LED Lights and HomeKit

Hi folks,
I’m about to start looking into getting our downlights all changed over to LED. We have about 40 in our house (two-storey) which is quite a few! I am also thinking while I’m at it, maybe this is a good time to put in some home automation and link some or all into HomeKit so we can control them remotely or use timers and other features.

Has anyone had experience with this? Anyone know of services/good people to do a job like this? It might not be feasible or worth it but I just want to explore it as I figure now is the time to do it. Well, maybe after lock down!

What are the methods for doing this?

All help/discussion greatly appreciated.

Cheers, Glen

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I’ve just gone with smart lights across about half the house, I think there is something like 20 odd lights now smart controlled in some form… So I’m a huge advocate, … but… it’s all controlled with Google…

But onto some of my thoughts none the less.

I’ve had smart lights before, I had LiFX bulbs from the kick starter campaign and while they mostly did what they said on the box and have only gotten better (and have been copied by a million different companies). The problem with this sort of bulb setup is that you need to leave your light switch turned on in order to have them controlled by anything else… which leads to my main issue. I don’t want to have to dig out my phone, find an app, open it, then turn on/off a light. OK, Siri/Google/Alexa can bring voice control to the party, but do you really want to be asking the air to turn on your light every.single.time. you want it on or off? what about at 2am as you try to sneak back into the bedroom when your partner is asleep?
Problem 2: Can grandma walk into the room and turn the light on?

Now Philips Hue does have a special wireless switch that solves this problem completely, it’s also battery powered so can be stuck wherever is needed. But that whole range is very expensive to build and even to replace bulbs when they need it.

CBUS and Zigbee (and I’m sure a few others) do have options which can be retrofit into existing home and allow the old switch to still work as a toggle on/off, but they have been relatively expensive and may need greater amounts of rewiring to get them working.

Enter DETA and GridConnect which can be found in bunnings. They do a (probably*) drop in replacement 1/2/3/4 gang touch switch which drops into your existing hole, provides a physical switch AND smarts AND automation (whcih I will get to a little later). They are relatively cheap too.
*Probably drop in. As long as your house is semi modern and has a neutral at the switch, it’s literally unscrew the old one, screw in this one and you’re away (my house was built in '79 and was fine for all the switches I have had done).

This is one that I am using. And here is their full range. You can see there are lots of different options, but I can’t go past the physical switches since they bridge the worlds of smart and dumb.

I’ve even done and bought a sensor kit (and some extras too).

I have one door sensor on the back door set so when it’s night time and I open the back door, the carport lights turn on for 3 minutes which allows me to walk into the garage, do my thing and come back inside (the switch for these lights is in the garage so this is very handy).

I have a motion sensor in the bathroom which, when it’s night time and it senses motion, turns on a strip of LED’s under the shaving cabinet which provides enough light for a 3am wee without turning on the main lights.

I have another motion sensor in the hallway which turns on an LED strip along the skirting for 3 minutes allowing the kids to walk out of their rooms, go to their bathroom and back to their room without needing to turn lights on. This was is far far more about them NOT leaving the light on afterwards.

Which was one of the primary drivers in the first place. Now when the kids leave the lights on in the rumpus room they just finished playing in, or dining room they passed through, or the study where the iPad live to get charged I can simply yell at the air and get the lights turned off. We haven’t quite finished yet, their bedrooms and the back hallway still haven’t been upgraded, but once that is done you could walk out of the house saying “turn off all the lights” and know everything was off.

Oh, and external lights. Having the front and back lights on these switches mean I can walk up to the house in the dark from the front or back and pull out my phone to turn on the lights, especially awesome in winter or when you’ve come home late and not left the lights on.

Now, when it comes to HomeKit, there I can’t help you so much other than to point at these:


I am vaguely aware of some hacking of the DETA products and alternatives to Grid Connect, but since we have invested in the Google assistant ecosystem (and have at least seven of them across the house) it already works well enough for me. Although the one thing I would really like to get one day is 100% local server control of my switches, integrated into HomeKit and/or Google so I’m not at the mercy of the makers of Grid Connect, or Schalge or Brilliant… or any other random “smart” switch/plug/thing I have.

In short, I think HomeBridge is about to become your new best friend since the market for HomeKit enabled stuff is so much smaller.

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HPM now do HomeKit enabled switches that operate on Zigbee, unsure of cost but would be worth looking into.

https://hpm.com.au/switches-sockets/indoor/arteor-with-netatmo/

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Thanks for the info/replies. Next step will be finding a sparky to do the change over of the lights and the wall plates. I like the idea of a wall plate that has the wifi built in at that point.

Thanks again.

I’ve got about 20 Philips hue bulbs and 7 of their dimmer switches.

As mentioned they work well but are costly. The pros is you can do this yourself and won’t need an electrician so you save on labour costs.

You can pair them with Eve door sensors and motion detectors. And set scenes etc. via the home app.

Funnily enough this crossed my path as an ad this morning and is a great example of one of the alternatives.

It goes into your wall behind your existing switch and then does the magic… but it’s twice price of the the DETA units and requires more stuff to make it work. That said, that was the type of path I was looking at before, it’s probably a more robust environment too, albeit at a cost.

