Smart light switches

Messages
8,890
Name
Jonathan
Edit My Images
Yes
#1
So after saying I couldn't see the point, I'm finally starting to see the point of home automation...........

Looking for a "smart" light switch but I'm baffled by the choice. Couple of questions:

1. Most (all?) say they require a neutral wire. Isn't that how most (all?) lights are wired in the UK? In a house built 4 years ago is it likely I have a neutral wire? And how can I tell?

2. I really like a dark bedroom. Are there any that DON'T have LEDs on them to tell you how great they are? I want something that's just like a lightswitch but smart.

Oh and if anybody has recommendations - I'd like it to work with Alexa and Google. I haven't decided on the winner yet :)
 

Nod

Krispy and Kremey
Messages
33,021
Name
Nod (NOT Ethel!!!)
Edit My Images
Yes
#2
2. I really like a dark bedroom. Are there any that DON'T have LEDs on them to tell you how great they are?

A bit of insulating tape with a pinhole allows you to spot how great things are without floodlighting the room.
 
OP
OP
JonathanRyan
Messages
8,890
Name
Jonathan
Edit My Images
Yes
#3
A bit of insulating tape with a pinhole allows you to spot how great things are without floodlighting the room.
Yeah, I already do that with phone chargers (without the hole....). But this is a light switch at eye level in a rather nice bedroom :) I'd rather I didn't need tape.
 
Messages
1,868
Name
Paul
Edit My Images
Yes
#5
First off, most UK light switches do not have neutral, not sure about one built 4 years ago though.

Depends on how you want to set things up for now and maybe future additions.
If you just want lights, you can get just the bulbs these days, the WiFi ones would be the simplest.

I use Z-Wave kit, the 'light switch' is controlled by switch modules attached to the light fittings, not the the light switch itself, these are hidden in the roof space or the light fitting if enough room.
These are the ones I use:
https://www.fibaro.com/en/products/switches/

You will need a central controller/hub to control the Z-Wave devices though. I use Openhab, a free home automation solution that will run on most operating systems, Linux, Windows, Raspberry PI etc. An old laptop will run it easily. It has a 'binding' for Alexa (google too I think) so you can control stuff via Alexa with no issues.

We have various multi sensors so the lights turn on when motion is detected and it's also below a certain light level. We use one of the double switches to control the bathroom light and an extractor fan so once the steam from the shower hits the sensor (humidity goes up) the fan turns on. Much better than the fan coming on every time the bathroom light is turned on!

I have some 'holiday' rules set up whereby certain lights turn on at different times throughout the evening and then mimics going to bed, turns the house alarm on and off (can't have that on all the time as we have people popping in to the house while we are away), notifications are set up on certain events too so we are aware what if anything needs our attention. This is also accessible from anywhere on my phone.

This setup can be very versatile and can control virtually anything in the home automation field, heating, garage doors, window blinds, anything you can dream up could be made to work but it can get complicated.
There are other off the shelf hubs, Samsung Smart Things, Vera for instance which have a simpler setup for the end user.
 
OP
OP
JonathanRyan
Messages
8,890
Name
Jonathan
Edit My Images
Yes
#6
Snip the feed to the led?
Honestly, I'd rather have one without an LED. It really doesn't seem much to ask....

First off, most UK light switches do not have neutral, not sure about one built 4 years ago though.

Depends on how you want to set things up for now and maybe future additions.
If you just want lights, you can get just the bulbs these days, the WiFi ones would be the simplest.

I use Z-Wave kit, the 'light switch' is controlled by switch modules attached to the light fittings, not the the light switch itself, these are hidden in the roof space or the light fitting if enough room.
These are the ones I use:
https://www.fibaro.com/en/products/switches/

You will need a central controller/hub to control the Z-Wave devices though. I use Openhab, a free home automation solution that will run on most operating systems, Linux, Windows, Raspberry PI etc. An old laptop will run it easily. It has a 'binding' for Alexa (google too I think) so you can control stuff via Alexa with no issues.

We have various multi sensors so the lights turn on when motion is detected and it's also below a certain light level. We use one of the double switches to control the bathroom light and an extractor fan so once the steam from the shower hits the sensor (humidity goes up) the fan turns on. Much better than the fan coming on every time the bathroom light is turned on!

I have some 'holiday' rules set up whereby certain lights turn on at different times throughout the evening and then mimics going to bed, turns the house alarm on and off (can't have that on all the time as we have people popping in to the house while we are away), notifications are set up on certain events too so we are aware what if anything needs our attention. This is also accessible from anywhere on my phone.

This setup can be very versatile and can control virtually anything in the home automation field, heating, garage doors, window blinds, anything you can dream up could be made to work but it can get complicated.
There are other off the shelf hubs, Samsung Smart Things, Vera for instance which have a simpler setup for the end user.
Wow. Thanks. That's sounds both cool and a potential nightmare :D . TBH this is what scares me a little. A "hub" just seems a way to tie you in to one manufacturer. Really, I want to go to bed, tell Alexa to turn off the main light, turn on the lamps and let me read for a bit then shut those down and play a bit of relaxing music. I really don't understand why I would need to buy a hub that wasn't Alexa/Google.

