Full gut renovation, need advice/experience of smartthings veterans


(Elijah Saintonge) #1


I’m currently in the wiring phase of a full gut renovation of a two family home in Brooklyn.

I will be moving into the duplex portion of the building with my wife and (soon to be) two children.

I don’t currently have a smartthings setup. (I’m using wink right now)

Here are a few questions I have:

  1. I’m looking for a single button (and multiple button) scene selector. The main use i have for this right now is a remote 3way application. I saw the Leviton Vizia RF+ VRCS1-1LZ which seems to be what I want but as I understand it doesn’t work with ST. Does anyone know of any that do?

  2. If you had open framing and could add anything you wished easily what would it be?

  3. I’m currently using lutron caseta with my wink and while I understand they don’t now they may be able to work with ST in the future. I really don’t love them however and whenever I’m forced to use the physical switch I’m unhappy with the button layout and the lack of dimmer memory. (I love the Maestro series but don’t want to have to buy two items to make each light work) Any favorite in wall dimmers out there?

Thanks in advance for help,



Congratulations – – sounds like an exciting project! :sunglasses: And congrats on the expanding family!

Lutron Caseta now officially works with SmartThings, and people are reporting that the integration is quick and smooth, but it is cloud to cloud so you will need the Lutron SmartBridge to make it work. See ( this is a clickable link)

As far as button devices, there are quite a few options. The following FAQ has both handheld and wall mount models:

Regarding dimmer switches, different things work for different people. The following thread discusses the various features that different devices might have and why you might like one over another. The light switch discussion starts around post 40.

You might also take a look at the quick browse lists in the community – created wiki under project reports and look at the list for “whole house projects.” That might give you some additional ideas:


(Chris) #3

Only thing I can think of is make sure you have neutrals in all of your outlet and switch boxes. If you’re interested in home security, I’d do a traditional wired security system with it’s own panel, but one that’s compatible with Envisalink (like a Vista 20P or DSC system) so you can have full remote control of the system either on it’s own or through ST. A hard wired camera system would be good too, but I’m not sure if any of those are ST compatible.

Congrats on the family additions, sounds like twins? You’re going to have your hands full!

(Smuts) #4

There are two caseta dimmers. One of them doesn’t require a neutral. It doesn’t have dimmer memory. The other looks just like the pico interface. It required a neutral. It’s supposed to have dimmer memory.

The official ST integration works very well. (It doesn’t support the Picos though.) I setup a caseta on Friday and had it working with ST in a minute or two. I bought a few more switches that day. . . .

(Elijah Saintonge) #5

Thanks for the reply.

I am making sure I run neutrals to all my switch boxes. I’ll look into wired security options, thanks!

I have a 15 month old daughter and a boy on the way! Hands will be full but I’m hopeful that she’ll be able to understand when I ask her to wait a minute for something! At least being able to shut down the whole house when we walk out together will make my life easier!

(Elijah Saintonge) #6

Hmmm… The one I installed uses a neutral (at least as far as I can remember) and does not have dimmer memory. When you hit the top button (while off) it goes to 100%. When you hit the the brightness up button (while off) it goes on to lowest dimmer setting. Both of these actions I just tested from 50% lit. It resembles a pico remote. Two square buttons top and bottom and two buttons in the middle that are two triangles that make a square.

(Elijah Saintonge) #7

Thank you for the comprehensive reply.

I just did some browsing and will do some more but what I’m looking for is a decora style switch (or more accurately a button that resembles a decora style switch) that can trigger an event in ST. (eg turn on hallway lights) with out actually being connected to a light or having a traveler cable between the two points.
So basically i just run a 12/2 wire to a box and know that I can control any light in the house with it… That Leviton switch ( VRCS1-1LZ) seemed to be what I’m looking for but my understanding is it doesn’t work with ST…

I’m just trying to make sure there is a viable option before I commit myself by sheetrocking in three weeks!

Thanks again!

(Smuts) #8

The pico has a dot in the middle. So does the switch that requires a neutral. see:



If you want a load controlling switch, there are several rocker styles.

If you want a dummy switch that doesn’t control a load but just sends the push to smartthings, the Linear/GoControl auxiliary switch is popular for this purpose. It’s intended for a wireless virtual three-way with the gocontrol master, but because it has its own Z wave radio, you can use it for anything since it’s sending a message to the hub when the rocker is pressed.

Another option is the homeseer rocker switch which is intended to be a load controlling switch (although you can bypass the line if you want) but which also recognizes double tap and triple tap on both the top and the bottom of the switch. This device uses the “central scene” command set to send a message to the hub for each of the different patterns. But it’s not as intuitive for visitors as one that has a separate button for each purpose.

As you’ll see when you look at the buttons FAQ, people also use a Wi-Fi phone or tablet on the wall as a button controller.

