Moving to Smart Bulbs

I'm about to make the leap for a substantial portion of the house from using smart switches only (with dumb bulbs) to using smart bulbs in combination with my existing switches. In the one place in the house that currently has a smart bulb, I'm using the Switch Bindings app to automatically sync the dimmer device (which has no actual device on its load) and the smart bulb. I've found that the slight delay in propagating brightness from one to the other means that "dim until it looks right" never really works, though. Regardless, that is likely too simple when there are many bulbs and a single switch.

I'm thinking of basically using some RL instances as Groups, then using the activator device in other apps (including other RL instances) as if they were still a single dimmer that controls all the lights.

  • RL: Kitchen Lights, all the smart bulbs in kitchen
    • Means to activate: Command with Activator Device~, Kitchen Light Switch~
    • Means to deactivate: Command with Activator Device~, Kitchen Light Switch~
  • Switch Binding: "Kitchen Light Switch" and "RL Kitchen Lights Activator" to make the wall dimmer work, and so any existing rules still work
  • RL: Downstairs (existing) commands each group of lights as a single entity
    • Means to activate: Mode Changes
    • Means to deactivate: Mode Changes

Does this seem like a sane approach? Is there something different I should be considering?

Edit: From some of the RL and Groups threads, it looks like this is the right path, except that a switch shouldn't be added as a second activator for the group. That should happen purely via Switch Binding.

Thought processes are right. As you probably know, don’t use a smart bulb in conjunction with a smart switch in the same connection.

What type of smart bulbs will you use?

Yes, several existing switches have a "smart bulb" mode to leave the load line powered; for the ones that don't, I've just connected the load wire directly to the line, and it works fine. Difficulty is the inability to override those just from the switch.

Sengled Element Color Plus. I don't particularly need the color change capability, but they have some other nice features and I've already used them for RGB purposes elsewhere and know they behave well for me.

If you try to use WiFi bulbs like Phillips Wiz, you will have so many connections to your WiFi router that you will bring your WiFi network to a standstill.

If your Smart Switches work properly, I suggest you keep them. You can get Zigbee bulbs, but do your research and pick the right bulbs. I understand some Zigbee bulbs are poor repeaters and can mess up your Zigbee mesh. I cannot tell you which ones to get as nearly all of my lights are controlled by Lutron Caseta switches and dimmers. I do have 1 Wiz lamp and a couple of Hue ZL bulbs.

Sengled smart bulbs only act as end devices, they do not act as repeaters.

All of our other smart bulbs are various Ikea Tradfri bulbs, they do act as repeaters.

Why swap from smart switches to smart bulbs? I've always considered switches an upgrade over bulbs?

5 Likes

I was thinking the same thing. Initially I used some smart bulbs only as placeholders until I could wire the switch. In the home theatre where I thought color bulbs would cool, I still have them but otherwise trashed all the other bulbs.

They still do have their place where wiring is not possible (e.g., an apartment). Otherwise, I am fully on Team Switches.

1 Like

Two main reasons:

  • I'd like to be able to adjust CT throughout the day, which switches can't control
  • The switches don't do a good job at level adjustments. They transition abruptly, and trying to do a slow fade via RL causes many of the bulbs to blink as they adjust to the new level. (All with low probability, but with many bulbs and multiple transition steps, there are inevitably annoying blinks in the course of a transition, which annoy my wife and distract the kids.) I've already tested, and setting smart bulbs to transition each stage over the course of a second makes for a nice unnoticeable fade.

Also, the current bulbs were all installed around the same time -- we switched to LED bulbs after we moved in -- and have been failing 1-2 at a time over the last few months, so if I'm going to replace with different bulbs, this is likely the time.

(By similar vein, my wife will be out of town for a long weekend soon, and this is an opportune time to make a disruptive change without complaints.)

6 Likes

Clearly, the ability to adjust CT (and/or color) is where bulbs shine, so to speak.

Your reasons are solid. Do what works best for you.

I think the Enbrighten Zigbee switch and dimmers will work without a load and I would recommend you use the INNR bulbs that have built in repeaters. Then make a Zigbee group in Hubitat.

Zooz Smart Switches have a Smart Bulb mode, leaving load always on, only controlling Z-Wave commands or Zigbee via RM.

Yep, several of my newer switches are Zooz; the older ones will need their wiring redone.

May I suggest you take a look at Innr? I have replaced all my Sengled bulbs with these and have been extremely happy with them. I have never had ANY issues since I started using them. The Sengleds they replaced were a bit to glitchy for my taste.

1 Like

The biggest issue I have with smart bulbs controlled by a smart switch (in smart bulb mode) is the turn on lag. Granted I've never tried zigbee binding, perhaps that makes the lag less of an issue. But especially multiple fixtures down a hallway, the popcorn effect and lag gets low WAF scores, and bothers me as well. A smart dimmer + dumb led bulbs has some lag as the power supply charges up but its pretty constant and you get used to it. This would be in common areas like kitchen/halls/living rooms. In specialty rooms (like home theatre) I could see the individual smart bulbs being controllable as a huge feature.

If you're using motion to activate, I'm sure its probably a wash.

Download the Hubitat app