GE Zwave switches - Disable Relay

Yeah, behind the switch, wire the bulb directly to the line wire instead of the load wire that normally comes from the switch - not sure how this fares against he national electrical code though - I guess you better put a sticker next to the bulb to inform the electrician that the live wire is always on (not switched)( - though power should be cut from the breakers when the electrician works on things, I think I am overthinking this LOL)?

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That thread doesn’t answer my question though. I’m looking for a solution that will meet the following:

  1. Replace the wall switch, so the user can still turn the lights on/off with a switch if they want (removing the switch, shorting the wires, and using Alexa to turn the lights on/off is not a solution)
  2. Draw power from the wall (does not use batteries)
  3. Keep the bulbs powered at all times
  4. Report button events to the hub

I’ve answered you in your other thread:

Also, just to clear up one point of confusion…

When you wire a switch to bypass the load, or you use an auxiliary switch which is already designed to be wired in this fashion, it doesn’t mean the switch doesn’t work on the wall. It means that when you turn the switch on on the wall, a message is sent to the hub, and then the hub sends a message wirelessly to the smart bulb. So the switch still works intuitively just the way guests will expect it to–it’s just doing it with a different method. And you are not “shorting out” the wires inside the wall. You are just wiring the circuit a little differently so that the relay in the switch doesn’t physically cut out when the switch is turned off.

So you could do this with a GE master switch, it’s just a little easier to do it with a switch that’s designed for this type of wiring such as the gocontrol auxiliary.

(Note also that you cannot do it with the GE add on switch, because that switch does not have a radio inside of it. Instead it communicates with its master by physical traveler wires.

But most switches which do have a radio which can communicate with the SmartThings hub can be wired in this way. For a person’s point of view, the switch still works the same way. The difference is just at the switch is not controlling the current to the bulbs, it’s just sending a wireless command.)

I hope that helped clear up the confusion.

I think its worth adding that a very big negative to this type of wiring is that if/when your hub is disconnected or you loose internet, you will not be able to control the light.

That’s a very good point. :sunglasses:

There are a few ways around that. There’s no question that the battery operated switch covers give you the best of both worlds in that sense, since the original switch is still available underneath for emergencies. But the OP doesn’t want to use a battery operated device.

The other option is to have an additional mains power switch which does control that circuit available for emergencies, and to put a switch lock on it for every day use.

All of these things really come down to the details of what any individual household wants and what matters most to them. But you bring up a very good point, which is that you do need to consider what you are going to do if the Internet is not available and you have LIFX bulbs.

There are some additional options discussed in the following FAQ:

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I agree, but you don’t need internet, or a hub for Lifx bulbs. Nor do you need internet at all for a lot of devices, just the internal network. So if my internet goes out, they still work, and if the ST hub goes down, I can just use my phone.

Technically not against code as light switches aren’t disconnect devices, and in terms of 3 and 4 way wiring, you have at least two hot wires at the switch depending on wiring configuration.

But yes, I’d mark if possible. White tape on black wire or black tape on white wire are automatic “something’s different here” flags for me. Full disclosure, I dont do a ton of residential, but same practice is still used there.

Right, I posted a link to a thread that had a link to another thread that did address your use case, sorry for the confusion.

The original thread is here, but your question has essentially been addressed by JD already.

Why is it so important to have a mains-powered switch instead of a battery powered one? Not trying to give you a hard time, just want to understand your reasoning.

Because I don’t wan’t to have to replace batteries. It’s wasteful and unnecessary when I’m already connected to my house power


And why smart bulbs rather than just the smart switches?

Not sure his case but I have smart color bulbs with smart switches and been having this for at least a year and half with no issue. Possible this will shortened the life of the bulbs but I am willing to risk for my need and trying to avoid WAF with my family.
One thing you could do is when someone pressed the smart switch off. Use WebCoRE or smart lighting and set the bulb to off. When someone presses the switch on. Also send an on command to the bulb as well. By doing this, your smart bulb will work normal on the next command.

Hi Navat,

Thanks for the reply. How are you doing it right now? I’ve thought about using WebCoRE, but the problem is that when someone presses the switch, the bulbs are now off, so I cannot send them a command. I would first have to tell the switch to turn back on, then wait for all the bulb to reinitialize and reconnect to the network, and then tell them to turn off. From the user’s perspective, they will see the lights come back on, and then turn off after a delay. This is not ideal.

