Wall-Mounted 120V Button Controller for Smartthings?

Adding a custom DH to your SmartThings Account isn’t quite as complicated as it seems - a few random vendors have provided video or step-by-step video instructions, or you can PM me and we could do a screen share for ½ hour or so for an agreed upon fee.

The number of Devices officially compatible and plug & play with SmartThings is large, but it grows slowly due to their current certification backlog.

The Community loves SmartThings because we can use great Things without waiting for official integration.

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It’s been about 6 months since I first started this post regarding the availability of wall-mounted 120V button controllers compatible with SmartThings. In technology, 6 months is a lot of time these days so I’m wondering if there’s anything new in the way of wall-mounter 120 V button controllers. Has anyone come across anything?

It is surprising that such wall-mounted controllers, compatible with SmartThings are not readily available. I think it’s a basic requirement for automating lights etc. I guess SmartThings doesn’t see it as an important requirement.

Thoughts/comments/suggestions??

Thanks

There still are not any that don’t require custom code.

People have definitely been asking for this since at least 2015 since the devices exist, the issue is just getting smartthings ( The company) to write a stock device type handler for it so it could be automatically added. They said they were interested in doing it, but they just never have. Apparently other things were a higher priority.

I understand your frustration level on this, but the people in this forum are just other customers, if you aren’t interested in using custom code there really isn’t any way we can help you on this. :disappointed_relieved:

From my experience with the Cooper zwave scene controller, in general the devices do not really fit the ST model. ST would prefer that all sensors (a button controller) communicate to the hub and then the hub commands the actuators (relays and dimmers). In the zwave world devices like a scene controller are designed to communicate directly with the actuators, by passing the hub. When I wrote the DH for the Cooper scene controller I did my best to make both things possible. However, when you hold a button on the controller there is no information sent to the hub to tell it which button is being held. It is only told that a button is being held. This is because the device is designed to send the held information directly to other zwave devices it is controlling. I think this is why ST has not jumped on making these devices run local.

I use my Cooper controllers daily and they work very well. For the most part I use them as intended by the designers to control other zwave devices directly. The one big advantage I see to this is, I can unplug and disconnect my ST hub and the controllers still control those lights.

Turn on the hub and I can make switches act like three way switches that aren’t and tell Google “Good Night” and have all the lights go out. Excellent added functionality.

This big limit is: I cannot thru ST control a zigbee dimmer with the Cooper scene controller. I think that puts it out of contention for official ST support.

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All true. :sunglasses:

However, the Leviton Multi button controller does not have these restrictions, and is a zwave device that can indeed Be used to trigger zigbee or Wi-Fi devices because it does send all of its button presses to the hub. The main problem with it is that it’s very expensive, as much as $125 per individual device, so again, I think smartthings hasn’t got much pressure to add it to the official lineup. But there is good custom code for it and there are some community members using it.

IMG_4455

There are also a number of different battery operated multibutton devices which work very well with smartthings, but you do have to be willing to copy and paste the initial custom code to set it up. And they don’t meet the requirement of being mains powered.

FAQ: Full list of buttons and remotes confirmed to work with SmartThings

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So different people have Approached the question of a wall-mounted scene controller in different ways, I just don’t know one that exactly meets the requirements of the OP, since they don’t want to use any custom code.

I also have the same desire. I am looking for a simple on/off switch to replace current light switches, but NOT directly control the power to the lights. I have ST, Hue hub and hue bulbs deployed, and all work great from the ST app (or from the Hue app). The issue is that the “normal” light switch, when turned off, cuts power to them so they can no longer be controlled. I could bypass the switch all together, but then the wife and visitors cannot simply turn lights on and off with the switch. Elsewhere I have GE z-wave wall switches connected to lights without smart bulbs. This is fine. Can all be turned on and off remotely, or from the switch. I am just trying to find a solution when the bulbs themselves are actually smart, but we still need to be able to just turn them on or off from a switch -a wired switch with power - no batteries please. want it to go in an replace the existing mechanical switch.

Thanks

The solution you seek is simple I think. Bypass the switch as you suggested. But install zwave or zigbee switch and don’t wire the load to it. You can then flip the switch, ST sees the change and turns on the light.

I’m fairly sure none of the switches would care if there is a load. Dimmers could be a different story. You could test the ones you have by simply removing the bulbs (no load) and see how ST responds when the switch if flipped.

