Wall dimmer switch (2-wire) options


(Jamie Kenyon) #1

Hello

I have recently got started with Philips Hue and SmartThings automation, and quickly come to the conclusion that a physical switch is needed!

I have one, two and three-gang switches currently, all rotary push on/off type…

From what I’ve read, most if not all z-wave switches require three wires (inc neutral), as the z-wave requires more power, however the Fibaro Dimmer 2 can be fit inside current switches (at £50 a switch!!!)


  • I think the Fibaro Dimmer 2 does not work with rotary dimmers, so I need to change the switches over (ideally all matching style, ideally the rocker-kind with a dent in the middle so switch always returns to a neutral position)
  • If switches can be two-wire, and the Fibaro z-wave dimmer works with two wire… why can’t anyone make a switch which is z-wave and doesn’t need the additional module?
  • Has anyone got any suggestions for switches?

#2

There are two good battery operated options if you are using smart bulbs.

The simplest is just to get the Phillips hue dimmer switch. This allows you to turn a group of bulbs on, off, or dim. Works very well, but not everyone likes the look. We use these at our house, and have been very happy with them.

Another alternative for the UK is to get the popp or zwave.me battery operated wall controller. Each of the four corners can be depressed, which gives you multiple controls. Some UK members have created a box or blanking plate to put this over an existing switch. This looks very nice, but costs more then the Phillips.

Device handler for the UK switches:

One of the project threads on building the Popp into a blanking cover:

The Z wave.me, popp, and devolo switches all use the same device handler. They typically cost around £40. Each of the four corners can be depressed independently so you get multiple functionality. These are only available on the UK zwave frequency.

We should note that the battery operated options cannot directly control the current, so they can only be used with devices that are independently connected to the network like Smart bulbs or pocket sockets or in wall relays. But they do give you an intuitive on-the-wall option for control.

Have you had a chance to look at the UK FAQ for lighting control yet? It covers most of the wired options.


(Jamie Kenyon) #3

Thanks JD - it’s specifically wired options I’m looking for currently

I have Philips Hue in the living room for two lamps, with a battery operated Hue switch on the wall, but for the rest:

  • I think it’ll be too expensive to replace all downlighters
  • It would be nice to have something resembling a ‘normal’ switch on the wall
  • Some lights like a chandelier uses small individual LED bulbs that cannot be replaced with smart bulbs

Sooooo… it’s 2-wire switches for standard bulbs I’m looking for :slight_smile:
I have a Fibaro Dimmer 2, but currently have rotary dimmer switches I’ll need to replace…

I did read through the VFAQ (very helpful starting point) , but I don’t think it’s answered the question exactly…

(I’m basic with wires so although I could wire up a switch, I don’t think I could find the neutral wire hidden somewhere :wink: )

The aim
To have a physical, 2-wire switch on the wall that can control a non-smart bulb (or bulbs), which can also be controlled by z-wave

Ideal
To have a relatively inexpensive switch that fits in a faceplate, so it’s easy to have 2/3/4 gang switches as needed all in the same style (though HORRENDOUSLY expensive with Fibaro Dimmers ;-p)

  • With the Fibaro Dimmer 2, it doesn’t appear to work with rotary switches.
  • Retractive switches appear to be on/off only not physically dim
  • 3-way centre-off momentary switches look like they would do physical dimming and work with Fibaro Dimmer, but I can’t tell if I need to also buy some sort of physical dimmer module to actually dim the light?
  • The circular ‘dot’ switches might do the job, but not as obvious to use for guests, not a huge fan of style, and not sure if I need physical dimmer module again?

Thanks for your help!


#4

Hard to find, but the old GE 45612 dimmer only has 2 wires: http://www.amazon.com/Wireless-Lighting-Control-In-Wall-Dimmer/dp/B009BZWJAY. I used one for one switch I had with California style wiring (had no neutral).

Looks like this may be an equivalent: http://shop.haworldonline.com/Leviton-Vizia-RF-Z-Wave-Dimmer-Switch-Model-VRI06-1LZ-11216.htm

Not sure about UK compatibility however.


(Andrew Cole) #5

does the Hue switch work with smartthings now ?


