Home Automation and Switches
It’s absolutely fantastic when you can use Amazon Echo, Siri or one of the other voice AI systems to control your home. The only trouble is, it falls apart when other members of the household switch off the lights at the wall switch. The next time you want to turn on your lights using your voice nothing happens because there is no electricity going from the switch to the device. My first attempt to get around this problem was to buy some Flic switches to stick on to the light switch in order to turn them on or off with a button. These Flic switches are small, round and work over Bluetooth. It has not been a success! Sometimes the switches work and sometimes they don’t. The switches use either a Mac or one of your iOS devices as a hub. If you are using your iPhone as the hub and you are out of the house then anyone left in the house will not be able to use the switches. This will lead to frustration and your significant others of the house will stop using the switches if they’re not working. So you end up with the same problem as before. I did try to use the Mac which is always running as the hub and I ran into similar problems. When the Mac goes to sleep the Bluetooth connectivity to the switches stops working. So same thing as with using the iPhone as the hub, if you don’t get 100% success they don’t get used. Whichever way you go with those Bluetooth switches you end up with a certain amount of swearing taking place when the home automation doesn’t work. Better off with a Philips Hue Wifi Switch.
The solution to the problem is switches that work over Wi-Fi
There are Smart Dimmer switches you can buy which embed into the wall and I haven’t tried those yet. I think there could be problems with Wi-Fi connections if the switches with the radios are inside the wall. Connectivity to the switches could be difficult because antenna like to have fresh air and to be waving around in the open. (Don’t we all!) There are Philips Hue Wifi Switch devices which magnetically fit to a wall plate you stick on the wall. It’s handy to have the removable switch in your hand and use remotely from time to time. I can attest to the fact that the switches work well when attached by the magnets. It’s not going to be often you need to remove the switch from wall and use it remotely because we have the voice activation available with Amazon Echo or Siri. Even so, it’s a cool feature of the Philips Hue Smart Dimmer Switches.
So you go to the Philips Hue app on your mobile device to add the Philips Hue Wifi Switch. I bought the switches together with a Philips hue lightbulb in the packet and they are configured to plug and play. You screw the lightbulb into the light socket, pull the little bit of plastic out of the back of the switch so the battery connects to the contact and it starts working. Straightaway you have the on and off switches working plus the dimmer buttons – Easy as falling off a log! I wanted to have the switches working with lights already in place so it was necessary for me to use the reset button accessed through a small hole in the back of the switch. Press the reset button so the little light on the front starts to flash and then add the accessory with the application. It’s not difficult to do this, it only takes a minute. All you need to do then is to go to the Apple Home application and configure the Philips Hue Wifi Switch to work with the lights you have in your home.
Configuring the Switches in the Apple Home Application
I have two Philips hue light bulbs in my office and they are grouped together in a scene. I can still work them individually, but I prefer it if they both go on and off at the same time. With the Philips Hue Switch I was able to use the button number 1 to switch on the scene and then button number 4 to switch the scene off. The switches work immediately which is a huge improvement over the Bluetooth switches. The Flic switches had a small but noticeable delay so even when they were working correctly they were not perfect. With the Philips Hue Wi-Fi switch, press the button and the light either turns on or off immediately as it is supposed to. I can now put tape onto the old analogue wall switches to keep them in the correct position. I’m happy in being able to control how the system works and my significant other is happy because the lighting system is not tied to one user.
After setting switch number one and switch number four I still had two more switches to play with. Instead of using them to dim the lights up or down, I decided to use them for other lighting scenes. On the switch for the office lights I used switch number 2 to turn on all of the lights in the house and switch number 3 to turn all of the lights off. It doesn’t have to be just the lights controlled by the switch. I have a couple of Elgato Eve plug sockets switches, one of which I use to power my small office electric radiator. This plug socket switch for the radiator is in the same HomeKit scene as all of the house lights, it’s called “Good Night”. When I go to bed at night all I have to do is to press one switch and everything turns off. I still have the option of speaking to Siri and saying “Good night” to perform the same action. (These Elgato Eve switches don’t work with Alexa or Google Home) I will use the Philips Hue Wi-Fi switch on the wall if my wife is in bed sleeping because I don’t get the audio feedback from Siri by using that method. Happy wife, happy life!
Philips Hue Wifi Switch Solved My Problems
Some lights have more than one switch to control them. I have a light to illuminate the stairs to the garage with a switch at the bottom of the stairs and a switch at the top of the stairs. I put one of the Philips hue Wi-Fi switches at the bottom of the stairs so I can turn off the lights as I enter the garage. Don’t need one at the top of the stairs because there’s the option off turning the light off using Amazon Alexa, Siri or one of the other voice systems you might have. What I have done though is to use two extra switches available on the Philips Hue Wi-Fi switch just inside the living room to control that stairway light. So switches one and four control the living room lights while switches two and three (the dimmer switches) are there to turn on and off the stairway light. Excellent, we have a winner!
I have seen there is a system where you have a switch built into the wall to control one of a pair of light switches and then you have a separate Wi-Fi switch which controls the first one. This makes it easier to work with the wiring built into the house. The main Wi-Fi switch does the job and the secondary switch, switches on and off the first switch. That might sound a little complicated but I assure you it isn’t. For the moment I don’t need those devices as the Philips Hue Wifi Switches are working how I want them to work.