Smart switches

Just got my Hubitat in the mail! Looking forward to plugging it in!

Apologies for yet another thread on smart switches, but due to a recent house move, my system is unworkable and the WAF is crashing. I need help for a quick solution, or at least tangible progress.

I need to add smart switches and replace existing dumb ones. For a bit more background, see here.

[edit: And see Post #40.... Hopefully, I give a vastly improved explanation for what I'm trying to do. But, come back for posts 2 to 39, cuz I got a lot of great answers including to questions I didn't ask!]

I'd like to get as many of the requirements below to match in both style and design. Even knowing which I can give up on matching would help.

edit: Below, what I mean by "controller remote" is to control the device rather than current, such as a smart bulb.. Telling the smart bulb to do something. By "switch" I mean controlling current rather than the device, such as dumb bulbs. So, where I say a "wired controller", it wouldn't be controlling the power, rather only being a powered device. "Non-wired" would mean battery operated, and obviously controlling a smart device. /edit

I need the following:

  1. Wired dimmer controllers remotes for smart bulbs,

  2. Non-wired dimmer controllers remotes for smart bulbs,

  3. Wired switches remotes to work with a fan 4-speed control module (assuming that's a thing - and pointers on the control module would help, since a lot of this has to happen all at once),

  4. Non-wired switches remotes to work with a fan 4-speed control module (see above),

  5. Wired on/off switches (oddball things like bathroom vent fan and fireplace flue fan), and

  6. Non-wired on/off switches (oddball things like swimming pool pump). edit: As per above, this is impossible. What I meant was non-wired on/off controllers. /edit

Does all that make sense, or am I going off-track yet again? Does any one company make all these? How close can I get?

GE Jasco makes most. The "unique one" is the fan controller. I think there's lots that will get a checkmark for everything else. However, unless you get the very latest, they don't send the status back.

However, again you're seeming to join a smart Switch/Dimmer to a Smart Bulb. If this really has to be quick and you have $$ enough to splurge, start by going to Lowes and picking up an armful of the GE/Jasco boxes they have and then another fistful of ordinary LED bulbs. Replace all your Smart Bulbs with the LEDs. Replace your wall switches/dimmers. WAF begins increasing. In my humble opinion. :slight_smile:

Take your box full of SmartBulbs and start finding Lamps you can modify to not power off. Don't use them anywhere else and WAF will remain high. Mix them and WAF will fall. If you can't find enough Lamps to modify, put the Smart Bulbs on Ebay :slight_smile:

1 Like

Do not do this, firstly you cannot dim a smart bulb that's connected to a standard bulb dimmer.
Smart bulbs are dimmable in their own right, and are designed to be connected to a constant source of power, but most importantly a constant source of voltage.
If you do this your smart bulb will not dim from the wired dimmer, and it won't even work from the wired dimmer unless the wired dimmer is at or near 100%

3 Likes

Swimming Pool pumps are often 20+ amps, possibly even 220VAC. ( Unless you're talking about a kiddie pool. :slight_smile: ) You'll need a very specialized device for that.

2 Likes

Items 1-4 are quickly and painlessly solved with Lutron RA2 switches and dimmers, along with an RA2 Select bridge. Also meets the design requirement, since there are a lot of style and color options. But it's not an inexpensive option, so keep that in mind to avoid sticker shock.

As @mike.maxwell wrote, you must not use conventional dimming on Smart Bulbs. You can control them with Picos as long as you have the RA2 Select bridge or a Caséta Pro SmartBridge if you're not going to go with RA2 select dimmers and switches. You won't be able to get a Caséta 4 speed fan controller, but the RA2 line does offer one and the Lutron products will meet the WAF in spades. They are very reliable. A perfect pairing with Hubitat you won't regret.

Item 5 can be handled with Z-Wave in-line controllers like Aeotec Nano Switch and Nano Dimmers

Item 6 can be handled with Pico switches for wireless control (via the Lutron RA2 Select hub and Hubitat). There are also Z-Wave controllers if you need more buttons and aesthetics are less important in certain areas.

Thanks!

Although I currently have mostly white smart bulbs, I plan on putting some form of color lighting throughout, whether in existing wired sockets, or as LED strips. That's a far in the future project, but I need to make sure to buy into the right brand or else have mis-matched crap, but at this time thinking I'd wire the LED controllers into the existing boxes where I need them controlled by the existing switch (for instance, replacing the existing light fixtures). Anyrate, correct me if I'm wrong, but I need a smart controller rather than switch to have color control.

If I got a bunch of switches that later needed to be changed out for controllers, the WAF improvement would be in exchange for future declines for the wasted money.

Thanks!

See above. What I mean by "controller" would be signalling Hubitat to signal the bulb, and by "switch" I mean controlling the current. (Edited it to include that.)