#6

I have hues and fibaro’s and I am very happy with the setup.

If you wait around I got most of mine off Amazon for around £35 for the dimmer 2. They were around £38 and I got Flubit to get a few more pounds off. Seen them on ebay too if you buy 4 or more for about £37-38. Been waiting to get my next batch as they seem to be stubborn around £48 at the moment.

Pretty sure you won’t get a module that works with rotary dimmery switches. the load goes to the module then your switch just controls the module. The older rotary dimmer switches just chop the load to get desired dimming effect so not sure how you get around that.

In all honesty if I was to do it again I would stay with simple on off switch and save myself the hassle (using momentary now), I can count on my hands the amount of times we have wanted dimming manually beyond a lighting scene. We just use the echo most of the time, various app/smart tiles other times and the wall switch mainly just for on off but even that’s rare now. I suppose that’s the idea HA, otherwise you might as well stick with the old switch in the first place and be done with it. The only exception to all this is the mother in law who refuses to even attempt anything but a light switch.


(Jamie Kenyon) #7

Thanks Roofone - but it looks like that’s 3-wire (requires neutral), so no good for me :frowning:

@Andygosport - not sure, but SmartThings works with Philips Hue, so I can use the dimmer to control the bulbs, which report their status back to ST, so I can control it from there too (Hue dimmer switch does require the Philips Hub though, no connecting direct to ST hub afaik)

@lagrian - thanks, it’s a mixed setup I’m looking for so reassuring someone else has done it! Yup, rotary definitely won’t work, but trying to find something that will. Point taken regarding just using Echo (would LOVE to, but not in the UK, and I’m waiting instead of doing a US import and hack :wink: )
Ultimately if I can’t find a compatible wall 2-wire dimmer switch that works with Fibaro, I may have to go with a standard switch!


#8

GE switches are not made on the UK Zwave frequency, so they won’t help. And the ones that don’t need a neutral wire only work with incandescent lights. That’s just an older model.

You can dim at the switch with the micro relays, but it’s not a rotary dial. You either press and hold and the dim continues while you’re holding, or you press multiple times. Just depending on the exact models and the set up. Lots of people use these this way, but it’s not as intuitive as the Phillips battery-operated models.

The lightwave RF switches are probably the closest to what you want. But they are not directly compatible with smart things, you have to set up your own server and use an integration developed in the community. And even then, I can’t remember whether it’s dimmable or on/off only. But you might look into that by searching the forums if you want to pursue that idea.

Rotary dials are by definition analog. Z wave and zigbee mesh Network devices are pretty More often digital. That’s why you’re much more likely to see the kind of form factor you get with the Phillips hue dimmer than a rotary dial.

I agree absolutely with @lagrian that if you can accept on/off only at the wall switch and dimming via the app, smart tiles, or other automation, it will be much easier for you. Just depends on your needs.


#9

Oh and the Phillips switches work very well as a parallel means of control, it can just take about five minutes before smart things knows what you did at the switch. That works just fine for many people, but not for everyone.

To use the Phillips switch in this fashion, you just associate it to your hue bridge in the normal way. SmartThings doesn’t know the switch exists, but the hue bridge does, so it works fine, but only with bulbs that are also associated to that same bridge. We use several of these switches at our house.

I know that doesn’t address the set up this thread was created for, I just wanted to mention it since the question has come up.

@Andygosport


(Jamie Kenyon) #10

Thanks JD - I’m actually using the Philips Hue Dimmer Switch in one spot for 2x Hue bulbs (couple of lamps), but probably too expensive for downlights (especially as there’s no white version, and I’m no bothered about colour), so if I could retrofit some switches that would be awesome

The Philips Hue Dimmer form-factor would be fine, press and hold to dim up or down, I just am struggling to find something that works with the Fibaro Dimmer 2! (I might just be missing something obvious…)

3-way centre-off momentary switches look like they would do physical dimming and work, but I can’t tell if I need to also buy some sort of physical dimmer module to actually dim the light?