How are you doing it now? You say you have smart bulbs and smart switches. How do you handle the case when a guest turns the switch off, which disconnects your bulbs from the network?

Here’s an example of a kitchen sink overhead bulb I have. The “cabinet lights” is my smart switch and it’s controlling all my under cabinets strip lights plus an overhead sink bulb. I want this bulb and the bulb alone to turn off at night after 12am and 50% when there is Motion. 100% when there’s a smoke alarm or intrusion.
The picture is one instance for syncing the bulb and the switch. The command to the bulb will go through even when the switch is off. How do I know? Because I can control the bulb with the app when the switch is on.
It’s obvious you won’t be able to control the bulb when the switch is off but you can add an instance in smart lighting to turn the switch on when you turn on the bulb in the app.

This sounds like your saying what I’m trying to say. I want a switch that only communicates with the hub,and does not control the power to the bulb. When you say " You are just wiring the circuit a little differently so that the relay in the switch doesn’t physically cut out when the switch is turned off", can you draw me a circuit diagram? This is exactly what I want, and I cannot figure out a wired solution that tells the hub to turn off the bulb without cutting power to the bulb.

Wirenut your line and load wires together in the switch box.

Use an accessory smart switch that has no load output, and has its own z-wave radio (some accessory switches only communicate with a master switch via traveler wire). Connect the line input to your line, can probably use the same wirenut above (I’m not an electrician). Connect the neutral output to your neutral bundle in the switch box.

Now your circuit that powers the smart bulb is always on, your smart switch has power as well, but has no control over the bulb. Pair the smart switch with ST, then use a smartapp to toggle the smart bulb when the smart switch is pushed.

I’ve encountered this same problem with all of my Hue bulbs and my girlfriend’s insistence to use the physical switches to control them most of the time (a fair expectation to be honest).

The design I ended up with finally (after lots of time and money spent) is decent but not perfect:

  1. I installed Hue bulbs in most of my light fixtures.
  2. I replaced all of my dumb switches with GE Z-Wave Plus switches for all my Hue lights and dimmers for the non-Hue fixtures.
  3. In all of my automated turn on routines I flip on both the switch and the bulb.
  4. In all of my automated turn off routines I only turn off the bulbs.
  5. I’ve created rules that allow me to use the double tap up/down functionality of the GE switches to directly control the bulbs (i.e. double tap up turns on the Hue bulbs associated with the switch and double tap down turns them off all without cutting power).

I feel like there are at least theee ways to make this even better (and less of a headache to setup/maintain):

  1. Hue could change the default behavior of their bulbs to just remember the last setting they were in before the power cut (or make it configurable).
  2. GE (or some other manufacturer) could come up with an in-wall smart switch that allows even the default single tap behavior to be overridden (i.e. I want my single and double tap actions described above to be reversed). One option for that would be to expose the internal relay and the buttons as separate devices and allow the user to fully customize them via their controller.
  3. Don’t use smart bulbs in fixtures controlled by switches. If I could go back in time I would probably skip most of the Hue bulbs and just buy a few light strips for ambiance. The Hues are nice but the amount of time I’ve spent fighting the stupid default brightness/color settings they revert to after a power cut is just not worth it.

For some reason the suggestion folks keep coming back to on these forums is to permanently wire in the smart bulbs but that just seems like an ugly hack with its own set of serious problems:

  1. What happens when I want to sell my house and want to take my hub and smart bulbs with me? Will I have to re-wire all of my switches at this point?
  2. What happens if my wi-fi is down or my SmartThings hub is having a bad day? Does that mean I can’t go to sleep because I’ve lost control over the lights in my own home?
  3. What happens if there is a power cut while I’m away? Does that mean all my lights come back on and I have to deal with turning them back off again?

Anyhow, I’m glad to hear that I’m not the only one hitting this issue. Let me know what you think of my setup and if you have any tips/tricks for making it even better.

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Has such a device been created yet?

@orionrobert - What did you end up doing?

You are replying to a thread which is three years old and a lot has changed in that time, with many more devices now on the market for exactly this purpose.

Please see the following FAQ. It covers most of the current options. (The topic title is a clickable link.)

(Also, in the future start with threads that have had activity in the last 12 months. That avoids resurfacing really old posts which just confuse everybody. Thanks!:sunglasses:)