After a little over a year experience w/SmartThings I installed my 1st Z-wave switch in my garage to control my overhead flourescent lights.
Unfortunately, my garage may be the only place those switches will fit. I decided to give one a try because replacing those long cylinder type flourescent bulbs w/ a zigbee alternative would not have been cost effective (not even sure they exist but I would need 8).
Anyway, those switches are way cool! I especially like that I can use my Schlage keypad lock to trigger the lights on/off.
If like me there are a multitude of applications where a HA product makes sense or it doesn’t. I would love to have those switches everywhere instead of bulbs…but hey, bulbs are better than nothing!
I plan on replacing every switch in my house with them. GE now also makes Zigbee switches too that are aesthetically identical to their Zwave counterparts so you can mix them throughout your house and have a robust mesh network of both the Zwave and Zigbee protocols. Right now the Zigbee ones are only available via ST’s shop, and they are too expensive, but hopefully they will show up on third party sites/stores soon at a more reasonable price.
If it works for you, then it’s just a personal choice.
Although it’s more rare now than it used to be, Zigbee can run into interference from Wi-Fi. Zwave does not. The usual solution is just to slightly relocate things. For example, I have a Wi-Fi booster at my house. If I put it on one wall in the room, all zigbee devices to the west of it drop off my network. But if I put it on the wall perpendicular to that, everything works fine.
The problem with wall switches, obviously, is that they’re quite difficult to relocate.
I’ve never seen an industry analysis anywhere, but my personal belief is that the reason that Zwave has generally dominated in DIY light switches is just that the light switch manufacturers find their customer support costs are lower if the protocol is zwave. But like I said, that’s just my personal guess.
So if you install the switch and everything works great, there’s no real difference between the protocols in terms of efficiency or anything. But if you put one or two zigbee switches in and find that you’re having local interference issues, zwave may just be an easier way to solve the problem.
I’d recommend just searching for articles about it, there are many. To be honest, the pros/cons of each protocol are kind of a wash IMO. I think with hubs like ST, it’s nice that it supports both and you can mix it up in your house and have a plethora of device options and not have to worry about what protocol they use.
The protocol FAQ should help. The following is a clickable link.
As @pranalli mentioned, one of the advantages of SmartThings is that you can mix-and-match protocols as you need for specific use cases. I would guess most U.S. SmartThings customers have some of both.
The best price for the GE zwave switches? Most retailers that carry zwave products will have them, including Amazon. they’re one of the least expensive switches you can buy and so very popular among those who select based on price.
There are other brands with other features as well, although most cost more. Personally, when it comes to electronics, I pay a lot of attention to the warrantee length, which generally reflects the engineering quality. So I normally look at light switches with a five year warranty rather than the typical GE one-year warranty. But that’s just a personal choice.
Some people also want switches with instant status update, which are also the more expensive switches.
So it’s like buying anything else electronic, whether it’s a television or a doorbell or a toaster. There are many choices in the US, and you pick the combination of features and price that meets your own priorities.
Agreed, switches are the way to go. I’ve been switching mine all over in groups. On a related note, what do you all think of the newer toggle switch versus the paddle switch? I can’t decide if I like the toggle or if its weird The big advantage is that it means I don’t have to change the cover plates.
For zwave switches, I like Cooper. Very nicely engineered, has instant update status, and their RF9500 is a battery operated remote that you can add that looks just like their regular wall switches. So if you care about aesthetics but you want to mix in some battery options, that gives you some choices. Also, I admit, I like their black and silver switch plate option. But like I said, it’s a personal choice. And they are expensive.
There are many good options.
We should also say that the GE switches use physical traveler wires between the master switch and the auxiliary switch in a three-way set up. Most of the other brands don’t, they make the aux a “virtual three-way” where the auxiliary talks to the hub and the hub to the master. There are advantages to both methods. Use of the physical traveler wire makes the wiring set up a little more complicated for the GE’s in some of the non-standard methods, but it also means the auxiliaries will still work even if the Hub is unavailable.
Personally my biggest concern with the GE is reports that some fairly high percentage, certainly higher than other brands, tends to lose contact with the network about three months after the devices are out of the warranty period. The only way to fix it is to cut power to the circuit and restore. (this has nothing to do with Smartthings, you see the same complaints in forums for other controllers. ) As someone in a wheelchair, that kind of “easy fix” isn’t easy for me. This problem has now also been reported in the newer models that do require a neutral.
Pretty much every brand has its own fans. Sometimes it’s something as simple as preferring a green LED to a blue one.
I actually just received my first toggle switch and haven’t installed it yet. I already converted my basement to all paddle switches. But I’m hoping I like the toggle switch so that I can replace all my other switches and not have to replace cover plates, many of which were special ordered to start with.
My first impression is that the toggle might look weird sitting next to regular switches I don’t swap out, simply because the toggle rests in the middle.
I’ve had this happen to some of my GE switches and I’ve found that they will reconnect using the “Replace Device” feature from SmartThings. It’s worked twice now with no cutting the power, just entering replace mode, then pressing the switch a couple times.
I’ve done some searching and find lots of photos of the GE switches installed in single plates but none where they are installed with other standard toggle switches. I’m concerned that, because they rest in the center instead of top or bottom like a standard toggle, that they will look funny with other switches. I have a couple of boxes that have 3 or 4 switches in them and, of course, that is where I want to put the GE smart switch.
Does anyone have these installed with regular toggle switches that could post a couple of photos?
Talking about GE switches and cool. Pranalli created an app that lets you use “double” use the master switches e.g. you can assign functionality to the “off” toggle when the switch is off (kind of like double tap)