Smart lighting such as Philips Hue is handy, but a light switch often turns out to be indispensable. If you turn off a smart lamp with a normal light switch, the lamp is inaccessible to the system. With the Wall switch converter, Smartwares promises to have solutions that make your normal wall switch smart.
Smartwares Wall switch converter
price € 20, –
Price HomeWizard Link € 35, –
Protocol Smartwares 865 Mhz
Wireless range Maximum 40 meters to HomeWizard Link
Number Maximum 8 pieces
Battery CR2450 (8 year life)
Dimensions 4.4 x 3 x 1.2 cm
Extras Including welding clamp
6 Score 60
- Simple installation
- Relatively cheap
- Works well with one lamp
- Do not group lamps
- Limited link between home automation systems
- Scenes Hue not invocable
When you switch off a lamp via a wall switch in a system such as Hue, there is no power on it and the lamp is no longer accessible to the system. And that is difficult if you then want to operate the lamp with your smartphone or have programmed an automatic action for which the light must be switched on. Now you can buy various separate switches for Hue, for example, but often you will just leave the normal wall switches. Or maybe you find something like a Hue Dimmer Switch does not match your switching material. Although switching material manufacturers are increasingly possible in the form of Friends of Hue, these are expensive buttons. Smartwares has with the Wall switch converter made a relatively cheap built-in module that converts normal switches into smart switches where a smart lamp always remains under voltage. The Smartwares Wall switch converter is a compact module in which you place a button cell. This has the advantage that no neutral wire is needed for connection. The module works with Smartwares’ own lamps and Hue lighting.
The Smartwares built-in module uses a protocol on the 868 MHz band for communication, the same frequency as Z-wave, for example. The protocol is unfortunately closed and as far as I know there are no possibilities to use this protocol with other receivers, so to use the Wall switch converter a base station from Smartwares in the form of the HomeWizard Link Need. Fortunately, the price of that base station is reasonable at 35 euros. The HomeWizard Link forms the basis of Smartwares’ own HomeWizard Pro home automation system that, in addition to the built-in module discussed in this article, includes its own lamps, switches and sensors. However, a limited number of smart products from third parties can be linked and Philips Hue is precisely one of those products. This makes the Wall switch converter, according to Smartwares, extremely suitable to use in combination with Hue as a smart light button, the lighting system that I use myself.
Built-in module with battery
Built-in modules for behind the wall switch are nothing new in themselves, but they are often a lot more expensive than the 20 euros that Smartwares asks per module and a lot more difficult to install. This easy installation is because Smartwares has opted for a battery as power supply. The advantage of this approach is clear: you don’t need a blue neutral wire behind your flush-mounted switch to power the transmitter. For example, most Z-wave built-in modules require both a brown phase wire and a blue neutral wire. Behind light switches you will usually only find the brown phase wire because the blue wire that closes the circuit is in the central box near the lamp itself. To connect such a built-in module, you will have to pull blue neutral wires from the central box to the light switches, which can be a difficult job.
Thanks to the battery, this is not necessary with the Smartwares module. The only drawback I can think of about Smartwares’ approach is that a battery is of course empty once. At that point, you will have to unscrew the light switch from the wall to replace the battery. Although that disadvantage should be not too bad, because according to Smartwares the battery lasts no less than eight years. Fortunately, the CR2450 button cell used is a common type of battery that you can buy in many places.
Apparently Signify (the company behind Philip Hue) also thought the battery module was a good idea, because recently Signify announced that it would come up with a similar module itself. With a price of 40 euros per module, it is a lot more expensive.
The installation of the built-in module is not very complicated. Of course you first switch off the voltage of the group in the meter cupboard. You start by placing the button cell battery, after which you connect the built-in module with the HomeWizard Link via a button. In any case, you have to do that coupling before you screw everything back on the wall, because then you can of course no longer reach the button.
Then it is time for the actual installation and you unscrew the wall switch from the wall. Then disconnect the brown and black wires from the switch. You then have to connect that brown and black wire. This way there is always voltage on the light point where the smart lamp hangs. For this Smartwares supplies a welding clamp. I was pleasantly surprised that it is a WAGO version with levers. These are really much more convenient than normal welding clamps, especially if you ever want to disconnect the wires again. Then connect the wires from the built-in module to the contacts of the light switch and screw it back onto the wall. You can now switch the group back on and link your lamp and switch with software in the app.
