Aqara smart switch + Philips Hue bulb

Hello. I’ve already got Philips Hue lights throughout the house, I’m about to redecorate the house and I consider replacing our traditional light switches with the Aqara wired smart switches.

The appeal for the wired smart switches is that we can still control the lights even if Home Assistant is down.

First question: I’m wondering if it’s also possible to combine it with automation, so for instance to turn on the light with different brightness and colour temperature based on the time of the day. Also, I’d like to light to turn on at different brightness if it was a short press or long press on the switch.

I reckon it could be tricky because the bulb would be powered off when the light is off, and the bulb would only be powered on after someone presses the switch on the wall. So I guess maybe it depends how long it takes for the bulb firmware to start up before it can receive a command from Home Assistant? Is it possible? Has anyone done it?

Second question: do you know if it’s possible to control the switch itself from Home Assistant. This would be required for a motion sensor to turn on the light, as it would need to power the bulb first, and then as per previous question, I could send a second message to the bulb to set the correct brightness and colour.

This is the switch I’m considering:

Thanks in advance

  1. Don’t mix smart switches with smart bulbs
  2. The aqara h1 seems to work from online documentation Aqara H1 EU Wall Switch (No Neutral, Single Rocker) (WS-EUK01) Zigbee compatibility
  3. Don’t buy the aqara hub.

If you want to combine smart switches and smart bulbs you will need to pick a really “smart” switch.

For some of my lights and switches I use smart bulb’s running ESPHome and I use Lanbon L8 switches running openHASP.
This combination enables you to get the best of both worlds if you can accept a switch that has no physical toggle but only a touch screen for control. To me and even my wife this is acceptable because the switch offer a UI that mimic a big button that when pressed toggle the light on and off. And next to the button I have a slider so instead of on/off I can set the brightness if I want to.
With this combination of switch and bulbs I can do the following:

  1. Control light remotely from Home Assistant
  2. Control light locally from the switch
  3. Control brightness, temperature and color from either the switch or Home Assistant.
  4. Control other things including other lights, garage doors etc from the switch. Example I can control lights in an adjacent room from my switch.
  5. Control individual light bulbs from the switch.
    In my case I have in one room 4 BR30’s on one switch, 2 A21 bulb’s on a second switch and a single BR30 on a third Lanbon L8 switch. I can control all 7 together, I can control individual bulb’s (say one of the 4 BR30s) etc from the switch - and of course I can do the same from Home Assistant.
  6. On one of my switches which I use for backyards lights I also display my pool temperature - just because I can :slight_smile:
  7. What I haven’t done yet is to make use of the build in mood light in the Lanbon switches so that if its dark in the room the moonlight is turned on to indicate where the switches are.
  8. The Lanbon switch measure power so in Home Assistant I can see how much power each of my switches consume. I could add this to the switch UI itself - I just haven’t done it.

It’s important to note that control from Home Assistant or other apps is NOT dependent on whether the lights are turned on at the switch! In my configuration the bulbs are always powered as I set brightness to zero to mimic turning off the lights.

In case Home Assistant for whatever reason isn’t available the switch fall back to a mode where the UI control the relay inside the switch and the bulbs are programmed to turn on with a predefined brightness and color temperature. This way the combination works without Home Assistant or without WiFi.

Thanks Robert - I think you’ve clarified the need: a (very) smart switch where the button is decoupled from the relay when connected to Home Assistant (in a position to power the bulb), and a fallback where the button is coupled with the relay when disconnected from Home Assistant/offline.

I know the Aqara switch has 2 modes coupled/decoupled, so it’s almost possible… the one million dollar question being how to tell it to fall back to coupled configuration when Home Assistant is down.

How did you achieve your fallback? Is it part of a custom firmware you flashed on the switch?

openHASP has a build in mechanism that when it detects that WiFi is missing it can load a different set of UI pages.
You interact with openHASP on a display where you can define buttons, sliders etc and actions from pressing these elements is send to Home Assistant using MQTT. It’s then up to Home Assistant to determine what happens when - say a button is pressed, a slider is changed, a color is selected on a color picker UI element. You can however also define a button to directly (without the need for Home Assistant) to control the relays inside the Lanbon switch or in case you have the Lanbon slider switch version you can directly control the slider. This allows you to combine the Lanbon switch with a regular dimmable bulb and achieve dimmable lighting.
The fallback that I use then is that when WiFi is missing I limit the UI to just a button that toggles the light on and off (and as I mentioned in my first post - my bulbs are programmed to “on-boot” set the light to a predefined level. Hope this helps.

