Yet Another Switch + Smart Bulb Question

Hi everyone – I’ve spent several days researching so I wouldn’t have to ask this question but alas, I have not found exactly what I am looking for. I have read many of the posts on switches, FAQs, etc. First off, my understanding is:

  • When you use Smart Bulbs, you cannot (should not) use Smart Switches since they’ll confuse each other and maybe burn out
  • To avoid family members and guest from physically turning off switches, one may use a Switch Cover. This may also result in many marriages being saved from divorce court. Or depending on how ugly said Switch cover is, headed to divorce court.
  • If I want color in existing recessed lighting sockets, I must use a Smart Bulbs, and therefore, not smart switch

Do I have that right? Here are my 3 specific questions:

  1. Can I just buy a Philips Hue Dimmer Switch, pre-wire the existing light switch to the ON position, thereby making the Dimmer Switch the control of the smart bulb? This solves an ascetics problem for me.
  2. If I really want color, what seems to be the most popular choice for a switch cover?
  3. If I do use a Smart Switch, the lights can be controlled but not used with smart bulbs. What seems to be a popular Smart Switch that is bullet proof with the ST hub? (I am asking because some products that claim to be ST compatible require quite a bit of hoop jumping to make work).

OK, I’m going to sound a little bit impatient on this because I’m tired today, but I’m not impatient, I’m just tired. So I’m going to give short answers, but there are lots of details discussing all of this in the forums already. Most in the following thread.

OK, first point. It’s not that you can’t use smart switches with smart bulbs. It’s that you shouldn’t use a smart switch that controls the current load to a smart bulb. That’s a very important distinction. Again, details in the FAQ.

As far as wiring the current to always be on, that’s allowed in some jurisdictions and not in others. Again, details discussed in the FAQ.

When you say “if I really want color” do you mean an RGBW bulb? Or do you mean a colored wall switch? Assuming you mean an RGBW bulb, there are two smart switch covers that currently work with SmartThings. They are both discussed in the FAQ. If you mean the color of the wall switch, the smart switch covers that I’ve seen have all been white. There’s supposed to be a black version of the linear/gocontrol one, but I’ve never seen it.

There are no bulletproof smart switches with SmartThings because nothing is bulletproof with SmartThings. :wink:

You can stick to the devices that are on the official “works with SmartThings” list and then smartthings support will help you with them if needed.

If you want to go beyond those, see the device class features FAQ. The light switch discussion starts around post 40.


Love it when @JDRoberts “short” post is longer than my longest one by a mile.


And this is precisely what I was trying to avoid. I did read the FAQs but either I missed some things, didn’t get it, or it didn’t answer my specific questions. I am wondering if I should actually hit the pause button, go learn something about electrical and then come back. I don’t really know what a load wire is. I think it means power but I am not sure what “load” is. Amount of power? Type of power? As you can see, I don’t understand the basics to even understand much of what is written in the FAQs.

BTW, I did read the FAQs you reference here but I still don’t get it. I’ll keep trying I guess.

“Load” means the wire that is delivering current to the device.

In a very basic switch, there is a “line in” which is bringing power from the main circuit box to the switch, and then a “load” wire which is bringing power from the switch to the light.

In a traditional nonnetworked set up, you use the switch to physically disconnect the light from the current when the switch is off, and reconnect it when the switch is on.

When you have a smart bulb, you want it to be always receiving current so that it will be able to hear the next “on” command from the network even if it looks like it’s off.

With a dumb bulb, the switch controls how bright the bulb will be simply by passing it more or less current along the load wire.

With a smart bulb, the switch should be set to always send the maximum power along the load wire to the bulb, and then the bulb decides for itself how much current to draw to reach its target brightness level.

I think it would be most helpful to both you and the community if when you have a question about one of the FAQ posts you post your question in that thread, since quite likely other people will have the same question and also it’s easier for those who are doing answering to refer back to what has already been said. Otherwise we end up with separate threads every time someone doesn’t understand part of a post and it becomes really difficult for everyone to find information on the forums. If your question is something that would be better answered in a specific project thread, then someone will let you know.

All questions are good questions, but the whole point of an FAQ thread is to keep the various aspects of the answer together so that it’s more efficient the next time someone has a similar question. :sunglasses:

I understand what your saying. remember my wife the cave women. I had my three recessed living room lights hue br30 for color ambiance and a standard paddle switch on a three way. I did however get annoyed when the lights were turned off.

my solution, not sure if it’s good or bad but it works great for me and the cave women I so love.

I did in fact change to a ge smart switch. not a dimmer but switch. on all my routines and pistons before I do anything with dimming or colors to those specific lights I always have an action that simply turns on said switch.

from there my ST acknowledges each hue bulbs individual state, off/on. my following pistons or actions that involve those lights ie color or dim level, seem to work fine with pistons or actions.

if wife turns off light then I can say alexa turn on group lights. or again once night time routine takes over than switch gets turned back on with morning routine with proper dim level and color.

