Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

What's your home automation dimmer strategy/choice?

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

    What's your home automation dimmer strategy/choice?

    I’m about to make a large purchase of in-wall light dimmers and I’d like to settle on one, two at the most, models of light dimmers throughout the house. The goal is to not confuse family and guests as to how things work. I’m constantly analyzing what’s available in the HA market, this post is basically my brain dump and request for feedback from others on their knowledge and experiences.

    I’m going to stick with Z-wave dimmers because I can see no compelling reason to go with something else based on a different protocol. For example, while Insteon seems reliable from anecdotal feedback, unless you have a pre-existing investment, why bother choosing it? The dimmer has similar features to many Z-wave dimmers, but you are locked into one manufacturer (that I am aware of). And there’s no price-point advantage.


    Models considered:

    HomeSeer HS-WD200+
    Pros:
    • Close to a dozen possible scene selections though multi-taps and holds
    • Using status lights on dimmer for feedback eliminates the need for a tablet display in some locations.
    Neutral: Price, around $50, slightly less when on sale.

    Cons:
    • Dim levels, there is a low-end limit of 6.5%, many LED lights are still too bright at this level. Competitors go lower than this.
    • No high-end dim limit function, only low-end. By limiting the high and low end ranges one can have better control locally at the switch.

    Cooper Aspire
    Pros:
    • Can set both high and low-end dimming limits.
    • Low-end limit to 4% of power.
    • Separate physical dimming control, can bet set whether light is on or off.
    • Instant status on both local dimming and direct-associations (need to activate a hidden parameter on older models, have no experience on newer models). No need to use software “tricks” in HA controller.
    • Available in two different paddle styles.
    Neutral: Price, can be obtained for slightly less than $50 from a good electrical distributor.

    Cons:
    • Cannot activate multiple scenes.
    • Cannot use status lights for system feedback.

    All feedback and insights appreciated.




    #2
    I can't comment on the low dimming levels as I've never tried them (but I have experienced the issue of the low levels on the HST devices). But I've had the most luck with the GE/Jasco wall dimmers. Jasco makes a lot of dimmers/switches for a lot of manufacturers including GE.

    Comment


      #3
      Originally posted by George View Post
      I can't comment on the low dimming levels as I've never tried them (but I have experienced the issue of the low levels on the HST devices). But I've had the most luck with the GE/Jasco wall dimmers. Jasco makes a lot of dimmers/switches for a lot of manufacturers including GE.
      What makes them stand out, besides the slightly lower price point? I'm looking at their latest model 46203 and it doesn't even seem to have dimmer level lights on it?

      I also have some Jasco/GE switches, but use them in unseen areas like utility closets where not much home automation or features are needed.

      Comment


        #4
        I have the Cooper Aspire switches throughout the house. I like the design of the switch (the curve), it has a physical button to adjust the dimming level, it has blue LEDs (always on but not distracting) to show the dimming level and it has an orange LED to show if it's on or off. You can also adjust the dimming range. Unfortunately, the recessed LED lights I have don't go quite as low as I would like them to go, i.e. they turn off if I dim them down to a certain level. However, the switch allows me to set the lower limit so that at the lowest limit the light is still on.

        There are some drawbacks, too. If you have a 2+ way switch you can't actually do the traditional wiring and it just works. Instead, you have to associate the main switch with the slave switches. I am not sure why they did it this way. Maybe that's required so the blue LEDs for showing the dimming level are synchronized between the master and slaves. Anyways, that's kind of going against my principal that things should work without home automation (which it does but again you have to do this association, i.e. you can't hardwire it). Also I really would like to get a quicker feedback when you turn off the light. When you press the button the light starts dimming down and then turns off. It's a nice feature but it takes a second or two until you really see the dimming to kick in. I think that's just how LEDs work but it would be nice if light gets dimmed some 50% immediately and then starts to dim down. The buttons also don't have great 'feedback' that tells you that the button press was actually registered. But other switches/dimmers seem to have similar issues.

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by TC1 View Post

          What makes them stand out, besides the slightly lower price point? I'm looking at their latest model 46203 and it doesn't even seem to have dimmer level lights on it?

          I also have some Jasco/GE switches, but use them in unseen areas like utility closets where not much home automation or features are needed.

          Yes, they don't have dimmer level lights bars on them but of what real use would you use them for, unless it's for the WAF factor.
          They are reliable, lower price point, easily found on eBay (new, used) and Amazon, and they pair nicely.

