Wall Mount Virtual Dimmer for Hue

I deployed a set of Hue bulbs in my living room, which is great, but I lost one key feature which is the ability to dim the lights from the wall switch. This is crucial to getting to a good Wife Acceptance Factor on the Hue bulbs. I am trying to figure out how to do this with SmartThings, and have created a multi-dimmer to handle changing all of the bulbs at once. Now what I need is a physical wall switch which can pass the dimmer value over to Smarthings, but not actually dim/change the voltage to the bulbs (since this does not work with Hue anyway). Does anyone know if this exists? The on/off feature could still work. I guess one approach is to hard wire the bulbs by bypassing the switch, then integrate it with Smartthings for virtual control, but I somewhat wanted to retain basic on-off functionality from the switch.

I would love this as well- the best solution I have seen is using an apple trackpad mounted on a wall with bt connection to a local mini running AppleScript that allows for different gestures to control the hues.

Hopefully someone will come out with a simpler solution though…


I think you are on the right track with by passing control of the bulbs. What I would explore is essentially hard wiring the bulbs so they always have power going to them. Then you’ll put in a “dummy” z-wave dimmer. You’d then use a SmartApp to pass changes made to the dimmer switch (both on/off as well as dimmer value) to the multi-dimmer.

I don’t know if the software end is possible but hardware-wise this should work. I’ve done similar stuff with simple on/off switches. I had a “blank” switch by my side door that wasn’t connected to anything, so I put in a Z-wave on/off and just connected line and neutral. Then used a SmartApp to tie this switch to the light switch at my back door. When either switch it turned on or off, it sends an on or off command to the other switch.

I thought I would post an update on this. I went ahead with a test install of the hard-wired approach. I am using an Evolve LRM-AS dimmer as the physical control, and have installed it with the bulbs hard wired, and thus the load wire on the dimmer switch is unused. This has the nice side benefit that the Hue bulbs will retain their color when switched on an off. I built a SmartApp called a Multi Dimmer as I could not find anything to handle this. It basically allows you to pass the level from a dimmer switch to multiple others, along with the on/off state. With that, I can use both the Device tile on my iPad and the physical wall switch to control the on/off/dim state of all 6 Hue bulbs in my living room. So far, so good!

I have 2 issue so far:

  • Lag - we timed it, and are seeing 2-4 seconds response for on/off commands. Not sure I am going to get a good WAF on that
  • Dimming Lag - This switch uses a tap to turn the dim up and down. This is hard to manage with the lag. You have to tap a few times and wait
  • Sporadic misses - sometimes not all the bulbs are working - not sure why this is yet - might be my app, Wifi network, Hue, or ST. Big issues on the WAF front here. When this happens with the hard wired setup you have no way to get the bulbs off. But so far I can go to the individual Hue tiles and turn them off an it works, so I think this might be my App code.

Funally, this is probably questionable from a code perspective…


I’d be interested in your Multi Dimmer app.

I have 2 Hue bulbs setup in my bedroom and control them with an Aeon MiniMote (1 button toggles them on or off). Since the power is always “on” to the bulbs they retain their color and the Minimote is handy if I need to turn on or off the lights quickly without messing with the phone.

Sometimes I push the button and it takes a good 4-5 seconds before anything happens. Sometimes nothing happens and sometimes it only turns on one of the lights. I have not tried this with non-Hue lighting but is something I’d like to try. It wouldn’t surprise me that the Hue bulbs are part of the problem… especially since they are in Labs and have not been officially released. Labs = Beta.

Another option beside the Evolve LRM-AS you mention is Philips just announced a hardware controller for Hue called Tap that will be out this summer. It’s a bit pricey $60 USD.

Also contact @twack here in the forums. He’s got an app he wrote called Dim with Me that might be an alternative to the one you wrote.

I spliced the light switch wires together with a wire nut and put a blank over the outlet hole. Then I used double sided tape to attach a living colors hue remote to the wall in the same spot. It has worked great.

That sounds so cool, using an Apple Trackpad as a controller for Hue. How did you accomplish that? Any chance I could get ahold of that AppleScript. :smiley:

You could get something like the Aeon Labs Z-Wave Minimote, then program each button to be a different brightness, then use velcro to adhere it to the wall.

How can I get a multi dimmer app?