Zigbee/ZWave control for any battery powered device?

(Kenny Stainback) #1

I swear I remember reading about a zwave or zigbee product months ago that would allow any battery-powered device (maybe only AA or AAA batteries??) to be seen as a zigbee or zwave on/off switch. I’ve searched this forum and the web, but no luck.

Can anyone help me find it? If so, anyone using it successfully with SmartThings?

Battery Powered Replacement Switch? (UK)
Battery Powered Replacement Switch? (UK)

I’m not exactly sure what you’re thinking of. Here are some possibilities. :sunglasses:

  1. Many people take a battery powered contact sensor that has dry contacts and add it to a nonnetworked device so that you then have a ZIgbee or Z wave radio that is triggered by that nonnetworked device. People use these for things like pressure mats, doorbells, Gate sensors in areas where the weather too harsh to put an RF device, and many other uses.

It’s pretty simple, you just open up the contact sensor and wire the other device to the dry contacts. After that the other device closing the circuit will register as on or off.

I will give you a link to a thread on pressure mats which is a good example. The same method can be used with many different kinds of devices.

  1. Another option which is commonly used for Mains-powered devices is the mimolite relay, which also has dry contacts. You will find much discussion in the forums on various projects where people have used it.


  1. As far as the battery type device, the only thing that sounds at all similar is the roost battery which adds Wi-Fi capability to a smoke alarm. But that doesn’t seem general enough for what you’re talking about.
  1. Finally, there is the SmartThings ThingShield which is used to add a SmartThings – compatible zigbee antenna to an Arduino board and which can then be connected to many different kinds of devices. This is the one people often use if they’re trying to hack a more complicated device like a remote control of a different protocol. It requires some definite maker skills, though.

Is any of that getting close?

(Kenny Stainback) #3

Wow - thanks for all of the info, but none of that is what I was referring to. I’m still looking and will repost when/if I find it. I want to control a battery powered lamp in the back yard via SmartThings, so it would be ideal for this use case.

(Kenny Stainback) #4

Well, this isn’t the one I found earlier, but you see what I’m getting at: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/29491051/batthead-a-battery-in-charge

I want to say the device I found wrapped around a store-bought battery somehow to provide zwave/zigbee functionality, but maybe it was bluetooth.

(Kenny Stainback) #5

Found it, finally: http://tethercell.myshopify.com

And the Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Tethercell-Smart-Battery-Adapter-QTY/dp/B00ICP1J3M/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8

The device wraps a AAA battery, which is bluetooth enabled. Once installed in the device, you have to access the device (battery) via an iOS app (no Android, etc. support) to turn it on/off. The Amazon reviews tell me it is a no-go at this point. Even if it was rated at 5 stars, I need a solution that will integrate via SmartThings. It would be a great idea if it had SmartThings support, but alas… :slight_smile:

(Dan) #6

You could build your own battery powered relay device to control your lamp.



(Eric) #7

I know only one crappy option, to hack an arrival sensor to use the beep function to switch. Maybe you can trigger your battery device directly, or you will add a PCB relay. Could be a little tricky depending on your device switch. You might as well power the fob by your device too because the CR2032 will only 60days at best.

Btw if the device is lithium then put in fireproof environment, and keep it on camera for Youtube later.


Sorry, I got confused, and thought you wanted the control the other way around – – so that the nonnetworked device became a switch on your smart things network.

In order to be able to have SmartThings cut power to the battery operated device, there’s one method that’s very straightforward, but It might be too expensive for many applications if you want to still power everything by battery.

Step One: Use a “Battery Eliminator” to convert the original device to an external power source

First You just use an adapter that converts a battery powered device to mains powered device. This has a form factor very similar to the Bluetooth one that you found – – there’s a case that looks like a battery that fits into the battery compartment, but in fact it just becomes a conduit for outside power. (Some of these also require adding dummy batteries to fill empty slots, but you can probably get one that will exactly fit the batteries you’re replacing.)