BTW apparently I can just add a humidity sensor to my bathroom fan. Again, I'm not understanding the hub thing here.....
 
Messages
1,868
Name
Paul
Edit My Images
Yes
#8
With Openhab, and many of the other hubs, you are not tied to any manufacturer.
Z-Wave is a mesh network system, provided the device is Z-Wave certified it should just work, zwave + certification is better.
We have quite a few multi sensors, switches, descreet door/window sensors, sirens, smoke alarms and RGB led lights by various manufacturers all working happily and controllable via alexa, or the ones I choose to link into alexa anyway.

Openhab works around 'bindings' which allow it to interface with loads of standards, I mainly use z wave, alexa and have used the network binding for detecting presence, i.e. Mobile phone to determine when someone arrives or leaves home.
I'll be using the Nest binding once the new boiler is fitted next month.

There are loads of bindings, take a look at the documentation for a full list.
The community is also very helpful too.
 
Messages
41
Edit My Images
Yes
#9
I use Hive. Very easy to set up and expandable to multi different products. Works well with Alexa too. Can easily set up different programmes/rules or connect sensors.
 
OP
OP
JonathanRyan
Messages
8,890
Name
Jonathan
Edit My Images
Yes
#10
With Openhab, and many of the other hubs, you are not tied to any manufacturer.
Z-Wave is a mesh network system, provided the device is Z-Wave certified it should just work, zwave + certification is better.
We have quite a few multi sensors, switches, descreet door/window sensors, sirens, smoke alarms and RGB led lights by various manufacturers all working happily and controllable via alexa, or the ones I choose to link into alexa anyway.

Openhab works around 'bindings' which allow it to interface with loads of standards, I mainly use z wave, alexa and have used the network binding for detecting presence, i.e. Mobile phone to determine when someone arrives or leaves home.
I'll be using the Nest binding once the new boiler is fitted next month.

There are loads of bindings, take a look at the documentation for a full list.
The community is also very helpful too.
I feel like I'm vanishing down a rabbit hole......part of me goes "I just want to turn the light off without getting out of bed". The other goes "mmmmm, VS workspace and I can persist data to a Mongo d/b and run analytics out to Tableau................"
 
Messages
8,034
Edit My Images
No
#14
FWIW

I bought an led bulb and it came with its own remote ~ on/off and 4 stepped levels of dim......plus three colour temps > all controlled via the remote.

Granted the above is not "smart" bit heh I can press a button ;)

PS not too sure but I think the instructions mentioned something about the controller being able to be paired with up to 4 bulbs!
 
Last edited:
OP
OP
JonathanRyan
Messages
8,890
Name
Jonathan
Edit My Images
Yes
#15
I have that. And now Alexa can turn it on or off for me. So now of course I want her to do the same for the top lights :)

I have smart bulbs that have WiFi built in, no hub or smart switches needed. Controlled via app and Google hubs but also work with Alexa
That's another option (also, another can of worms...). But there are 3 lights in the bedroom - it would be 3X as expensive to fit smart bulbs :D
 
OP
OP
JonathanRyan
Messages
8,890
Name
Jonathan
Edit My Images
Yes
#16
Hmmmmm. A lot of looking on Amazon.

Either:

1. I get the house rewired in a way that probably doesn't match UK regs - then buy one of the wide selection of £15 switches
2. I buy Smart bulbs instead of switches at 3X the cost . (about 75 quid for 3X TP-Link bulbs. Less for Phillips Hue but + a hub.)
3. I buy a 40 quid light switch AND a 90 quid hub. Which is an awful lot of money to avoid getting out of bed.

Any other options before I give up?
 
Messages
2,771
Name
Brian
Edit My Images
Yes
#17
I use Lifx smart bulbs. Multi colour, programmable via their app and integrates with google home.
Mines even set to turn on red and flashing if my nest camera sees someone while I'm away.
Pricey but worth it.
 
OP
OP
JonathanRyan
Messages
8,890
Name
Jonathan
Edit My Images
Yes
#18
I use Lifx smart bulbs. Multi colour, programmable via their app and integrates with google home.
Mines even set to turn on red and flashing if my nest camera sees someone while I'm away.
Pricey but worth it.
Yeah, 150 quid so I can turn the lights on/off from bed......

As I say, I was starting to see the point behind all this. But that was when I thought it was 15 quid/room :)

BTW I have literally no idea why I would ever want to change the colour of a bulb. Is this a real thing that people find useful or a marketing gimmick?
 
Messages
2,771
Name
Brian
Edit My Images
Yes
#19
Yeah, 150 quid so I can turn the lights on/off from bed......

