Smart Bulbs with Smart Dimmer or Switch

All my room ceiling lights are controlled by zwave or zigbee dimmers and switches to ensure that they always work regardless of HA, wifi, etc. On the other hand, all my secondary lights such as table lamps are wifi RGB LiFX smart bulbs that are always powered and controlled by buttons (remotes), voice or HA app. Those are not critical so I can live with them being offline when whatever they rely on is down (i.e.: wifi in the case of LiFX).

I am planning on replacing all of my smart dimmers & switches with Inovelli devices. Their products have a smart bulb mode that keep the smart bulbs always powered on and just send commands to control the bulb. This would allow me to switch some of my ceiling lights from regular LED bulbs to smart bulbs retaining the normal use of the wall switches… BUT… I wonder what options there are to maximise reliability as not being able to turn a light on or off if HA, wifi, etc is down is a deal breaker for most areas of the house.

Those who have this setup, what are your observations and mitigations?


This logic makes no sense.

If you think about it, it actually makes a ton of sense. This allows you to have a smart bulb in your ceiling light and control it from your wall switch/dimmer rather than using voice commands, using the app, or relying on some automation. Of course, a switch would cut power to the bulb defeating its ability to turn on via a command, and a dimmer would simply not work due to what the dimmer does to the mains’ waveform to dim a regular bulb.

Therefore, the smart bulb mode (on the model I am testing Inovelli VZW31-SN) disables control of the relay and mosfets (this model has both!) keeping the latter always (guessing here as keeping the relay powered seems not ideal) at full conductivity to keep the bulb powered on. At that point the paddle presses just send scene commands and do not control the load directly.

The Inovelli VZW31-SN that I am testing can be configured to be a switch (relay) or a dimmer for traditional bulbs, on top of having the smart bulb mode.

Here is where you can read about it:

Quoting the user manual:

Smart Bulb Mode
Smart Bulb Mode is used to maintain power to your smart bulbs if you have them wired to your smart switch. Said differently, smart bulbs require constant power to them and with traditional light switches (non-smart), if you turn the light switch off, power is cut to the smart bulb and they are unable to communicate with the hub and fall offline. By using Smart Bulb Mode, you will maintain constant power to the smart bulb and use virtual commands from the switch to turn on/off/dim your smart bulb.​

My issue with this is that unless I am missing something, this relies on zwave (VZW31-SN), HA (scene processing) and wifi (LiFX control) to be operational otherwise no light control. Going back to my original question, I wonder what can be done to mitigate the instances where something is down breaking this type of setup. I really want this… but as a general rule I don’t implement things that make critical parts of the house non operational if the smarts are down (what I call “dumb mode”).

Edit: Zwave association is one way… but zwave bulbs? No thanks…

OK, it does remove the rewiring of the switch box to route power to the lights full-time. I think what threw me was the statement that the switch sends commands to the bulb. That’s what doesn’t make sense; the switch simply sends the same data to the controller, Home Assistant in this case, but leaves the switch terminal hot all the time.

I hope they don’t charge extra for this because you can do exactly the same thing by moving the switched wire to the line side.

Of course, I think that unless you NEED color, smart bulbs are dumb choices. I use smart switches and cheap LED bulbs.

I don’t want to rewire my home in such a way to render it inoperable if automation is offline so hardwiring power to ceiling lights is not an option for me. My ground rule is that as much of my home as possible needs to work even if HA is offline.

As for the switch sending commands to the bulb, it would generally require HA in between (scene command processing) however zwave associations and zigbee bindings (not sure on this one) allow direct control to some extent just for cases where the brain is offline.

Inovelli switches / dimmers are more expensive but they have an incredible number of settings and tons of features that I find very compelling.

Innovelli switches are packed with features, definitely worth it

For my setup, most of my lights and switches are wifi. All are flashed with tasmota, and linked with device group so I can still control them without HA. I rarely have an issue my router going offline but I’ve started to enable tasmesh on a few of my devices so i can still control the lights without wifi.

Obviously, this will require some extra work on your side flashing custom firmware if you don’t mind that.
There’s a custom zigbee firmware that allows for decoupling & binding that you can try

1 Like