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  #1  
Old December 14th, 2017, 12:36 PM
moose12 moose12 is offline
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Smart bulbs or dimmer switch for fixture?

I have a number of fans I am considering automating. Unfortunately, each one is controlled by a dual dimmer/fan control switch in a single gang box. I can't simply replace with a separate fan control switch and a dimmer switch. So I was looking for a fan/light controller that could fit in the fan cowl. They are few and far between. I found the Insteon one and a zigbee one. I am going to look at the zigbee one. There may be issues like it not fitting in the cowl or not working with the JowiHue plug-in etc.

As a back up (or maybe even an easier first step) I could live with just controlling the lights (the wife just wants to be able to control those lights with Alexia). If that is the only goal, I now have two choices I think. Put a dimmer in the cowl like the Aeotec nano with dumb LED bulbs, or just skip the nano and put four smart bulbs in each fan (and presumable control each four as a group instead of one switch/dimmer). Am I missing something?

The Aeotec nano goes for about $60 (and I have to open up each fan) or I can get a 4-pack of Philips Hue for $50 (zigbee I know, but pretty sure HS can handle those ok). Z-wave bulbs would cost me ~$67 per four pack, so obviously the Philips look better cost wise since I have multiple fans.

So, back to my main question for all the people here with actual experience, any input on a switch/dimmer (given that it has to go in a fan cowl as I am pretty sure nothing will fit behind the wall switch.) vs individual smart bulbs?

Thanks
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Old December 14th, 2017, 01:44 PM
cowinger cowinger is offline
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GE has a new fan switch you could replace your existing switch with and then as you said you could use the smart bulbs. This would give you control (z-wave) over the fan speeds and separate control of the lights. Combinations of control of one or both can be done through events fairly easy. Just a thought.

https://www.amazon.com/New-Model-Wir...ave+fan+switch
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Old December 14th, 2017, 02:04 PM
moose12 moose12 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cowinger View Post
GE has a new fan switch you could replace your existing switch with and then as you said you could use the smart bulbs. This would give you control (z-wave) over the fan speeds and separate control of the lights. Combinations of control of one or both can be done through events fairly easy. Just a thought.

https://www.amazon.com/New-Model-Wir...ave+fan+switch
Yea, I thought of that too. The problem being that I would then lose manual control over the lights (replacing dual fan controller/light dimmer with only fan controller). That is not an option due to WAF and the fact that I am just starting out in HA. I expect a significant learning curve and the likelihood that the automation won't work, or work reliably, until I get better at it is high. The wife also does not have a high tolerance for technology not working (I need to make sure there is always a plan B). I am working from the assumption that I need to keep manual redundancy in everything for the foreseeable future until my knowledge and skill increases and reliability and function is proven.

The more I look into it, I am leaning towards the bulbs. Installation and replacement is significantly easier than removing blades and opening up a fan. Other than more automation setup, I have not come across a downside to go with smart bulbs vs a switch.
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Old December 14th, 2017, 03:42 PM
cowinger cowinger is offline
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I guess you could use something like this. Would have to be a WAF thing I'm sure.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B004I7YSVI..._t1_B0138ZFO68

Then you can use the GE fan switch and stick this right next to it.
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Old December 15th, 2017, 12:40 PM
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Here for my fan/light switch combos had issues relating to 4X4 metal boxes with single duplex metal mudplates on them. Removed the single duplex mudplates and replaced them with thin double duplex mudplates. Still having issues fitting two switches trimmed the metal a bit. PITA. Master bedroom has a vaulted ceiling and it was difficult to work on the fan / light combo.
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Old December 15th, 2017, 04:32 PM
ksum ksum is offline
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I have cut for a larger gang box in 3 different locations now. It really isn't as difficult as you may think. I used a metal blade to cut the nails holding the old on in place and removed it to replace with a larger existing construction box. The first time I just had a hack saw blade, the other times I had a reciprocating saw. The third time I actually had to cut the stud as well, so that one was a bit more work (and for a bathroom remodel to get a vent fan in place, not for a smart switch) but well worth the time and effort. If you have the time and a little DIY ability, you may want to just go ahead and do it.

Karl
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Old December 15th, 2017, 07:11 PM
moose12 moose12 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ksum View Post
I have cut for a larger gang box in 3 different locations now. It really isn't as difficult as you may think. I used a metal blade to cut the nails holding the old on in place and removed it to replace with a larger existing construction box. The first time I just had a hack saw blade, the other times I had a reciprocating saw. The third time I actually had to cut the stud as well, so that one was a bit more work (and for a bathroom remodel to get a vent fan in place, not for a smart switch) but well worth the time and effort. If you have the time and a little DIY ability, you may want to just go ahead and do it.

Karl
Yea, I considered that too. In the past I have installed boxes and wired new construction as well as patched drywall, so I could do it. But again, the time, effort, and mess of doing that vs screwing in some bulbs... Of course that would give me both fan and light control so that option is still on the table.

Of course we don't adjust the fans often, and the lights are what I really want to do. I am not seeing a down side to screwing in some bulbs instead and controlling those...
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Old December 15th, 2017, 09:23 PM
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Here was decorating - painting rooms (high on the WAF) and had to just mud around new double duplex metal mud plate and then paint. I have also purchased oversized larger wall plates which work fine.
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  #9  
Old December 16th, 2017, 11:06 AM
ksum ksum is offline
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My take is that if I need to open an app on my phone or have a voice activation to control something, it isn't as smart as it could be. To me a smart home is user friendly to all. So unless there is a permanent panel near by that makes it easy for someone to walk in and turn a light or fan on, it isn't the solution I want. WAF is hard to meet here. She will not do a phone app and is not open to being in the living room and asking the voice unit in the kitchen to turn something on. Hardly uses voice while in the kitchen to do it, actually. So in my book, a switch is key. Unless, of course, a dedicated touch screen is available.

Of course, the switch COULD be located someplace slightly different and operate a unit in the fan that turns the light or fan on/off. It does not have to be a direct wire to the unit. The switch location does, however, have to make some sense to a guest (house sitter) walking in and needing to control the unit.
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Old December 16th, 2017, 12:41 PM
cowinger cowinger is offline
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I don't know if the switch in post #4 would work for you but it is capable of being placed anywhere as you mentioned. There are other ones if you type in eaton battery operated switch in amazon.
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  #11  
Old December 17th, 2017, 01:16 PM
Kerat Kerat is offline
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Smart bulbs or dimmer switch for fixture?

So, if you are talking ceiling fans you need to be aware that they have a heavy load. Here I run GE fan switches for my ceiling fans as they offer multiple fan speeds and can handle the heavier load. I don't think dimmer switches can handle the load from a ceiling fan motor.

I will be automating two of the secondary bedrooms and will be adding ceiling fan and lighting control to them. I the rooms have a single gang light switch and only 1 Rolex to the ceiling outlet. I plan on expanding the single gang to a double gang and running a second romex to the ceiling fan.

If that isn't an option you could try an aeotech in wall micro-controller.


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  #12  
Old December 17th, 2017, 01:44 PM
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Here only did two combo fans and pondered a bit of automation modification of the fan/light combo remote control with multiple switches. It would be a bit more money and time involved in the modification. Wife kept remote control on her nightstand anyhow and used it all of the time and there is/was a little holder next to the light switch box.

or maybe even today using the RFXCombo for remote control of an RF controlled combo fan / light.

The above is only related to combos with RF remote controls - 4 bedrooms / 4 combos on second floor. Put a fan in the kitchen and wife never uses it. Family room fan is used in one room and not another room (skylights, ceiling cans and a fan do not mix well).
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