Black Series Dimmer with Hue bulbs flickering?

I installed a LZW31 yesterday (non-neutral) to a pendant fixture with 3 Hue bulbs. The bulbs are 9.5W each which should put me over the 25W minimum, but I bought a bypass anyway and installed that as well (connected to the neutral and the load from the switch in the fixture).

I’d like to have the switch set up with the internal relay disabled, and then control the bulbs via the scenes sent on firmware v1.52 in Home Assistant so my Zigbee network can grow and utilize the bulbs as repeaters. I have everything set up in Home Assistant to control the lights with the scenes, but I’m running into issues of flickering.

Here’s what I’ve tried:

  1. Internal relay enabled, dimming speed set to default (3). Lights flicker initially when turning on but are fine when full brightness is reached. When turning off, lights flicker when near minimum brightness.
  2. Internal relay enabled, dimming speed set to 0. No flickering. If I can’t figure anything out, I suppose this would work, but wouldn’t allow me to utilize the bulbs ability to repeat the Zigbee signal.
  3. Internal relay enabled, dimming speed set to 0, smart bulb mode enabled. Bulbs do nothing but flicker, can’t control the switch again until I disable smart bulb mode.
  4. Internal relay disabled, dimming speed set to default (3). Lights flicker initially when turning on but are fine when full brightness is reached. When turning off, lights flicker near minimum brightness. Once the bulbs are off, the LED bar on the switch flashes red, blue green and the lights turn back on.
  5. Internal relay disabled, dimming speed set to 0. Lights turn on and off fine, but do the same thing as 4, once the bulbs are turned off they stay off for a second, the LED bar flashes red, blue and green, then the lights turn back on.
  6. Internal relay disabled, dimming speed 0 (I’ve tried 3 as well, result is the same), and smart bulb mode enabled. Lights turn on just fine but then the LED bar turns red and I can’t control anything until I disable smart bulb mode.

Does anyone have any other ideas of what I can try to get this working properly?

So when you have a smart bulb attached to a dimmer, you want two things:

1 - You want the bulb to be constantly fully powered. You want it always available to receive commands. You also do want a switch dimming it directly.
2 - Following up on 1, you don’t want the switch to physically cut the power to the bulb(s).

So configuration-wise on the Inovelli, you want 2 things turned on.

1 - Smart bulb mode - This makes sure the dimmer’s output is always 100%
2 - Disable local control - That’s what you are calling disable the relay but DLC is the proper term.

I’m pretty sure on the black dimmer this is still 2 separate settings, but I’m not positive. The firmware revision sheet indicates that, however. If you had a red dimmer with a recent firmware, things would be a bit different. I’m not a HA guy so one of them will comment on how to set that in HA.

So this gets you to where your bulbs are powered full time and the dimmer can’t physically turn them off. This is where it gets sticky. You don’t have Zwave bulbs so you can’t dim/control them via associations. So you are left with controlling them via scenes, by using scenes to set various dim levels.

The problem with scenes and the black dimmer is that it doesn’t have much scene capability. It’s not meant to be a scene controller, but there are a couple ways or rudimentary scene control, I think. Someone else can comment about that, as I don’t use black dimmers.

There are others that have Hues implemented, and there are a bunch of talented HA folks here, so others will hopefully comment on an easier way to implement what you have going.

Interesting. So in regards to the 2 things I need turned on, is the Disable Local Control the same as pressing the config button 8x (I’m assuming it is)? And then in Home Assistant there’s a setting called “Local Protection State” which has the options of Unprotected, ProtectedBySequence, and NoOperationPossible. I’m guessing that’s the same thing as pressing the config button 8x, just controllable from HA instead of at the device?

Smart Bulb Mode is definitely an option in the configuration of the device though.

