Smart switches

One more thought:

The Definition of "Smart Switch" Varies by Context, But There is one Simple One

There's a technical definition of "switch" that matters to people like me (network engineers) but definitely doesn't matter to the people who write marketing blurbs or name products, and doesn't matter to most people buying home automation.

Instead, the term "smart switch" is used for pretty much any device which uses network communications to cause another device to act, whether that is by talking to it directly, by controlling current, or by sending a message to the hub. So it doesn't really matter whether the technical device class is "switch", "multi level switch" (dimmer), remote, scene controller, button, whatever. If you are writing your own device driver, you will have to know. But otherwise, it's just a thing you use to initiate an event on another thing.

A smart bulb is a bulb which includes a radio so that it can receive network commands.

A smart switch in this context could be hardwired, battery operated, controlling current or not, whatever. It's usually just one big bucket that we use to distinguish an initiator device that hears/sends network commands from one that doesn't.

A smart bulb is different because it's not an initiator in and of itself, although you might set up other devices to you "follow" or "mirror" it.

So when we say "smart switch" most of the time we're just distinguishing between that and a dumb switch.

Distinctions that Matter to Some People but Not Others

If you want to distinguish between a device that controls current and one that doesn't, it's usually better to just go ahead and say that with the long phrases. That way nobody will get confused.

If hard wired versus battery operated is important to you, then again use the long phrases.

And if dimmer switch versus plain on/off switch matters, again, use the long phrases.

The issue we run into is that if you try to use just the term "switch" you're going to run into problems because it actually has different meanings in different contexts for home automation. People like me who have to worry about the deep down technical details will then have to ask the questions to elicit the long phrase descriptions anyway, just to make sure were all talking about the same thing.

Remotes, Also

So in your case, honestly I would just drop the short term "remote" all together, it's only going to muddy the waters. You could say "pico remotes" because then you are talking about a specific brand and model. But "remote" itself just has a lot of different meanings and they vary by manufacturer.

Describe what you want to do in terms of what matters to you. Don't bother trying to parse the exact terminology.

I know all this is super confusing when you just start out. :scream: That's why it's better to give examples with details of the use case, or specific model numbers, rather than trying to just use technical terminology which might mean one thing to one person and something else to someone else.

You can say "smart switch" for pretty much any device Which will initiate the network sequence that causes another device to do something and everybody will understand what you mean. As soon as you start trying to parse it more finely, though, we're going to end up with 57 posts about just what a "switch" is. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

(just as one example, it's going to drive me crazy until I point out that Lutron switches are indeed "smart switches" even though they aren't using either zwave or Zigbee. And even though they are mostly dimmers. Feel free to ignore this entire paragraph. LOL!

But this is exactly the kind of discussion I think we can all agree we can usually dispense with all together unless we're talking about The technical details of the messages being transmitted over the network.)


Just so's you know, we're leaning against the paddle style switches solely for stylistic reasons - we don't care for that design. Haven't run Lutron by the spouse, but I prefer their looks. Otherwise, paddles would have done everything I requested reasonably possible, and if Lutron doesn't check enough boxes, I'll be taking another look at those.

edit: And, unless I'm confused yet again, the two-button Lutron should be able to be setup through ST/Hubitat to do "up/down" speed on the fan (with off/on as being the lowest/highest speeds, respectively)...? So long as users don't need to read the manual to know how it's supposed to work. /edit

For the specific options, I'll do the research - with a focus on the GE and Hampton Bay - then decide; I've got more time on that. I'm concerned if I replace the switch, I'll lose the ability to cut power. Feel free to answer the concern, but again.... I will research that in the forums before doing anything. The key point is getting controls that have both a switch and remote option (and expecting those to be designed for fans seems to be asking too much with the current market).

Ouch! But fair.

I'm sure every question has been answered already, repeatedly, probably specifically by you. I only hope my gratitude makes up for it. Failing that, at least I'll be able to turn my lights on without discussing it with Google Home. I'm just in a rush to make a decision; I doing it in reverse order, so to speak. First, make a decision based on recommendations... Then, yes sir, I will read the manual. :roll_eyes:


edit: With this immediate issue, apologizing is the closest I'll come to following your advice on reading first then asking questions... To be blunt, if you keep answering them, I'm going to keep asking them; I'll gratefully keep harassing you! :grinning: :grinning: But just on this one thing, and my shit will calm down. You'll be able to go to the next stubborn ignorant recovering Luddite. /edit

Thanks... Seems the ELV doesn't apply to me, but I'll read through the whitepaper - looks interesting.

