Toggling Color Temperature of Dumb Lights

As I'm sure many users are, I'm very particular about my lighting. When I moved into a new house two years ago, I was dismayed not to have control of the "dumb" overhead LED puck lighting installed by the builder, which in its default state was very harsh. I wanted to rip the fixtures out and replace them with Hue recessed lighting fixtures, but I quickly concluded that was totally impractical. In the process of investigating the existing ceiling fixtures, however, I discovered that they have a little switch on the back that can change the color temperature of the LEDs from soft, to bright, to cool (3000K, 4000K, 5000K). This feature is on the back of many recessed LED puck lights you can find in hardware stores, and is generally a one-time set-and-forget option which wouldn't do me much good as someone who likes daylight colored light in the day and warm light at night.

However, I was delighted to discover that my particular lights each had a fourth switch position on the back of the fixture: toggle. When this position is set, you can use the wall switch to quickly toggle the power to the light, and kick it to the next color temp. As long as you turn them off and then back on within less than 2 seconds, they will change to the next temp. Longer than that, and they will stay the same temp when turned back on.

I had an old SmartThings hub laying around, and I bought a few Lutron switches to see if I could start automating them to set the color temperature on demand. I quickly determined that something of the sort could work, but the SmartThings' latency was killing me because it wouldn't reliably turn the dimmers off and back on within the 2-second window. That was what first led me to Hubitat.

A year and a half later, the "dumb" ceiling lights throughout my house automatically change color temperature 2x a day and integrate with all my scenes. I have it set up as follows:

In each room, I have the overhead lights connected to a Lutron Dimmer. In addition, each room has 3 virtual switches that track and control the color temp of the overhead lights (e.g. Virtual Switches called Bedroom Warm, Bedroom Bright, and Bedroom Cool). When any of those virtual switches is triggered, I have a webCoRE piston that handles the logic of the required toggling to effectuate the necessary color temp change (e.g., When Bedroom Cool turns on, if Bedroom Warm is on, turn the Lutron dimmer on, off, on, off, on, then turn off Bedroom Warm VS). Now the lights have transitioned and the virtual switches accurately reflect the new color temp status.

It took a little trial and error with the wait times and transition speeds, but with a little tinkering I got the transitions working very reliably.

To integrate this with Scenes, all I had to do is create some further logic that triggers the correct virtual switch and gives the toggles a few seconds to make their changes if necessary before activating the rest of the scene. Thus, at sunset, the overhead lights throughout my house now flash themselves from cool to warm before setting the right dimmer levels and triggering all the evening colors for my Hue lights. It works beautifully.

As these type of dumb LED lights are increasingly common especially in new construction, I thought others might benefit from the information. If you can, get the kind where the temp can be toggled from the power switch!


A warm welcome to a VERY COOL (even BRIGHT) idea! Thanks for sharing your insights.
How often do your rules/VS'es and the physical lights get out of sync, if ever?

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Not often. I'd say at this point about once a month or even less. It happens only in 3 cases: 1) someone accidentally toggles the switches on/of manually in quick succession (very rare); 2) motion lighting reactivates in less than 2 seconds after turning off (most common, but rare given the timeouts I have set), or 3) several lights connected to one switch get out of sync with each other due to some infinitesimal difference/quirk in the circuit, and you have 3 overhead lights warm and 1 cool or something.

The first two cases are easily fixed by simply manually toggling the wall switch, as the product is designed. Takes 2 seconds. Both could be fixed with rules but I haven't bothered to implement those fixes because the problems so rarely occur, and the manual resync is so easy, that it's not worth the mental energy.

The third case was contemplated by the fixtures' designers as something that could happen under normal use unrelated to automated switches--so when multiple lights on one circuit get out of sync with one another, you toggle 10x and they all reset to warm no matter what temp they were individually at before, thus resyncing them. In most rooms I have a Pico button set to perform this 10x toggle when held, if the need ever arises, but again---very rare.

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I've seen lights like that, but not been interested in pursuing, primarily because all the flickering would bug the heck out of me. But better than nothing, I'm sure!

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