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I recently got my first Smart Bulb for a living room lamp & I love it:

  • My Google Assistant can see it
  • I can turn it on & off using Google Assistant voice commands
  • I can change the lighting color using Google Assistant voice commands

Now, I want to try the same kind of thing for my outside & hallway lights. My initial research says:

  • Smart Bulbs are good for Lamps
  • Smart Switches are good for hallways (and such)

But, I do not see anything talking about using BOTH at the same time.

I want to be able to turn on/off my hallways (or other areas) lighting using voice commands. But I also want to be able to change the color with my Google Assistant too.

  • Is this possible?
  • How do I do it?
  • What are the pitfalls?

Thank you.

  • Why can't you just use smart bulbs in the hall? Can't find any to use in enclosed fixtures or what? – JPhi1618 Dec 2 at 19:18
  • @JPhi1618 Well...that is a portion of my question...because I am a 'noob'. To simply turn off/on a switch will do. But...to get voice command color...you gotta be WiFi online...right? What happens when the switch turns off? Doesn't the bulb go offline. If I turn the switch back on...what happens to the bulb? etc, etc etc. This is what I need help understanding – Prisoner ZERO Dec 2 at 20:42
  • Yep, if you turn off the switch, the bulb loses power and goes offline. When you turn the switch on, you have to wait for the bulb to boot up, connect to wifi, and then get a command. Could be a solid 60 seconds before being able to control the bulb... – JPhi1618 Dec 2 at 20:43
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    That would be a bad device configuration, then. The better way is to wire the smart switch to send power to the smart bulb 24x7 and have the smart switch talk to it via powerline comms or proprietary wireless like Insteon (remember it has to work with the WiFi router DOWN). Obviously we're talking same-manufacturer bookend products at that point. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Dec 2 at 20:45
  • @Harper-ReinstateMonica Great comment...can you please detail that for me in your answer? Thanks – Prisoner ZERO Dec 2 at 20:50
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You still have to comply with Building Codes

The Building Codes are crystal clear: There must be a physical switch, in a quasi-standard location (you can walk into any room anywhere and your hand knows the 2-3 places to grope for a switch). The switch must be accessible by people who aren't you, and the switch must operate a light that works. That includes guests and first responders.

Of late, the recent trend is for people to get so excited about these smart dingbats that they forget to make their house accessible to anyone else. You can do that to your heart's content with auxiliary lighting; and you can make this auxiliary lighting your personal primary lighting. However the actual primary light - the one on the obvious switch - has to work everytime. Not turn it on and find somebody's set it to 5% brightness on their phone. Nothing says you need to use this primary lighting, ever; in my family we never use it. As long as the primary light works for a visitor.

I'm sure you've also gone into restaurant bathrooms to find the room pitch black, and to find some sort of smart device on the wall that you have to futz with, typically a defunct motion sensor with a hard on/off button as backup. That's another example of what not to do.

In the family

So, this narrows you to combinations of smart bulbs and smart switches that are "in the family": that can talk to each other. The smart switch needs to be able to override whatever you did with your phone, and make the light white and bright based on ignorant groping by an inexperienced user with gloved hand, as you would expect from a fireman trying to see if the room is evacuated.

Now, obviously there's a stupid way to hook up a smart switch with a smart bulb. If the smart switch severs power to the smart bulb, then the bulb becomes uncontrollable because it has no power. Only one device can actually control a bulb; all other devices must ask its permission. This is why the switch needs to be able to talk to the bulb. You might rewire the switch so the bulb is on 24x7 and the switch taps the power it needs to be online.

  • Why are you talking about building codes? I am just wanting to replace existing switches with Smart Switches...and want to know if they will work with Smart Bulbs, seamlessly. So I can change the color etc. using voice commands without issue – Prisoner ZERO Dec 2 at 20:35
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    @PrisonerZERO I'm answering your original question "are there any pitfalls". Yes, there are; it's all too easy to build something that violates Code. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Dec 2 at 20:41
  • Sure...that is within the realm of the overall question...and as such...is a piece (albeit an obscure one). But that doesn't answer the context of the question. Things like - What happens when the switch turns off? Doesn't the Smart Bulb go offline (I am guessing yes). Does it reconnect when the switch turns on? If so...can Google Assistant still "see" it? Or does it need to be setup again each time? ...stuff like that. Those are the important questions. – Prisoner ZERO Dec 2 at 20:45
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    Don't confuse "obscure" with "dismissable as an afterthought". It needs to be integral to the design, not glued on at the very end where it doesn't conflict with past design decisions too much. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Dec 2 at 20:50
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    @GregHill that sounds like a question! I am concerned it may be subject to local jurisdiction, but I bet it's in model codes as well. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Dec 2 at 23:53
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Yes. You can do it IF the smart switch is programmable. I have read on the inovelli website that their switches can do exactly that. The switches need to be programmed as to not turn off the internal relay to the light. Since there is still a way to disengage power to the light(small pin to pull out), it meets code requirements. Then just need to program what lights get turned on or off with the certain switches.

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