Good info. I know some of it is on me, but the language of "smart devices" just hasn't standardized yet. It'll get there, or at least not be as bad. The other issue is there's so many different flavors. A lot of that is for retrofitting into existing setups. It'll take 30 years or more for that to go away enough houses being built with home automation baked in, but some of the variations will go away.

Not only am I annoying for asking about crap that's been discussed a million times, but doing it badly :slight_smile: I have a tendency to get too wordy by describing stuff in excruciating detail, and went the wrong way.

I gotcha. I actually do mostly understand the concepts. I didn't just fail to explain, I used some phenomenally bad words, and since I actually do understand the concepts, I got no good excuse. I should have known that "remote" and "switch" are about as precise as "smart" (and even worse, "controller"). Lesson learned. Use "wired switch to control power to dumb device" or "battery powered remote to control smart device" (etc.), and let the specific discussion determine which words can be dropped for in-context short-hand.

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You want to have fun with terminology?

Put a contractor, an electrician, and a network engineer in the same room and mention the term "wireless." I guarantee you the ensuing conversation will cause heads to explode. :wink:



Probably won't work. You don't want the Lutron switch to directly control the current/voltage to the fan. Remember, don't use a lighting control device to control a multi speed fan motor for the reasons we've previously discussed.

If you're talking about a battery powered Lutron device, then, yes, it could send a message to the hubitat hub – – but you would still have to have a second smart device actually controlling the fan motor or nothing will happen. This is usually a device in the fan canopy rather than where the wall switch goes, but it depends on the specific brand/model of the fan and the wiring that it uses.

I suggest you start a new thread here in this forum just asking what people are using for multi speed fan control. I'm not familiar with all the hubitat options available. :sunglasses:

@Roguetech You've been school by one of the best! I'm assuming you now understand that, yes there is a Lutron Caséta SmartBridge and SmartBridge Pro. The primary difference is the ability for Hubitat to communicate with the Pro version via Telnet. That capability does not exist in the non-Pro version.

Lutron does have a 4 speed fan controller, but not in the Caséta product line, it's only available in RA2. So this does mean that if you were to decide that you wanted to install Lutron Caséta dimmers and switches together with a Caséta SmartBridge Pro, you would not be able to add their fan controller later on. For that you would need the Lutron RA2 Select bridge, and that is not compatible with Caséta dimmers and switches, only RA2 dimmers and switches.

Hubitat can interface with both the Lutron Caséta SmartBridge Pro (this is what I own) and the Lurtron RA2 Select bridge. Your decision with Lutron would be what is your budget and can you live without a matching fan controller. If you can, the Caséta is a lot more affordable, and you can get Z-Wave fan controllers or the Hampton Bay fan controller. The Hampton Bay fan controller is compatible with Hubitat via a driver from @stephack. However, I'm personally not a fan of the look of the controls.

I believe you said you already had separate wiring for the light and fan, so you might also just consider controlling the fan lights via Hubitat directly or through a compatible bridge at the switch and use standard bulbs. Then for the fan control, just use a Lutron Maestro fan controller for manual control at the switch. That would give you 7-speeds, not just 4. It's a lot less expensive, works very well (I have two of them) and it matches the Lutron style.

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With most of the Lutron maestro devices, if someone turned it on at the switch, the hub will not be aware of the change in state. Is that not true with the fan device?

True. Lutron was marketing the RA2 Select with a compatible Maestro fan controller, but they have since changed it to RA2.

I’m suggesting the idea of not automating the fan, just the lights. There are lots of options for automating fans, but not as many as one might expect, and aesthetics seem to be an afterthought with most of them.

The idea of not automating a fan isn’t for everyone, especially the home automation enthusiast. However, you can spend quite a bit just trying to solve that single issue, and in my opinion there are more useful things to spend my dollars automating.

