Controlling Smart Bulbs From Wall Switches/Dimmer Through HA

I have a question. Since the the smart bulbs will not be connected to a wall switch such as a Z-Wave or Zigbee dimmer, could a wall switch be used to control the smart light bulbs through Home Assistant? For example, I want to change color temperature (two buttons for warm or soft) and brightness.

Now I know that a dimmer isn’t appropriate for smart bulbs that gets wired up to the smart bulbs, but the reason why I ask is so I can control the group of recessed lights in the hallway or in an office/studio room. If I connect a regular non-dimmable light switch to a group of smart bulbs and I turn off the lights, Home Assistant won’t be able to control the lights at all. This is even with a smart light switch that must be turned on in order to turn on/off/dim/brighten the smart light bulbs and be able to change color temperature from there, so I do not know how a smart light switch could interoperate with smart light bulbs

Now that I think about my question that I asked, it seems the smart light bulbs would be directly connected to the circuit breaker, along with the automated/smart light switches. I mean, that does not seem very logical, is it? Because once I sell my house, how are people going to find out how to turn off the smart light bulbs? I believe I have answered my own question and I came to a conclusion that my question does not make sense at all.

So how about I ask this question: What is to become of smart bulbs? In my opinion, I don’t think controlling smart bulbs from a smartphone with a Home Assistant app does not make sense if I have guests, as I don’t want guests to have total control over my entire house. For me, I don’t want to get out my smartphone so I can change color temperature. I want to be able to control lights using a tablet-like kiosk, through voice commands, or via light switches. I want to be able to change the color temperature from even a light switch from there as well.

Is there such a thing that can do that? That the smart bulbs can be wired up to the light switch and be automated by Home Assistant? Maybe something that allows me to disable the switch’s internal on/off functionality and let Home Assistant communicate with it?

Am I making sense here? It seems like I should go with dumb LED bulbs and a smart light switch (not IoT-like wall switch such as WeMo or Wink might require Internet access, but I don’t have one of those), so how am I going to change color temperature if I am buying LED bulbs that do not have smart capabilities in be controlled in a group?

Pardon me for such a long post, but my Google-fu is not helping me at all. When I did a search for smart light bulbs and switches, all I get is “versus” and I do not need to know the difference between the two. I guess my point is, I want to take full advantage of what LIFX has to offer using a smart light switch, but then I guess I have repeated myself a couple of times in my post as I do elaborate a lot.

Anyway, I’m planning to build a 900-square-feet house in a couple of years from now with Home Assistant being the brain of the entire house and local access to smart devices (local API) being very important to me in case the Internet goes down.

TL;DR - Hue is a good option

This is an interesting conundrum and I have been through this journey in actuality not just as a thought experiment :wink:

I concluded the following originally:

  1. Smart bulbs are a good choice for lamps as long as you are automating them
  2. ZWave dimmers and dumb bulbs are the best bet for ease of use

The advantages of the above is that if my HA system crashes and burns (as it frequently did on a previous cloud based system not to be named, Home Assistant is orders of magnitude more reliable if I don’t mess with it) I can use the lamp switches to turn the smart bulbs on, and the ZWave switches will work manually of course.

The downsides of the zwave swictches was that I was rapidly coming to the point when I would need to practically rewire my entire house when I left, or leave hundreds of dollars of smart gear lying around. Add to that zwave switches can’t do color :slight_smile:

I had an epiphany when Phillips released their latest controller. Unlike their clunky click thing, the Hue Dimmer Switch is something I am happy to have on my wall, it works as a full on dimmer, can control groups of lights and allows you to pick from 4 scenes which you access by multiple presses of the button.

Unless the Hue Hub goes down, the switches will still work, and even if it does, if you remove and re-apply power to a Hue bulb it comes on to a default level, meaning I don’t get an irate call from my wife at 10pm when I am on a business trip across the country, with no realistic way to diagnose and explain “why the damn lights won’t come on” - she knows if there is a problem, just use the real light switch and it will be OK until I can get home and fix it.

Best of all, I can now easily take all my hues with me, and the dimmers too - they just stick to the wall with a very lightweight adhesive strip, and can also be removed as a mobile controller if designed, they locate to the plate via a magnet.

In short, I think Hue has come the furthest to solving this problem by providing a physically (not phone) accessible way to manage the devices that does not preclude you automating at will using HA.

The final piece is that I generally place the Hue controllers next to the physical switch and use a cheap plastic guard to prevent but not preclude accidental switching.

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Could this battery-powered wall switch be in place of a standard wall switch? That is, I would like to hide the standard wall switch.

I would like to be able to control the smart lights regardless of whether it’s LIFX or Hue.

Or how about something such as a 7" on-wall tablet (function in kiosk mode) that hides the dumb switch?

Smart light bulbs are great, but I think IoT manufacturers would have us control the lights via our smartphones instead of a wall switch. I know Hue has a stick-in wall switch, but not LIFX, which I’ve switched over to.

The LIFX Color 1000 light bulbs that I currently have can dim almost similar to incandescent light bulbs which I like. My LIFX White 800 dims quite similar to Philips Hue bulbs only though it’s only warm white or cool white. Perhaps the White 800 dims similar to that of a CFL light bulb which made me glad I do not have. Incandescent light bulbs are still the best for dimming, but when it comes to LIFX Color 1000, its dimming capability is almost as good as it can get.

