ZigBee 2-1 Switch (On/Off & Dimmer) | Project New Horizon (Blue Series)

NOTE: This is an alternative version we’re doing some R&D on in that it will combine the On/Off and Dimmer switch to create one switch. We’re still running the other projects in parallel in case we can’t pull this off, but wanted to put this out there as it has been suggested a few times in the community and resurrected by @EricM_Inovelli himself!


Project Team
Feel free to tag any of us with questions. Courtney & Darwyn are the go-to’s for overall project management and timeline questions, Eric M is the go-to for any firmware related questions and I’m (Eric H) the go-to for anything else. Either way, we’re all here to help!


Introduction
As per our tradition of working with you amazing people, here’s what this thread allows us to do as a community.

  1. Allows us to keep everyone updated on the project status (either good or bad)
  2. Allows you to participate and help us develop amazing products together
  3. Enjoy each other’s company and have fun talking home automation

How this initial post will be laid out is in five sections:

  1. Project Overview
  2. Initial Hardware & Software Requirements (edited to remain up-to-date)
  3. Timeline (edited to remain up-to-date)
  4. Pinned Ideas & Shout-outs (edited to remain up-to-date)
  5. Weekly Recap

Housekeeping

  • DATES & FUNCTIONS ARE NOT SET IN STONE: Just a reminder that all dates and functions are sometimes fluid. We have to make choices based on feasibility, opportunity costs, and overall timeline. I will be as transparent as possible on these decisions, but just a heads up, they may not always be exciting.
  • NO IDEA IS A BAD IDEA: Ok, some are, but honestly throw out anything that you can think of. If we use your idea, we’ll credit you and send you a free device, so take that shot!
  • VERSION 1 VS VERSION 2: Some ideas may be fantastic, but may not make the cut for the first version of the product. Once the product is locked in from a function standpoint, we’ll keep a tally of V2 ideas and then once the product is produced, we’ll move the ideas over to a suggestions/wishlist section.

Ok, let’s get this party started!


Project Overview
The purpose of this project is to reach a new market. Traditionally, we’ve stayed in the Z-Wave space (and we will continue to do so) as that’s where we’re comfortable and where we’ve excelled. However, with the announcement of CHIP we made the decision to start developing in that space as well.

The ZigBee Alliance is spearheading the CHIP initiative and when the time comes to launch the CHIP project, certain products will have the ability to OTA the new protocol. In other words, some of the ZigBee switches you purchase now (ours included) will be using the same chip that the CHIP (too many chip references) protocol will use and you’ll be able to instantly OTA your firmware.

In addition, there has been a huge market for switches that work with smart bulbs and while our current Z-Wave switches have this ability already, they’re better suited for Z-Wave bulbs, which are a niche market (at this point in time, I think we’re the only ones who have plans to sell them). Whereas Philips Hue, the most popular and leader in lighting, runs off ZigBee.

We’re excited to start this journey and offer another option for people who aren’t quite ready for a full on hub and maybe are just starting to get their feet wet in home automation.

Project Name - New Horizon

“New Horizon” refers to us creating something that is new to us. As mentioned above, we’ve staked our existence in Z-Wave, but we’re ready to take on the adventure of a new (to us) protocol in ZigBee and a new (to the industry) protocol in CHIP.


New Horizon - Hardware Requirements
We will be using our current dimmer switch hardware with a few modifications. If you’re really interested in seeing what’s under the tent and how we kick off these projects, here’s the internal PRD (Project Request Document) that we presented.