I'm sorry.... I think I've had a severe oversight and misunderstanding. Does Caseta make in-wall, powered remotes to control smart devices? I thought I saw the option and had interpreted that from above, but while pricing to start buying, and now I dont see them...I'm confused.

Battery powered. You take a regular deco wall plate, one of these pico wall mounts and a Pico. When it's done, you can't tell that it's surface mounted or that it's mounted over a switch box that does't acually contain a switch that goes inside the box. Lutron says the Pico batteries will last 10 years.

With Hubitat, a Lutron bridge and the Button Controller app or Advance Button Controller from @stephack, you can program a Pico to control anything Hubitat can control, whether it is a physical Caséta switch, an RA2 switch, a Z-Wave switch, zigbee switch, a smart outlet, or smart bulb connected directly to Hubitat, or through another bridge like Hue. Does not matter, it's controllable.

@EdwardN, I couldn't find your post where you showed the example of how you can combine Caséta switches and Picos with a 3-gang plate. It's a great example of how you can use Pico anywhere to act as a programable switch. Could you post for @Roguetech please.

You must have either a Lutron Caséta SmartBridge Pro 2 or a Lutron RA2 Select Main Repeater to use Picos with Hubitat.

Caseta is Lutrons entry device line, Lutron controllers are picos, they are all battery powered with a claimed 10 year battery life.
You can wall mount them, or pedestal mount them, or not mount them.
With picos, a Lutron bridge and Hubitat these can control anything in your system.


As @mike.maxwell has said before, he uses Aeotec Nano Switches and Nano Dimmers in his home with Pico as the physical control. So basically, you can either take out an existing switch, connect the hot and the load together so there is always power to the light socket and put in a smart bulb to control with a pico you mount over the empty hole, or you can put one of the above Aeotec Nano Z-wave devices in the switch box and cover it with a pico and wall plate. You can even put the Nano device in the light canopy or box if there's room and it fits your need.

The Pico talks to the Lutron bridge, the bridge talks to Hubitat, and Hubitat controls the device (Aeotec Nano, smart bulb, smart switch, whatever). You can even create three-way or four-way switches without any wiring at all by just choosing a spot on a wall and mounting a pico there. Or not mount them at all, as Mike had mentioned. Keep it on a table, use the included mount to stick it somewhere without a plate or maybe one of Lutron's pedestals.

You can even control HomeKit devices (and non-HomeKit compatible devices via HomeKit automations and Homebridge plug-ins) by integrating Homebridge with Hubitat via @tonesto7 's port of @pdlovelace 's Homebridge plug-in. I'm controlling Insteon devices (not yet directly supported in Hubitat [Nudge-nudge @patrick] ) with Picos and Hubitat by using the Hubitat Homebridge plug-in and a plug-in for Homebridge called Insteonlocal

There are very few limits to what you can do if you're motivated. I'm not a developer, but with the help of all these talented developers and patience to take my time, learn and follow directions, I'm not hitting very many bumps in the road. I've never been happier with any home automation system up to now.

This is a Pico I simply surface-mounted on the wall next to my back door. It turns my deck light on/off (which is actually controlled by an Insteon wall switch) and if you hold the top button, it turns on my dining room lights, which are Sengled Element Plus bulbs in a ceiling fan. The Sengled bulbls are connected directly to Hubitat. If you press the up/down arrows, you can dim/brighten dining room the lights. If you press the middle button, it dims the dining room lights to 20%. If you press the bottom button once, it just turns off the deck light, but if you hold the bottom button, it turns off the dining room light. If you hold the middle button, it turns off both the deck light and the dining room light.


Caséta and RA2 switches and dimmers support [air gap], as well as some Z-Wave and possibly some Zigbee switches. I couldn't name any of the Z-Wave switches, but lots of Hubitat and ST owners could.

Honestly not trying to "sell" Lutron to you, but from what you've indicated, it itches all the right spots. I do think you'd be happier with RA2 if you really feel you need that air gap feature, but you have to be comfortable with that large up-front investment if you're eager to change many switches at once. Caséta are good, but not as programmable or as high-quality as RA2 switches and dimmers. That's not to say Caséta are garbage, they're not. Lutron makes good product, period. But RA2 are professional grade, not consumer grade.