Houston, we have a problem…

So there are a lot of different options. The one thing I would caution is to remember that if your home automation system is not working, then the dummy switches may not do anything at all. So people do generally want to have at least one load controlling switch on each circuit just to be able to turn the lights on and off if the home automation system is out.

Also, I’m assuming you know this, but just to be sure: smartthings is still a cloud-based system. There are very few things that will work if the Internet is not available, and the official mobile app can’t talk to the hub at all without the cloud even if both are on the same local network. So when you’re planning, make sure you consider the possibilities of power being on but the Internet or the SmartThings cloud not being available.


The “Caseta Pro” models generally require a neutral. They can also typically be used in a wired three-way set up.

The plain “Caseta” models generally do not need a neutral wire, and cannot use traveler wires to communicate with in a three-way. So you either use the pico remote on the wall as the auxiliary or you need a home automation hub to handle the virtual three-way with another device.

(Elijah Saintonge) #11

Thank you so much.

The WT00Z-1 seems to be exactly what I need.
I will have all the lights controlled through physical switches mostly want these for threeway type locations.
Also reading through the ‘buttons’ post has given me alot of good ideas, Thanks again for your help on this.

Also good to note about the cloud control. Wink is like this also and my internet basicly doesn’t go out put I definitely should plan for that at some point.

(Eric) #12

1- or 2-inch riser conduit/PVC whatever from basement to attic. Suitable for future fiber or structured wiring, or just easy additional WAPs. I’d put 2 in opposite corners of the abode. With pull strings.

(Elijah Saintonge) #13

Good idea, Thanks


Also, make sure you have deep backboxes. We used to say 47 mm, but now the fibaro dimmer modules want 60 mm, which seems crazy to me but that’s what the manual says.

Anyway, the Lutron Caseta are much thinner than most radio frequency switches. Most of zwave switches are right around 1.4 inches deep, and you still need to have room for wires in the switchbox.


As far as the button on the pico remotes… I originally thought there weren’t any Caseta switches that have the button on the actual load controlling switch, but as @asmuts points out the ELV model does have the button. :sunglasses:

The button is a “favorites” button intended for your favorite Dim level setting. It Comes pre-set to 50%, but you can change it.

I believe all of the Caseta line have “power outage memory” which means if the power goes out altogether, the switch will come back on at the same setting it was at when the power went off. So if the switch was off then the lights don’t suddenly come on just because the power came back on.

Other than those two features, I don’t believe there is a dim memory feature in the Caseta line, but you could write Lutron and ask.


One more thought… Again, you probably know this, but Amazon is not always the least expensive channel for home automation devices. If you get something that is sold by Home Depot or Lowe’s, you can use their regular 10% off coupons and you can also sometimes get a volume discount if you stop at their contractors desk and ask. So if you’re going to be buying 10 or more of the same thing, it’s worth checking with them.

You can also sometimes get volume discounts from some of the specialty retailers. In particular, zwaveproducts.com and thesmartestHouse.com both may have a volume discount on items they carry, so it’s worth checking with them.

In addition, community members will post great deals that they see in the deal section of the forum, so that’s always worth checking. Lowes, in particular, varies pricing from store to store but some of the stores will ship nationwide. So there’s a separate thread in the deal section just for Lowe’s because of that. (Home Depot varies the in-store price from store to store, but when you buy online it’s always the same price.)


I’m using the Leviton Zwave switches where required, but mostly dumb switches with smart bulbs. They work with zero issues so far. Edit: GE bulbs, Ecosmart etc all require periodic resets, even if dumb switches are left on. HUE bulbs don’t mind being powered off at all…zero issues.

Hue is the only light system that I would recommend (with the Hue bridge as they are 100% reliable, and have zero buzz when dimmed.

I have three of the AEON 4 button remotes officially suppported by ST and they work well to trigger scenes or lights remotey. I also have several Harmony hubs with Elite remotes. I can also recommend these.

Consider a central location for your wifi access points, as well as automation hubs and/or bridges. Make sure you run power to these locations, as well as twice as many CAT6 as you think you need.

Hope that helps.


Dumb on/off switches with smart bulbs are fine as long as you hardly ever use the switches.

You probably already know this, but for those just exploring the options, Smart bulbs are intended to be on power all the time. If you regularly cut the power to them completely, the inrush current when you turn the power back on can shorten the life of the radio in the bulb significantly.

For those who expect to be using the switch often, there are a number of alternative ways to handle providing a wall switch for smart bulbs that will protect your investment:

(Smuts) #19

I posted a link to some above.


See the in wall elv. They have a favorite button.

They are really expensive though.


Thanks, I fixed my post above. :sunglasses::bulb:. In addition to being more expensive, The ELV model also requires a neutral and a 10W minimum load. But it’s good to know the feature exists.