I assumed as much, but the "switch" itself would be separate from the "controller". This is an in the future thing, but want all my controllers/switches to match. No doubt I'll forget and/or misplace your advice and come asking about that laters. :slight_smile:

(edit: I mistated needing a "switch" for the pool pump. I will need an on/off controller, Obviously I don't really care what the switch looks like. Corrected.)

Thanks!

I tried to take your advice. I failed.

Holy Hell....., the price!!

Seriously, it's maybe an option. I don't need to do the replacements all at once, just need to know which, so I can get started.

And see above on what I mean with "controller" vs switch.

Let's get the Terminology correct.. yours differs.

A Controller is the Hubitat Hub

A Switch, Dimmer, Plug-in Module, Pool Switch, Smart Bulbs, etc are all Zwave devices. (or Zigbee, but so far we've stuck to the ZWave side of things in these conversations. )

A "dumb bulb" connected to a Smart Switch (dimmer) isn't a smart bulb :frowning: Mostly because that terminology has already been hijacked by .. Bulbs with a ZWave/Zigbee module inside it.

Yes, and if you look at custom colors and engraving it gets even more serious. Not for the faint of heart. If you're good with White, Off-White and Black, Caséta switches and dimmers, a Caséta Pro SmartBridge and Pico switches might be more palatable. Obviously there are many Z-Wave options, but I'm not a fan personally. Lot's of additional pitfalls and design variation that you simply will not run into with Lutron Caséta or RA2 product lines.

1 Like

To be honest, that doesn't really help. I will need.... a wall mounted interface for both smart and dumb bulbs and/or appliances (not to be mixed on any one circuit). I don't know what other words to use... What would a wall mounted interface that signals Hubitat to dim, color change and/or turn on or off a smart device be called, versus an interface to control the power to a dumb device?

Am I completely off track on what I need? If I'm controlling current [all dumb devices], it'd replace the existing switch, right? And if controlling the smart devices [such as smart bulbs, to become color bulbs at some point in the future], that too would replace the existing switch (but only be wired for powering itself)?

I hope I haven't already tainted the recommendations already provided by failing to explain myself!

edit: I've edited my original post to explain better, but if there are better words, I 'll edit again.

Forgive me, but is this your first smart home hub? If so, I'd go slow. You're not going to win the WAF by suddenly changing everything in my experience. There's much to learn.

Best way I've found to gain my wife's favor where this technology is concerned is to slowly add items that maybe only look different, but in no way operate different when she just wants to turn on a light. Believe me, I'm still getting complaints about the Sengled Element Plus bulbs.

Voice assistants are a nice place to start. Let her enjoy the convenience of music on demand, the timers (put it near the kitchen, trust me on that) and then slowly introduce the convenience of voice controlled lighting. Learn and expand from there, but take your time and buy quality product. Everyone in your household will be much happier and you'll end up spending less money, with far fewer frustrations.

1 Like

Based on my experience zigbee smart bulbs. Normal, color temp, color or all of the above are far more capable than their zwave equals, are more plentiful and less expensive as well.
As far as a "controller" for smart bulbs, as mentioned, you have Hubitat, so you can control these from any device in your system, literally.
Probably the only way currently to have all your device plates match and provide an advanced level of operability would be to go the Pico Lutron Pro hub (or higher) route.
I'm not a big fan of the caseta line of dimmers and switches, but am a huge Lutron fan.


With picos and Lutron wall plates you have a huge selection of aesthetic and physical button options that arent budget busters.
Above, left to right:
5 button Pico, programmed as follows
Button 1 push, light on, held, set level 100%
Button 2 push level up 10%, held up 20%
Button 3 push, scene, varies by room
Button 4 push, level down 10%, held down 20%
Button 5 push light off, held all room lights off
4 button Pico, as above, favorite
4 button Pico, number engraving, runs the ceiling fan in the room.
4 button Pico with shade engraving, controls the shades in the room.
None of my dimmers and switches are Lutron.
I have zwave, zigbee and lan lighting, all run by picos via hubitat.
This type of setup provides a rediculious level of aesthetic consistency and programitic control.

3 Likes

I've got an ST, but haven't done much with switches/controllers or whatever we're not calling them. Just some Hue dimmers. (Which is an example of what I'm calling a "controller", to differentiate it from a "smart switch" to control the actual power.)

I thought I said it clearly, but I guess tonight is just not my night for being able to make talk understanding. I'm not planning on actually installing all this stuff at once. That would be suicide!!

I'll lay out what I have in mind immediately, but again, I want to buy into a design that won't be all mismatched, if possible. Please, tell me if I'm off track.

I'll be doing the living area, to expand later. That includes...

