Opinions on How to Use Lamp Dimmers on Switched Circuit

So here's the setup. I've got your typical living room circuit where a switch controls the top half of a few outlets so you can turn lamps on and off to light the room.

I want to set this up in a smart fashion so that I can use my Aeotec Nanomote Quad to control the lights from my couch.

To accomplish this, I have done the following:

  1. Install Jasco/GE dimmer switch where the previous single-pole switch was.
  2. Skip the switch and tie off the circuit so it's always energized. This means the GE dimmer switch has no effect whatsoever on the circuit itself. It's just a remote in the junction box.
  3. Install two Jasco/GE lamp dimmer boxes in the outlets that were previously controlled by the switch.
  4. Set up a Rule Machine rule set such that when I tap the 'Up' on the switch, it sets the lamp dimmers to 100%. When I tap 'Down', it turns the dimmers off using the standard 'Off' command.

I then have the Nanomote set to the following:

  • Button 1: Set the lamp dimmers to 100%
  • Button 2: Set the lamp dimmers to 10%
  • Button 3: Toggle on/off for Lamp Dimmer 1
  • Button 4: Toggle on/off for Lamp Dimmer 2

This works OK. But I'm sure I can do it better. When I tap Up on the dimmer switch, there's quite a delay on the lamp dimmers turning on that means for a moment I'm walking around in the dark. So I'd like to eliminate this delay, if possible.

I wired around the dimmer switch and didn't have the dimmer switch directly control the lamps for two reasons:

  • I didn't want anyone to ever accidentally plug an appliance like a vacuum into an outlet controlled by the dimmer. So that meant either using a standard on-off switch or else just wiring around the switch entirely.
  • Using the dimmer switch for both lamps would lose the independent per-lamp control.

So one option is to switch the dimmer out for a standard on-off Jasco/GE switch. This would turn the circuit on and the lamp dimmers would come back up to their last settings on power restoration.

The trick is that with this, the Lamp Dimmers are hopping on and dropping off the Z-Wave mesh as I toggle the switch. And I won't be able to remotely control the Lamp Dimmers until I turn on the wall switch and wait for the Lamp Dimmers to register themselves on the mesh.

Anyone else worked on a setup like this and found a good compromise of all variables?

This seems like a situation where direct association would be useful. But I have no idea if the GE hardware you have supports it.

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Yeah that also has the benefit of not needing a hub.

I have a hallway light dimmer (on the wall at the bottom of our stairs) that is set up as single load to the hall lighting. Upstairs I have 3 other switches in the hall that are wired line only. I tried Z-Wave associations and it worked but was a bit slow and the syncing caused a lot of popcorning in terms of the relay switch sounds.

My current solution is to use the "scene controller" functionality of some switches - allowing for trapping button presses instead of switch events. I have the physical switching turned "off" using "Smart Bulb" mode.. This works really well and there is no contention between switches and no popcorning relay sounds.

My switches/dimmer are Zooz Zen23/24 v4's.

I would LOVE to be able to trap switch button events and have them not directly control the mechanicals of the switch. Is that a thing that can be done?

EDIT: My stuff is all just Jasco/GE Enbrighten products. No particular reason I chose that brand. It's just what came up on Amazon when I first did my searches. :slight_smile:

So the GE Enbrightens I am using for my bathroom fans - they have 2 buttons + double tap. They do NOT appear to have the smart bulb mode like my Zooz stuff. I think Inovelli switches have this capability as well...

I use the toggle style switches but here is the "paddle" style which seems more common:

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That's fantastic. That'll work beautiful for the outdoor security light project I have in mind. And I can swap in the toggle switch for the existing living room circuit so I don't lose control over it.

It still won't entirely help with the existing living room setup, though. Any thoughts on putting the lamp dimmers on a switched circuit?

The 'direct association' might help a LOT. No idea if the Jasco/GE stuff supports it, yeah.

My solution for this type of a scenario is to use Lutron Pico remotes (both in-wall and on table stands) to control smart bulbs in my table and floor lamps. The response is nearly instant, and has been very reliable. If you’re curious, let me know and I’d be happy to explain this architecture in more detail.

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I have a couple of smart bulbs setup that way with my Inovelli switch and had one setup with an Inovelli dimmer - the indicator even indicated the dimming level when it was paired directly with the bulb! The only thing is that they both need to be Z-Wave for this to work, and Z-Wave bulbs are rare…

Like @ogiewon, I also have a couple of spots where I have Pico remotes instead of switches and it works great!

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@ogiewon, @Sebastien, those both sound far better than what I've got. I'm not married to my current hardware. So descriptions of what you've done would be enormously appreciated. The Lutron Pico remotes look to be pretty cheap, too, which is nice!

@kevin.eidolon - Pico remotes are incredibly versatile, and relatively inexpensive as you noted above. However, there is one gotcha to be aware of - to use the Lutron Pico remotes with Hubitat, you must also purchase a Lutron Caseta SmartBridge Pro2 (the PRO2 version is not optional, as it includes Telnet support, which Hubitat requires.) The Pico remotes pair with the Lutron SmartBridge Pro2, and then the SmartBridge Pro2 communicates via Telnet to the Hubitat hub.