Of course you do not necessarily have to connect the switch of a light point to a lamp on that light point. For example, in the kitchen I have a wall light point with a corresponding switch that I don’t use because I don’t have a lamp there. I did put a Hue light strip on the kitchen cupboards. Thanks to a Wall switch converter, that unused switch can suddenly be used and now switches the light strip.
Switching and scenes
In the HomeWizard app you connect the Hue Bridge, after which you can decide for yourself which of your Hue lamps are actually shown in the HomeWizard app. Handy, because as far as I’m concerned it makes no sense to unlock all my lamps. For me it is sufficient to only see the lamps that I actually want to connect to a physical light switch via HomeWizard. If you find an automation function in the app useful or if you want to link the lamps with Smartwares products, you can of course add all Hue lamps.
The link between a lamp and a switch is easy to make and you can assign actions to 1, 2, 3 and 4 times. I have assigned the action switch device to the 1x switch. This means that if you use your light switch in the normal way, the status of the lamp changes. If the lamp is on, it will go out. And if the lamp is off, it switches on. So you can easily use the Hue app or another switch, the switch with the Wall switch converter behind it always does what you expect from it. You can set via the app with which shade or color and brightness a lamp should be switched on via the switch. As long as you want to switch one lamp on or off at the same time, it works fine.
However, it becomes a problem if you want to switch multiple lamps on or off at once. The rooms or zones with which you link lamps in the Hue app are not visible in the HomeWizard environment. That shouldn’t be a problem, because you can also divide lamps into rooms within the HomeWizard app.
Unfortunately, it turns out that it is not possible to switch all the lights in a room at once. The only thing you can do to connect lamps is to create a scene. It is perfectly possible to create a scene that switches on the desired lamps. But if you assign that scene to the normal 1X switching action, you can only switch on that scene, in other words: you cannot switch off the lighting with the normal switching action. For this you can create a second scene in which you switch the lamps off again, but you will have to assign that scene to the 2X switching action. As far as I’m concerned, that quickly becomes awkward. I just want to press the button to turn the light on and then off again. I really see the scenes with which you set different lamps to the desired color and brightness in one go as an addition to this. After all, linking several lamps to one light is not a bad idea, there are enough fixtures where you can turn multiple lamps. As a user of Hue, it is not possible to use scenes that you have created within the Hue app, you will have to (re) create any scenes for the wall switch in the HomeWizard app.
Limited linking options
What is unfortunate about the HomeWizard Link is that, besides the link with Hue, Google Home and Amazon Alexa, nothing from third parties can be linked. In itself understandable from Smartwares, because of course the HomeWizard Link is designed to serve as the basis for a smart home. But from the point of view of someone who mainly uses it as a supplement to Hue and who also has other smart devices at home, it is a pity that you cannot unlock the buttons in systems such as Home Assistant or Domoticz.
Smartwares has a handy product in its range with the Wall switch converter. Initially, the built-in module is intended for your own lighting system, but there is a simple connection with Philips Hue available. The price of 20 euros per built-in module is good, but you do need a HomeWizard Link base station. With a price of 35 euros, it is affordable, and certainly if you want to make a few light switches in the house smart.
The whole is easy to install and works great as long as you want to switch one lamp with one switch. The hardware is fine, but unfortunately that does not apply to the software. The problem starts when you want to control multiple lamps with one switch, because grouping lamps into one lamp is not possible. And that is really an important disadvantage for which scenes are not quite the solution for me.
Another disadvantage, especially for Hue users, is that HomeWizard Lite is its own ecosystem to which you can actually only connect smart products from SmartWares yourself. Of course, if you use the system purely as Hue buttons, you will not be bothered by this, but a link with an open platform such as Home Assistant would be useful to be able to do more with the smartly made switches.
If you are already a user of the HomeWizard Link system, then I definitely recommend the Wall switch converter. After all, the mentioned disadvantages of the system apply much less to you.