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 Need help making my dumb fan SMART.
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balucanb
Starting Member

USA
4 Posts

Posted - 05/29/2020 :  3:37:01 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
A little long so Sorry. I have a "dumb" fan, up lights, down lights and the fan. On the fixture you can turn the up/down lights on/off independently and control fan speed with pull chains, on the wall you have 2 switches 1 controls the lights (all on/off only) and a 2nd switch for Fan on/off only. I am deep into the Google smart speaker-sphere. I want to be able to control up/down lights independently and control fan speed, plus on/off using my smart speaker. What are my options? I hate the idea of using a additional hub but do not think I have any other options so if I were to install the GE Z-Wave Plus smart fan speed control I would also need to install some sort of RF receiver in the fan correct? Are there any options that do not require a extra hub? As far as the lights go my assumptions are I can just install smart bulbs which should allow me to independently control on/off/top/bottom plus any scene or routine, would this be correct? Thanks!

oberkc
Moderator

USA
4119 Posts

Posted - 05/30/2020 :  04:11:15 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Nest hubs do not speak directly to z-wave devices as far as I know, so you would need an additional hub if you wish to control z-wave device via your google home hub.

Perhaps there are wifi fan controls that work directly with google home. I have no direct experience with any, but a quick web search showed this one. I suspect there are others.

https://www.amazon.com/Ceiling-Control-Treatlife-Assistant-Schedule/dp/B086PPRWL7/ref=sr_1_3_sspa?dchild=1&keywords=smart+ceiling+fan+control&qid=1590836652&sr=8-3-spons&psc=1&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUFDMllMNUlBSTlGWkMmZW5jcnlwdGVkSWQ9QTA5OTgxMjIzNjdLMFc2NFpEWTg3JmVuY3J5cHRlZEFkSWQ9QTA4NTkxNjkxR1c1WUY4SkI1Njk1JndpZGdldE5hbWU9c3BfYXRmJmFjdGlvbj1jbGlja1JlZGlyZWN0JmRvTm90TG9nQ2xpY2s9dHJ1ZQ==

Smart bulbs that work directly with the google hub would work, but you would need to address how to deal with the wall switch. Do you still want to control the lights with a wall switch? If so, the wall switch, bulbs, and hub would all need to be compatible with each other. You might also have to re-wire the lights to have constant power.

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balucanb
Starting Member

USA
4 Posts

Posted - 05/30/2020 :  08:57:08 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
oberkc, thanks for the link. seems fishy to me though. Here is why. My fan is 100% dumb, no way to control it other than the 2 wall switches or 3 pull chains on the fan. All fans that are remotely operated require some sort of a receiver, normally they are RF. The product in the link has no mention of one. My assumption is it operates by simply cutting power to the fan motor like a dimmer switch. Dimmers use a TRIAC controller which varies only the voltage. A VFD varies both the voltage and frequency and is what is used on a fan the can be remotely operated. Using a TRIAC only switch would best case shorten the life of the fan motor, worst case catch it on fire. Disclaimer* I am not an electrician, the above is what I have found in my research of this problem. To answer your wall switch question I do not think I have an issue here I should just be able to leave the light switch that controls the light in place, change out the bulbs, upper and lower with smart bulbs. As long as I leave the wall switch on I should be able to independently control upper/lower lights with a app or my Google speaker(s) the wall switch would still work as before which is all lights either on or off. after posting my original question(s) I have done further research on remotely controlling the fan speed and unfortunately it appears the only (safe/correct) answer is to install a RF receiver in the fan then connect to it with a smart switch that would replace the dumb switch I currently have installed. I am holding out hope that I am wrong and one of the smart folks on the forum can help me out

Edited by - balucanb on 05/30/2020 09:00:29 AM
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oberkc
Moderator

USA
4119 Posts

Posted - 05/30/2020 :  7:49:13 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
All fans that are remotely operated require some sort of a receiver, normally they are RF. The product in the link has no mention of one.


Clearly, I have not used the device to which I provided the web link, but it is wifi (which is RF) if the description can be believed. It would wire into you existing switch location and replace the existing two switches. Also, if the description is to be believed, it is compatible with google home.

quote:
My assumption is it operates by simply cutting power to the fan motor like a dimmer switch.


