Status of Light Switches with SmartThings

lighting
echo

(Cameron Murdaugh) #1

I have been out of the loop for a while because light switches were priced so high for so long. I just got an Amazon Echo and bought some OSRAM bulbs, but I have some need for light switches 1) because there are so many bulbs managed by some of my single switches 2) I want some of my lights to work as normal (independent from smart home stuff), 3) The previous owner of my house didn’t make the best decision and a lot of my fixtures are candelabra style bulbs.

I was wondering if there is a post that already exists or if people could post the current state of the different light switch brands. The things I am looking for is

  • Switches that work with Smartthings and Echo (with light switches I assume if it is ST compatible it is Echo compatible)
  • The cost of the switches (my ideal range is 20-40). The bulbs i bought were 15 each, so I am looking at when I can get a switch for cheaper then when there is >3 bulbs.
  • Where to purchase them (looking for amazon or a major chain store (lowes, home depot))
  • General review

#2

I am in the same boat as you. We just moved and many of the bulbs are either that style or the light is recessed. From my questions here it seems most have recommended the GE Jasco switches. https://www.amazon.com/GE12722-Z-Wave-Wireless-Lighting-Control/dp/B0035YRCR2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1469031153&sr=8-1&keywords=GE+Jasco

They are right in line price wise with what you are looking to spend.

I am still trying to figure out what switches will require the 1000w switch. In the kitchen, I have a switch that controls 9 lights. Needless to say I believe that one will need one.

If someone from the community could help me with this question. I dont know this area very well so using big terms about watts and voltage wont help. Can someone give me an estimate on what the cut off is on bulbs where you need to upgrade to the 1000w switch as opposed to the regular one?


#3

If you want switches to work with smart bulbs, see the following FAQ:

If you want zwave wall switches to work with dumb bulbs, look in this topic:

If you want a battery operated wall switch or a handheld remote, see the following:


(Cameron Murdaugh) #4

Thanks for the info, quick question on the first one. Would this suggest you can have both the smart OSRAM bulbs and a switch that would operate in a traditional light switch fashion? Obviously, it sounds like you need smart switches to make it work so I am double downing my money on one set of fixtures.

I assumed I was locked into either smart bulbs that are controlled through the hub or smart switch that works with dumb bulbs that is just an on/off that can be controlled traditionally.


#5

This is an area where you just have to do the math. It’s not the number of bulbs, it’s the wattage of the bulbs, which will be listed on every bulb. For incandescent bulbs just count the wattage for each bulb. A 25 W chandelier bulbs should be counted as 25 W, where a 100 W bulb should be counted as 100 W.

The 1000 Watts cutoff applies to incandescent bulbs.

LEDs work differently than incandescents. A number of electrical site suggest just using a rule of thumb of counting any LED bulb as 100 W for the purposes of max load calculation. So a switch with a max load of 600 W could handle six LED Bulbs and a switch with a max of 1000 W could handle 10 LEDs. The operating wattage for the LEDs will be much lower, probably closer to 10 W, but the issue with LEDs and switches is that there’s a big jump in current when the bulb first comes on. So while your electricity bills will be lower with LEDs, the switch still has to be able to handle the startup sequence.

But always review the specific device specifications for any model that you’re interested in. If for whatever reason you don’t feel confident in doing that yourself, then enlist an electrician.


#6

Thanks for the info. These bulbs are incandescent. So if they were 100 W each and 9 bulbs I technically would need a 900W switch correct?


#7

Yes, exactly. :sunglasses: A switch that can handle at least 900 W max. So the 1000 W switch would be fine.


#8

Awesome. Thanks.


#9

These questions are answered in detail in the smart bulb switch FAQ. :sunglasses:

The short answer is that almost everyone ends up wanting some kind of wall switch if only for visitors. But there are a lot of choices now for these.


(Cameron Murdaugh) #10

So, I Still don’t understand. So the lightbulbs need their switch in the wall to always be on so they can receive the signal to turn on/off. It sounds like there are two options in the post you made you get a smart switch that talks to smartthings and triggers a on/off event for the bulbs Or you get a special switch cover that, well I am not sure what it talks to. It sounded like it would talk to smartthings or at least the bulbs through smartthings. My concern is both of those solutions sound dependent on first talking to the hub. Are all solutions dependent on internet connection? (I guess supposedly some lighting stuff works in offline mode, so maybe that still works because of that). It sounded like some of the solutions talked about being able to control the light directly without ST being in the way, but i didn’t think you could pair the same device to two separate “hub” type devices.

What would be the cheapest solution to have a switch that can continue to control the bulbs?

Edit: Well, I just wanted to test something and this had led to a different question. I turned off the light switch and turned it back on. The light turns on. If the smart bulbs receive a brand new load signal from teh switch do they always go to their on state? Which at minimum (not the best minimum) I can turn on the lights without echo/ST being online, is that correct?


#11

One of the reasons that people like the smart switch covers is that the original switch is still in place and can be used if the home automation system isn’t working. Or if you decide to move.

There are also many people, myself included, who leave the original switch in place with a childlock on it and put a battery operated switch on the wall next to it.

A smart bulb will typically act just like a dumb bulb if there is no network operating. Turn the switch controlling the current to the bulb on, the bulb comes on. Turn the switch off, the bulb turns off.

As far as how it works, it depends on the specific device.

Most people set up the smart switch covers to talk to the hub which then talks to the bulb. However, if the bulb and the switch cover are the same protocol (both Z wave or both zigbee), you can set up the switch cover to talk directly to the bulbs. However, if you do that you are bypassing the hub, which means it may take the hub four or five minutes before it knows that the bulb has changed. That’s OK for some use cases and not for others.

At my house, we use the Phillips hue battery operated switch. It is linked to the Hue bridge, but not to SmartThings. SmartThings doesn’t even know that switch exists. But SmartThings does know the bulbs exist, and it polls them about every five minutes to see if they’re on/off. So if a guest in the guestroom uses the switch to turn the bulbs off in the guestroom, they turn off right away. Then about five minutes later, SmartThings realizes they’re off and changes the status it displays. That works fine for us, it might not work for other people.

So it all comes down to the details of your set up and what you want to accomplish in several different situations: when you have guests over who don’t know anything about your automation system; when the Internet is down; when smartthings is unavailable; and in everyday use when everything is up.