As I say, I was starting to see the point behind all this. But that was when I thought it was 15 quid/room :)

BTW I have literally no idea why I would ever want to change the colour of a bulb. Is this a real thing that people find useful or a marketing gimmick?
We change ours occasionally and reduce the intensity . Good mood lighting. I like it, Mrs Cockney not so keen. You know the rest. :)
 
Messages
1,808
Name
David
Edit My Images
Yes
#20
It’s amazon prime day tomorrow. Philips Hue is bound to be discounted so perhaps check that?

I have Hue (25+ bulbs, motion sensors etc) and Hive (heating, water and plugs) both controlled buy Alexa (5 devices) - works perfectly once you setup rooms and scenes etc, with fine control over both brightness level and colour.

I’ve bought the bulk of these when ‘on offer’ with Amazon Prime.

Not quite what you wanted but very reliable.
 

Nod

Krispy and Kremey
Messages
33,021
Name
Nod (NOT Ethel!!!)
Edit My Images
Yes
#21
OP
OP
JonathanRyan
Messages
8,890
Name
Jonathan
Edit My Images
Yes
#22
It’s amazon prime day tomorrow. Philips Hue is bound to be discounted so perhaps check that?
Yes. TBH this is what prompted me to start enquiries. I bet I buy more Alexas tomorrow...... (currently at 2.5 - my Huawei modem has a curious cutdown Alexa).
 
Messages
29,696
Name
Bat-Frog
Edit My Images
No
#23
You can get a bedside lamp for a fiver.....
 
OP
OP
JonathanRyan
Messages
8,890
Name
Jonathan
Edit My Images
Yes
#24
You can get a bedside lamp for a fiver.....
I have some very beautiful bedside lights - and they are controlled by Alexa :)

But the real goal isn't to turn the bedroom light off when I'm in bed. The real goal is "turn off all lights" when it's night. "Turn off any lights I forgot to turn off when it's daytime", "turn on upstairs lights when somebody goes upstairs and turn off downstairs lights when the last person goes upstairs", "welcome me home" by sensing my phone and turning on the hall light and porch lights if it's dark.

But first, we need to get switching working without (1) a million different standards and (2) rewiring our homes in a less safe way.

Meanwhile, it's Prime day and a couple of Hue sets look like they are heading towards my shopping cart......
 
OP
OP
JonathanRyan
Messages
8,890
Name
Jonathan
Edit My Images
Yes
#25
We change ours occasionally and reduce the intensity . Good mood lighting. I like it, Mrs Cockney not so keen. You know the rest. :)
OK, now I'm interested.... (in case you didn't see 2X white + hub + Alexa = £50ish, 3 X colour + hub + Alexa = £90ish). Do I *really* want colour changers? Presumably the white can be dimmed with all this tech flying around?
 
Messages
2,771
Name
Brian
Edit My Images
Yes
#26
OK, now I'm interested.... (in case you didn't see 2X white + hub + Alexa = £50ish, 3 X colour + hub + Alexa = £90ish). Do I *really* want colour changers? Presumably the white can be dimmed with all this tech flying around?
Yep white can be dimmed and/or change colour balance in degrees kelvin. The full colour spectrum to choose from on colour. You can make it auto on/off on any schedule you like. Other effects like strobe or pulse to music. Fade from one colour to another. I link mine to my cameras and alarm when im away. If they detect an intruder the lights come on 100% flashing red.
I can change these settings from anywhere in the world so i can adjust my security camera/alarm/light/radio settings (or put them on random) to make the house seem occupied.

Ps. The rooms with cameras in dont flash as I want pictures (stored in the cloud) so they are set to look off but at night are constantly on infra red. This greatly assists the cameras own infra red night vision and gives superb quality night pics (in full hd).
 
Last edited:
Messages
5,564
Name
Darran, Daz or ****
Edit My Images
Yes
#31
Philips Hue also gets my vote, I've been using it with an Echo for a couple of years.
 
Messages
1,539
Edit My Images
Yes
#32
I went down the hive route very pleased so far I can control the house from any where. You just need to work out what you need
 
Messages
14,739
Edit My Images
No
#33
I have a Hue lightstrip above my bed. My alarm goes off at 6:30. At 6:00 the lightstrip switches on a over the following 30 minutes it gradually gets brighter so that maximum brightness coincides with my alarm going off.
On the landing and in the hall I use motion detectors to activate the lights there if it’s dark.
 
Messages
784
Name
Jim
Edit My Images
Yes
#37
I have a smart switch, that I had installed because whoever designed the house I now own put a light switch for the hallway and outside light in a ridiculous position meaning that to turn the light on you have to walk all the way down the dark hallway (??).

Anyway, my electrician had to bring a neutral wire to the switch (not sure how he did it, but he did manage it), then it was just a case of using an app to link the switch to the home router and set it all up. I can now control the hallway and outside light, separately, by Alexa, timer, or manually.

the only thing that I did have a problem with was that the switch only works on 2.4GHz Wi-Fi, it won't work on 5.0GHz Wi-Fi so I had to disable the 5.0GHz on my router.
 
Top