In my case, I actually use a Philips Hue bridge to connect the Hubitat hub to my smart bulbs. You can just as easily use some Sengled Zigbee smart bulbs, paired directly to the Hubitat hub. In fact, that is exactly how my system used to be configured and it worked very well (as long as you have some devices on the Zigbee network to act as Zigbee repeaters - the Sengled bulbs are designed to not be repeaters, which is a good thing, as they won't mess up your Zigbee mesh like many other smart bulbs do.)

The reason I switched from Sengled bulbs to Philips bulbs was to gain some features that the Philips Hue bridge offers, like Power Restoration bulb state selection, Apple HomeKit, Logitech Harmony Hub, and the ability to have all of my Philips bulbs integrated with multiple home automation systems at the same time.

I like the fact that both my Lutron Caseta SmartBridge Pro2 and Philips Hue bridge create a hardware abstraction layer which allows their devices to be utilized by multiple home automation systems concurrently, thereby future proofing my system. Both have native support for Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Logitech Harmony, IFTTT, etc... And both work with Hubitat, Home Assistant, Node-RED, SmartThings, etc... Thus, all of my lighting has a nice level of abstraction from any one home automation 'hub'.

As for using the Pico remotes to control the smart bulbs, I like using the ABC community app, written by @stephack. It really simplifies the process of mapping each of the Pico buttons to the functions you desire.

Here is an example of a 5 button Pico remote, that I have mounted on the wall using the pico optional wall mount bracket kit.

ABC config

Actual image of the pico mounted next to a Lutron dimmer. The Pico controls a Philips Hue bulb in a desk lamp. The Dimmer controls the overhead light fixture that simply has a 'dumb' dimmable LED bulb in it.

This combination has worked flawlessly for a few years now. The responsiveness is nearly instant as well.

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I tried similar things to what the OP is mentioning. None of them worked as well as I hoped for. I then simply tied the wires together and removed the switch so the outlet had constant power. Where the switch was I put a pico. Now I am happy, works mint.

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I have a similar setup as @ogiewon at some switches, and others have constant power.

I also use an app to control the lights, but a different one. There are many ways to do things with Hubitat! What I like about this one is that it allows for multiple presses which get translated to a command - I use this functionality to change the color temperature depending on how many times I press button 1 (the top button). I use the center button to select different colors and the up/down buttons to dim up and down.

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The Caseta bridge is where they get you, of course. I've liked what I've seen of the Philips Hue stuff, though. And they just keep expanding the line-up.

Is the Z-wave mesh the source of the latency, you think? For example, is there a chance a Lutron Pico remote controlling the Jasco/GE Lamp Dimmer modules could be any quicker?

For sure, these days. When I bought my SmartBride Pro2, it was only about $85 brand new, from EnergyAvenue.com.

If you average out the price of multiple Pico Remotes along with the SmartBridge Pro2 (L-BDGPRO2-WH), it becomes a little easier to swallow the cost. One can usually find brand new Pico remotes for about $12-$13. So 10 Pico remotes @$12.50 is $125.00 + the SmartBridge Pro2 @ $150 = $275, or roughly $27.50 per button controller. :wink: The math was much nicer when one could find the L-BDGPRO2-WH for about $85!

Yes, just realize that the Hue sensors and remotes, when paired to a Hue bridge, cannot be 'ssen' by the Hubitat hub. Only lights can be integrated via the native Hubitat Hue bridge integration.

I am not sure, as I no longer use Z-Wave. It was just too much maintenance for me, and my family was not very tolerant of switches falling off the network. (Please note that these were mostly older early GE Z-wave (not Z-Wave Plus) devices.) Once I converted over to Lutron, I have never had an issue with any of my switches, dimmers, fan controllers, or pico remotes.

Sure, it is possible, but I don't know if it would make that much difference in your situation. If you have a bunch of Z-Wave outlets or switches that report power usage, those frequent reports can overwhelm a Z-Wave network and cause sluggish behavior. Or, if the device you are attempting to use as a "Button Controller", is really a Z-Wave Dimmer without any load attached, the delay could be caused by the fact that the dimmer does not report its status back to the hub until it finishes 'turning on' or 'turning off'. Some dimmers ramp up from off to on, or ramp down from on to off. If the hub doesn't receive an update until that ramping is completed, there is no way for the hub to react any quicker to change your smart outlet.

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Thanks, all, for all of the suggestions. I decided to take the jump on the Lutron Caseta system, using two Pico Remotes, a SmartBridge Pro2, and two Lamp Dimmer modules. So I didn't take the jump on the Philips Hue system, as I couldn't justify the additional cost of adding that system.

So far I really like it. It was SUPER easy to set up and responds precisely as quickly as y'all said it would. I used the Lutron app to pair and set up all the devices, and I then set up the Hubitat Integration as per the documentation for the Lutron Integrator app within Hubitat. I really like the method of just entering the string of text myself instead of using the step-by-step GUI.

So, I consider myself happy. :slight_smile: We'll see how long the batteries in the Pico remotes last.

I also at some point want to try tying the remotes into the Hubitat system and setting up a little ruleset where I can use the Scene buttons on the Picos to toggle which lamps are active. e.g., press once and only one lamp is on; press again and the first turns off while the second turns on; press again and both are on. Etc.

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It's so freaking long that I am getting upset. 2+ years and those darn 3025 batteries won't die. It's a boring Lutron world :rofl:

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I still haven’t changed the battery in my first Pico remote! I suppose that I’ve had it for somewhere between 7 and 10 years already! And to be clear - I have never ever changed a pico remote battery yet - and I have A LOT of them!

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Download the Hubitat app