Hardware

Hardware - Dimmer Switch (Look / Feel)

  • Responsive Paddle: rests in a neutral state (tap up = on // tap down = off & hold up = dim up // hold down = dim down)
  • Config / Favorite Button: button should be used for configuration of the switch as well as scene control.
    • Should be able to be held (for config)
    • Should be able to be tapped (for scene control)
  • RGB LED Bar: should measure the % of how much the switch is dimmed
    • LED’s should be RGB (artificial white included)
    • LED’s should also be able to be dimmed
  • Colors: dimmer switch will be offered in white (matching Lutron Claro wallplates), but the paddle should be able to be replaced to change colors (almond, brown, red, black, grey, etc)
  • Slim Design: depth of switch should be as slim as possible so that it can fit into metal boxes.
  • Air Gap: UL requirement
  • No heat-sink tabs: remove heat sink tabs for easier installation (note: may have to sacrifice max wattage)

Hardware - Features & Capabilities

  • ZigBee 3.0: use the latest ZigBee chipset (should be the same one that will be used for CHIP and compatible with Philips Hue + Amazon Echo Plus)
  • 3-Way / 4-Way Ready: should work in multiple different settings in a 3 & 4 Way setting
    • Should work with an auxiliary switch (like GE’s does)
    • Should work with an existing dumb switch
    • Should work with another smart switch (if wired to another smart switch, it should be able to detect this)
  • Power Monitoring: switch should measure the power consumption
  • ZigBee Distance Estimator: should be able to estimate the signal strength of the ZigBee signal and notify via the LED bar
  • Instant On: when tapped 1x (and scenes aren’t used), switch should turn the bulb on instantly (no delay)
    • Configurable delay in 100ms increments (see tech doc)
  • CFL & LED Compatibility: minimum buzz and flickering
  • 600W: increase the wattage to 600 like GE’s
  • Neutral & Non-Neutral Compatibility: switch should be able to work with a neutral wire or without a neutral wire
    • Should auto-detect which setting it’s in (neutral/non-neutral, aux/dumb) and if it can’t, then there should be a manual override.
  • Auto-Detect Line/Load (and if possible other terminals)
    • No matter how customer wires it, the switch should be able to detect what’s wired/where.
  • ** Auto-Detect Type of Load:** Switch should auto-detect if it’s installed on a dimmable load or an on/off load and adjust it’s relay accordingly
    • 05/28/21: Unfortunately this is not possible at this time. This will be set from the switch
  • Auto-Detect Neutral/Non-Neutral: Switch should detect whether or not it’s connected to a neutral wire or not

New Horizon - Software Requirements
Below is what we came up with for the software requirements. A lot has been inspired from our Red Series Dimmer switch!

  • ZigBee Scene Control: 15 scenes (if possible – not sure if ZigBee supports this yet)
    • 14 Scenes via Tapping the Paddle up or down and holding/releasing
    • 1 Scenes via Tapping the Config Button
  • Aux switch compatibility: Should work with aux switches when scene control is triggered
  • Notifications via RGB Bars: RGBW Bars should be able to change colors based on events set up by customer (ie: if window sensor is opened, RGBW bar changes to red)
    • User can choose to sync the bars or have them show separate notifications
  • RGB Bars Config: bar should be able to change colors and also dimmed to the customers favorite level
  • Auto Timer: switch should have a timer that shuts the switch off after a certain amount of time
  • Easy Config: switch should be able to be configured via the config/favorites button.
    • There should be infinite customization via parameters in the firmware, but also set customizations for HUB’s that do not allow parameter changes (ie: Wink)
  • Internal Relay Disable: internal relay should be able to be disabled locally and via ZigBee
  • Set Min/Max Level: minimum dim level / maximum dim level
  • Ramp Rate Configuration: ability to change how fast/slow light turns on
  • Ramp rate & instant on/off separated
  • Default Dim Level: ability to set the default dim level
  • OTA Ready: ability to update firmware via OTA
  • Associations switch should be able to be associated to other ZigBee devices
  • Smart Bulb Mode: mimic our Red Series smart bulb implementation but for ZigBee

Timeline
Ah, everyone’s favorite part. When is this flippin thing going to be released? Great question – here’s the high-level of what happens leading up to the first release of the timeline:

  1. We present a PRD (Project Request Document) that has all of the above info in it (see above section for the pdf)
  2. R&D (manufacturer) analyzes the PRD and we go back and forth until we can align on 90% of the product
  3. Initial Timeline is released and remaining 10% of product features are added/cut along the way

Again, just want to throw this out there – I don’t have a crystal ball so I can’t predict things that come up along the way. Trust me when I say we’re trying our best to get things launched on time.