  • One wired to a currently dumb fan. I'm presuming I can add something to the fan itself to make it smart, and have the wall.. thingy (gah!) just wired in for self-power. [edit: An option to air-gap off would be nice, but not critical. /edit] Maybe the bit to make the fan smart would be in the wall, but I'd think it'd need to replace the pull chain switch.

edit: if it matters, the above fan has a light fixture, on a separate circuit. /edit

  • One wired to a currently dumb fan with (white) smart bulbs, to be upgraded to color later. I'm splitting it to a non-wired add-on to control the bulbs (not sockets - so that it will be ready for color bulbs later), and a wired one to [see above re: making dumb fans smart].

  • One wired to (white) smart lights, to be upgraded to color. Replacing with something to control bulbs, not sockets.

edit: Sorry! Missed one!

  • Need to "add" two new switches. Obviously, these will need to be smart bulbs regardless of color, but they do overlap with the latter two sets of lights listed.

edit2: Annndd.... I forgot, one for currently color smart bulbs, which would control the bulbs and not sockets. /edit2

/edit

That's it for now, but looking into the perhaps distant future, will need the other options I listed (unless, of course, I'm wrong).

So as you see from @mike.maxwell 's posted photos, those are all Pico remotes . Nothing there is physically wired. The Pico remotes are communicating with the Lutron bridge, the bridge is communicating with Hubitat and in Mike's case (as he explained in another post), Hubitat is communicating with Aeotec Nano Switch and Nano Dimmers. The shades have a different bridge they need, but that's not on your list at this time.

What you can take from that is he has quality controls that do not cost too much, are very reliable (batteries last for many years) and they have pleasing design aesthectics and choices.

Color bulbs are somewhat gimmicky in my experience. Your wife may not approve of the cost. Color tunable white light is more useful. If you're going to go either way, Hue is an excellent choice and Hubitat can control the bridge directly. This has advantages over directly pairing the bulbs with Hubitat. You can also now use Ikea TrĂĄdfri bulb with the Hue bridge and Hubitat, so that's a decent smart bulb choice at a lower cost (but I do still prefer Hue bulbs).

1 Like

Alright, so.... I think I'm confusing myself between what I want with what's immediately practical, while trying to make sure what I want is understood. (My unrelated headache isn't helping me either.) So, I'm not trying to be thick, but essentially, my options are:

  1. Use relatively inexpensive battery powered Picos to control smart bulbs (I have currently have about 10 white Hues and 5 color Hues),

  2. Use relatively inexpensive wired switches to control the sockets, and ditch the smart bulbs, or

  3. Use expensive Lutrons for both, and never be able to afford more color bulbs to later replace the whites.

If option one or two, they won't match each other for controlling the fan and lights that are currently on a single circuit.

Is that correct? (Pretty sure I've missed something important.)

edit: So I should use terms "remotes" instead of "controllers"... But wouldn't I want powered remotes where possible?? I'm feeling like this thread has gone too far sideways for me to keep up.

That's one option. You will need a Caséta SmartBridge Pro, since Lutron uses their own "Clear Connect" technology to communicate with the Picos, switches and dimmers.

Use relatively inexpensive wired switches to control the sockets, and ditch the smart bulbs,

I have a mix in my house. I have tinnitus, so I won't tolerate any high frequency ringing or buzzing in my house anymore. My preference for bulbs are Zigbee bulbs or incandescent. The smart switches I have are either controlling outside lights, fluorescent, or bulbs that do not make a sound. It can be maddening to try to find the right conventional bulb to use with a smart switch that won't flicker and dim perfectly too.

You will be putting a stake in the sand with smart switches. Replacement is always an option, but that's where the overall smart home becomes a hobby, not a cost savings.

There are multiple components needed to make any of this work, but if your prior experience is SmartThings, theres a completely improve experience waiting for you with Hubitat. I would never have attempted many of the integrations I've done in my home now, if not for the stability and local processing of Hubitat. It's a completely different ball game,

Hence, take your time. Make informed decisions.

1 Like

Full disclosure and no offense, but I've cross-posted to SmartThings. I will, of course, bear in mind that I'll need to check Hubitat compatibility for any hypothetical options presented. Honestly, I mucked up the initial post so badly, I need the sanity check - it's not that I don't trust the options you've presented are what they are.

Thanks all! and keep the suggestions coming, if I have other options.

If we really care about terminology… :wink:

Both zigbee and Z wave have a device class called a controller which is other than the primary hub.

For example, in zwave the Aeon minimote is a remote controller.

https://products.z-wavealliance.org/products/142

In zigbee, the Phillips hue dimmer switch is a non-color scene controller.

http://www.zigbee.org/zigbee-products-2/#zigbeecertifiedproducts/productdetails3/570762839e96e8fd10b24a3c/

In standard network engineering, the difference between a switch and a controller is simple:

The network can issue an on/off command to a switch. It cannot to a controller. A switch has state. A controller does not.