Mind you I would still want to replace the manual switch with a momentary switch rather than a toggle so it is not left in the wrong position all the time :stuck_out_tongue:

If you have older halogen downlights, they might each have a 240V AC ->12V DC transformer wired in sitting beside and powering the downlight. - Mine did. The LED downlight fittings come as 240V AC powered plug in (std 3 pin wall socket type) or as wired in types, two sizes 70 and 90mm cut outs, the 90mm ones are 10w.
I replaced 4x35w halogens with 4x10w LED’s, and the room is now almost too bright !

In my case a socket was fitted into the existing wiring that led into the redundant transformers to each of the 4 downlight fittings I replaced, and plug in style downlights were then simply plugged into these sockets. (The transformers are removed and redundant unless you want to wire them up for some other use.)

I have some Phillips Hue bulbs and a Hue Bridge fitted to lights as a security system for a holiday house. An important distinction between different smart lighting systems is that many store the bulb programming in the cloud so need a live internet connection to work. The Hue bridge stores the programming and does not need a live internet connection to function. - Although my Bridge and bulbs needed a software update on the initial set up which I did whilst I had internet connectivity.

After a power failure Hue now is able to resume with the previous setting (selectable), so a power off in the middle of the night has no impact, but one in the evening, not recovering until very late might see all your lights that were on come back on, unless you manually intervene of course, as in use the light switch when you go to bed or the Hue App to turn them off when you are awakened in a blaze of light at 2:00AM when the power resumes.
The default is not to resume the previous setting, but to turn on btw.

I found scant documentation of exactly how the Hue system responds to different scenarios, like manual turn on over rides programming, and a bulb will stay lit not turn off at the next scheduled off. You need to turn it off manually.

In my case the key selection driver was to have a programmable system that did not need internet connectivity to function.

So how does the Philips Bridge work? Do the light switches need to be connected to the bridge or is it a central point that the lights wirelessly connect to?

The Hue Bridge uses your wifi network to talk to the bulbs. - So yes, the bridge is the central point. The bridge connects via ethernet to your wifi router, so unless you have an extensive wired network it needs to be located close to the router obviously.
But the light switches need to be on, so the bulbs are powered for wifi. - They use 0.5w when not illuminated. The latest bulbs also have bluetooth, but the bridge uses the wifi network to tell the bulbs what to do. Bluetooth is another way to control them manually with your phone.
The Hue system uses a different communication protocol (Zigbee), not TCP/IP. So it doesn’t need your network password to access the wifi.
You can use a phone App or a Mac desktop App to programme the Bridge with schedule routines, or to manually control each bulb.
My selection of Hue was based on it not needing a live internet connection to run programme routines, just a wifi network.

Depending on how much you were planning on spending we just got 6 Philips hue down lights with the new Bluetooth for $55 each which is about the same as most generic but you can change whiteness and control them. Make sure the sparky puts sockets in for each as our last didnt and hardwired them in which means any die and we need an electrician again. We also replaced both ancient batch room lights with the hue bathroom lights for $150 each and they come with the wireless dimmer switch so a bargain.

So it is starting to look like its down to HPM or Phillips Hue Lights. The thing with the HPM system (which also uses Zigbee) is that the switches are what you are controlling so you don’t have to depend on people leaving switches in the ‘on’ position. But the control of the Hue lights does look good, like being able to change the colours/brightness/etc. I suppose the HPM system also relies on an internet connection so if the power goes out, what happens then.

Great discussion, thanks for all the ideas!

You can get a dimmer for the HPM system but as controlling your standard LED lights no funky colour changes.

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Well it still looks like a great solution. And it looks like the electrician just installs the switches as they normally would. Though not sure how the master switch works and how it would go in a power failure.

In the event of a power failure the lights are not going to work :wink: I presume you mean if it keeps it settings or not? Not sure, I don’t see why it shouldn’t? I am interested in this system as well as we plan to renovate/update in the next few years. Will flick them an email and let you know if I hear back.

ahah yes that wasn’t very well worded from me! But yes I did mean what happens when the power comes back on.

So it seems with this system, you’d need to get the master switch and the Zigbee router installed then you can start putting in the switches and PowerPoints and whatever else you want.

Decisions…decisions!

I can confirm that the DETA ones come back to their previous state following a power outtage, although I haven’t actually seen this written down anywhere.

The documentation does say that if the internet goes out the phone app will still continue to work if you’re on the same WiFi network and that any timers set via the app will still function (I assume these must be written to the switches themselves), although it does say timers triggered by scenes or automation wont operate without the internet.

I’m not sure if a simple automation like “turn on on motion” works without the internet or not when it’s using their little hub since it’s all within the local ecosystem of products. Realistically this is far less of a problem for most city dwellers since internet is generally pretty reliable these days.

For me the largest control scenario (other than using the physical switch) is through the various Google home devices which themselves are completely useless without an internet conenction anyway.

HPM replied saying bridge and switches maintain settings if a power outage occurs.

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This one popped up as an ad today too:

https://www.myhomesense.com.au/

Good to know! Thanks!

Thanks mate! This thread may be causing you to get ads now! :slight_smile: