Q: Determining state of a device

Hello experts!

Am looking to buy HE, and wanted to understand behavior. Obviously I would like to be able to use existing wall switches to turn lights on/off, but at the same time be able to use programmed behavior. The latter (to me!) requires that I can get the current state of a device - e.g. is a light bulb on or off.

I assume HE allows me to do something like that, but I'd like to verify from experts.

Your guidance is greatly appreciated.

More information would be helpful, but are you talking about using existing dumb switches to control smart bulbs?

If so, smart bulbs are intended to have always-on power (i.e. its dumb switch always left in the on position) - that way, the bulb is powered (even if not illuminating light) so that it can communicate with its controller to receive on/off commands, report status etc.

If its dumb switch is moved to the off position, it goes dark (literally and figuratively) - it cannot report its state or accept commands because it has no power. This is why you shouldn't routinely use the actual dumb switches to turn the bulbs on/off.

If I misunderstood your question, please clarify and we'll try to help.

Thanks @hydro311!

Reason I ask is that in my previous house I used ZWave light bulbs (Aeotec) and I used to either use programmed mode to control the light, or use the wall switch. If I used the wall switch to turn a light off, I would not be able to query its status, but once the light switch was flipped on, I could use the current state to determine whether to toggle the light on or off. Within reason, it worked pretty well (although not foolproof). Reason I needed to do something like that was to account for visitors who might just flip the wall switches on occasion.

Unfortunately I need to account for those times when someone flips the dumb switch off when it doesn't need to be. Here's a real-world example:

Outside porch light comes on programmatically at dusk, and stays on until around 11:00 PM. From 11:00 until dawn, it comes on if motion is detected, and stays on for 5 minutes. Now it has been known to happen that my wife will flip the wall switch at 10:30 PM and turn the porch light off; obviously this mucks the programming for that night (at least until I come along and turn the switch on!). If something like that happens and I need to flip the switch on, the light bulb flashes for a few seconds as it resyncs with the hub (in my case it was Vera Edge).

Is your plan to use smart bulbs in your new house as well? Or install smart switches?

Yeah, none of that would be any different with Hubitat (or any other HA controller), so easiest solution is to lock the dumb switches on using a switch guard.

Otherwise, you can consider going with a Hue setup where you can use Lutron Auroras or the Hue in-wall switch module with dumb switches, or go with the Innovelli Red series switches combined with their Illumine(?) bulbs -- AFAIK, that's currently the only true smart switch + smart bulb combination that actually works together.

Or replace the switches with zwave/zigbee ones that can keep the load powered, like inovelli or zooz.

@JasonJoel, it seems like I need to replace some of the dumb switches with smart switches...

That's just one option. The other suggestions above are good too.

Although, the thing you need to ask yourself is if you need the smart bulb at all if you have a smart switch? If you are doing color/color temperature changing then maybe yes, but if not, then maybe no...

I am very against smart bulbs - I want my lights to act like "normal" lights as much as possible - I just want to automate the on/off and %. But I know a lot of other people like to do color changing for circadian reasons, or alerts, which makes sense too.

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Switches for groups (ie recessed lighting) Bulbs for table lamps. Most will recommend Lutron Caseta because they just work.


Makes sense, @JasonJoel. I don't need color changes, so I would probably opt for the warm white lights.

@rlithgow1 - yeah, makes sense. In my previous iteration, I used smart outlets for table lamps (although it kinda made things look bulky!), and smart bulbs for exterior light groups (but not smart switches; although I can see how things would have been much cleaner for me if I had used smart switches). HE works with Caseta so that's definitely something for me to look at.

As the new house gets closer to completion, I will have time to replace the contractor-standard switches and outlets as needed.

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And you can use pico controllers!!!

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Just get switch covers, they are really cheap and still allow you to use the switch if you really need to isolate the bulb, but would stop anyone operating them forgetfully.