In the hubitat context, the hub is the primary Z wave controller, but there are lots of other devices that may be other kinds of controllers. Most typically lighting or scene controllers.

But part of the basic definition of a "switch" is that it can receive a network command to turn on or off.

Since I've already been participating in the linked threads about this project on the other forum, I'll leave my other comments for that venue. :sunglasses:

3 Likes

I've taken yet another stab at editing my initial post, and after fixing some of the stuff I mislabeled as needing a "switch" (I actually did know what I meant, just said the wrong thing)... I've realized the vast majority of what I need are remotes (much better word than "controller"!!). But I'm still a bit uneasy about closing off the option for matching switches. I'm still long-term guess-planning on what I'll need everywhere.

(and @ everyone else)

A few touch-up questions before I pull a trigger.... First, just to make sure I'm not... stupid.... All the options listed here under "Dimmer & Switches" are switches for dumb devices (and I certainly hope I'm not wrong that the ones under "Pico Remotes" are remotes, only for smart devices)?

I'm not clear on the difference between the "Smart Lighting Dimmer Switch for Wall and Ceiling Lights" and the "Smart Lighting Dimmer Switch for ELV+ Bulbs"...?

Do they match a standard wallplate cover?

And I will need the SmartBridge...? Are there different options - SmartHomePrimer, you mentioned a "Pro SmartBridge" - they just being grandiose in their marketing, or is there a non-pro version? If so, would only the "Pro" work, or should I check into them?

As an off-topic issue, as I mentioned above, I'll be wanting to smart-up my ceiling fans. That's doable? With options compatible with Lutron? In general, am I okay in researching the fan options later rather sooner? (But I gotta deal with switch covers, and we have stupid metal ones so aside from mismatching through the house, each bank of switches will need to be done at once.... If it's not one thing, it's another :face_with_raised_eyebrow:)

Need to reiterate, I really appreciate all the help! I feel a lot more focused in my options, and a LOT less lost in the weeds than two days ago!

Lutron does make a fan controller but it uses a different communication protocol than their smartbridge and there won't be any easy way to make it work with hubitat (or smartthings for that matter). Nor do I think you would want to, because it's based on an IR remote and you don't get status back if someone just turned it on at the wall switch. So I think most people are choosing the GE zwave fan controller device I already showed you in the other forum, or The Hampton Bay zigbee fan controller (although I'm not sure that one works with hubitat yet).

Since you had requested devices that would all look very similar after you had been given the links to the other FAQs, I assumed you had rejected Lutron since they don't have any matching fan switch.

As far as the Lutron bridge device, they do make several including the regular Lutron smartbridge and the Lutron smartbridge pro.

Going forward with home automation, you will save yourself a lot of time and trouble and confusion if you adopt two "best practices" from now on:

  1. if someone in the forums gives you a link to an FAQ, go read that FAQ before you come back and ask another question. There's usually a lot of information there and it should clear up many questions. :sunglasses:

  2. get used to reading the user manuals for any device that you're interested in. Marketing people name the devices and write the product description blurbs. Engineers write the specifications that go into the user manuals. Again, you'll find a lot of information and a lot of questions that get cleared up just from reading the manual.

And as far as forum discussions, you'll save us all a lot of confusion and time if you give the brand and model number whenever you refer to a specific device. :+1:

OK, as far as the different Lutron dimmer models

http://www.casetawireless.com/Pages/Products.aspx

PD-6WCL

works with up to 150 W dimmable LED/CFL OR 600 W incandescent/ halogen bulbs. (Wallplate sold separately).

PD-5NE

works with dimmable LEDs, ELV, MLV, incandescent and halogen bulbs.

ELV is a specific type of Lighting, electronic low-voltage. That doesn't mean just any low-voltage bulb, it's a specific type that will be labeled "ELV." And MLV is similar, but "magnetic low voltage."

So the switch that says "ELV plus" works with a wider variety of bulb types.

MLV and ELV Lighting usually have a transformer, and getting a dimmer to work with these is really tricky. Because Lutron is primarily an engineering company focused on lighting, they have done a lot of work in this area.

The following is a highly technical paper that explains some of the issues and solutions. As a general consumer, you don't have to know any of this, you just have to know that if you do have ELV or MLV lighting you have to get a switch that is specifically made to work with that. But those who are interested in the technical reasons why should find this helpful:

But as far as the two switch models you named, you just need to read the specifications to see the differences. If there's anything in the specifications that you don't understand, feel free to ask and somebody will help. :sunglasses:

1 Like

Download the Hubitat app