In addition, we are using a separate manufacturer for this project so there may be a learning curve. Nothing wrong with our current manufacturer, just this new one is more specialized in ZigBee.

Pre-Initial Timeline Milestones:

  • Present PRD: Completed (April 15, 2021)
  • R&D Analyzation: Completed
  • Initial Timeline Released: Completed

Timeline (Estimated)

The initial timeline will be shown below and will be updated bi-weekly (if needed).

  • Final confirmation of the structure
    • Estimated Completion Date: August 20, 2021
    • Status: COMPLETED
  • Plastic structure tooling cycle
    • Estimated Completion Date: October 17, 2021
    • Status: IN PROGRESS
  • Metal structure tooling cycle
    • Estimated Completion Date: September 15, 2021
    • Status: IN PROGRESS
  • PCBA prototype production
    • Estimated Completion Date: September 17, 2021
    • Status: IN PROGRESS
  • Program development and testing
    • Estimated Completion Date: September 22, 2021
    • Status: NOT STARTED
  • Switch and gateway compatibility test
    • Estimated Completion Date: October 15, 2021
    • Status: NOT STARTED
  • Prototype production and testing (3D printing structure)
    • Estimated Completion Date: September 15, 2021
    • Status: IN PROGRESS
  • Product certification ZIGBEE/FCC/UL -
    • Estimated Completion Date: November 30, 2021
    • Status: NOT STARTED

Beta Testing will begin likely in mid-October.


Pinned Ideas & Shout-Outs
Here are the ideas from the community. We sincerely appreciate them, we love them, and we couldn’t create the products we do without them. So, thank you for your input and let’s continue to innovate together and change the home automation category for the better (NOTE: if an idea is crossed out, it’s not because it wasn’t valid, nor was it something we didn’t consider – we’ve discussed it internally or with the manufacturer and unfortunately it was not feasible).

Hardware

Software

Step Current State New State
1 Press and hold switch up Press and hold switch up
2 700ms pause Scene command for button pressed is sent
3 Scene command for button held is sent 700ms pause
4 N/A Scene command for button held is sent

Weekly Recap
Every Wednesday evening or Thursday morning, we have a meeting with our manufacturer to go over the various projects (status, issues, timeline, etc) and below I’ll provide a recap as well as edit the sections above so we can all keep track. If you have any specific questions you’d like me to ask, feel free to tag me and let me know so I can ask them as well. The weekly cadence for updates will be Thursday mornings (or afternoons depending on when we have the meeting).

April 15, 2021: Sent over the PRD for analysis – we should have preliminary feedback on May 13th.

May 28, 2021: We’re moving forward with this design. Preliminary timelines have us in September/October timeframe. Tooling will begin the first week of June and will last 50 days, with the first engineering sample to be received at the end of June. But this switch has almost everything we could ask for (decreased depth by 5mm, no heat sink tabs and basically all features we’ve asked for)

@BuilderTroy – I think they nailed your ground-screw idea too:

Full CAD Viewer can be found here: Fusion

July 16, 2021: LET’S GOOOOOOOO! Final pricing has been confirmed and we’re off to the races. Apologies for the delay, and this happens every time with a new relationship, but as the manufacturer starts to learn what the switches actual capabilities are, the price seems to go up. So, we had to work over the last month or so to really analyze the costs and work together to bring them back to an acceptable price, while making sure both companies were happy with margins. It was painful, but we finally are in a good spot and agreed to pricing this morning. Even better news, is the manufacturer, in good faith that we’d agree, kept working on the PCBA design and is almost complete, with delivery of the final product still in Q4.