          I have 4 HST dimmers, and the wife thinks the lights are cute but after I showed them to her, NADA.

          Not if you want to play with setting the colors, each light, that would be fine. But take a look at where you sit, how far you would be from the switch, can you see the left hand side of the switch from where you sit and could you make out what the lights are telling you?? Nice feature, gimmick, but price/function is rather wide. The ones I have are the used ones they sometimes have on sale.

          Comment


            #6
            I personally like that the HS 200 line of dimmers have a visual led indicator of what level the dimmer is set to. I can definitely tell from across the room what the led indicator level is. I also like that you can change the led indicator color depending on mood, or the holiday. Actually being able to change the color could be a con; my wife made me cycle through every color to pick her favorite; it was almost as bad as going shopping with her. I don't make wide use of the status indicator function, however I do have one event that blinks them all and it's quite noticeable when it's on.

            The biggest con for all switch replacement HA dimmers, that I've used, is that they ramp up/down. I personally prefer the ramp up/down, however novice users and guests may press and hold due to this feature and end up at some dimmed state. I know you can set the ramp rate and step in many models and that may ameliorate this issue, but I don't think it can be completely eliminated.

            I think the central scene function needs it's own pro/con list. I find it incredibly useful, however having a distinct set of events mapped to every switch could become confusing. It took a while of my wife asking me 'which paddle and how many times do I need to tap to open the garage door?' before it was ingrained in her. I use easy trigger and a list of all my central scenes to set up global central scene events, like all the lights on/off. I also have a limited number of switches that have discrete events tied to their central scene. I try to be as consistent as possible with these; mainly deactivated automatic lights off event for the switch in question. The last issue is tinkering; if you constantly rearrange your central scenes you're liable to face a decreasing WAF. I got an eye roll today as I explained the updated logic for enabling and disabling automatic locking of the front door.
            HS4 Pro on Shuttle NC10U, Win10; Z-NET
            Number of Devices: 449
            Number of Events: 210

            Plug-Ins: Arduino, BLLock, DirecTv, EasyTrigger, Honeywell WiFi Thermostat, MeiHarmonyHub, PHLocation2, Pushover 3P, UltraM1G3, WeatherXML, Worx Landroid, Z-Wave

            External applications: Homebridge-homeseer, Geofency, EgiGeoZone.

            Comment


              #7

              Comment


                #8
                jmaddox agree completely on the WAF aspect... what makes "sense" in our minds doesn't necessarily make sense in other's minds. Whenever I try to solve a HA use-case I run it by the wife first... to see if it actually needs solving, lol.

                George the ability to trigger central scenes or get back system status info at a glance can be invaluable in the right use-case. I wouldn't use it everywhere. The one use-case for the HS-200 I came up with and the WAF is 100%: I installed one in our bedroom and one in the wife's office which are upstairs. I have multiple locks on the ground floor. I setup an event that if either of the locks are unlocked, flash one or two dimmer LEDs to indicate which one. I might be in the backyard working, and the kid goes out and leaves the front door unlocked. The wife can see at a glance the front door is open and tap down twice to lock, and then get feedback it did lock. Late at light and if someone forgot to lock the doors, the LEDs will indicate that, again, a few taps and all the doors are locked. Now I would't do this anywhere on the first floor because it's easy enough to walk over to the door. And for downstairs I might use voice command to launch a good night sequence, but upstairs in the bedrooms one doesn't really want to use their voice late at night.

                Comment


                  #9
                  I've recently converted many of my switches from GE/Jasco to HS. The Jasco switches were starting to fail and I like the flexibility that the HS devices provide. That being said, I have multiple Leviton switches and dimmers in my system that have been rock solid on both Vera and HomeSeer. They were my first foray into Z-wave. Leviton tends to be a bit more pricey than some other options, but their products are very well made and durable in my experience. I'm hoping that I get the same kind of longevity from the HS devices. Time will tell.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    I would fully commit to the HS 200s if they would fix the low-end dim range and provide a high end limit, like their competitors. Because of their unusually high low-end limit they are not practical for many LED bulbs that need a very low-end voltage range to fully dim.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by TC1 View Post

                      What makes them stand out, besides the slightly lower price point? I'm looking at their latest model 46203 and it doesn't even seem to have dimmer level lights on it?