Not sure if this is a good assumption. The description mentions three discrete speeds, which is generally compatible with a fan. I would assume that this device is like a z-wave or insteon fan controller, fully compatible with a fan motor.

quote:
As long as I leave the wall switch on I should be able to independently control upper/lower lights with a app or my Google speaker(s) the wall switch would still work as before which is all lights either on or off.


Except, when the smart bulb is turned off by an app or google hub, I do not think the switch can be used to turn it back on. I expect smart bulbs to revert to most recent state when power cycled.

quote:
after posting my original question(s) I have done further research on remotely controlling the fan speed and unfortunately it appears the only (safe/correct) answer is to install a RF receiver in the fan then connect to it with a smart switch that would replace the dumb switch I currently have installed.


Certainly that is an option, but I see no technical reason why the electronics that would be installed in the fan cannot be duplicated in a switch. Your original desire was to control the fan with the google home hub without having to purchase an "extra" hub. This means that the fan controller would have to be bluetooth or wifi (only way to communicate directly with a google hub). The switch I linked claimed to be compatible with a fan, designed specifically as a fan control, communicates through wifi system, and compatible with google home. This sounds exactly like what you were looking for.
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balucanb
Starting Member

USA
4 Posts

Posted - 05/31/2020 :  1:38:42 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
oberkc, All good points. I had not considered that it is possible that the "receiver" could be built into the switch! I am skeptical though. Well truth be told I am really freaked out about burning my house down from a misrepresented fan switch I bought because I I was to lazy/cheap to just hire a electrician or buy a more expensive switch! :) What I wonder is when you look at add on RF receivers that you wire in to the fan directly they are all pretty bulky, if they are able to do this inside the confines of a wall switch why wouldn't someone make a smaller one for on fan installation? On the bulbs you are correct, I thought, and now know (because I replaced all the bulbs w/ smart ones) that I could control top and bottom lights independently just using bulbs(all switches wall and pull chains must be in the ON position) and yes if someone uses a switch for on/off whatever the bulbs were doing when they shut it off will be the same when they turn it back on with the switch. I set up a couple scripts (routines?) so I can turn both on/off or just have white light in the upper and lower lights using my Google home and/or the companion app from the bulbs so that is not an issue now. I am pretty new to the automation thing but it is pretty addictive I am finding out! The more I research the more I am sure if I really want to make things do what I want I am going to have to go with a smart things hub or something like that- the manufacturers of all this cool stuff don't seem to be in any hurry to make it all play nice with each other once you move beyond a few bulbs and switches.
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oberkc
Moderator

USA
4119 Posts

Posted - 05/31/2020 :  4:34:54 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
I am skeptical though. Well truth be told I am really freaked out about burning my house down from a misrepresented fan switch I bought because I I was to lazy/cheap to just hire a electrician or buy a more expensive switch!


Yes, valid concerns. The only thought I have is how much confidence you place on certifications such as UL or CE. I would also say that higher cost may not guarantee greater safety.



A problem noted by many. Having said this, my impression is that smart things does a better job than many in working with a wide variety of devices. I use the ISY-994 hub with a "policy" box add-on. My switches are insteon and z-wave, which the ISY-994 works with natively. I also have a few hue lighting devices that can be made to work with the ISY-994. There are options (and I use them) to allow integration with echo and google home devices, along with harmony remotes, robot vacuums, and many other devices. I have been happy with it. Yes, it is addicting. The more you get into it, the more things you want to try.

Are you looking for simple remote control or to solve a problem without running new wires? How much automation do you want? Simple timers? Sunset/sunrise conditions? Conditional logic? Motion, light, door, and window triggers? Occupancy awareness? How much dependence on cloud services can you tolerate (a strike against smart things, I suspect)? Are you willing to rely on a computer (software solution to a hub) to manage and execute the automation tasks? There are a lot of options and you can get into this pretty deep pretty quick.
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balucanb
Starting Member

USA
4 Posts

Posted - 05/31/2020 :  6:46:05 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
With the fan I just want to be able to control it with my voice assistant, would like to do it without the hassle of a re-wire job. If ultimately that is what I need to do, no issues though.
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