GBA Logo horizontal Facebook LinkedIn Email Pinterest Twitter X Instagram YouTube Icon Navigation Search Icon Main Search Icon Video Play Icon Plus Icon Minus Icon Picture icon Hamburger Icon Close Icon Sorted

Community and Q&A

Switches and controls

Phimnoi | Posted in GBA Pro Help on

The GBA web site as been a tremendous source of practical information for my new DYI 500 sq feet code compliant addition.

Now I’m looking at switches and controls for the LED lights, the ERV LCD or WIFI, and the circulator pump for radiant wall, and maybe an outdoor camera. Thermostats and door locks, motion detectors, dimmers on switches or remotes or Bluetooth or WIFI hubs, frankly the whole thing is confusing.

Where can I find answers? Some Smart home advocates would say put the whole house online… That’s a bridge too far.



GBA Prime

Join the leading community of building science experts

Become a GBA Prime member and get instant access to the latest developments in green building, research, and reports from the field.


  1. Expert Member
    NICK KEENAN | | #1

    How are you trying to control them? Just plain old wall switches? Remote control? Internet?

    1. Phimnoi | | #7

      Phone APP no hub...

  2. gozags | | #2

    My advice is to stick to the main players on the electric side - Lutron, Leviton, etc.

    Don’t have smart bulbs, have smart light switches. 10 smart bulbs cost a lot more than 10 good led bulbs that operate on a smart switch.

    Line voltage everywhere. Good can light boxes with Edison screw in bulb connections can take whatever led deal they come up with in the future.

    It can get/seem expensive. Personally I use Lutron - you need the one hub, connected to your in-home network and the rest is pretty easy.

    HomeDepot deal of the day is often the Lutron products and that’s how I have built up items on the cheap.

    Smart outlets… not a fan. In the case of floor lamps and accent lights, you may go with the smart bulb.

  3. user-5946022 | | #3

    Good advice above on smart switches rather than bulbs, line voltage everywhere.
    Consider the wireless protocol of the system you use.
    - I believe Lutron is a proprietary system.
    - Wifi such as what connects your computer to your router is also not a great idea - if you get several devices you can clog up your network fast. Also many devices need to "phone home" via their internet connection and thus won't work if you don't have internet.
    - Zwave and Zigbee can be great if you leave the controls local. HomeAssistant is an open source software to run Zigbee and Zwave local and has many plug ins to pick up other devices. Hubitat is another hub that works local and does not require a monthly fee.

  4. gozags | | #4

    Local networks - your internet provider + your wired/wireless networks + devices won’t overwhelm anything. Not in a newer setup, on broadband. Even legacy DSL in rural areas, this isn’t a problem.

    Lutron’s setup operates w/o internet connectivity after initial setup. Meaning it runs and does the programmed things as long as you have power… and this in and of itself is not an issue generally. Homes have power and the internet services work 99% of the time in most areas.

  5. johngfc | | #5

    I'm in the same situation and decided to build a Raspberry pi based system using OpenHAB. The system components are well documented, open-source, robust, highly extensible, and flexible. However, this is an option only if you're computer-oriented and willing to do some learning - it's clearly not for everyone. Forums dedicated to home automation are good sources of information on the many options.

  6. Expert Member
    BILL WICHERS | | #6

    Lutron's system is propreitary, but it works very well. I have had my system for five years now. I wouldn't want to be without it. I do wish they had more options though (I've even asked my factory rep for them to consider making a module that would accept outside contact closures to trigger events).

    You won't "clog up" your network just by having lots of devices. The networks I'm involved with at work often have thousands of devices, and there is no problem. The issue would be if all those devices were moving lots of data, but simple things like switches move only a tiny amount of data, and they don't even do that very often. You shouldn't have a problem here.

    Zwave has a lot more options than Lutron's system, but it's main drawback is that it's not always as quick with responses. It has a large number of manufacturers supporting it though, and it's worth considering. When I chose Lutron for my system, my primary reasons were that I like the design of the Lutron switches, and I like the fast response time.

    BTW, Lutron's system DOES use the Internet and cloud services for the cellular phone app and associated services like geofencing when you're outside of your home. When you're inside your home though, their phone app contacts your local Lutron Smart Bridge device directly through your wifi network, so you can do everything inside even if your Internet connection is down. All the scheduled services continue to work too, which is a real plus for me since I'm in a more rural area and we have frequent power and Internet outages in storms.


Log in or create an account to post an answer.


Recent Questions and Replies

  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |