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Problem: I have an Airbnb type resort that I'm trying to upgrade. Whoever designed the lighting clearly wanted as much customizability as possible. Instead of having a single switch controlling all the lights in a room, there are multiple circuits. Generally, this isn't a bad thing, multiple circuits allow you set the mood. However, in these buildings, it is a bit overboard: bathrooms have at least two circuits, bedrooms can have three, and large rooms can have around seven. Moreover, rather than having a bank of switches in one location, each switch is located where the light would illuminate. What that means is there is a collection of switches that are seemingly scattered at random around a room, you may need to hunt to find a particular switch, and if you just want all the lights on you must run around the room. All this creates confusion for your average renter.

Solution: I want to simplify the lighting by replacing each switch with a smart switch. So that there can be a master switch that controls all the other switches. However I still want to maintain the customizability, so if one of the slave switches is pressed it will turn on or off only its light. So the question I have is what platform (I'd prefer specific solutions rather than answering with protocols such as "Go with Z-Wave") would be suitable for these buildings?

Criteria:

  • The system must be highly customizable and flexible: There are some switches that control lights in neighboring rooms that I want to effectively move.
  • The system must be secure: As mentioned the building gets rented out so I can't afford for guests to be able to reset any switches. I therefore believe I need some sort of enterprise solution.
  • Robustness: In one building I counted around 165 switches. The system must be able to handle that many switches, both theoretically and in terms of usability (another reason I believe I need some sort of enterprise solution).
  • Hardwired: I do not want any battery-powered switches.
  • Simplicity: If possible I'd prefer not to have to be running a server for it and prefer not to need many access points.
  • Cost: The cheaper the better.
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    shopping questions are off topic here
    – jsotola
    Jul 5, 2021 at 1:06

2 Answers 2

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There are really two aspects which are integrated in traditional switches and can be separated in smart switches: control by the user and control of the circuit.

You can replace each of the switches by a module (it will go inside the wall box of the existing switch), which will control the associated circuit.

Then you can use smart switches (remote controls, really) to activate those modules. You can also use sensors, for instance to switch on lights in a hallway as soon as you enter.

You could even altogether remove the existing switches, and rely on smart bulbs instead. This would give you more control than just on/off: dimming, temperature, and even colour.

All of this exists in the Hue ecosystem for instance (and you can use other Zigbee lights).

Using Hue, I would recommend one network (and bridge) per flat. There are limits of a few dozen devices per bridge, and you have commands such as “all lights off” which would of course be an issue if they crossed boundaries.

The advantage of consumer systems is that you have a very wide choice of devices, and they are relatively open. Enterprise systems are often a lot more expensive, often require additional wiring, are often closed systems (you can only use devices from the same brand), and usually have more limited choice (usually geared more towards office buildings than flats).

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  • I think you summarized the difference between consumer and enterprise systems well. However, for my use case, I think it makes sense to trade the versatility of consumer systems for the usability and scalability of enterprise systems. In fact, I prefer the simplicity of only having to use a single vendor. Using a system that natively supports a max of 65 devices is in essence a hack. Which at scale only makes it more difficult to set up, and more importantly, maintain. So I think it only makes sense to use a consumer system only if it's designed to smoothly scale up. Thanks
    – yak27
    Jul 4, 2021 at 17:28
  • I think it would be very useful if you could also provide some links to all the things you mentioned.
    – not2qubit
    Jan 1, 2023 at 21:30
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If you label the switches neatly but in large letters (plus arrows pointing at the light/fans if useful), the frustration factor will go way down. You can even use colored backgrounds for the labels to differentiate between light, fan, etc. (added ease for those not color blind) Changing it to an electronically controlled system may cause headaches and maintenance costs for you. Best of luck.

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