"It's the Controls, Stupid!"

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Looking for a bit of guidance here, to avoid having to buy one each of all of the things just to find out what works. I have OpenHab 2 running on a Pi with a Zigbee+Z-Wave dongle. I have a few Z-Wave things and lots of Hue and Cree Zigbee lights. I also have a Hue hub and one of the Hue remotes. The Hue remote works nicely to turn things on and off and for setting the dimmer level, but it only fits in the included mounting plate, which doesn’t fit any of the dozens of standard wall boxes in my house. I need remotes that mount in standard wall boxes, ideally behind standard decora wall plates. Lutron briefly made the exact thing I need (a Zigbee-LL remote that fits behind a decora wall plate), but no more. I’ll spare you my rant about why no one in the Zigbee-LL cabal will make something like this. I managed to buy one of these before they became rare and expensive, but that hardly helps when I need a dozen or two. I’m down to a few Z-wave options (the Eaton/Cooper 5 button scene controller comes to mind), and the Insteon mini remotes, which would require a modem but that’s no big deal if it works well. So that’s what I’d like to know… what works well? Do any of these options offer fast responses to button presses, suitable for interactively controlling light level. Think how the Hue remote works when used with Hue bulbs or the Hue hub… that’s what I want to achieve. I can’t tell from the docs and posts I’ve found whether either of these solutions can be made to work that well. Has anyone achieved this with openhab and, if so, what products did you use?

This thread sounds similar to this one.

Thanks, matt1. I’ll give it a read.

Don’t forget it’s an international forum … makes a difference to what a “standard” wallplate is.

There are plenty wireless wall buttons. You can make it smart yourself press for next color or long press for OFF.
I use homematic buttons for this, these are intelligent from there self but you could buy zwave wall buttons for 20 euros.

Very good point rossko57. I’m in the US, so looking for a solution that will work with US standard 1, 2 and 3 gang switch boxes and, ideally, decora wall plates. There are lots of appropriately sized in-wall dimmers, both z-wave and zigbee-ha, but I’ve started down the smart bulb path, so don’t need dimmers and switches. I need remotes that fit where those fit (in US switch boxes behind decora wall plates). Lutron makes a very nice remote like that (Pico) that works only with their stuff. They used to make a Zigbee-LL variation of it which would have been perfect.

It seems to me that the smart bulb based solutions (zigbee, wifi, bluethooth, etc.) need something like this to make it easy to install them in houses with standard wiring, but there are so few products like this. I don’t know what the situation is like in GB or Europe but, in the US, there is a void waiting to be filled. If Philips would make a variant of their remote that fit US wall boxes, my problem would be solved. Or even just alternate wall plates for the existing remote that I can install on those boxes. Here’s someone 3d printing them for $50 a pop (not quite that desperate yet): https://www.shapeways.com/product/F6NTRETSD/philips-hue-triple-dimmer-plate-3-gang?optionId=66697382&li=marketplace.

Hi martijn,

I’m in the US, so need something that will fit a standard switch box here. I’ve seen one z-wave scene controller that installs like this, but it’s expensive and is just an array of buttons, so not ideal for on/off and dimming of an individual light or set of lights (guess I could glue on my own labels). But, even if i was willing to try that, I’d like to know how well that works. Seems like OH2 would have to be able to see and respond to key-down and key-up events, with a very small amount of delay, for this to work for dimming lights.

I am actually developing my own system so I can use standard off the shelf switches and wall plates and have excellent low latency connection to Openhab that will still work when the server goes down. The other alternate way is to use HAbPanel and tablets on the wall, but you then need a very stable Openhab setup if using on things like Lights and have people living in the house that can not put up with even a few seconds of downtime per year.

matt1,

Will your system have any smart bulbs in it? That seems to be the crux of the problem for me. I’m learning that smart dimmers and switches driving simple bulbs would be much easier to integrate. I might come to regret not taking that path.

Yes it will but I found what you are now, there is not a 1 system that fits all your needs. My wife likes to choose very fancy light fittings and some of these now have their own LED’s factory installed and not able to have globes changed out. So in my house I have a mix of fittings that take small Edison screw, large Edison screw, bayonet, fixed none changeable globes, LED strip lights and 12v downlights. This was a major factor in me designing my own system due to different types of lights all needing to work without a server if the main Openhab server went down. I am using Milight globes for the majority of the lights that are not downlights, but in chandliers the milights were way too ugly so I had to opt for plain non smart globes that use a LED filament in a flame style globe…

If you have never seen these globes they look nicer then smart globes…
https://www.google.com.au/search?q=led+filament+bulb&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjBxOmr6aXfAhX7SRUIHY6vBe0Q_AUIDigB&biw=1536&bih=740

Clipsal CBUS system is the closest off the shelf system to what mine will be like. It is a standalone system that Openhab can take over and operate when it wants, but if Openhab crashes the main system can still go on working…

https://www.clipsal.com/Trade/Products/Integrated-Systems/C-Bus-Control-and-Management-System/C-Bus-Input-Units/Wall-Switches#.XBcIso17mpo

The other thing to consider is if you get hit by a bus, you sell the house, or a company goes broke, you need a working system that will not cost heaps to reverse what you have done.

Also yet another way to look at the switch situation is that plaster is cheap, just cover the holes with plaster and paint or a stainless plate and mount whatever you want on top. Many ways forward, it is just up to what your budget is and how far you wish to take it. Have fun…

Re. plastering over… would not get spousal approval. I don’t think I would want to do it that way, either. I totally get what you say about being easy to revert when you move on, and leaving the wall boxes and wiring there and mostly as-is is part of that for me.

I’m not completely intolerant to the idea of gluing/taping the hue dimmers over the top of the existing wall boxes, but the available dimmer is only suited to that for 1 gang boxes, so for all of my two and three gang boxes, this becomes some degree of cludgy and unsightly, depending on exactly how you do it and your sensitivity to the appearance of the final result.

I’m going to attempt to integrate a lutron Caseta Pro with my Hue bridge, with OH2 in between. If this works well, it has the advantage that the remotes all install into my existing switch boxes and are compatible with decora wall plates, and thus integrate with all of the other available switches, dimmers and cover plates out there.