RF Light switches

Hi again,

What are the current options for wall switches if I was to stipulate the requirements:

Battery operated (ideally a standard, fairly easy to find battery like AAA)
RF (fairly obviously)
Cheap enough
Provides a hub that will

  • connect to MY Wifi
  • Send MQTT
  • Allow me to change the MQTT topics etc.

I looked at the SOnOff RF Bridge and it’s cheap enough to buy to play with, but I couldn’t find any SOnOff battery operated switches, most seem to be mains powered and require a neutral in the switch.

The SOnOff bridge appeals as it is hackable. It “should” in theory be able to learn any RF switch (if it supports standard code sending).

Are you sure you have good, interference-free Wi-Fi coverage everywhere in your house?
There are some battery operated Z-Wave options where the data stays local. Some even support encryption, unlike many Wi-Fi devices.
Z-Wave device availability depends on your region in the world since the RF frequency used differs. Z-Wave Plus is designed to maximize battery life

It’s a fairly small house, I think careful placement of the RF->Wifi Bridge and I can be fairly sure of the connectivity on both sides.

ZWave sounds a little bit OTT, but, if it’s just how the switch the hub communicate that’s fine.

As you probably know I don’t have umpteen different hubs and protocols flying around and any protocol I introduce will require that I manage and interface with it, so to introduce a new one I would need to be very sure I need it.

I would therefore prefer to introduce something open like MQTT rather than ZWave.

Z-Wave is an open RF standard designed for smart home devices to communicate.
MQTT is an open Network standard designed for smart home devices to communicate.
Both can be used if desired but they serve differing purposes.

Afford me a little rant…

This is a recurring theme with “Home automation” I’m finding. Too many companies trying to sell you “smart things”. I don’t want smart things I want dumb things. Just a dumb switch, apparently this is hard to ask for!

I took a quick scan and it went like this:

  • Wireless switch can be a switch or can do 15 other fancy things like scenes and moods if you set it up via our app. NOPE OUT.
  • Wireless switch, just install our app… NOPE OUT
  • Wireless switch, with our cloud service… NOPE OUT

I want a switch. I don’t want no app, I don’t want “fancy features” which almost certainly won’t work or will require “an app”.

I just want a switch, it’s a simple little device it either has “ON/OFF” or it has a “TOGGLE”, that’s it, nothing more.

As a test, if it needs to know what it’s switching, it’s not a switch. If it needs an app, it’s not a switch. If it needs a cloud service it’s not a switch. I want to control it, not the other way around.

I know I may be going against the grain here, but I don’t want help, I don’t want pre-canned, I don’t want idiot proof, I don’t want an out-of-the-box complete setup, I just want basic components to build with. Not some complex half baked, partial home automation contraption which does moods and scenes and other rubbish, just a simple switch. When it’s pressed it sends a code, end of, period, nothing more.

If I want to do moods or scenes I will do them somewhere else, it is not a switches job to know what it is switching or why.

At this rate I might be better off sticking a 1.99 Chinese key fob to the wall. In fairness the ONLY switch I have found that was battery powered and did just simply send a simple RF code was a cheap Chinese thing for 2.99. Everything else has been trying to push their “Smart automation” features to me. But part of me wouldn’t trust the 2.99 Chinese thing, I expect it might work, for a while, but there will be some short coming, like the battery dying after 2 weeks.

OK, here in the US, I replaced one of my switches with a Zooz Z-Wave switch powered from the mains. It works without OpenHAB or any other software. My second standard switch for that light works too. Using the Z-Wave switch allows me to use motion sensors to automatically turn on the light and then turn it off so it is not left burning, wasting electricity.

The one I got even looks like a standard Us toggle wall switch.


I spotted that issue to. I believe the US and UK use different radio bands, 433Mhz and 435Mhz thought I can’t remember which is which.

I found these:

Which are battery powered, rechargable, removable, portable switches. So it will involve a Zwave gateway and me working out how to configure that, but…

Then I checked the prices! Holy cow. Why on earth can they charge £50-70 for an RF switch? For some reason I thought these would cost £20 at most.

Allow me a rant as well;

If it connects to Wifi, it’s not a switch.
If it can send MQTT, it’s not a switch.

In your country the actually installed switches might be wired by mains only, however the “thing” you are trying to switch needs to be connected to mains and neutral (if I’m not totally lost). The Sonoff should be connected there.
You are referring to the Sonoff Bridge, this device can’t do any switching!!

That is what I was thinking off. Open the cheap fob, or wireless doorbell button. attach two wires to the button input to a proper wall mount button. £2.99 in a DIY shop. done.

Yes. So let me explain why I want “dumb” devices.

I’m starting to see where I’m differing from the norm.

You want to automate your living room lights, so you shop around and you select a Z-Wave switch, some Z-wave lamps or Z-Wave plug sockets and of course a Z-Wave hub. Then I would assume via some mobile app or web interface etc. you are presented with a pretty UI that lets you configure that the switch commands the lights. Surely it will let you do umpteen other things as well. So that’s fair enough.

Then you install a Philips Hue lamp in the bedroom and of course that requires the Philips Hue app and when you later get another Hue lamp you might have a Hue hub or some such.

Later you install a Nest for heating control.

You now have 3 different hubs, 3 different apps, 3 different protocols and none of them will actually talk to each other because companies tend not to be interoperable. (Yes I know Z-Wave tries to create an open eco-system of devices and that’s nice)

I get it that this is fine for most people, they want out of the box, plug it in, fiddle with a bit of painful setup and click a few buttons on a web interface and they are good. They wouldn’t even consider that you could have the Philip’s Hue know if the Z-Wave living room lights were on and it might not even occur to them that you could read the Solar panel voltage in the garden using HTTP and determine it’s night time and switch the living room lights AND the bedroom Hue lamp to a particular setting because of that and the motion sensor form a different brand entirely detected your presence.

These things do occur to me however. So I tend not to think of having 3 different systems and then adding another 4th system like OpenHab which tries to manage these 3 different systems and broker between them. I don’t really want, for example, a radiator valve which determines the temperature in the room and switches itself. I want something to tell me the temperature in the room and let me tell the radiator to be on or off.

So, all I actually want, regarding a wall switch is something that I can get via whatever hub or gateway to send an MQTT (or any open protocol) message that then allows me and MY smart automation logic to decide what to do about it.

Thus creating ONE system of interconnected devices which have ONE logic centre, not a distributed mish-mash of different systems that I later try and hook together.

Does this make sense?

So any logic at the device level is not only unnecessary, but will actually just get in my way.

Actually I am using such a thing (fob ??, never heard, migth be my age). It works without battery, powered by the pressing motion. Sometimes I need to press twice, since I’m switching a lamp in the room, that is no real problem. The RF is sent to a Sonoff RF (flashed with Tasmota). Working!
And for ME that setup together with openHAB is exactly what you are discribing!! I can switch the device by RF (openHAB running or not) and MQTT messages go to my ONE system (openHAB).

What about a sonoff T1?
You can flash Tasmota on it. It will connect to wifi direct. No hub needed.
Set the MQTT in the switch and bob’s your uncle, wifi “dumb” switch.
Actually tasmota can do much more but it can be plain dumb too.

Aha! Yes. This is what I’m after. A dumb RF switch. Do you have a linky?

By the way “Key fob” is what I call things like car keys with push buttons or the push button thing you use for opening the garage door or something. Maybe it’s a UK thing, maybe it’s just me.

Do you have a link for that swtich? Does the motive generator thing work well? I imagine it’s like a cigarette lighter sparker, but with a capacitor on it.

Note that you have to do some soldering in order to flash this one (I just bought it flashed from a german shop)

It is very likely it will be switching 3 or 4 SOnOff S20s.

I currently have 3 of these in my living room with custom firmware that creates a “group” of lights. if I long press anyone of them it switches them all on/off. I just want something like a wall mounted switch which issues the event for this group to be ON/OFF rather than leaning down to press the button on an S20

It was the switch link i meant :slight_smile: I have the SOnOffs covered.

EDIT: I realise there is a nomaclature issue here. The SOnOff smart switches are of course “switches”, but I’m refering to the wall mounted RF push button itself.

Sorry for missunderstanding, have to digg deeper for that. I’ll be back.

Found it : https://de.aliexpress.com/item/32619254011.html?spm=a2g0s.9042311.0.0.b29c4c4drIXNnQ

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Sometimes they are called remote controls.

No, I select a USB Z-wave stick and control it with OpenHAB. In fact, my stick will do both Z-Wave and Zigbee, if I desire.
I guess it could be used for OH to control the Hue lights since they are customized Zigbee. Z-Wave is defined to be cross-vendor compatible. Zigbee is not that tight a standard.

Yes that the sonoff T1 - https://sonoff.tech/product/wifi-smart-wall-swithes/tx-series