The more I dig into the topic, the more I realise there is no ideal solution - or I’ve not found it yet. For me, even the “on-boot” sets the light to a predefined level is not great because in case everything (HA, wi-fi, zigbee) is working fine but there is a power cut in the middle of the night, it means the lights will turn on when the power is back.

In my set up I’m not too worried about the wi-fi going down: working from home, I’ve got a fall back modem router with a second provider (using a sim card) to take over should my fibre connection be unavailable. (using same wifi SSID and password).

I’m more concerned about Home Assistant being down (hardware failure or else) or zigbee network (MQTT) being unavailable.

The products behind openHASP look quite interesting though, so I’ll have a more details look at them. Thanks for the link!

I’ve read this advice many times on the internet, but I’m not sure I can agree: in order to work as intended smart bulbs must be powered on all the time. And therefore can’t be combined with a traditional switch in my opinion.

But maybe I’m missing something? How would you get a traditional switch and smart bulb working together? (I dismiss straight away the solution consisting of taping over the switch with a message that reads “don’t touch”)

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I think the first thing you need to decide is what you want from your lights. If you want to turn on and off lights and perhaps dim them I would go with smart dimmable switches and regular dimmable none-smart bulbs. I also have Insteon smart switches in my house and they work perfectly with dimmable bulbs.
If you want more in terms of light - different colors and temperature you have no other options than smart bulbs and unless you pair them with a “very-smart” switch like the Lanbon you either need the tape or accept that if someone turned off the switch you can’t control your light. For me - both the tape and the need to use a phone or an app to control my light was a none starter.

You are correct saying that there are corner cases like a power resume which in my case cause the light to come on whether or not it was on before the power outage.

Take a look at Kaufman Home Automation. He has done some clever stuff with ESPhome allowing you to configure what will happen during boot. I haven’t tried it myself but his approach might address some of your concern.

I would say, 2 options

  1. Disable the dumb switch and leave the mains hardwired on. Rely on your automations to control your lamps.

  2. Replace the dumb switch with a smart switch but disconnect the switch from the relay, so the smart switch still acts like the dumb one, but via HA.

Yeah that is cool! Pity that style switch is not used here in NZ.

Yes he does have a cool switch.
What I meant was that he also has some ESPhome based bulb’s that can be programmed to do what you want on power-up (power applied)

Yes I was looking at them too :slight_smile:

So many options, it’s mind blowing!
I already have the bulbs by the way: the entire house is fitted with Philips Hue bulbs last year, before I got into Home Assistant. As they are quite expensive I’m not planning on replacing them and I’m looking at which switches I could pair them with.

In the case where all the hue bulbs staying in place…

hue website offers multiple options, and all 4 of those listed below would understandably (?) help protect hue’s bulb business, since they certainly don’t like the idea of “1 smart switch to cover 6 dumb bulbs in the room”, which renders their smart bulbs useless in batches:

Dimmer Switch | Philips Hue (philips-hue.com)
Button Switch | Philips Hue (philips-hue.com)
Wall Switch | Philips Hue (philips-hue.com)
They join force with Lutron for this Aurora Switch | Philips Hue (philips-hue.com)
Note: All of those are battery powered - so pretty sure it’s an intentional decision of hue’s.

Applicability depends on your install situation and your need. And I am sure there are other smart switches (or “extra smart” switches, as Robert mentioned) out there that would offer the same.

I’ve got some of this dimmer switches actually and they are pretty good - even better when integrated with HA as they can also trigger double click and long press, events which are not handled in the official Philips Hue app.

All of these requires the zigbee network to be up and running though. I’m looking for a solution where I could still use my lights in case the zigbee network or HA goes down - without having to reconfigure them and without having to rewire anything.

Well, you have a bunch of hue bulbs, so zigbee network should/would be strong, and I would leverage that if I were you.

Also, it is possible to do zigbee binding so that when your HA or wifi is down, the bound pairs would/should still work.
Binding | Zigbee2MQTT (hmm, looks like there are limitations with hue - older hue firmware were OK though.)
Aurora Smart Bulb Dimmer Switch | Lutron

Anyways my 2 cents.

A shame Hue bulbs don’t support that feature, but good to know nevertheless, I didn’t know this was possible.

The Luton switch offers an interesting solution, albeit for the US market. I’m sure if I was to wait for a year or two, there would be more options, and at a more affordable price… but not sure I want to wait. (there’s always going to be something new and better!)

Against this, you lose one of home assistant’s greatest features: the ability to be the one place to control and log your system. Just wait until your kids wake you at 2.30am to ask “Daddy why did all the lights come on in our room” and you can only answer “Nothing in HA logs, some flaky zigbee thing happened”.