                      I also have some Jasco/GE switches, but use them in unseen areas like utility closets where not much home automation or features are needed.
                      The 2nd generation GE/Jasco dimmers are pretty full featured in contrast to the old ones. The new dimmers are model 46203.

                      They support scenes up to 5 presses in both up and down, so I that gives 8 additional plus normal on/off. From an installation standpoint they are smaller than the 1st generation, have auto line/load sensing so it doesn't matter where you connect the hot in and out wires and have a parameter to set either dim mode or relay (on/off) mode.

                      They have parameters to control ramp rate, minimum dim threshold, maximum brightness threshold, and default brightness. They only have a single led, but it can be inverted as well as turned off completely by parameter.

                      In contrast to the 1st gen they are a swiss army knife. They are around $43 at Amazon. I've got 3 of the 2nd gen and a bunch of the 1st gen and am pretty impressed with the 2nd gen units.

                      Over the years I've had 2 or 3 switches go bad, but I've had other vendor z-wave devices die as well. Power and lightening are both likely a factor in lifetime here in Texas.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        mterry63 thanks for that detailed feedback! With regard to their scene capability, have you gotten it to work in HS? Easy enough to select in a HS Event?

                        Comment


                          #13
                          I'm using the double tap scenes as a backup to events I normally trigger with Alexa, like our good night and good morning events. If the Alexa skill or myhs isn't working, the dimmer double tap is the backup. They work fine and are easy to setup.

                          HS3 created a Scenes child device with the following

                          Click image for larger version

Name:	temp.png
Views:	190
Size:	78.6 KB
ID:	1409990

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by TC1 View Post
                            jmaddox agree completely on the WAF aspect... what makes "sense" in our minds doesn't necessarily make sense in other's minds. Whenever I try to solve a HA use-case I run it by the wife first... to see if it actually needs solving, lol.

                            George the ability to trigger central scenes or get back system status info at a glance can be invaluable in the right use-case. I wouldn't use it everywhere. The one use-case for the HS-200 I came up with and the WAF is 100%: I installed one in our bedroom and one in the wife's office which are upstairs. I have multiple locks on the ground floor. I setup an event that if either of the locks are unlocked, flash one or two dimmer LEDs to indicate which one. I might be in the backyard working, and the kid goes out and leaves the front door unlocked. The wife can see at a glance the front door is open and tap down twice to lock, and then get feedback it did lock. Late at light and if someone forgot to lock the doors, the LEDs will indicate that, again, a few taps and all the doors are locked. Now I would't do this anywhere on the first floor because it's easy enough to walk over to the door. And for downstairs I might use voice command to launch a good night sequence, but upstairs in the bedrooms one doesn't really want to use their voice late at night.
                            TC,

                            You're explanation makes a lot of sense. Can you share some of the code required to set the LED's in response to a condition?

                            In my case, my wife is not visual, I can leave a watermelon on the kitchen table for 3 days and she won't notice it!
                            But she is auditory. So up to now, I just have HS speak on the whole home speakers when something is not right.

                            Like
                            • We have a large (1 acre) fenced in part of backyard for our dogs. Three fence gates. Yard is over 3 acres in total.
                              If she opens the sliding door on the enclosed porch to let the dogs out and any of the fence gates are open, loud honking occurs with a warning that one of the fence gates are open, do not let the dogs out.
                            • If she tries to arm the alarm for night or day use and any of the garage doors are open, then again, not quite honking but a voice message that a door in the garage is open. I don't play the message if the alarm is armed 'away' as it could be possible that the door is already open. Etc
                            So, for those things, voice output works quite well. But for myself, I may want to set some status LED's on some switches let me know if TV downstairs is on, see if a room is occupied, etc.

                            Any sample code, events, scripts would be greatly appreciated.

                            G

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by George View Post

                              TC,

                              You're explanation makes a lot of sense. Can you share some of the code required to set the LED's in response to a condition?

                              In my case, my wife is not visual, I can leave a watermelon on the kitchen table for 3 days and she won't notice it!
                              But she is auditory. So up to now, I just have HS speak on the whole home speakers when something is not right.



                              G
                              LOL... I think your wife and mine are slightly related.... my wife can leave something on the kitchen counter, that doesn't belong there, for days. Yet if *I* leave something there, she has to move it.

                              More than happy to share the events, but it's late here and I need to be up early. I should be able to document and post something tomorrow.

                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X