Step Two: add a radio to the external power source

If you then plug that adapter into an RF pocket socket, you have what you wanted: SmartThings control of the battery operated device.

Of course, you might not have mains power available where The battery operated device lives if it’s an outdoor lamp.

So then You can put a zigBee or Z wave relay on that power conduit and now you can shut the battery device on and off remotely.

The only question remaining is what power should you use to power the device if you didn’t just plug it in? You’ll need to connect it to another battery pack, as long as there is also enough power to run the network to relay. It’s usually that battery pack that makes everything expensive, depending on the draw needs of the original device and the amount of weatherproofing required.

battery eliminators are widely available

Some people build their own version of the power conduit, but they’re widely available for purchase. Typically sold for games or baby equipment where the adults in the house get tired of continually replacing batteries. It’s often called a “battery eliminator.”

Here’s just one example from Amazon. Again, using this is only the first step – – it’s what you then connect that battery eliminator to that gives you your RF control. For example, if you just plug it into a Z wave or zigbee pocket socket, you’re done. You turn the pocket socket on and off, it turns the battery powered device on and off. But if you need it to still be battery powered, you then need to find a power source for the conduit.

(Kenny Stainback) #9

All great information! I only have a 12-volt landscape lighting line (12 AWG) running where I want the lamp to go. So far, I haven’t found a 12-volt landscape (hanging) lamp that is large enough to do the job, so was just thinking some bluetooth batteries in a portable lamp could do the trick.

Converting a battery device to electric and then plugging in its electric adapter to a zwave outdoor module is a good idea, but I don’t have access to an AC power outlet along this outside wall, so that won’t work for me. So, I’d have to go the “long route”… convert the device to use power, add the zwave or zigbee relay, get it powered via a battery back, waterproof it, etc.

If I could just find the right size landscape lighting lantern, it would be the easiest out for sure. Thanks for all of the information.

(Andrew) #10

I don’t know of any ST compatible switches that run on 12v, everything is built around 120 or 240v.

You may be forced to use a relay. Personally, if I have continuous power to use, I prefer to do so since batteries are expensive and seem to go dead at the worst possible times.

I would be thinking of harvesting the zigbee module from a Cree bulb, using a buck converter to drop the voltage down to 3.3v for the module, and using the on/off to trigger a 12v relay. This would be a little work, probably wouldn’t result in the prettiest form factor, but it would work and would alow the control of a 12v device from ST.

(Stuart Buchanan) #11

sorry just saw this thread. Maybe an option to consider the Fibaro RGBW zwave controller runs off 12v you could plumb the battery device connection into the W connection and if needed use a rectifier transistor to step the voltage down to 6v if your battery device us only capable of 6v and not 12v then you just need a very small waterproof enclosure to host it in. FYI I have done this for one of my garden devices and used an old gopro waterproof case to hold the exposed electricals

(Kenny Stainback) #12

Sound interesting… I’ll check it out - thx!!


Cool. How did you power the Fibaro?

Also, in the US you can get a “project box” pretty much anywhere that sells electrical supplies or from Amazon. These are plastic boxes intended to house electrical connections, ROHS compliant. You can get them in various colors and densities. I don’t know if there’s a similar UK option since there’s more DIY electrical stuff done in the US.

I like the quality of the Hammond brand, but there are lots of these available.

(Stuart Buchanan) #14

I’m just powering it with a 12v 10A ballast which is inside my garage and the cable goes into my garden to the old GoPro case. We do have those kind of cases also available in the uk sold at Maplins…but it was a case of use what I had, as the GoPro itself was a casualty of a bike fall and the case was no longer used :slight_smile:

(Stuart Buchanan) #15

I am powering a number of 12v white LEDs and some RGB rope lights


Very interesting topic, I think I’ll use this information to control a battery powered RC Gate remote, so I can control my garage gate in Smartthings (it’s shared by several houses so I can’t modify it directly).<

I will just need to lock the remote button down and attach it to a Fibaro RGBW controller, let’s see if it works.