[EDIT] LOL, if I'm going to take the time to answer your questions, don't delete them before I can finish :crazy_face: If your post is not irrelevant (which it wasn't) or offensive, you might consider leaving the question up, especially long enough to get an answer, so someone else with a similar question could benefit.

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Just one point to remember when mixing protocols...

In most places in the US, you do meet local residential code if you have totally automated your lighting. In other words, they don't require a switch on the wall. They do have rules about where the Wall Switch has to be if you have one, but if you want to operate your lighting by voice or motion sensor or time schedules, it probably will meet code. So that usually covers you from a code standpoint if you have lighting mechanisms which will only work when your home automation system is working. Such as a pico/nano combination.

There is, however, one common exception: in many jurisdictions if you have an attic light, you will be required to have a manual wall switch within 6 feet of the entrance to the attic. That is, it has to be a switch that will work even if your home automation system is not working. This is obviously intended for safety, it's just interesting that it only applies to the attic.

( I still think this was proposed by some building inspector who had a bad experience with a bat or a raccoon or something but in any case it is in the code in many places.)

@Navat604 @mike.maxwell


This is quite interesting. I know I don't have an attic switch. It's a fixture way far away from the entrance with no switch and a pull chain :slight_smile:

Course it's also an older house. Maybe I should add a switch to that. Or not. When I bought the place the inspector didn't say anything about it. Of course I live in West Virginia so some things are a little different here :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Yeah, it's not true everywhere, and it wouldn't surprise me if West Virginia hadn't adopted it. It's just one of those things to check with your local jurisdiction.

Sorry. The question is still relevant, and your answer appreciated, but... among other reasons, I withdrew it to take the time to read back through all the comments and links so I'm not annoying everyone asking things already answered twice. I was willing to inconvenience people for a quick off-the-top-of-your-head type answer, but this has long since grown into a bigger topic that I ever expected. If I don't find where the answer(s) had already been given to me, then I will regroup, explain my needs again coherently (and everyone has helped me clarify what those are!) and ask the question again.

I should point you to resources you may not be aware of. A couple acutally, but I have personal interest in the first. Home: On with Richard Gunther is a great podcast to learn about home automation products, techniques and other info. The Internet of Things Podcast with Stacey Higgenbotham and Kevin Tofel is another. For a mix of consumer and professional product prospectives, with Jason Griffing and Seth Johnson is also very helpful.

@patrick was just interviewed by Richard in EP# 104 and Lutron products with Hubitat were specifically discussed. Stacey also talked about Hubitat a few weeks ago, and the guys at Hometech had a shorter interview with Patrick a few weeks before that.

I listen to every episode and it really helps you get an understanding of where home automation has been and where it's going. You'll have a much clearer picture of it all if you combine all these sources of info (Podcasts, newsletters, forums, etc.).


@SmartHomePrimer, as you seem to be really knowledgeable about Lutron's line of products I was hoping to pick your brain a bit. I have numerous Caseta products now (started off with them as they were compatible with the Wink Hub 2), but I am running into a problem as I am encroaching on the 50 device limit of my hub. I am at the point where I need to consider adding another pro hub. Before I do I would like to look at the RA2 (RA2 Select). I have reviewed some of Lutron's literature and still have a few questions. With the RA2 select, I would need a main repeater along with a bridge hub? As far as I can tell the PD-6WCL's and pico's are compatible with RA2 (Select?) while my plug in dimmers aren't, do you know if that is indeed the case? I am interested in the RA2 as they seem to have more options for remotes, although hard to find north of the 49th let alone in Edmonton, have you used any different models other than the standard casetta pico's and are they only compatible with the RA2's? Sorry for the barrage of questions, I am just loving the Lutron integration and it is solving so many of my problems... Thanks!

[Like the initial post, this is a cross-post, with added mentions and the bit towards JD.]

Since everyone has helped me evolve and clarify my needs and just exactly what I'm actually trying to accomplish and why, I'm going to do a mini reboot and lay those needs out again, just to make sure I'm not missing something... And hopefully get more focused answers. The needs are really the same as before, even though there's some big "on paper" differences than my initial post.