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I had considered that. Two issues that I considered - the z wave switch will not know the actual status of the lights (likely solve this with some other automation and virtual switches), and the cost - the bulbs are ban enough, but $30+ for each dumb switch to match the rest of the normal switches is extreme

Regarding switches to use with Hue bulbs, this is a very good question, and a very frequently asked one. We even have two community FAQs on it. Start with the short FAQ (the topic title is a clickable link). Then if you want more details on things like tying off the line, look at the long FAQ. :sunglasses::level_slider::bulb:

Long FAQ

What options are there for120 V button controllers that can work with Smatthings using custom code? As mentioned in this post, one option is the Cooper Z-wave scene controller. I haven’t come across any others. Are there others? Any additional comments regarding the Cooper controller would also be appreciated. Is it widely used by others in this forum? I sense that it’s not??? If not, what are people using to meet this requirement? I need about 7-10 units throughout my house - so I’m just trying to decide what the best option is.

What are some good options for a battery operated wall-mounted multi-button controllers?

I think one option is to mount a tablet on the wall.

I’m just trying to get a feel for what other Smarthome users are using to control lights, fans etc. in situations where the actual power switches are remotely located, e.g. in a control area in the basement.

Thanks to everyone for all the valuable comments already provided - much appreciated.

All very good questions, and also all frequently asked ones. So the answers already exist in other threads. :sunglasses:

See post 18 above and follow that link. There are a couple of other similar devices, and the details are discussed there.

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Thank you JDRoberts,’

From what I can see, these are the two 120V button controllers that can work with SmartThings:
* Leviton VRCS4
* Cooper Z-wave scene controller

  1. Are there any others I’m missing?
  2. Which would be the best solution, technically?
  3. Does the Leviton VRCS4 require custom code?

On a separate note, I have 6 Leviton VRCZ4 controllers currently already installed, that I haven’t been able to use with SmartThings. I bought these 5-6 year ago for well over $100 each. Does anyone know of a way that somehow these controllers can be made to work with SmartThings? I checked on this another time and there didn’t seem to be a way. Has anything been developed more recently?

Thanks again for your thoughts/comments/suggestions - Much appreciated.

VRCZ4 Does not seem to have a device type available. I have no idea why, it seems like it is very similar device to the Cooper RFW5 or the VRCS4. I notice this line in the instructions: “If using a non-Leviton Programmer/Remote, refer to the Programmer/Remote instruction sheet.”. When I wrote the DH for the Cooper there was a 1/2 page of very cryptic commands tell how to set it up without a cooper programming tool. It took my a long time to sort that out, on learning is that the commands had to be issued in exactly the order specified. I’m guess, no one has yet cracked the setup procedure.

The VRCS4 will require a custom device handler as well. Don’t let that spook you too much as that is part of the benefit of SmartThings, users can make code to get things working.

I won’t speak to which is best. I have Coopers, I’ve not messed with the Leviton’s. You will need to read reviews on both.

First rule of home automation: the model number matters. :sunglasses:

Although the S4 and Z4 use the same case, they use very different Z wave commands. (“S“ is a “scene controller;“ “Z“ is a “zone controller.“) There is much discussion of this already in the forum threads. Note that there was a platform update in 2017 which allowed for more functionality in the integration as long as you had at least a V2 hub. :sunglasses:

These are likely the Device Type Handler (DTH) and smartApp you need. Since you have VRCZ4s you may as well give them a try. It’s free :slight_smile:

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JD
Not sure from a zwave stand point what a “zone” controller is. A scene controller typically uses scene commands which the specs for both devices use. The available zwave command sets are basically the same for both devices. I’m guessing the differences lay with in the much discussed manufacture proprietary commands.
It still baffles me that some of these early home automation manufactures cling to the all or nothing / proprietary marketing model. Use all our stuff or go elsewhere. It seems a better model to try and get at least one of your devices in every house hold.
BTW thanks for being such a huge contributor to this forum.

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A scene controller is pretty much defined within the zwave spec. So smartthings can capture the button press information from those because the assumption is that you are switching between scenes and only one will be active at one time. So you have a morning scene, and evening scene, and a movie scene. But they are mutually exclusive. If you press the evening scene, you get that scene, the morning scene is no longer active even if that’s a completely different set of devices.