August 5, 2021: Tooling is approved and deposit was made. Updated pics below. Thanks to @fatherdoctor, @flipontheradio, @harjms, (and I swear there was someone else that really kicked it off in one of these threads, so apologies I searched for 30min to try to find you, but couldn’t) everyone in this thread for pushing us to rethink the design: Config button interfering with paddle operation

We’ve lowered the config button by about 30% so that it sits below most of the paddle. We will also override the config button if both the config and paddle are pressed simultaneously.

August 19, 2021: No real update other than we are on track. There is a bit of a disappointment with the Matter announcement being that it’s been delayed, but it’s ok, this switch was always meant to be ZigBee first, so we’re still pushing forward. There is also a discussion around the MG21 and MG24 chipset (the first production run will have the MG21, which is not OTA upgradable to Matter, which is disappointing – there will have to be a hotwire used). More on this in the discussion below.

September 2, 2021: No updates – everything is on track for end of Q4. We will be creating the webpage within the next couple of weeks and adding in the ability to sign up for updates. The only thing we talked about today was the ability to update from ZigBee to Matter. It sounds like it’s going to be very difficult with the MG21 and will likely need a special harness, but we’re working through different approaches.

October 14, 2021: Samples are being sent tomorrow (October 15th) and we should have a few by next week for review! Exciting news and it will be the first indication of how they stack up against our Z-Wave switches. We’ll also be receiving samples of the new aux switch, which is exciting. As far as a timeline, the manufacturer is still confident in hitting the end of the year timeline, but realistically, I would say these should be ready in mid-late January given that UL takes 6-8 weeks, beta testing hasn’t started and this is the first time creating a switch like this for both companies so there’s a learning curve.

October 22, 2021: Prototypes arrived yesterday and they look amazing :heart_eyes:


Some quick call-outs on new features in case you can’t tell from the pictures:

  • Slimmer switch depth (not a whole lot, but still… count it!)
  • Lower profile config button
  • No heat sink tabs
  • Screwless faceplate
15 Likes

Love the idea of a combined switch/dimmer. Please do this for your zwave switches/dimmers too! I a switch next to a dimmer in a 2 gang box and the tiny led on the switch is hard to see sometimes.

5 Likes

This is my personal take, but I don’t find this feature to be useful. At all. I know the inovelli zwave products do this, and so do other manufacturers, but I just don’t get it. I can see that data in my controller software.

Am I the only one who feels that way? If you’re tight on firmware space (which it seems like the Zwave products are), I wouldn’t miss this feature if it were dropped.

2 Likes

can’t wait! my remaining switches will be zigbee.

will these be able to run locally?

1 Like

I’m kinda with ya on that. I like the idea, but with the current implementation it doesn’t seem to be very useful.

In my experience with it, I either get a green light or a red light and nothing in between. I don’t know if there is supposed to be a yellow light for marginal signal? Ive never seen it. That might be a little better, but very minimally useful. It would be a better if the 7-segment LED status bar indicated relative signal strength instead of the Green/Red good/bad method

I wish these came out before I converted every single switch in my house. Zigbee seems to be a better protocol in my home. I was searching for zigbee dimmers for years. If you had one that I can put inside my fans/LED lighting, that would be awesome (zigbee micro dimmer)

4 Likes

for some reason, zigbee has given me better results overall too.

1 Like

I’ve never seen this on a Zigbee product before (though I suspect I’d feel the same), but I don’t find this particularly useful on Z-Wave. I’m guessing some people may find it useful, since you could theoretically use Z-Wave mostly via association and a controller that isn’t technically a hub and might not let you see information like this as easily as many (not all) hubs do, and the same might apply to Zigbee, but … if space is at all a concern, I know I wouldn’t miss it. :slight_smile: (But I’m probably not the target audience for this feature.)

1 Like

This may MATTER to you guys…

image

2 Likes

Yes, we’re definitely exploring this for the 700 Series switches.

Yeah, I agree guys and if space is an issue, this is certainly one of the first features to be cut. We put this in there bc people would often write in to support and say their switch was losing connection to their hub, or wouldn’t connect at all. Oftentimes, it was bc it was their first switch and they were installing it at the far end of the house, away from the hub. Prior to the signal checker, it was hard to know if it was a signal problem, or if there was a problem with the switch itself. The fix would be to ask them to move the switch to a closer location and see if it would work, but adding in the signal strength identifier would usually help.

