Operating Your Home the Smart Way: Smart Switches, Buttons and Actuators on Conrad Connect

Automation routines are what makes smart homes smart. They tell your abode what needs to be done, and all this without you having to lift a finger. However, part of what makes us human is the urge to break routine now and again. In terms of home automation, this entails giving ourselves the option to do things old-school, i.e. manually. This doesn’t necessarily mean reaching for your mobile phone and using apps. These days, there are plenty of smart devices out there, including buttons, switches and actuators, all of them now being considered home automation essentials.  Below, we explain the differences between these products and show you how to use smart switches on our platform to tweak your smart home set-up to get the results you want.

What Smart Switches Do

When hearing the term “switch”, the first thing that comes to most people’s mind are the omnipresent wall-mounted rocker switches that turn ceiling and wall lights on and off. Goes without saying that nowadays these light switches also come with a built-in radio module, allowing you to operate multiple electrical appliances at the same time. This doesn’t only work with smart light bulbs but also applies to blinds, shutters and even Wi-Fi speakers.

Unlike their traditional counterparts, many smart switches also come with a set of different MOs, such as pushing the button briefly, pressing it twice, or pushing and holding it. This allows you to activate different appliances using a single switch.

Different Types of Smart Switches

Conrad Connect uses an extended range of smart switches, including both physical devices (hardware) and virtual buttons (software). Smart switches supported by our platform are usually  listed in the “Actuator” tag of our project editor.  

On our platform, the term hardware switch refers to a variety of actuators, including standalone buttons, remote controls, and wall-mounted switches. Wall switches come both as surface-mount battery-powered products and mains-wired switches that are installed in dry lining boxes.    

Which switch type is the one you need? When it comes to where to place your switch, products that do not require flush-mount dry lining boxes give you a lot of choice. As they feature their own power supply, you just fit them wherever you want them.   

On the other hand, flush-mount mains-supplied switches are basically zero-maintenance. No periodical replacement  of batteries necessary. Once installed you are done.  And if you are swapping your traditional switches for their smart RC counterparts, someone accidentally cutting the lighting power supply  resulting in radio signal blackouts  is a thing of the past.    

A word of caution though. Unlike other home automation devices, don’t install mains-powered flush-mount switches yourself if you don’t hold the required qualifications. Tapping into the building  mains grid is always a high-risk endeavour best left to the pros. 

Like most other smart home devices, radio-controlled hardware switches are set up using the manufacturer’s Android or iPhone app. Afterwards, you need to log on to our platform, go to the “Projects & Services” tag and link the switch to your account (how to do this and other things is explained here).

Action Button bei Conrad Connect

Besides hardware switches, our platform provides a wide range of virtual (i.e. software-based) switches referred to as action buttons. Executing a home automation routine doesn’t inevitably necessitate pressing a physical button. Instead, action buttons can be linked to and activated by clicking the relevant dashboard widget, an Amazon Alexa and  Google Assistant voice command, or  Telegram instant messaging. If you want to use an action button in a project, keep in mind that action buttons are found in the “Sensors” tag (not in “Actuators”).

How to Use Smart Buttons and Remote Controls in Projects

Switches, buttons and remote controls that support user-defined functions give you a high degree of flexibility when it comes to how to operate your smart devices. These days, most products feature easy internet connectivity via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth which makes using them in your home automation project a totally straightforward process. Most of them are battery-powered, too, means, you place them wherever you want. Bluetooth products have an edge when it comes to energy consumption. Wi-Fi switches offer superior signal coverage. MyStrom and the eQ-3 brand Homematic IP are just two out of a range of suppliers whose products are supported by our platform.

If you want to come up with your own projects involving smart buttons, knock yourself out. Alternatively, why not check out a range of ready-to-use project templates created and shared by members of our community? For instance, there’s one that allows you to use the myStrom button to set the preferred indoor air temperature levels, and one that switches on the lights across the entire premises. And this project uses the myStrom switch as an emergency button.

How to Get the Most out of Surface and Flush-mount Smart Switches 

If you are just starting out using smart wall switches, choosing a battery-powered product is a  good way to get into it. As they don’t rely on mains supply and, in turn, on new or existing wiring, they can be fitted anywhere, just like smart buttons. Also opting for battery-powered products doesn’t result in a large-scale (or at least largish-scale) project as would swapping all your current traditional switches for smart ones.

Nevertheless, radio-controlled switches using flush-mount actuators constitute a way more elegant solution if you are thinking in the long-term. First, you don’t operate two different systems at the same time. Second, there’s a much lower risk of the two set-ups negatively impacting each other if something goes wrong. Third, mains-supplied flush-mount switches are the most unobtrusive and  tidiest version by a mile, if you are looking into automating motor-operated blinds and roller. Besides, opting for products centred around network standards such as Z-Wave make using the switches in your projects really easy.

Flush and surface-mount switches with Conrad Connect compatibility include products from Mobile Alerts, Innogy, HomeMatic (via CloudMatic owned by Easysmarthome) and Homematic IP.