And besides, I see standard wall switches that are in the way of a dinosaur. I don’t know about you, but in my opinion, even smart light switches (be it Insteon, Z-Wave, or WeMo) without any advanced capabilities that work with smart light bulbs are as good as a dumb wall switch, but with automation functionality on top of it.

And besides, I would like to control other things besides lights. I like having protocol-agnostic wall switches with additional functionality and that’s where Home Assistant comes in.

Oh, and this is even LIFX when it comes to IoT. I’ve had to create a new LIFX account in order to put LIFX bulbs to use. I was not expecting this when I first order the LIFX White 800 to see what it’s like. Before then, I used to create my own home automation web application that controls Philips Hue as a hobby. I was looking at different open source platforms until I discovered Home Assistant that can control LIFX light bulbs. That’s when I join the community as a Home Assistant enthusiast due to liking the look of Material Design.

You’re talking to the right guy about this, Grayson… :laughing:

^^ That!

Yes, my solution was to build a tablet setup, I also built a new UI which you are welcome to use but the stock UI serves the same purpose.

And in fact, I did mount it over some existing switches, I used that to allow me to put in a USB power socket to power the tablet. It doesn’t even touch the wall and is easily removable because of the Velcro if I need manual access to the switches. When I leave all I need to do is replace the switch plate. I have since replaced those ZWave switches with standard decora switches, and also stained the wood.

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So in that case, when building a new house, I would install electrical outlets with USB ports, build a mounting hardware, and put in a couple of cheap 7" Android tablets over the wall switches?

I’m unsure if electrical inspectors would like that. Wouldn’t it violate the electrical code?

And in my opinion, I would like to see a General Discussions forum created, so that discussions like this can go there. Sure, there’s a Share Your Projects forum, but in the meantime, I thought I’d start my thread in the Configurations forum, even though this thread does not have anything to do with configuring Home Assistant. Now, I don’t mean an “off-topic” forum, but something that relates to Home Automation, so long as it relates to Home Assistant.

(A couple of hours later: I talked to my dad and he said that the electrical setup with the wall outlets in between wall switches should be okay, so that would make me very enthusiastic.)

Hi aimc,

How you did this dashboard? Is the code available? Thanks!

Yes it is - rpitera linked the forum thread a few posts above.

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It seems as though the use of tablets are the only way for turning a “smart wall switch” into a wall switch that controls all the features of smart bulbs.

I suppose what I could do is have a Z-Wave Micro Controller and then hide it with GE Z-Wave Wireless Keypad Controller.

For the keypad, the top row is for brightness and the second row are for controlling the color temperature of a smart bulb, so it would be an advanced light switch. The other two rows of buttons can be used for other things such as adjusting the lights for the kitchen and adjusting the volume of the multi-room sound system. Or do other things as well.

This could be a nice alternative to mounting a tablet, especially in a dedicated home theater room, which is a nice-to-have since kids at local cinemas do not care about other people’s moviegoing experience, with a young girl dashing to the front row and back, stomping up the stairs and down… Oh, crazy kids and I’m getting off-topic at hand. (chuckle) :smiley: :frowning:

Anyway, it would be great to see what people came up with clever solutions for controlling smart bulbs. But then I see touch-screen controls are the way of the future, so long as the technologies are not proprietary and not vendor locked-in. I would like to see startups come up with products who are serious about open source home automation as I am, so that I don’t have to do woodworking. Wood does not suit my aesthetic taste when it comes to matching in style with a modern, space-age-style house. :slight_smile:

Speaking of which, maybe I could find a way to build a tablet into a wall that hides the wall switches and matches aesthetically with the space-age-style house in Tiny House Living, titled “An ADU in Austin” in season 2, episode 7: As much as I would like to say “Hey! That’s my kind of style,” I like having a 900-square-feet space-age house with a flat roof and have recessed lights surround the entire house.

So with that in mind, maybe it would be possible to 3D print a mounting hardware that matches with the size of the tablet such as this:"+Android+Tablet

I’m using a 10 inch Insignia tablet from Best Buy and I bought these mounting brackets:

Yeah, I saw one of those in Amazon, but I don’t like the look of it with the USB cable sticking out on the side, so the battery cannot last for even a month…

Here’s my solution to this problem:

These are zwave scene controllers (central scene class) that mount over your existing switches.
So turn switches to “on” position, then mount these on top of them, fits over decora style or regular toggle switches.
Since the physical switch is covered by the controller, no chance of someone accidentally turning them off, and no need for unsightly switch covers!

Since I use limitless LED bulbs (RGB and Cool White / Warm White tuneable for $16!!) I couldn’t use the philips hue switch, although @aimc 's solution was very similar to my own.

I had previously attempted to use the Aspire RF wall switch because I liked the style, but it doesn’t play well as a standalone switch, it’s designed to be a slave to an existing Zwave device.
It works if you monitor for zwave events in hass and setup automations, but I found it unreliable.
This solution also requires a switch cover.

The only issue is that zwave / openzwave currently does not support the Central Scene class.

To overcome this, I used the below python script on my server to tail the OZW_log file and scan for central scene commands to trigger a hass script.
(I didn’t write this, but it’s great!) I’m working to implement this as an appdaemon app until proper central scene support is developed.