Help with converting to smart light switches - see attached image!

Hi Everyone.
Pretty new to all this so apologies for any obvious questions!

I’m looking to convert my main living space lights to smart lights and figure changing out the light switches will be more cost effective than changing all the lights in question.

Each panel is a multi gang switch and each set of lights can currently be turned off and on by more than one panel (hopefully the diagram explains this better!). One panel also controls lights at the bottom of a set of stairs with a corresponding panel at the top of the stairs - again, the diagram should make this a little clearer.

I’m not really looking to retro-fit something behind the existing panels as I understand, being toggle switches, if people flick them on/off this can mess with the smart settings and with three kids/wife in the house, I can see this ending up with a genreral state of unhappiness and lack of love for smart home existence. Therefore, new panels with smarts built in, press button as opposed to ‘flick toggle’

My reading tells me Zigbee is the way to go -thread/matter would be better but I don’t know of anything out there (and cost is a consideration). I’m happy for people to provide options here. I mixture in the house of Google Home and Apple HomeKit for voice commands and control via phone.

Where I’m getting confused is exactly what panels/configuration I need - especially with multiple panels controlling the various lights. Plus one panel has a fan involved and I would like the ‘blue diagram’ lights to be dimmable. What I need to do (and get help with) is:

  1. Land on the brand/panels I am going to buy
  2. Have someone explain exactly which model panel I need to buy for each existing panel I have.

Hopefully that makes sense and the collective experts out there can point me In the right direction!

Thanks in advance

Hi @user3357, nice to see other Aussies joining the conversation here in recent times.

I'm going to go back one step and question the choice of smart switches over smart bulbs.... That said, I'm not going to claim the most knowledge on the options between smart switches vs smart bulbs.... I went the bulbs route early on, starting with Philips Hue, slowly building out my home with something like 40-60 bulbs.... including downlights, standard bulbs, lamps (Hue Go), and some GU10's outside. Most likely there will be cheaper options with smart switches, but I have always felt like smart bulbs offer more fine-grained control, i.e. being able to target certain lights at different times of the day / night, even if they are on the same circuit.

Looking at your diagram I have a somewhat similar layout, though I expect a narrower version, two-wide in my case rather than 3. For me, during the night, if I get up to get a drink (water... :slight_smile: ), I have chosen to only turn on some of the downlights in the Kitchen area. I have done something similar in my dining area which is where I typically enter the larger living space, choosing to turn on softer lighting in my Philips Hue Go lamps positioned at the edges of this space, rather than the downlights. I may have a longer stairwell at the back of my lounge area, so have, in the past, chosen to only turn on the downlights at the back of the lounge area when walking down the stairs.

All this said, I remember looking at some switches with a friend by a high-end label beginning with L... whose name escapes me... And they offered the option to program automations from some of their smart switches, which may strike the kind of balance you are looking for...

I'm sure I could write more. but so can others more across other options, so hopefully they can provide some alternaitve ideas.

In the end, whatever you choose, choose something that is widely supported across different platforms. Obviously Philips Hue is a default across most, but as you step outside of this you need to consider support for other platforms should you choose to transition in the future.

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Welcome Chris. I wouldnt bother buying all in one "smart light switches", most are ugly and they lock you into their "look".

I would recommend you buy z-wave or zigbee modules and have you sparky install them behind whatever nice looking momentary light switch plate you like. eg from the Clipsal Iconic or Saturn ranges.

I took this aproach (Clipsal Iconic + Aeotec z-wave) and the WAF is huge. eg in our bedrooms:

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I'd stay away from smart bulbs especially with kids. They will turn the switches off and you loose all control. Have a look at the shelly switches which fit behind the existing wall switches for good value for money. The normal switch can control the light as per normal and the shelly can also control the light smartly.

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Agreed, I still have half a dozen around the house and this is a right PITA.

I guess I don't have this consideration, so haven't felt the pain this can cause :slight_smile:

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One more thing I would add to my earlier post...

Start small. I have posted about this in various places here, but I feel it is an important approach to take. If you are looking to expand into / start with a new platform or technology choice, buy one or two of the "thing" and play with it, see how easily it works (or not) with any existing tech you run, plus how well it works in other ways in your house, e.g. with those who inhabit your house :-). Only once you are happy with the result, then look to branch out and use that solution throughout the house.

We've all made the wrong call at different times, but "failing fast", as is a popular term in my line of work, is something that can same you a lot of time, money and heartache...


I totally agree.

I'd install a simple proof of concept setup somewhere, like a spare room or games room. confirm it works the way you envisioned and go from there.

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Cheers. But going down this route would see everything out of whack if I control the lights through ‘smart means’ and then my wife walks in and controls the manually?

That’s just it, the Clipsal wall switches are just toggling the smart module. The smart module controls the lights or whatever, the switch just gives you a manual option.

One of the golden rules of smart homes is, never replace something simple with something complicated.

Wall switches work, and with a smart module behind them, your family won’t need to do anything different. Ppl who think that replacing wall switches with phone apps is a good idea, have missed the point.


How the heck do you fit that thing in a typical box? I'm pretty sure I couldn't, but I've not tried. Maybe I will.

edit: I see that fancy switchplate has some depth to it, maybe that'd help?

The first thing I did was replace all my switches with GE/Jasco Z-Wave toggles. Haven't regretted it. No need to tie yourself down to one technology.

In Australia, we don't have boxes in the walls behind switches - I have no idea why, it's a great system. That photo makes the modules look bigger than they are, they are tiny - here's a standard Rubik's Cube for scale:

They arent available outside the US market - we use single phase 230-240v and a different z-wave frequency.


We also do Philips Hue smart bulbs... Just saying... :wink:

I've got 4 of the stupid things left, they drive me crazy!!!

Wow, great, I guess. Those boxes can get tight even when just adding a smart switch.
The boxes used to be metal. Maybe contain a sparking incident, I don't know.
They all seem to be plastic now.

Crazy with delight ?? :slight_smile:

Which makes a lot of sense.

far from it mate. :crazy_face:

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