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This is a complicated question, and maybe there is no way to do it, BUT... I currently have a 6-can series dimmer in my basement (home theater) aligned in 3 pairs. I would like to be able to control pairs of cans individually. For instance, when watching a movie, I would like to be able to completely turn off the bulbs in the first pair nearest to the screen, while allowing the middle pair immediately above my seating position to be dimmed to say 5-10%, and the last pair behind my seating position to be completely off. There are times though that I would want all the bulbs completely on. I bought 6 dim-able smart bulbs and an Echo Dot thinking I could replace the current bulbs with these, set the dimmer switch to be completely on all the time, and configure the Echo to be able to do what I just described. However, it seems my Lutron dimmer switch won't stay in full mode with these bulbs, so I put back the old bulbs.

Does anyone know how I might accomplish what I'm trying to do? Can I just replace the dimmer switch with a normal switch to turn all lights on/off and then use my smart bulbs and Echo to control the lighting? If so, is there anything special I have to do in the wiring to change over from dimmer to normal switch? Is there such a thing as a smart dimmer switch that would allow me to control "zones" of lights in a single series of cans, somehow?

I know this is probably an oddball request, but am hoping someone out there would have a decent solution to my desire.

Thanks!

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  • Putting back a standard (on/off) switch should allow you to use your smart bulbs. According to the Lutron website, there is no special wiring to do that.
  • Another solution would be to have 3 Lutron dimmers side by side, and redoing the wiring to your 3 pairs of bulbs. Ouch.
  • Another solution would be to use 3 "professional" lighting dimmers, but that would also require new wires, electrical and control ones...
    Good luck!
  • Thanks B. Go! I think option one is where I'm at right now. – lhowe Feb 13 at 23:39
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When the smart bulbs say "dimmable", what they mean is you can dim them via the smart control system built into the bulb. They do not mean you can put them downline of a dimmer. They especially do not mean you can do both at once!

This is something we see a lot of, people getting a bunch of random lighting-control parts and expecting it all to just "automagically" work together. Nope. One control system at a time.

If it's not the only light in the room, I would advise bypassing the old dimmer entirely and just hardwire always-hot to the bulb sockets. Otherwise, yank it out and replace it with a plain switch, but expect weirdness if you try to control the lights both with the WeMo and the plain switch.

  • Harper, just so you know, I was never intending to actual "use" the dimmer once I installed the smart bulbs, I was just going to keep it in "full on" mode. Thanks for the info though! – lhowe Feb 13 at 23:36
  • @lhowe the problem is, there is no such thing as "full-on" (really, bypass) mode in most dimmers. When there is, there's a "detent" that you can feel the switch clicking over. There is more likely to be such a detent in "off", so you can achieve a hard-off instead of soft-off (really: ”very low"). – Harper - Reinstate Monica Feb 13 at 23:44
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I bought 6 dim-able smart bulbs and an Echo Dot thinking I could replace the current bulbs with these, set the dimmer switch to be completely on all the time, and configure the Echo to be able to do what I just described. However, it seems my Lutron dimmer switch won't stay in full mode with these bulbs...

Remove the dimmer, replace it with a regular switch, turn it on and leave it on. This is a $2 / 15 minute solution to all your problems so its hard to beat.

You could jump out the switch, hardwire it always on, and put a cover plate on, this is a $1 / 10 minute solution, but I'd still put a plain switch there. That way if you ever need to go back to regular bulbs, even temporarily, you can still turn the lights on and off. You may also want to use this switch to reboot your light bulbs.

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    Yep, I agree that the dimmer to regular switch sounds like the easiest and most cost efficient route. Thanks! – lhowe Feb 13 at 23:40
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Solution -- put the dimmer at the fixture and control it remotely

These sorts of lighting-control problems often seem like they require running bunches of wire to either a control bank or a lighting control panel, which does not sound like an option in your case. However, one can put dimmers at the individual fixtures instead and control them via power-line control -- X10 was the original incarnation of this idea, but has been succeeded by the more modern Insteon protocol.

This only requires one wall control and six dimmer modules, one for each can, and lets you have basically arbitrary control over your can lights -- on/off/dimming, in any combination you wish, without adding any extra wires to the picture.

  • A couple years ago, I would have agreed that an Insteon in line dimmer was the easiest solution, but today, I'd stick with the smart bulbs he has (or maybe replacing them with a name-brand like Philips Hue if he has off-brand bulbs). All he has to do is replace his dimmer switch with a regular on-off switch if the bulbs don't like the power quality from his dimmer. – Johnny Feb 13 at 4:59
  • ThreePhaseEel, that's an interesting thought, but it's also way more work than I'm willing to put into this project. Thanks though! – lhowe Feb 13 at 23:38

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