Why bulbs vs switches?

I read a lot of people that are crazy about putting in smart bulbs for color and all kind of room effects. A lot of people do not recommend going to switch route. Well, first of all, i could be wrong but thinking the whole colored light thing will get old after a few times you make your house look purple on the inside. When it comes down to it, probably want a white light that can change temps and go brighter and darker. That said, when you get bulbs, and your wall switch is off, being it’s not smart, won’t the lights fail to work entirely? Where if you have a smart switch, on or off you can manage the lights? Can someone explain the real value of getting bulbs rather than switches/dimmers?



Those that can’t change the switches. Laws (eg australia) or renting and landlord does not allow.

I use switches and don’t see any value in going bulbs either. But there’s a number of reasons:
People have a different attitude towards sustainability, i.e. how serious they take home automation and if they’re up for a long term plan to have lighting scenes etc and are willing to invest the effort it takes to replace switches and lamps for that. Some people, even if they were allowed to, don’t want to pay an electrician to do it. Specifically for color play you also have to replace lamps and switches. I even failed to find a proper switch to allow for manual color lighting control.

It also takes time and a couple of negative experiences to become aware of a handling concept to suit your needs. Many start by thinking the smartphone or remote will do. But in more advanced stages of your HA adventure you slowly realize switches are required if you don’t live alone, have guests etc.

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For me the bulbs were a cheaper option.

I can get a basic Ikea bulb to £9

The cheapest light switches that I could find at the time were over £20 and those were just RF ones that you would need a RF blaster to make smart.

Quite a few Smart Switches require a neutral wire to the switch that I don’t have.and then you have the added complication of two way switches where two switched control the same light. How do you know if the light is actually on or off?

That’s why I decided to go with bulbs anyway.

Thanks Fraser. I guess when you are like me and living in a house where any given room has 9 recessed can lights per room, the bulb thing becomes a bigger cost issue. With your thought that how you know the light is on or off, it’s my understanding that the binding for any given switch handles that. If you turn it on or off from OpenHAB it remembers that. If you turn it on or off at the switch OpenHAB gets that updated info and shows that, though not sure how quickly or how well it refreshes depending on the binding.



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The problem with two way switches is then is no real on and off so you would need some logic somewhere to figure out if the light is on based on the two switch states. Now I know about OpenHAB that wouldn’t be too difficult but still easier for a single smart bulb.

As with anything the deciding factor is cost ans usability. At £9 per bulb its cheaper for me to replace bulbs, even in a few rooms where I have spot lights the 4 bulbs for that was £28 which is on par with smart switches.

I also get the added benefit of replacing all my old bulbs with new LED ones that use less power.

As you say, if I had a few more bulbs in a room I would most likely have gone down the switch road myself.

How long does it take you to teach somebody else on : “How to turn on the lights in this room.” You might not be in the rom, when this is needed!
However you might go for: “I can be called on where ever I am to do the switching.”

Lucklly we dont have many visitors.

Build-in relay switches behind the existing switches often require an extra wire. When problems come up you often need to get back in the wall to get a proper reset of the device.
So I switched from switches to bulbs and strips.

It does not need to be one or other, you can install both. I prefer all globes to be the exact same colour white in a room and having globes that can have the colour temp changed allows this to happen when there are fixtures in a room that can not take smart globes.

I also have the colour get warmer the more the globes dim to emulate older halogen globes, as I find cool white ugly when dimmed down low. To me it just looks wrong.

As for the colours, yes I constantly get people wondering why and yes they rarely get used but changing a light to a colour to indicate someone is at your door if the baby is sleeping can be a handy choice. Another could be flashing red when the alarm is going off to attract attention from neighbors. It is a choice you then have to select a colour and automation should be about increasing choice and increasing options. Kids loving playing with the lights when they visit :slight_smile:

A project I am planning on doing soon is to create a fake TV mode, where a globe can use only a few watts of power and make it look like someone is home watching TV by changing brightness and colours.

Globes are cheap and As mentioned they are approved in strict countries. Often the full colour versions are only a few dollars extra and in the case of Milight a globe only costs USD$11 Shipped.


Agree with matt that is doesn’t have to be one or the other although as the op said he has 9 can lights in each room, color lights for all those would be to expensive. I have found some interesting things to with color. I flash the lights red when the phone is ringing (since I leave the ringer off during the week). I also run a ‘circadian rhythm’ loop in the morning where the light starts out a fully dim deep yellow and fade to a brighter warm light as the sun comes up.

In some cases you might come across a scenario where you have something like this in a room: https://www.amazon.com/Lutron-Skylark-Incandescent-Single-Pole-S2-LF-AL/dp/B001JPTFGA

I had this wonderful switch in the master bedroom and it was tied to a fan/light pull chain combo fixture. I put in a switch and also added lifx mini light bulbs (2 in total) to the overhead fixture. The largest issue is the gang box is for a single switch and the studs in the wall would of had to be re-done to accommodate a larger gang box…which is far more work and learning that what I wanted. :wink: