Working with devices that do not show current state

Hi, I’m looking for some advice on how I can make my “smart” light switch smarter. They are connected via my broadlink and now (finally) to Alexa without my android device. I really like the look of these switches but one problem I have is that Alexa doesn’t know the state of the switches. She can switch them on but she doesn’t know that they are on. The remote control that I used to connect them to the broadlink uses the same button to switch on as to switch off. Therefore, if I ask Alexa to switch on the lights, any that are off will switch on but if any are on they will switch off. I’m wondering if anyone has any idea how they can advertise their state to Alexa so that I don’t get an unwanted selection. This could be a device that could sense power on or off or an IFTTT recipe that knows what command was last given so then another command could be If last command was “switch on” and new command is switch on “do nothing” but if new command is “switch off” then “switch off”. I haven’t really delved into IFTTT so I don’t know if that’s achievable or not. I’m interested in your thoughts on this.

This forum is for people using the Samsung smartthings home automation platform. That opens up a lot of additional logic and device possibilities over just using echo and broadlink alone. (Your IFTTT question is a perfect example. IFTTT recipes do not know the last command given, but smartthings could.)

It also means that all of the answers that you are going to get will be within the context of that platform. (This is a very active forum, so it often comes up near the top if you just Google a general home automation question, but it is for the users of that platform. )

Do you have a Samsung smartthings hub, and if so which model?

2 Likes

Hi. Totally get your point and I don’t know why I omitted SmartThings from my thoughts, especially as I’d posted it on the SmartThings forum! I have the V2 SmartThings hub.

Regards,

Mark

2 Likes

So, your “smart switches” are RF? That’s why you’re connecting them to the broadlink?
You’ve just discovered why that integration just plain sucks. There is no way to match up with changes made locally on the device or with another RF remote because the switch doesn’t report anything when it is manually turned off or on. You might want to consider upgrading to some Z-wave or Zigbee devices. These protocols have 2-way communication so that when there are changes made on the device, that is reflected in SmartThings too.

Hi Ryan, thanks for answering.

Yes, they are RF, but I haven’t just realised the issue of no “state” with them, I’ve only just decided to ask if there’s a good way to try and deal with it!

The problem is that the switches I chose are really nice looking, to both me and my wife. They are touch types so you can touch them even with wet hands, which is a good safety aspect, but not the main reason we bought them. All the Z-Wave/Zigbee ones that I’ve seen don’t look as nice; they tend to look a little bit fisher price, even though some are still glass fronted, like ours, they have rather child like light emblems on them.

I’m just wondering whether there’s any way that something in my environment could pick up the fact that the command “off” or “on” was issued and “save” the state somewhere, so that the next command of on/off can validate the state of each light fitting. It would be nice to be able to say the command kitchen lights on and have only the ones that are off come on, rather than the ones that are off come on but the ones that are on go off, which is what happens at the minute. I can deal with it when I’m here by saying kitchen one and kitchen three come on when I can see that kitchen two and kitchen centre are on but this won’t help me when I trigger the command when coming home, for example.

I know that Philips hue (or any compatible smart bulbs) would be a solution to this but they aren’t the total answer. For one thing, the ones we have in the kitchen are gu10s and the smart bulbs do tend to be bigger so would stick out of the flush mount but, most importantly, I’ve not seen any that give out as many lumens as the ones in our kitchen currently and I don’t want it any darker.

Even the above doesn’t help if someone goes rogue and manually switches the light switch off. I was thinking that with IFTTT maybe I could do something that could write to a spreadsheet (or update SmartThings) that could keep the state of each light switch and future commands would check the state to see whether to switch or not. I know this seems like I’m engineering a sledgehammer to crack a walnut but I’m really just wondering if anyone has already invented the sledgehammer that I need.

Either that or do people have links to smart light switches (no neutral wire) that I might not have seen that fit the bill of looking nice but are not stateless?

Many thanks for reading,

Mark

1 Like

Aeotec makes a nice glass capacitive Switch plate that works with their own zwave inwall micros, and their nano model micro does not require a neutral.

https://www.amazon.com/Touch-Panel-Button-Switch-AL-001/dp/B00GL6B4GG/

IMG_3376

You need both of these products for each switch: the glass panel is just the top plate, no smarts.

(I originally also mentioned the Neo Coolcam, but I just realized they require a neutral, so not a candidate.)

Logic Options

As far as logic, see the FAQ: there are better choices than IFTTT for what you’ve described, particularly WebCore, although nothing can solve the problem of someone manually changing state at the switch as that information is not sent to the hub.

In the “sledgehammer for a walnut” category, I suppose you could put a light sensor in a box with a peephole and position it so it only triggered when an individual Light was on and capture state that way, but it would be a lot of work to get it set up reliably in a room with multiple lights. :sunglasses:

One option might be to add a light sensor and use a virtual switch. Smart lighting (or web core) can turn on the virtual switch when the light level exceeds some threshold and turn it off when the level drops below some threshold.

BTW, I forgot to mention that you can use the Aeotec nano with any dumb switch you like, so you should be able to find a refractive switch that fits your style. You might even be able to repurpose the face plates you have if they can be easily detached from their IR receivers.