On our most recent IoT Podcast episode, Derrick called into our IoT Voicemail Hotline with a challenging question. It’s so challenging that we haven’t yet found an answer to address Derrick’s specific scenario. But we do have options and this raises the important question of choosing between toggle or paddle switches for the smart home.
Derrick currently has two rows of lights, each controlled by their own switches on opposite sides of the room. So they’re not on the same circuit. He’d like to have one switch that can control either of these sets of lights separately and also have the ability to turn them both on or off with that switch. There’s an important caveat though: Derrick’s wife insists on the older, more traditional toggle switches. And that’s where this situation becomes really challenging.
Most toggle switches are binary, meaning they turn a circuit on or off. And that’s it. Paddle switches do the same thing but often have additional buttons, sliders or even custom automation methods. That’s why Derrick can’t use the Inovelli Z-Wave switches he mentions even though they support multiple taps; they’re not toggled switches.
As far as options, we first found a toggle switch that works across multiple circuits such as one in the newest C by GE lineup. We don’t see an easy way to use it for the specific way Derrick is looking for, however.
If paddle-style switches were an option, there are more choices, such as the new Wemo Stage that debuted at CES 2020 earlier this month. This smart switch can also be used like a wireless remote since you can remove it from its faceplate. And it has three buttons, each of which can be single- or double-pressed providing for up to six automation or scene options. Wemo also has a number of standard smart switches for either single-pole or 3-way circuits.
Wemo is just one of many vendors that make smart paddle switches that support a wider range of automations or multiple presses. You can find them from GE, Lutron, Honeywell, and Minoston to name a few.
An out-of-the-box idea might be for Derrick to use a Z-Wave button that’s programmed for the two rows of lights. Buttons typically support multiple and long presses for different actions. These will require a hub since they use the Z-Wave radio and protocols, but they’re generally inexpensive on their own. The Samsung SmartThings button, for example, can be had for $15.
Regardless, the limitation of a toggle switch being a very binary option isn’t nearly as flexible as many of the standard or enhanced paddle switches you can buy today. For the widest range of automation freedom, you’re likely better off with a paddle switch for your smart home.
To hear Derrick’s question, as well as our discussion in full, tune in to the IoT Podcast below: