Lights - externally dimmable or switch input

Hi all,

First: I know home automation is on the upcoming “branch”, but still only for enthusiasts, so there are many disadvantages and almost no company is looking for reliability / being able to work with as few components as available (i.e. to be working even one part of the infrastructure is broken).

Maybe it’s because I’m working for a company where reliability is extremely important (Railway systems) or I’m simply this way, but I do everything to have reliable systems (for things which are important - like lights).

So I want to be able to turn on and off each light
→ with the light switch AND via Wifi
→ also to turn it off via the light switch and turn it on via Wifi afterwards
→ to be able to turn it on/off via the light switch in any case (also if Wifi/Zigbee/Zwave/… is not working)
→ the server/hub is dead (where e.g. home-assistant is running or the Hue Bridge or the Homepod (I think this is Apple))
→ the Wifi router is dead

I am currently using Shelly dimmers and combined with LED panels from Eglo which are externally dimmable.
So I have “only” the Shelly dimmer which is the culprit of the (reduced) reliability.

If I use e.g. Phillips, I need (1) an according lamp, (2) a Hue bridge, (3) a Philips Hue Switch module (which is only battery powered without any option to use a power input) → 3 devices which can fail (and the switch module with the battery which will fail in any case after some time) which results in an (not even huge but) extreme reducement of reliability comared to using a Shelly dimmer.

A requirement is to to be able to use crucial components (highest priority: lights) also if most of the infrastructure is down (which is normally also extremely important if you have other persons living in the same house/aparement who are highly annoyed if something crucial/simple like lights don’t work).

Until now, I didn’t find any smart lights which have an extra connection for a standard switch input.
Because of this I love the Shelly Dimmer. It’s only 1 component and works if WLAN (Zigbee/ZWave/Matter) doesn’t work.
Sadly I only found LED panels (from Eglo) which are externally dimmable.
But I would love to have LED lights which are not plain panels - there are some “4-flame wave lights” which I realy like but I didn’t find any which are externally dimmable.

Even the Philips Hue which are really popular and liked by many others have extreme disadvantages regarding reliablility:
You need

  • an extra Hue bridge, and
  • extra modules for the switches
    – which are even battery powered with NO option for a power input (so they will fail in any case after a few year and you have to dismount the light switch to exchange it - relly??? This is only for nerds which don’t have problems with such junk).
    Therefor this is in my opinion a no-go.

I don’t know why there is no “switch” input for the smart lights. I don’t know any Wifi-Microcontroller which would not have at least 1 spare input for a switch input.
This would for sure cost at most 10 Cent more per light and would enable using the “smart” light to be operated with a light switch and also if Wifi/Zigbee/Zwave/… (due to any reason) is dead.

Do you know of any smart lights which have an extra input for the light switch?

Welcome to Home Assistant :slight_smile:

This is quite a wall of text with a lot of ideas/concepts and inaccuracies, misconceptions or assumptions about things.

Not really, I saw something yesterday that says the average western home has at least 10 smart devices in the way of home automation. Totally geeking your house out from top to bottom might be more an enthusiast thing, but general home automation and using something other than a physical switch to turn on/off a light is quite prevalent.

Any good device is going to be all four of these points. The device is still a switch, so even if your wifi/Z-Wave/Zigbee is out then it should work. I can’t think of any switch I own that doesn’t work if Home Assistant or any protocol is down.

This being the exception because it requires it’s own hub to work at all. In truth it’s just a Zigbee controller but there are no switches on Hue devices, they are just devices so you have to rely on automation, apps or something that can ask the hub to do something. These are the soft spot of home automation always, along with anything that requires online access (like many Tuya devices for example).

See above, avoid things that require hubs if you can avoid it. A hard wired switch is a hard wired switch, anything virtual is going to rely on something else.

I’m not really even sure what this means and you mention it several times. Are you talking about smart bulbs? If so how would you put a switch on a physical bulb? A smart light (presumably we are talking bulbs like Hue for example) are controllable by a switch, the power that controls the lamp they are plugged into or for others like LED strips the outlet their power brick is plugged into.

Again, what does this mean? This could literally mean a variety of things from virtual bulbs that allow association to a switch (i.e., Z-Wave groups), it could be you asking for a button on top of a bulb, it could a module that sits behind a switch to make dumb switches “smart”, etc.

Because zigbee failed me to be stable and resilient enough I switched over to esphome wifi devices which are capable of everything you write.

As I hardly use any dimmable lights I can’t comment to much on this. But I own a few led strips which are controlled by a pwm controller running esphome so they also continue to work without WiFi.

Technically esphome nodes can even overcome a wifi which is down and use esp-now for direct node to node communication - but this is only available via custom component and not officially part of esphome.

All smart lights I know have only “L” and “N” as input.
So If I switch it off via the light switch on the wall, I cannot switch it on remotely (via Wifi/Zigbee/…) again.
And also the other way around: If I switch it off remotely, it will not switch on if I use the light switch.

So the only solution which would work is, if an extra input from the light switch would be connected to the smart light.
This way it would have power at any time (via L/N connection) and recognize if someone toggles the light switch (via the extra “switch” input).
The Shelly Dimmers (are able to) work this way.