Sonos_in_different_rooms
Sono's speakers work well in all rooms of the house, as well as in many smart projects with Conrad Connect

hLog in to your Conrad Connect account to come up with your own project. In doing so, you don’t necessarily need to start from scratch. Why not use our ready-to-use templates and tweak them as required? This project uses one of the four Mobile Alerts buttons as a panic button activating other smart devices that are part of the home automation system. This one allows you to select four different room temperature levels, each of which assigned to one of the four Mobile Alert buttons. Needless to say that smart wall switches also simplify creating a comfy living room atmosphere.   

Here’s a project that uses an Homematic IP wall switch to activate a Sonos speaker. Last but not least, this one is centred around an Innogy actuator and a set of sensors and allows you automate your blinds based on local weather forecasts.

Action Buttons: Linking Virtual Switches to Voice and IM

If you don’t have a physical smart switch but still want to manually trigger Conrad Connect home automation routines, action buttons are where it is at. Action buttons are virtual switches, and hence part of the software. All action buttons available to you on our platform are listed in the “Sensors” tag of our project editor.  

conradconnect_action button.jpg

How do you press a button that actually isn’t tangible? Well, for instance, use you voice. The process centres around apps and smart speakers that support Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Another way to trigger automation routines using action buttons is by notifying a chatbot, such as the one provided by an IM service called Telegram. Comes in handy if you are out and about, like to remotely control your smart home setup and are prevented from using voice commands due to where you are at the moment. Goes without saying that action buttons also allow browser-based manual activation via touch-screen or mouse click using the Conrad Connect dashboard.     

Action buttons are a very versatile tool suitable for a wide range of project applications. Below just a select few.

Why not using a voice command to kick off your home cinema night in, or starting your morning or evening routine. If you like to be surprised now and again, use a voice-controlled action button to activate up to six Sonos speakers creating a randomized playlist.

googlehome_morgenroutine
The smart morning routine, which is triggert via Google Home, can start your day right - and can be customized completely individually to your needs.

 

An example of how to trigger the execution of automation routines via Telegram IM is remotely opening the door of the property you rented out to holidaymakers. And if you suddenly remember that you should have switched off a household appliance when already on your way to work, do it remotely sending chatbot message.    

telegram mit conrad connect verbinden
The Telegram Messenger is connected to Conrad Connect in three steps - it can be used not only as a trigger (sensor) for smart projects, but also as an actor, because you can install it as a notification in smart projects too.

 

Our action buttons already allow you to incorporate a large variety of smart devices and services into your Conrad Connect projects. If you want to use action buttons in conjunction with products currently not supported by our platform, check out the Maker Actuator, the all-rounder among our action buttons, listed in the “Actuator” tag of our project editor. Maker Actuator lets you use a wide range of devices and services as long as they support HTTP web requests.

List of Smart Switches with Conrad Connect Compatibility

As of July 2019, our platform supports smart switches supplied by the companies listed below. 

Amazon Alexa

The switches have been tested for compatibility with  Amazon Echo, Amazon Echo Dot, Amazon Tap, the Alexa Andriod/iOS app , iLuv Speakers and Anker eufy Genie. They also work for a variety of other  smart speaker brands.

Dio

Type
MIC-DIMM Micro Module
EMR-2000 Module
EMV-400Module
EDR-B4 DIN RAIL
EMR-1000 Module
ED-SH-01 DIO
ED-MI-SH DIO MINI
ED-MI-D2 DIO MINI
DIO1111A DIO
DIO1101A DIO
DIO1132A DIO

Function
Dimmer (868MHz)
On/Off (868MHz)
Blinds up/down (868MHz)
On/Off (868MHz)
On/Off (868MHz)
Blinds up/down
Blinds up/down
Dimmer (2 circuits)
On/Off (433MHz) 
Dimmer (433MHz)
Blinds up/down (433MHz) 

Google Assistant / Google Home

The switches have been tested for compatibility with Google Home, Google Home Mini and Google Assistant Android/iOS app. They also work for a variety of other smart speaker brands.

