Any drawbacks to using WiFi light switches instead of zigbee/z-wave?

I just moved into a new house and have decided to go the smart light switch route instead of smart bulbs. However, thinking about installing a switch in nearly every room is adding up quickly in my head… even a relatively ‘cheap’ option like GE’s Smart Dimmer is still usually $30 to $40 a pop, which will easily skyrocket to hundreds of dollars for even a single floor.

Then I came across these $16 wifi light switches on Amazon. I never considered WiFi before because I’ve got SmartThings so I might as well use Zigbee and Z-Wave. But if it works as well (or nearly as well), then it could easily be worth it to save potentially hundreds of dollars. (I checked the forums here and it IS possible to set them up with SmartThings.)

So what’s everyone’s experience with WiFi light switches compared to their Zigbee and Z-Wave counterparts?

Thesmartesthouse.com is having a sale on their Zooz z-wave switches this week. You need something to repeat signal for your sensors and zwave and zigbee switches are good at that.

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I use Sonoff mini, $9, behind the existing light switch. It’s wifi. But requires you to flash the device. Gives you smartthings control and you can use the existing switch to turn the light on and off

Depends on your setup:


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WiFi switches are OK, but there are some caveats:

  1. cheap ones Are usually Chinese made models that have no safety certifications. Speaking just for myself, I don’t want to wire anything into Mains power which doesn’t have good safety engineering. The specific one you linked to, though, says it’s ETL listed, so that should be good. This is just something to be aware of if you look at other brands/models

  2. most home routers have a limit of around 30 simultaneously connected devices, although some do go higher. And that includes all your Wi-Fi stuff, your phones, tablets, computers, TV boxes, etc. You can hit the limit pretty fast if you start using Wi-Fi for home automation. The limits for Z wave and zigbee are much higher.

  3. as @prjct92eh2 said, if you are using the wave or zig bee battery powered devices around the home, you need some Main‘s power devices to act as repeaters unless it’s just a small apartment. Light switches are usually really good way to get repeaters spread around the house. But if you aren’t using the battery powered devices that won’t matter.

  4. as The FAQ @sidjohn1 linked to noted, Wi-Fi uses a lot more energy then zigbee or Z wave just to run the radio. Most Americans won’t care unless you have solar power but it’s just a reality.

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Thanks for the link!

This looks fantastic for the price, but can it dim with SmartThings? It says the physical switch itself will only do On/Off but can it be told to dim through SmartThings?

The dimmer is a different model, also on sale right now.

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I just saw that, thank you!

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FWIW, I’ve got 18 Zooz ZEN27 dimmers and ZEN26 switches installed and have purchased 8 more that I have yet to install. One particular place where the ZEN26 and ZEN27 will save you cost is 3-way setups. You only have to replace one side of the 3-way, leaving the dumb switch on the other side.

You might consider doing a mix of Zigbee and Z-wave switches. Several folks, including myself, have run into issues that seem to be related to the total number of devices or possibly the “density” of devices.

SmartThings doesn’t include any tools to help figure out problems with the mesh networks it supports.

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Just a minor nitpick:

Zooz kind of has two lines of Z-wave Decora devices.

The ZEN21 switch and ZEN22 dimmer support higher amperage but require rewiring or separate add-ons for 3-ways.

The ZEN26 switch and ZEN27 dimmer have lower amperage limits but can be installed in 3- and 4-ways without rewiring or special add-ons.

There’s also, I think, a match for each of the above in the toggle switch format.

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Thanks, I’ve corrected my post above. :sunglasses:

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Look at the latest beta firmware’s topic, you will see that this will come sooner or later. But it is on the way.

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This is very intriguing… how difficult is it to set up, and how reliable is it?

The main drawback to wifi for me is that if your internet goes down you can’t control your lights

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Not necessarily, it depends on the model.

First, many of these devices will work just as a regular physical wall switch whether the Wi-Fi is working or not. It’s just that your automation/rules won’t work.

Second, there is a difference between “Wi-Fi” and “Internet.” Some, but not all, can work on your local Wi-Fi even if your Internet connection is out.

I don’t know of any specific wall switches off the top of my head that work this way, but just as one example the Logitech Harmony hub can still perform most functions even without the Internet once it has been set up. It’s quite popular for people who have mobile homes for this reason.

And I know TP Link Kasa pocket sockets can continue to work with their app on your local Wi-Fi even if your Internet connection is out. I don’t know about their wall switches, though. And they can’t work with smartthings locally

The Phillips hue bridge can work with both its own app locally and with the smartthings hub locally over your local Wi-Fi even if the cloud is not available.

So it just depends on the specific model and what each manufacturer has decided to do. :sunglasses:

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Go with the Zooz. They will build you a solid Z-Zwave mesh. For your plugs, go with Zigbee with power monitoring. Very useful and will build you a solid Zigbee mesh.

I have an older router but with over 50 WiFi devices connected. My WiFi network is definitely struggling but functions. I have close to the max limit of SmartThing devices so I would be up “s**t’s creek” if I would have chosen WiFi switches/plugs.

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