(Jamie Kenyon) #11

The same ‘style’ as LightWave would be fine as well (one button for up, one for down, press and hold to dim up or down), but again finding it hard to find a standard wall switch that would act as a physical dimmer as well as work with Fibaro…


#12

The switch you have linked to is what I planned to use in a modular/grid switch system. They will work fine with the dimmer 2, no other dimming needed, the dimmer 2 does the dimming. I just never got round to doing it but just set the switch type in the configuration (parameter 20 to 2 (roller blind switch))

The added advantage was that you could also blank off the hue bulb circuits with a secret key switch if they terminated in the same switch box, which I thought was a good compromise to just wiring them straight or allowing people to turn them off.


(Jamie Kenyon) #13

Hold on… So… That chunky rectangular thing with the transformer behind the dimmer switch is replaced by the Fibaro?? The Fibaro itself does the physical dimming?

Mind. Blown.

If so, that’s so easy! (I have no idea how to change the parameters, but I’m sure I’ll figure that out…)

Not having the transformer dimmer thingy in the box leaves more space for the Fibaro too :slight_smile:


#14

Transformers don’t do the dimming they just step down the voltage, you do have to buy dimmers that are compatible with the transformer you use. Are these bulbs in a bathroom or kitchen etc and do they need to be low voltage lighting?

For my circuits they aren’t low voltage so no transformer involved, I just have standard dimmable LED GU10 spots (I find the Philips ones are good as they have good drivers in the bulbs themselves and worth the extra pound or two). You do have to meet a minimum load for the dimmer 2 to work, on my smallest circuit I have 3 x 7w LED bulbs and it works fine.

Changing the parameters can be done one of two ways, on the dimmer itself using button clicks (never tried) and using zwave. You can do this quite easily with the dimmer 2 device type handler that someone has written on here. I can point you in the right direction if you end up getting one but essentially you send a command to the dimmer 2 that sets certain parameters.

Look for the line :
zwave.configurationV1.configurationSet(parameterNumber: 20, size: 1, scaledConfigurationValue: 1), // Enable Dimmer to work with Toggle Switch

and set the scaledconfigurationvalue to 2 (roller blind switch), 1 is toggle switch and 0 is monentary switch.

When you the look at your device in the phone app, there is a button that says “configure” pushing that essentially just sends the commands specified in the device type to the module and configures it with those settings.


(Jamie Kenyon) #15

Hmm, still a little lost unfortunately ;-p

Ultimately it could be for a range of lights, but first one to tackle (easiest) is the bedroom, which has a chandelier-like thing with mini (halogen?) bulbs.

I probably used the wrong word with “transformer” - I think that’s the buzzing thing that sits in the ceiling? Got a few of those in the living room powering some halogen down lights that I need to convert to GU10 LEDs at some point…

The bedroom is just a simple rotary dimmer switch currently - therefore if I change it over to the 3-way centre-off, does there need to be a “dimming module” of some sort, as well as the Fibaro? Or do I just need the switch and the Fibaro does the physical as well as smart dimming?

(Sorry to be naive, definitely a lot to learn here :wink: )


#16

Yes just the roller blind switch and fibaro, fibaro will do the dimming. Nothing else needed. Easyish to wire too.


(Jamie Kenyon) #17

Sweet!

So the plan is to pick up the following:

These three, combined with the Fibaro 2 Dimmer (In roller-blind mode = 2), should do the job!

Physical dimmer + Smart dimmer = AwesomeSauce


(John Crighton) #18

I can’t believe I missed this thread. I have a house full of Fibaro 2s, and I use momentary switches (one way only). They dim fine, just press and hold to dim up (or brighten!), or release, press and hold again to dim down. Also achievable with a rocker (2 way) momentary, and using S2 on the module, but this will require some changes to the parameters in code (easy peasy).

ETA: All of the other functions are there too, when it’s off click and hold to start at minimum brightness and gradually brighten. Double click to switch on at maximum brightness.

I’m using Schneider Electric chrome face plates, look fantastic. I have a post in JDR’s topic about UK lighting options mentioned in post 2 (last link).

Bear in mind that it might be possible to use S2 as a ‘smart’ switch at some point in the future, so (for example) to act as a switch for a lamp in the same room, or trigger a routine to turn all lights off. Using it for dimming (using a rocker switch for the main light) will not permit this possibility.