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Also posted on IoT

I have "smart" ZigBee lightbulbs throughout my home. I also have, but do not use, "dumb" physical light switches, as when I turn the bulbs off at the switch it stops Alexa from being able to control them. I would prefer to have full local control, plus most nontechnical people are used to turning on lights with a physical light switch.

How do I turn the light on and off with a physical switch, but also still allow digital control, such as Alexa and app?

I am in England so our light switches look like this.

UK Light Switch

Here is what my wires look like behind the switch.

Wires behind lightswitch

I am happy to change my light switches to soft switches - the ones that illuminate an LED when you touch them - however I need that to be a ZigBee input rather than a physical power control.

Thanks

James

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  • Building and electrical codes absolutely require light switches in the usual places in the room, and the light switches must operate 1 usable light that reasonably lights the room (or receptacle for plugging in a floor lamp). It doesn't even need to be the light(s) you normally use, but when a guest or first responder enters the room they must be able to get light with a switch throw. Aug 6 '21 at 18:45
  • Good info, thanks. Is there a switch that communicates with ZigBee as I have described? Aug 6 '21 at 20:28
  • Do your switch boxes have neutral wires? It makes a big difference in terms of the available options for smart switches. If not, I'd go with Lutron Caseta dimmer switches and a Lutron bridge (for Echo/Homekit/Google). I don't know of a no-neutral Zigbee switch.
    – CcS
    Aug 11 '21 at 18:41
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    Do all British switches come with "Dark Side/Light Side" labeling? If so, that's soooo cooool!!! :D
    – FreeMan
    Aug 12 '21 at 12:03
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    @FreeMan All of my switches do :D Aug 13 '21 at 7:48
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I can't give a definitive answer but I'm also in the UK and have the same problem. I have been unable to find anything like this so suspect they don't exist.

Possible alternative solutions are...

  1. Make it a little harder to use the 'dumb' switch with a cover

Switch cover by SwitchSafe Switch Bridge switch cover

These were both found by searching for 'switch cover'. These are usually designed to be easily circumvented in case you need to really turn the light off. If the Zigbee switch is nearby people will hopefully take the hint and use it.

You can also get zigbee switch mounts that hold the zigbee switch in front of the dumb switch, you'll have to find the right one for your switch. This is what I have:

enter image description here

Again these often make it easy enough to use the dumb switch if you need to (in this case the zigbee switch is held on by magnets, you just pop it off and use something to poke the switch behind).

  1. Don't use zigbee

Shelly make wifi switches that do what you want. They sit in the back box behind the switch and can be wired up to take the dumb switch as an input. There are options for if you don't have a neutral but it does get a bit more complicated. There are several products depending on what exactly you need.

enter image description here

I mention this specific company as its the only one I know of that allows you to use a 'dumb switch' as input. I have one of these but haven't installed it yet.

You would use this with normal lightbulb. They seem to have the usual integrations including Alexa.

The only downside is your switch would act as a toggle so you wouldn't be able to tell by looking at it whether it was on or off. I suspect most people wouldn't notice.

Depending on what sort of home automation / IOT setup you have this may or may not be suitable. I have a central hub (Home Assistant) that allows me to mix and match different products but that's all fairly involved.

Sorry I couldn't give you a simple solution but these are the alternatives I've come up with for my own use.

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  • I don't mind changing the switches to soft/touch switches, however as you say this would need to be an input rather than a physical connector so that the lightbulb is constantly powered. Aug 12 '21 at 8:36
  • The Shellys can be configured to use either type of switch as input so it would just be a case of which you preferred.
    – Richard
    Aug 12 '21 at 8:50
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This a Zigbee-certified Leviton switch that has the added benefit of looking exactly like your typical rocker switch. Note, you need a neutral wire in your switch box. Someone with a better understanding of NEC can tell you exactly when those were required, but it is somewhat recent. If you don't have neutral wires, Lutron Caseta makes by far the best smart dimmer switch available. They can even work for 3-way switch arrangements and you can use their remotes to add convenient light switches to blank walls.

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    I should have mentioned that I am in England, sorry! Aug 11 '21 at 18:57

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