The problem with the current implementation is exactly what @mamber wrote in that it only shows Green or Red. We asked for Yellow to be added initially, but they claimed, “not enough space” so we just kept it Red/Green. In addition, it was supposed to detect the signal before the switch was included. But it’s my understanding that this is not always accurate and it will fully work once the switch is included in the network (which defeats the purpose). I’m not sure if this ever got worked out tbh.

The net of it is, I agree with you guys – with the chipsets getting better and better with range, there will likely not be a need for this either.

It will depend on your hub – similar to Z-Wave, they can run locally, but it will depend on if the hub processes them in the cloud or at the hub. I would assume Hubitat, Home Assistant, HomeSeer, etc will have local control. Possibly SmartThings too as we were just invited to their alpha program for local control.

2 Likes

smartthings user here. just hope it does run locally. it’s a day and night difference in responsiveness.

my two black series are using a generic z-wave DH from ST and they just FLY! response is instantaneous when the motion sensor detects any movement.

I installed the inovelli DH to set all the parameters to my taste and then switched to one of the DH in the list so they run locally. still they retained all my preferences but using the generic DH.

1 Like

I find this feature reassuring during install. It’s a validation I did it right and it has no reason not to work before I even open the app. Like turning right and the light changing when you go to move. Sure you checked everything before you went for it, but still nice for the light to change.

Responding to this from the On/Off thread as we merged both switches to this one.

Great questions and this is a tough one to answer in black/white terms as there’s a lot of moving pieces, but I’ll try my best.

Generally speaking, ZigBee is cheaper to manufacturer simply due to the chipset being a lot less expensive. This is due to the fact that Silicon Labs owned ZigBee and Sigma Designs owned Z-Wave. Silicon allowed multiple manufacturers to produce the ZigBee chips, whereas Sigma only allowed one causing the prices to be much higher. Now that Silicon owns Z-Wave, they’ve opened it up to multiple manufacturers. However, for some reason it seems like the pricing is still way higher. Couple that with the poor forecasting, there is a severe Z-Wave chip shortage now, causing a, “spot market” (or as we call it over here, the, “black market”) where you can purchase chips and raw materials for 2-3x the cost to get things faster.

Right now ZigBee is much cheaper, but hopefully as things stabilize, Z-Wave won’t be as expensive.

So, that’s one aspect to consider when setting the price-point.

The other is through the marketing lens and what consumers want. This is where it gets to be complex. What features do people want and what price are they willing to pay for it.

The ZigBee switches will essentially be our Gen 3 switches in which we’re adding features as these are going to be directed at mass market, in which there is a lot more competition. We’ll never win the pricing war against Chinese companies, so what we have to do is set our branding to be a premium offer. To do this, we can’t be all smoke and mirrors, but rather prove we offer more as we charge more. To do this, we’re trying to solve a ton of problems in the market:

  1. Smart Home is confusing = we’ll (hopefully) provide a great user experience
  2. Installation is confusing = we’ll make it easier to install your switches and that includes allowing it to work in many different scenarios (neutral, non-neutral, etc) with many different load types. We want to make it so that people don’t even need to think about it and the process will be so seamless, it will make installation of a lesser expensive switch seem like a hassle
  3. Sexy aesthetics = I’m a marketing guy, what can I say lol

In order to do these things, it takes more expensive parts and so our price point will likely be around the same as Z-Wave, possibly a little less.

This brings up the question – why do you sell Z-Wave then?

This is one we’re wrestling with internally – and we’ve landed on the strategy of selling Z-Wave to security companies who require the security that Z-Wave offers and then if the home automation enthusiasts want Z-Wave, they can certainly have them.

However, our focus from a consumer standpoint is going to be ZigBee/CHIP/Matter as that’s where the big dogs are playing and where we can fill more of the gaps in the industry.

