerSmartBridge/e31d289cc7bd4438aeed22db34efa674

Can’t tell for sure if you’re getting all three items even though the picture seems to indicate so.


#19

Probably, since it says it has the pico and the smart bridge and I don’t know any other package that has those two. But before you buy, I would contact jet customer service and have them confirm the model number. A lot of their products are sourced from third parties, so sometimes you need to get more information before buying.

By the way, if you haven’t bought from them before, they were acquired by Walmart a few months ago. I prefer to buy from Amazon, but I do buy from jet occasionally when it’s the right item at the right price.


#20

Ok I emailed them and got an immediate response saying their item model number was WHT Dimmer/SmartBridge 212389. What in the world is that don’t see it mentioned on Caseta Wireless website?