Robust + guest-friendly Zigbee setup

Allow me to explain my setup, after which I have a challenge I could use some input on.

First of all, located in Europe (NL), running Home Assistant in a VM on a hypervisor, and Zigbee2MQTT on a Raspberry Pi 3 with a Sonoff Zigbee 3 USB dongle. All automations are done in node-red (which runs in the same VM as HomeAssistant).

Currently all my lights are ZIgbee lights (mainly Hue, some incandescent bulbs with ZIgbee dimmer in between), which means all the regular wall switches are set to be always on. For our current use this is no problem, we got used to it and all lights turn off and on whenever needed based on automations, with the right brightness and color (or color_temp) depending on time and other input_booleans.

Now my challenge: I would like to introduce some robustness, so that even when Home Assistant is down (or the network, so I expect WiFi to also be down), the lights can still be controlled through wall switches.

The solution I had in mind is to use Zigbee wall switches that can be bound directly to Zigbee groups or individual bulbs. That seems like the best solution to control the lights without Home Assistant, but might interfere with the automations. Also there doesn’t seem to be a lot of these wall switches out there that support this binding.

I’m curious if and how others have solved this? Do you just accept that you can’t control lights when HomeAssistant is down (or broken), do you power cycle the lights? How do you deal with guests using the wall switches? The solution would be nice for guests as well, since it would just work like they expect.

I can’t advise on products…just weigh-in with my setup and thoughts.

I too have HAOS running in a proxmox VM. Although, I have Z2M running as an add-on. Almost all of the RGBW bulbs are on a Hue bridge pulled into HA using the default integration.

I’ve replaced all light switches with Zooz. For the lights with non-smart, standard LED bulbs, the relay is on allowing for local control. In bedrooms with smart bulbs, local control is disabled (meaning the switch doesn’t toggle the power relay) but I have automations setup to turn the lights on with the Z-Wave events from the switch being toggled. For bathrooms (they all have RGBW smart bulbs installed) the local relay is disabled and toggling the switch does nothing. The lights are fully controlled by LD2410C radars.

Without HA, I’d lose all lighting control from the switches but I’d still have control through the Hue app if needed for the bulbs themselves.

I have a number of other VMs running in proxmox. If that machine were to go down, I’d have much more impact than just HA. So, I opted to put my focus into making that part as resilient as possible.

  • I have spare PC parts.
  • I have spare PCs.
  • I image the proxmox machine once a month.
  • I have promox backing up the VMs to external storage once a week.
  • I have HA running backups every three days (not including the automated backups created during upgrades) and am using the Google Drive Backup add-on to upload them to cloud storage.
  • The proxmox machine and all my network gear are on an UPS that can run everything for 20 minutes.

So instead of expending the time and effort to look for a hardware solution for just the switches…I focused more on making sure that HA is always up and, worst case scenario, I can recover relatively quickly from a disaster scenario.

On the guest piece, one thing I do have planned (coincidentally, there was a recent post about doing this type of project) is to setup a “guest mode” that will flip the bathroom lights from presence automations to z-wave events so that the light switches can be used like normal.

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Having a way to restore from backups that are validated to work and having a backup power is critical not just in a smart home but a business environment in IT.

I have all my rack gear on a dedicated UPS and rotate my VM with its updated snapshot backup to my NAS for live backup then keep a copy on a USB for offline backup when I make primary changes that stay stable and I want to keep.

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