Wireless battery powered switch


(Pete) #1

Hello! I am hoping someone can tell me a solution to some switches that I have.
Our house has what I call low voltage switches, for lights. Each room has a paddle button switch and that paddle button just has a 2 wire connection to a controller in our attic. When that button is pressed, it controls that controller and turns on or off the light. I can remove that paddle switch and just press the wires together and have the same effect.
So.
The lights that these switches are powering on and off are also smart bulbs. So any time someone presses the button for off, I lose my connection to the light and thus control. What I am looking for is a switch that replaces my paddle switch but looks a responds like a regular switch. I would in effect leave the light int he on state, disconnect the existing switch with a Z-wave or other type of switch. It would, therefore, need to be battery powered.

I am currently testing and using the ZRC-90US device. it works great. But. I do not need 8 buttons at each location. Just 1. I guess I could use that and program all buttons to the same smart light so no matter what you press it toggles the light! But that would be spendy to have in several locations in the house.

Any thoughts on where to look? I see Dry Contact devices, and they seem they could work, but they require a power source, which in my existing wall box, i do not have!
Hopefully this makes sense.

Thanks for any advice!
Pete


#2

You didn’t say what country you are in (the ZRCS 90 is available in multiple regions) and the devices available do vary somewhat, but there are a number of choices, both handheld and wall mount.

See the buttons and remotes FAQ. You should be able to find something there:

You can also check the FAQ on switches to use with smart bulbs, although it sounds like you already know most of the issues that covers. :sunglasses::bulb: However, it might give you a few additional ideas:


(Pete) #3

Sorry about that. I am in the U.S. I had it in my mind that it was important to know about the low voltage part but in reality, that will be toggled to powered on mode and never touch those 2 wires together again.

The lights I am controlling are all Philips Hue bulbs. I can control those now with my SmartThings no problem.
I’ll check into the link you sent. I think I may have seen that before but may have thought they were powered devices and not battery.


#4

The buttons FAQ lists both battery powered and mains powered devices. But mostly battery powered. :sunglasses:


(Pete) #5

The more I read the more I know, and fear…:slight_smile:

JDRoberts, I see one of your posts about safety concerns with wiring the light to always on. I did not think of that end, and sadly it sounds like something I would eventually forgot. 2 years from now I go to change the fixture and get a good little jolt as I have the light switch on! Maybe not, but i am not sure I want the risk.
If I do decide to go for it, I would consider checking the Aeon labs device. However i recall looking at that before and it required it’s own controller, so more $$. The individual price is nice at below $10.00. Another option was the Sylvania Osram switch but that is $30.00 or so. Maybe that is par for the course!

Thanks for the reply’s!


#6

I do think $30 is par for the course for these kinds of devices. Sometimes a little less, sometimes a little more, but probably in that range. More if it’s a Multi button device

As far as safety, the best thing is to leave the original switch in place and cover it either with the smart cover, a blanking box, or just a child proofing lock, and put the battery powered device next to it or on top of it depending on the design.

I’m not sure which aeotec device you were referring to. None of them require their own controller, you use your smartthings hub as the controller. The glass plate with a touch button and it does require a second aeotec device, which is an in wall micro, behind it. The Aeotec wallmote is their surface mount battery operated device which can talk directly to the SmartThings hub. :sunglasses:


(Pete) #7

There I go again thinking 1 ting and typing another. I was referring to the Aeon Labs device. The first item listed in the switch write up: URL here: https://www.amazon.com/Touch-Panel-Button-Switch-AL-001/dp/B00GL6B4GG/ref=sr_1_3?s=hi&ie=UTF8&qid=1421468320&sr=1-3&keywords=aeon+button

On the amazon site it says “Works ONLY with Aeon Labs microswitches.”. it sounds like I would get that switch for around $15.00 but it also needs the wall micro, which is $32.00.


#8

Right, there’s no radio in that one. That’s the one I was referring to as the glass plate. You have to use the Aeon micro with it.


#9

I think I understand what type of system you’ve got going on here and have a slightly different approach for you that’s probably a bit unorthodox. It has pro’s and con’s though like everything in life. You have say a 12V (just for simplicity state right or wrong) line coming into your wall plate switch and that light switch just toggles the low voltage signal to the attic controller. What you could do is to take the two wires behind the switch and connect them together. This essentially just turns on the switch full time. You could then get a door contact switch that can accept an external connection and wire that to both sides of the switch leads. When the switch is off the contact switch thinks the “door” is open which could be programmed to make sure the light is off. When the switch is flipped on this opens the contact switch and this too could be programmatically setup to turn the light on. This gives the illusion to the user the switch is actually physically turning the light on. This way the lightbulb retains full power and is really controlled by rules. The contact is small enough it should be easy to stuff behind the light switch or in the attic.
The downside is of course potential on-off delays of ½ to 1 second, power loss may turn all the lights in the house on and internet loss could make them inoperable if they are not configured using a local method. Upside is it’s easily reversible, inexpensive as you only need contact switches and it’s very customizable ie one switch could actually control multiple lights in a room or a lighting scene.

This may not work for what your trying to do but maybe if not it can spark some out of the box ideas.