HomeMatic

Type
HM-PB-4Dis-WM-2Flat
HM-LC-Dim1PWM-CV

HM-LC-Dim1T-FM

HM-LC-Dim1T-CV

HM-PB-2-WM55-2
HM-LC-Dim1L-CV

HM-LC-Dim2T-SM

HM-LC-Dim2L-SM

HM-LC-Sw1-SM

HM-LC-Sw4-SM

HM-LC-Sw4-DR

HM-ES-PMSw1-Pl-DN-R1

HM-PB-6-WM55
HM-LC-Sw1-FM
HM-LC-Dim1TPBU-FM

HM-LC-Sw1PBU-FM

HM-LC-Sw2-FM
HM-LC-Sw4-WM
HM-Dis-EP-WM55

HM-LC-Sw1-DR

HM-LC-Dim1T-DR

HM-LC-Sw1-Pl-DN-R1

HMW-LC-Sw2-DR

HMW-LC-Dim1L-DR

HM-LC-Dim1T-Pl-3

HM-LC-Dim1L-Pl-3

HM-LC-Sw1-Ba-PCB

Function
Wireless push-button with colour display
Wireless dimmer actuator, 1-channel, PWM LED, recess-mount
Wireless dimmer actuator, trailing edge, flush-mount
Wireless dimmer actuator, trailing edge, recess-mount
Wireless push-button, 2-channel, surface-mount
Wireless dimmer actuator, 1-channel, leading edge, recess-mount
Wireless dimmer actuator, 2-channel, trailing edge, surface-mount
Wireless dimmer actuator, 2-channel, leading edge, surface-mount
Wireless switch actuator, 1-channel, surface-mount
Wireless switch actuator, 4-channel, surface-mount
Wireless switch actuator, 4-channel, DIN rail-mount
Wireless switch actuator, 1-channel, power meter, F-type adapter
Wireless push-button, 6-channels, surface-mount
Wireless switch actuator 1-channel, flush-mount
Wireless dimmer actuator, 1-channel, suitable for a wide range of switches, trailing edge, flush-mount
Wireless switch actuator, 1-channel, suitable for a wide range of switches, flush-mount
Wireless switch actuator, 2-channel, flush-mount
Wireless switch actuator, 4-channel, wall-mount
Wireless status display with push-button, suitable for 55mm brackets
Wireless switch actuator,  1-channel, DIN rail-mount
Wireless dimmer actuator, 1-channel, DIN rail-mount
Wireless switch actuator, 1-channel, F-type adapter
RS485 switch actuator, 2-channel, DIN rail-mount
RS485 Dimmer actuator, 1-channel, leading edge, DIN rail-mount
Wireless dimmer actuator, 1-channel, leading edge, adapter
Wireless dimmer actuator, 1-channel, trailing edge, adapter
Wireless switch actuator, battery-powered

Homematic IP

Type
HmIP-BBL

HmIP-BDT

HmIP-BRC2
HmIP-BROLL

HmIP-BSL

HmIP-BWTH / WTH

HmIP-BWTH24

HmIP-FBL
HmIP-FDT

HmIP-FROLL
HMIP-WRC2
HMIP-WRC6

Function
Blinds actuator, suitable for a wide range of switches
Dimmer actuator, suitable for a wide range of switches
Wall switch (2-gang)
Roller shutter actuator, suitabe for a wide range of switches
Switch actuator with indicator light, suitable for a wide range of products 
Wall thermostat with output, suitable for a wide range of common switches (230 V)
Wall thermostat with output, suitable for a wide range of common switches (24 V)
Flush-mount blinds actuator
Flush-mount dimmer actuator (reverse phase-fired control)
Flush-mount roller shutter actuator 
Wall switch (2-gang)
Wall switch (6-gang)

Innogy

Type
Smarthome wall-mount transmitter
Smarthome remote control

Function
2-gang wall switch
8-button remote control

Kopp

Type
Free Control 2.0 radio receiver (1 channel/5-pin)


Free Control 2.0 radio receiver (2 channel/4-pin)


Free Control 2.0 radio receiver/dimmer suitable for magnetic transformers (reverse phase-fired control) (1-channel/2-pin)
Free Control 2.0 radio receiver/dimmer suitable for electronic  transformers (reverse phase-fired control) (1-channel/2-pin)

Function
On/off/timer, user-defined functions, dry contact, also suitable for  light tubes/low-energy bulbs, EM field intensity indicator
Serial switch, blinds, roller shutters, motor canopies, selectable functions, two contacts, 2x 1800 W, 2 x 8A, EM field intensity indicator
Suitable for light bulbs, LV halogen bulbs, EM field intensity indicator

Suitable for light bulbs, LV halogen bulbs, EM field intensity indicator

 

Mediola

Type
AIO Gateway V5

AIO Gateway V5+

Function
Smart Home gateway – also suitable as an actuator (via Maker Channel)
Smart Home gateway – also suitable as an actuator (via Maker Channel)

Mobile Alerts

Type
MA 10880

Function
Wireless wall switch (4 buttons)

myStrom

Type
WiFi Button
WiFi Button+

Function
Wi-Fi button allowing 3 different click actions
Wi-Fi button allowing 3 different click actions and touch activation

Trust

Type
Switch Built-In ACM1000 NL
Switch 3IN1 Built ACM3500/3 NL
Universal Switch AMU500 NL
ACM-3000H2 Built-In Switch NL

Function
Flush-mount switch (8713439000177)
Flush-mount 3-in-1 switch (8713439700534)
Flush-mount switch (8714792701091)
Flush-mount switch (8713439701487)

Tuya

Type
3-gang wall switch

Function
Wi-Fi smart switch with three sensor buttons

Definitely a selection of smart switches that offers something for everyone. Have fun!

Title picture by Garder Elena | Shutterstock