As Leviton designed their zone controllers, they were initially intended for a large room that would have different areas of lighting. So in a kitchen, you might have lighting over The sink, lighting under the counters, the overhead light fixture, and lighting over the stove. You might first turn on the overhead light, and then decide that you also wanted to turn on the under counter lighting. So you could have multiple zones active at the same time. Leviton describes these as different light sources and expects them to be different physical devices.

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with the zone controllers it was not supposed to turn off the other zones just because another one was turned on. They are not mutually exclusive.

Here’s Leviton’s own explanation:

Zone Control is your key to controlling multiple light sources in many rooms or areas of your home with one push of a button on a zone controller. Scene Control lets you vary the light levels in a room for any activity or change the ambiance with one touch on a scene controller.

So with the zone controller, each button is meant to control a different physical set of lights, and each button is independent of the others. They could all four be “on“ at the same time as Leviton designed them.

With the scene controller, which again is pretty close to the Z wave specification, each button is a different scene but might apply to the same physical lights. And they are mutually exclusive: turning on button two would then override whatever was associated with buttons one, three, and four.

Leviton “zones”. Each is expected to be a different set of physical devices.“

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Look closely: these are rocker buttons, with the left side being on and the right side being off.

Leviton “Scenes.” This closely matches the zwave specification. This could all be the same physical devices, but at different dim levels. Or somewhat different combinations of devices.

IMG_5807

These are momentary buttons which just select that scene, except for the bottom button.

You can see the difference in the physical action of these in the following video, which is a Leviton-produced marketing piece.

Right around 2:00 , you can see a zone controller with the horizontal toggle switches. Left for on, right for off, and each button is independent of the others.

Then around 3:10, you can see a scene controller with the four momentary buttons. Turning on one button turns off the others.

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Hi, all – yes, I wrote the DTH and smartApp for the VRCZ4-M0Z. I’m using four of them now, and other people have been reporting good results.

Give them a try, and let me know if you have any trouble?

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We should also mention one other option that will work for some people.

Homeseer makes a zwave rocker switch which uses central scene commands and can recognize tap, double tap, triple tap, quadruple tap, and quintuple tap on both the top and bottom of the rocker. It also recognizes press and hold on both the top and bottom.

The end result is a single device which can trigger up to 14 different smartthings actions.

The tap patterns are converted to a central scene number, and then that is sent to the hub, so it’s very easy to use with SmartThings and can be used with devices of any protocol call me including zigbee. The scene numbers are interpreted by the hub as button presses.

So the switch recognizes the tap pattern and convert that to a central scene number, which is sent to the hub. The hub then does whatever you have set it up to do based on the “button number.”

This is a mains power device.

It works well, and the manufacturer provides a custom DTH for it, but it’s not at all intuitive for guests. And if you’re really trying to use all 14 different options, you may end up sticking a card on the wall next to the switch so you can remember what each tap pattern is. :wink:

IMG_5823

It also comes in a dimmer version and a fan control version.

I really like this for zone lighting, like in the kitchen where one tap turns on the overhead lights, 2 taps turns on the counter lights, three taps turns on all the lights, etc. Also because I think that kind of set up will work fine even for someone who doesn’t realize it has multiple tap patterns.

But I think personally I would rather pay more and get a multi button option which would be more intuitive if I had more than about three patterns I wanted to implement. But choice is good. :sunglasses:

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Finally made an account after reading so many of these kinds of posts. I am looking for the same exact thing @rbcap. From what I’ve gathered so far, there are NO smartthings ready out of the box, mains powered scene controllers.

I bought the TOPGREENER 8 button scene controller thinking it was exactly what I needed but you can only control lights from a few Chinese manufacturers in the app. I went down a long rabbit hole of converting the controller using tuyaconvert to a custom controller but I got stuck somewhere along the way and never went back to it (I should give it another try since we’re stuck inside already). Anyways, NO GO

next,

VRCS4-M0Z. Others have so mentioned it. I have a love hate relationship with this one. It’s not out of the box ready but it was the simplest to set up. And it works (sometimes). This guy helped with a very good tutorial:

https://community.smartthings.com/t/leviton-vrcs4/4748

Now for the hate part. It seems like the buttons sometimes don’t respond at all. I’d turn the lights on and come back to turn them off but the button doesn’t turn them off. I’m planning on into it’s DH code soon and see if there’s an issue there.

Also,
@JDRoberts thanks for all the help you’ve given in this thread. You help more lurkers (me 10 min ago) than you think. You mentioned some devices I haven’t seen before that I need to research too :thinking:.

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