Your HW Setup - Why You Choose What?

I was reading through the Show your Rule Machine automations discussion and it got me wondering what HW everyone is using and why you choose one option over another. (Smart Switches vs Bulbs vs Outlets). I’m wondering because I am using GE Toggle switches in a few places and I’m not sure I want to continue down this path because of their size and difficulty to fit in my 2 gang box. I have a mud ring around my boxes causing it to be very difficult to fix 2 side by side, even after removing the tabs.

I have some floor and table lamps that I’m trying to determine if a smart outlet would be better or using smart bulbs. Some of my lamps are plugged into and outlet that is controlled by a wall switch (only 1 of the 2 outlets is always hot) The other lamps are manually controlled at the the lamp itself.

My question is what’s your setup and why did you choose what you did?

My setup so far:
MB and Guest Baths
GE Toggle Switch - Vanity Light (On/Off via ST motion)
GE Toggle Switch - Fan (On after 5 mins of door being closed and 5 mins after open)

Kitchen Counter
GE Toggle Switch - Pendent Lights (On/Off via ST motion)

Porch Light
GE Toggle Switch - Front (On at dusk Off at dawn)
GE Toggle Switch - Back (On at dusk Off at dawn)

Cree Connected Bulbs (On/Off via ST Motion)

Here are some items for consideration:

  • Switches, bulbs and outlets can all be voice controlled (e.g. Echo, Homebridge) and included in scenes/routines/rules
  • Switches can easily be operated manually (same as if there was no automation)
  • Bulbs can not be operated manually (unless connected to e.g. a remote - there are also remote wall switches)
  • Bulbs often have additional functionality (e.g. color change)
  • Switches can be programmed to have double functionality (e.g. when an off switch is presses off again it can turn off the lights on the whole floor - search forum for “double tap”, “double duty”)
  • Often switches are cheaper because you control multiple dumb-bulbs at the same time
  • Outlets can usually be tuned on manually (there is usually a little button)
  • Relays (e.g. Aeon micro switche, LFM-20) can also be an option to turn things on and off. (e.g. garage door, water heater…)
  • For most switches you will need a neutral wire in the box (yes, there are switched that don’t require one!)

Here is my personal opinion:

  • In general and especially for regular ceiling lights I personally like switches better than because you maintain the option of a physical switch. If you have bulbs on a regular switch and you turn off the switch, there is no way to turn then on again remotely. (my wife does not like color lights… so this was an easy decision). Wherever I had dumb switches I replaced them with smart switches.
  • For desk/floor/accent lamps that have a separate switch I prefer bulbs over outlets because they just look cleaner and I usually don’t turn these lamps on/off if not as part of a scene
  • Outlets are great for things like holiday lights, coffee machine…
  • For switches I select dimmer switches vs. on/off switches based on location and function (e.g. bathroom has an on/off switch vs. living room/bedroom a dimmer switch)
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There’s no one right answer. Different things work for different people. It just depends on your own needs and preferences.

For example, I myself am quadriparetic with limited hand function. So while the minimote is an extremely popular handheld controller, and works great for most people, it doesn’t work at all for me because neither I nor my service dog can use it. That’s obviously an extreme case, but it’s just an example of why “all home automation is local.” :sunglasses:

The following thread goes into detailed discussion of various features for different device classes and why one might be preferred over another for A particular use case:

The bulbs versus switches discussion is a very common one in the forums, there are many threads discussing it. The real answer is that again, different things work for different people. But if you start with the following FAQ, you will find much discussion and people taking various positions:

@pizzinini & @JDRoberts

Thank you both. Seems like a lot of personal preference. I like the smart switches for multiple bulbs, but I think my issue right now is I hate that my 2 gang electrical boxes have a mud rig on them causing 2 switches not to fit. Looks like I may have to finally invest in a dremel if I keep going forwarded with the switch idea. Bulbs for lamps with a minimote for the wife seems perfect and eventually adding an echo or dot will hopefully up the WAF.

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Check out the “what type of switches to use with hue bulbs” FAQ that I linked to above.

There have been some new devices come out recently that make it all a lot easier. In particular there are now what are called “smart switch covers.”

These are battery operated devices that fit over an existing wall switch. You leave the original switch in place powered on and put the battery cover over it. The battery cover has its own buttons that you then can use to execute anything SmartThings can do.

So if you want it simple, you can just use them as an on off switch. But you could also use the one switch to also turn on bulbs that are even on that same circuit, or to change the mode, or whatever. Some pretty cool stuff that’s only been out for a couple of months. :sunglasses:

YABVS thread.

Switches FTW!