As a TL;DNR, I want to implement smart device user controls so that they appear and operate as if the house had been designed with color smart lighting in mind to begin with. :grinning: As such, I want to maintain both the simplicity and ease of dumb switches, as well as maintain their functionality. In other words, I'll probably add touch-screens/control panels later, but they will be relegated to a couple of high activity/seating areas and not used as the primary day-to-day way to do the simple stuff (essentially, they'll be admin panels for family/guests :wink:)

As I see it, I can go two routes. The first could be summarized as "replace all dumb switches with smart switches than can control smart devices and/OR the power", as follows (all these numbered "1.n", where my second way of accomplishing things below will be "2.n"):

1.1a) Replace existing dumb switches with powered switches for smart devices (eg to control Hue bulbs - not controlling power).

1.1b) I want to maintain the existing functionality of cutting power to the circuit, for maintenance/emergencies (eg an "air gap").

1.2) I want to add new switches exist to the house where they don't currently [exist] for controlling smart devices (eg Hue lights).

1.3) I want them to match (including the Bonus item below).

1.4) Some of these switches will need be able to do dimming, so there should be an option for 1.1a, 1.1b AND 1.2 as dimmers (though dimmers may be acceptable everywhere... but, I like the Lutron design options with both dimmer and two-button).

Bonus; I also have a couple dumb devices that I would like to control, and would want the switch to control the power for those. Since there's only a couple (I believe literally two), this is no longer a priority for me.

I'm getting the feeling that even with mix-matching, getting these requirements would be tricky at best, and only with matching by overall style, as per @JDRoberts suggestion of paddle-style switches. If someone presented another option that qualifies, then I must humbly apologize, for I have missed it (but I'm going back through them). Seems the tricky part is wired controllers to signal smart devices.

@JDRoberts... Well, just FWIW, paddle-style switches are maybe back on the table (though, I may prefer route #2 below). Second, I am CURRENTLY going through the FAQs and such, but it's taking me a bit because... 1) Against my preference I really should do some actual work (well, what they think of as "actual work"... I keep telling them I am working!), and 2) A lot of it is confusing me. Any rate, you linked to a FAQ that mentions the Gocontrol 3-Way Wall Accessory Switch. Is that anything that's remotely suited for my needs?


The second route (which really isn't about "smart devices") is to maintain separate dumb switches, but not display them prominently on my walls (if I'm picky about wall art... why should I display switches on my walls?!):

edit: All of these can be summarized as "put remotes (eg for Hue bulbs) in front of recessed dumb switches". /edit

2,1) Replace the existing switch boxes in the wall with a "recessed" model (maybe like this??),

2.2) Recess the existing switches (possibly with miniaturized models, if that's a thing),

2.3) Get battery switches for controlling smart devices (eg Hue bulbs) for everywhere (except the two dumb-devices in "Bonus" above),

2.4) Get (or, hypothetically, make) a wall holder for the battery switches that allow easy removal AND have a cut-out back (like the Hue dimmer or Pico mount, but with a hole in the backside - see below for why),

2.5) Place the battery switches over top the recessed dumb switches, where the hole in the mount allows access to the recessed switches behind.

If I want to get at the switch, I pull off the remote, easy. The only issue I can think of (aside from effort and cost) is if I someone walks off with the remote,, it might look ugly/weird. But, they will mostly live on the wall, and I'll pretend like I have the skill to not to do a hack job on the electrical box and in-line switches.

Just FYI, with route #2, I'm leaning towards Lutron (thanks, @SmartHomePrimer [and Mike.Maxwell!]). If I'm not mistaken (for a change) Caseta/Pico allows all of the first route except 1.1a (and half of 1.1b), including Bonus, so it might be nice in case I come across any other places where I need control the power. Or for that matter, scale back my plans on color lighting and just use dumb bulbs.

Again... In general, what I want to accomplish is to design my smart lighting - using color smart bulbs - to be look and work as if the house had been made for them. No superfluous switches, or bulbous mounts over a switch, or mismatched controls, or child-proof locks. If I can't do it from the "smart switch" route, I'll just build the smart remotes over the switches... At least, until someone tells me why I that would be a dumbass thing to try (annnnd... queue JD :wink:).

I believe that I read in another post from @bravenel that you can pair multiple Caseta hubs to hubitat.


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