Good luck,
Steve


(Pete) #10

Hmm, interesting option. Do you have any good door contacts to recommend?


#11

There are several community members who have made a button switch out of a contact sensor in a method similar to the way you suggest. Choice is good. :sunglasses:

However, all the projects that I’m aware of use battery powered contact sensors, because those are usually the ones that have a radio in them that can talk to SmartThings. And I realize you were probably already know this next bit, but just to be absolutely clear, it’s not a good idea to put a battery operated device inside the wall, especially next to other wires, as it can create a fire hazard. ( unless, of course, the manufacturer specifically designed the device for in wall operation. ) Battery operated devices should generally be surface mounted on top of the wall, which is what people have done with their “contact sensor as a switch” projects.

You can find these projects on the quick browse lists in the community – created wiki on the “remotes” project list.

http://thingsthataresmart.wiki/index.php?title=How_to_Quick_Browse_the_Community-Created_SmartApps_Forum_Section#Quick_Browse_Links_for_Project_Reports.2FQuestions

This approach can work fine with the understanding that if your home automation system isn’t working, then you no longer have a switch and no way to turn the light on or off. That’s why personally I prefer to leave the original switch unchanged Except for a lock or a cover, and just add a second device for my preferred everyday method. If you want to use a contact sensor for the everyday switch, that can be a good choice. :sunglasses:


(Pete) #12

I guess I really did not consider the battery in the wall option a hazard but it probably is not a good idea. I appreciate that note!


#13

Haha add that to the list of potential cons. Honestly though I think that these type of lithium batteries ie CR2 and such pose very little threat of the spontaneous combustion seen on the news in the past. I’d sing a totally different tune if you were talking about a LIPO or LION. THOSE I’ve seen first hand go up in a fiery mess. The risk is so low on the non-rechargeable lithium batteries that even the airlines are A-OK with you bringing them on board airplanes.

The decision is of course always yours, personally I wouldn’t miss a whole lot of sleep worrying about them if they were in my house. I mean how many people on this forum alone have those types of sensors mounted on wooden door frames, behind curtains, in cabinet doors and everywhere else in the house. I’ve got a recessed ie flush mounted door contact switch, this stuffs a battery right in a wood sandwich and let me tell how combustible 30 year old pine is in your house, wowza. Yet you don’t hear about these bursting into flames. Point is personally I’d actually feel safer with one of these batteries sandwiched between 2 pcs of drywall over wood any day. Drywall has a fire rating, well wood does too but it’s in BTU’s not minutes lol. Depending on how old you home is there are probably other more pressing fire hazards to potentially worry about. My house is about 30 years old and I got this lovely jewel about a year ago out of the blue.

image

No that’s not a cigarette, just a wire that was nicked by a staple when installed 29 years prior. It held out for 29 years but one day decided to just give up. Sometimes stuff happens. Also please don’t think I’m harping or criticizing on anyone on here. I’m not trying to devalue anyone’s opinion or point of view simply giving my own.

If you were to find a wireless switch that replaced your wall switch, would it not need to have the battery also in the wall? If you are worried about the battery in the wall, some of the smaller contact switches could be mount above or below the switch on the surface and hardly be noticeable. Better yet you could drop a pair of 18ga wires down or up the wall and mount the contact sensor on the baseboard or at the wall/ceiling edge.


#14

The safety isn’t the batteries themselves, which is why it’s fine to surface mount the device. It’s that batteries outgas, so you don’t want to bury them in the Wall. This is why the Hue dimmer switch and the Cooper battery operated switch and most other battery operated switches are designed for surface mount on the wall. Not inside it. The instructions specifically tell you not to put it in the switchbox even if it’s the same size.

IMG_3649

There are a few exceptions, Lutron provides a mounting cradle for their battery powered pico which allows you to inset it slightly into the switchbox but still hold it up above the wires and doesn’t seal it in the way just putting it behind the switch plate would.


#15

Yeah man I totally agree with you given all things equal it is safer to put them on the outside. There are companies that are putting them in the walls though as I mentioned I am using the Aeotec Recessed Door Sensor Gen 5. If installed well this essentially encapsulates the unit in the wall sans a small pin hole. Which arguably could be for venting (its listed as for doing resets/inclusions etc.) but if the unit is mounted in the top of the door frame its arguable if that does anything. They also make a recessed kit for their motion sensor putting the batteries in the wall.

Again I’m not saying the more ideal scenario would be to mount it in front of the wall. I’m simply saying that for me I feel the risk is de minimus in the scheme of things and would not concern me all that much. Even the best made houses are sealed that well and likely there are holes in the headers of the walls to fish wires through and provide a means or ample room for off gassing. Not to mention the area around wall plates are well known to not seal well and are often a point of weatherizing especially on exterior walls.


(Bill S.) #16

Hey! That looks like nearly every wall in my house (that I haven’t updated to in-wall switches yet). lol


#17

Good point. I’ve corrected my post above. Devices which are specifically designed by the manufacturer to be installed in the wall, like the recessed Aeotec sensors, will already have venting taken into account. But you do have to follow the instructions carefully. And even the Aeotec are not designed to be embedded completely into the wall, they are supposed to be even with the surface at one end.