Firmware 1.52 of the black dimmer actually added basic scene control, nowhere near the level of the red series, but it gives a scene for 1x Press for Up and Down, as well as press and hold for both up and down, I have that whole process set up in Home Assistant. I’m just running into an issue where when I have local protection disabled, I can turn the light off, it just turns back on immediately. So I’ll press the switch down to turn it off (and the bulbs do turn off!) but after they turn off, the LED Bar on the switch flashes red, blue and green and then the lights turn back on. So I have everything working the way I want it, but I can’t get the lights to stay off lol

Yep, same thing. Can’t answer your question regarding the HA settings, though. @kreene1987?

Not sure what is going on with the light turning back on, but if local control is disabled, it sounds like it’s on the scene end of things.

BTW, that red, green, blue sequence is the switch rebooting, so there is definitely something wonky going on.

Okay so I think I’m getting closer.

Local Control disabled and smart bulb mode disabled turns the lights on fine, but when I turn them off, it flashes the LED Bar flashes red, green and blue and the lights turn back on. (No scene notification is called when that happens, fwiw)

If I enable smart bulb mode with local control disabled, the lights will turn on fine, but if I turn the lights off the switch goes into a loop of flashing red, green and blue, turning the lights on for a split second, then back off and that process repeats until I turn off smart bulb mode.

I believe the issue is stemming from the lack of a neutral wire, but the bypass should fix that, right? I know it’s a bandaid fix to the problem and not a true solution, but it should (in theory) work fine with the bypass and no neutral? Maybe there’s something wrong with my connection in the light fixture itself that came undone when I put the wires back in the box when I put the light back together?

Keep the Smart Bulb Mode enabled. You don’t want the bulbs getting anything less than full power, which could lead to instability.

I would try the bypass. Not a bandaid really. It’s the accepted fix for a non-neutral not drawing enough power. What may be happening is that your switch is sitting on the ragged edge of getting enough power. When you send a command asking it to do something, it drops below that minimum and reboots.

I actually have a bypass installed :frowning: I’ll have to check if the connection came loose somehow when I put it back in the box. It should be connected to the neutral in the fixture, and the load coming from the switch that powers the light fixture right?

My only other thought was that maybe the wire was too thin for my connector? I used the Wago 221 connector and maybe the bypass wire was too thin and just slipped out? I’ll have to check

Yep, one conductor on the switched hot; the other conductor on the neutral.

Okay, so I just checked and all my wires were properly secured.

Checked again and with local control disabled, smart bulb mode enabled and the switch turns on exactly as you’d expect but when it turns off it does the boot loop thing until smart bulb mode is disabled (which is what was happening before but now I know for a fact that all the wires are connected properly).

One thing I did try was removing all of my lightbulbs and then turning the switch on and off (local protection enabled, smart bulb mode off) and the switch turned on and off just fine. Confirmed power was being sent/cut properly with a voltage tester at the load wire in the fixture. If I’m understanding everything correctly, since I don’t have a neutral wire, this shouldn’t work - correct? So that indicates that the bypass is installed properly?

Maybe there’s just something defective with this specific switch and I need to reach out to support and have it replaced?

If you just removed the lightbulbs and left the bypass in place, I am guessing that the bypass allowed enough power back to the switch to allow it to work. So that seems plausible, although I’ve never tested that.

Is there some reason you keep turning smart bulb mode off? If you are going to use smart bulbs it needs to be on so you might as well test it that way.

At this point, I would temporarily swap in some incandescent bulbs for testing. Oftentimes, the bulbs are the culprit. I would hope that would not be the case with Hue bulbs but you never know.

If incandescent bulbs don’t work, we will double check your wiring. It’s way too early to consider the switch defective.

I keep turning Smart Bulb Mode off because it’s the only way to get the lights/switch functioning normally again once the switch gets into the Red Green Blue loop. If I turn smart bulb mode on, I can turn the lights on normally but the loop happens when I turn them off. With smart bulb mode off the lights function normally (outside of some flickering if the dimming speed is low).