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If you use a regular on/off smart switch with smart bulbs you don’t have the same risk of the switch burning out, but you still likely significantly shorten the life of your smart bulbs. They really aren’t intended to have the power cut on a regular basis, because the inrush current when the power comes back on is really hard on the electronic components. That’s why all the bulb manufacturers recommend that the bulb be always left on power.

But it’s your money – – if you’re willing to pay to replace the bulbs much more frequently than somebody else, it’s not generally unsafe to put them on a binary on-off switch.

But the smart switch covers were invented for exactly this kind of use case. You put the smart switch cover over your existing switch, leaving the existing switch turned on underneath it. That way the bulbs always have power, but you have a physical switch on the wall you can use to turn them on and off without any inrush current issues.

Right now there are only two of these switch covers on the market, so you can’t really say one is more popular than the other. They look different and come from different companies, but usually cost about the same. Again, both are detailed in the smart bulb switch FAQ.

interesting @JDRoberts I never looked into this option. after looking into it i can say my wife would say it looks weird and different so get rid of it.

after reading my set up with a switch…which in my home I got thumbs up for aesthetics. I also wanted to convert all my switches to ge or same style for resale of my home someday.

but I never considered the bad part about this. no I really don’t want to replace these bulbs that much lol but what if I changed all my routines and pistons to operate as they do now but have my switch always on and use hue to control modes and automations. the if my wife turns them off, which isn’t to often, I would just need to turn it back on again. or have a piston check the state of the switch and turn back on if needed. would this be better for my 3 bulbs. happy wife broke husband…lol

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As long as the switch is a regular on/off switch and it doesn’t get turned off very often, you should be fine. Just like an occasional power outage isn’t a big deal.

But if you’re using the switch to cut power to the bulbs every day, that’s a different situation.

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cool thank you. yes it is just a switch but right now my routines and pistons as I was saying to @zonomo was that in all my automations it begins with that switch being turned on and then dimming and color follows. and yes as nighttime or away it physically turns off.

that’s bad.

so to change that I will have that switch always be on and reorganize my pistons to fire individually plus make a piston to check the state of the switch and when it should be on if was in fact turned off…omg my wheels are spinning…love this hobby.

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I started off with some smart switches but a load of smart bulbs. It was painful for me to deal with due to wife and kids. I ended up replacing almost all my switches to smart. I didn’t know what to do with all these smart bulbs since some of them are color bulbs and expensive.
Then came ST smart lighting apps. By using this to sync your bulbs to your switches. They no longer out of sync and been working nicely for me. Well… 3 weeks ago. ST broke all my hue bulbs (direct pair to ST hub) and they no longer work. I am in the process of moving them all back to the Phillips hue bridge and will have to live with delays.

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you tube ge zwave single pole. that’s where I started. if you can get those wires you can do anything…one basic smart switch so long as you have a white neutral wire your good.
and I’m far from an electrician…I drive a forklift lol

You are pretty talented. Multitasking and manage to throw in a selfie.


the next picture was when the lights turned all red and white and flashed…oh wait that was the ambulance ambiance setting. TURN YOUR BREAKER OFF!!!

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In my dreams. I read the Core for dummies but I think I need Core for Super Dummies. {sigh}. I can’t even get started or get GitHub connected.

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then don’t…I’ve been using stock shm integrations and simple public smart apps for a good 6 months while learning.

don’t use core until you get familiar with basic installations of other people’s apps. ie…play around with askalexa by @MichaelS and many others. these apps will get you up to speed on git Hub and basic requirements.

rest assured young pad wan the force is strong here. start your training slow and you shall command your castle as you want.


If you like the look of the Phillips hue dimmer switch, my suggestion is to just get one and try it. Don’t try to connect it to SmartThings. Just connect it to the Hue bridge.

It will work fine to control bulbs which are connected to that bridge.

It will be invisible to SmartThings, but that doesn’t matter, because SmartThings gets updates from the bridge several times a minute so it will know when the bulbs change.

And you’ll still be able to create automations for the same bulbs through SmartThings as you like. You’ll just have the extra switch on the wall you can use when needed.

The only other thing you should do is put a child safety lock on the existing switch And leave it in the on position so that the bulbs always have power. These come in many different styles and colors. ( or during your initial test you can even just stick a piece of colored electrical tape on the original switch as a reminder not to use it. )

Later if you find that the Hue switch works well for you, you can consider other style options like putting a box over the top of the existing switch. But for now, just stick the Hue switch temporarily on the wall near wherever you want it and see how it works for you.

That will be by far the simplest, least expensive way of adding a wall switch for your Hue bulbs, and it’s all that many people need. And It won’t add any additional complexity to your existing SmartThings installation. :sunglasses:

We added three of these to our house and have been very happy with them. Our primary means of controlling the smart bulbs is still voice control with echo, but it’s good to have some switches as well, especially in the guestroom and guest bathroom. We put one on the nightstand in the guestroom as well, and people really like it.

I super like this idea. Since my house doesn’t have the old school switch (I have the flat paddle type), I can just tape it to on position and be all set. Then sick the Philips on the wall right next to it. Thanks for the suggestion.


I love the sound of solutions…