Long winded way of saying - price point will likely remain the same as we’re adding more features that will likely offset any cost savings by switching to ZigBee.

Good news, and I can’t spill the beans yet, but these should run locally.

That’s a great point that I hadn’t thought of, thanks for sharing!

5 Likes

Would there be any interest/space for these switches having motion, temperature, luminance, etc. sensors built in? I know the motion aspect might not work great if the switch isn’t in the best location for that, but in many small rooms in my house it would work, and in bigger rooms I would have multiple switch locations that could be combined to provide an accurate read in the room. In most rooms the common location for a switch would provide a good read on luminance and temperature data. This would save me needing to spend on additional sensors and also would make it less obvious that there are ugly sensors in the room.

3 Likes

I would 2nd this. In fact, when I first set out on my new Hubitat adventure I was kinda shocked that these types of products weren’t widely available. In the majority of rooms the light switch is located in a very ideal location for a motion sensor. I seriously almost considered filling my house with the GE motion lights but found them a bit ugly, and read a few posts about them buzzing so I talked myself out of it. To me, this is the direction all smart switches should be going. But what I do know, I’m just a consumer. :slight_smile:

3 Likes

I’m kind of new to all this, but I mainly want one thing besides the “smart bulb aware smart switch” - for the switch to fall back to “dumb” mode if the hub is down. Maybe it already does that? And the “Control internal relay locally” sounds like it’s basically that.

I’m just worried that if I step on my hub or something I won’t be able to turn on my lights.

Likely not these one specifically, but I do want to for sure come out with a motion one. I’m sure we could add in luminance. The tricky one will be temperature as it will need an external probe of some sort. We looked at adding temperature to our current switches, but the internal heat on the switch threw things off dramatically. But, yeah, totally would love to add a motion/luminance switch to the mix!

Are you talking about when the switch is put in smart bulb mode (ie: if the switch is in SBM, if the hub goes down, it reverts back to a normal switch)?

Currently, the switch acts as a normal switch (ie: you can walk up to it and turn it on/off like a dumb switch) and it will still work even if the hub is down.

Lol, I hear ya! The switch will do that currently. However, if you do have Smart Bulb Mode enabled, you will have to manually turn it off at the switch.

Are you talking about when the switch is put in smart bulb mode (ie: if the switch is in SBM, if the hub goes down, it reverts back to a normal switch)?

Yep! Precisely. Ideally with a way to detect whether lights are on or off at that moment - so the lights don’t change state if the hub goes down (maybe by providing a way to remember the last state of a light sensor? I don’t really know what’s technically possible/feasible).

Being able to turn off SBM locally is already 90% there - hub going down is an “emergency” situation, I don’t mind the transition not being perfect. It would be a bit of a pain if all the switches in the house are smart though.

I also don’t have any devices yet, actually, I’m just looking into possibilities and trying hard not to create more trouble than it’s worth for myself.

Mmmmm… very interesting. I like it!

@EricM_Inovelli – do you think we could add this feature? I’m not sure how we’d implement it. Maybe the switch polls the hub every x minutes or something? If it’s down, revert back to non-SBM.

TBH I’m very confused what @dikartashev is talking about. The hub only makes changes and reports the status of the switch, it isn’t like if the hub goes down then all of the lights go off/on. I’d encourage you to get a device to see what this is all about.

The only thing that will happen if the hub goes down is scenes/automations will not fire anymore, and if Smart Bulb Mode is in setting 2 (on always) then the bulb will not turn on/off unless z-wave (zigbee in this case, but does zigbee have direct associations?) and associated. Essentially if hub down, then you would rely on z-wave (zigbee) network associations solely to operate, you would lose control of zigbee (zwave), wifi, etc. bulbs.

Now that said, you also can’t change SBM via the switch, so you would have to air-gap to turn off power. It would be a nice feature addition to have local control of SBM mode between 0, 1, and 2. That and disable local control are the 2 features I would like to have local to the switch, most everything else I think would be fine hub-only.