Alright, I’ll grab some incandescent bulbs tomorrow and try it out. Stupid question but 1) should they be dimmable? And 2) should I be trying them with smart bulb mode on? I’m guessing not since they’re not smart but…just want to make sure I cover all my bases haha. I’ll try some non Hue smart bulbs tomorrow too, they’re lower wattage though but that shouldn’t matter since I have the bypass, correct?

Incandescents are all dimmable. You will not find incandescents that are labeled as such.

You can try the other Hue bulbs but we’re trying to get away from LEDs for testing. LEDs in some cases are problematic so switching to incandescent temporarily eliminates that. If you temporarily install incandescents and the problem persists, then we look elsewhere for the issue.

When you have Smart Bulb Mode turned off and if you are dimming via the switch directly, flickering would not be unusual because those bulbs are not designed to be dimmed in that fashion. I am not sure that is the case but you don’t say how you are dimming. Presumably, local control is disabled so you would have to be dimming via the Hub.

When you install the incandescents, enable local control and turn off the Smart Bulb Mode. You just want to see if it works like a regular dimmer without smart bulbs and without rebooting.

Okay so I tried some 60W incandescent bulbs and everything works fine, no flickering at all.

Switched back to the Hue bulbs and the same issue pops up again. So I put the incandescents back in, issue was gone. Then I tried some non Hue smart bulbs (Sylvania Smart+, also Zigbee based) and shockingly, they worked! However 2 don’t respond to commands to turn on from Home Assistant for whatever reason (they turn off fine though). 0 flickering, no color flashing on the switch.

This made me want to try the Hue bulbs again so I took the Sylvania bulbs out and switched to the Hue bulbs and the issue came back up. Put the Sylvania bulbs back in and the issue was still happening. However I know you mentioned the incandescents and then back can eliminate that, so I put the incandescents back in cycled the power to them and put the Sylvania bulbs in and they’re working as they should be! (still need to figure out why 2 of them won’t turn on though, but there’s no flickering or LED flashing on the switch itself).

The Hue bulbs and the Sylvania bulbs are both 10W so there’s no difference in total wattage. So I have no clue what the issue is, but there’s definitely something weird going on with the Hue bulbs and Smart Bulb Mode. I’m assuming it stems from the lack of a neutral, because I used this same setup in another fixture in my house that does have a neutral wire and the switch and bulb works fine, 1 hue bulb (so even less watts) the black series dimmer, smart bulb mode enabled and it works exactly as you’d expect, no flickering, no switch rebooting.

Can you shoot us a picture of the bypass as-installed? That should eliminate this issue if properly installed (in parallel with one fixture).

Certainly sounds like the dimmer is still acting as a dimmer, and not providing full power at all times.

If this dimmer is in smart-bulb mode (providing full-time full power), there should be no need for a bypass at all. The bypass is only to allow enough power to flow on to power the switch while the bulbs are off but still receiving limited power. These are smart bulbs, and should be at full power or fully off at all times. Dimming smart bulbs will kill them. Remove the bypass!

Since you are using smart bulbs here, you could simply re-wire the fixture so it has power at all times. Similarly feed power and neutral from the fixture to the switch so it always has direct power. Nothing should be connected to the LOAD terminals on the switch. Black to LINE and white to NEUTRAL. Then use automations to perform all desired functions.

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All LED bulbs are not the same, so it doesn’t surprise me that some work better than others.

At this point, we know the Hue bulbs you want to use aren’t working in the current configuration. The best course at this point is to do what @bradlee313 suggested and wire the fixture to be constantly hot, sending a hot and neutral to the switch, effectively making it a scene controller. You won’t need the bypass in this configuration.

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I’m actually super surprised that the Sylvania bulbs work fine. I’ve just had them sitting in a box because they would always give me issues when I would have them in lamps, but the Hue bulbs always worked great. I guess at least now I have a use for them? Can always find somewhere else to put the Hue bulbs.

I’ll definitely do the rewiring though, just to remove any chance of issues popping back up. Thanks for your help, I appreciate it!