Install a Smart Switch (Single Pole) | SmartThings & Alexa Set-Up (2019)

https://youtu.be/c3CHoKLXTYM

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The visual quality of this video is excellent, but I found the content somewhat concerning.

SAFETY ISSUE: Traveler wires

First, a major safety issue. At the beginning of the video you show the boxes for both a GE switch and a zooz switch and you say that they are “virtually identical.” You then start working with the zooz Switch.

However, these two switches have some very significant differences. (First rule of home automation: “the model number matters.”)

You are working on a switch which has a traveler wire. With that model Zooz switch it’s OK to just use the original dumb auxiliary switch and the original traveler wire.

However, that will not work for the GE switch. You have to use their own auxiliary switch. From the user manual:

The GE Add-on switch is required for Multi-Switch 3-way or 4-way installations.
.
Connecting the traveler terminal of this switch to a standard, non-GE switch will cause damage or result in improper function. If this switch is a part of a 3-way or 4-way multi-switch installation, do not connect the traveler wire or apply power until GE Add-on switches are correctly installed. For more information on 3-Way or 4-Way installations, view the manual or quick-start guide that comes with the GE Add-on switch.

Someone following your instructions using the GE switch that you hold up in the video will either burn out the switch or potentially cause a fire.

In addition, the include click pattern for the GE and for the Zooz are different. You are giving the one for the Zooz, which isn’t that big a deal in this specific case, but again these are two different switches and people should look at the user manual for the one that they own.

Terminology

Next, as I believe we have discussed before, when there are two switches controlling a single fixture that is called a “2 way“ in the UK, but it is called a “3-way“ in the US.

So this could be quite confusing if the viewer was looking at the user manual or talking to manufacturer support or just doing other research.

It would be best to use the standard terms for electrical work.

ANOTHER SAFETY ISSUE: When to cut power

Obviously you have to have the power on to the switch in order to map the circuits. However, in your video you tell them to leave the power on while they are removing the switch plate, but this is actually one of the most dangerous times. If Any of the wires are a little frayed or even if there’s just dust on the contact screws, Removing the plate is when you are most likely to get sparking.

I was always taught that you should cut the power, take the plate off, Make sure all the wires are in good condition and properly separated, then turn the power back on, then map the circuits, then turn the power off again, and then start working on the switch.

It does mean you have to walk out to the circuit breaker twice, but again, when you’re making a video for firsttimers, adding an extra layer of safety is almost always a good idea. :sunglasses:

WIRE COLORS

I would prefer to see a mention that US code does not mandate wire color and the wires in the box can be almost any color. In your particular Switchbox, the load wire looks like it’s white in the video. So when you tell people to look for the white wire to find the neutral, that could also be confusing.

Also, many older houses do not have a neutral at the switchbox. I am concerned that in a setup like the one shown in the video but in an older house someone might end up pulling a load wire that belonged To a different switch rather than pulling a neutral. So I just think it’s a good idea to mention the color issue.

I also very very strongly recommend that everyone take a before picture of the original dumb switch while the wires are still connected showing the specific screws that each wire is connected to. This can save a lot of trouble later if something doesn’t go quite right.

MISSING INFORMATION

I think many Viewers would find it frustrating that you have titled the video “Install a Two Way Smart Switch” When in fact you only show installing the master switch, and about seven minutes in you mention that you’re going to do a different video about what you call “Two way switches” because they can be different. That’s just confusing. :scream:

Also, the instructions that you give for using the switch with Alexa only work if this is not the first Device you have added to your SmartThings account for Echo and you have already set up the account integration. That’s a big piece to leave out for people who may not have done this before. So again, more frustration.

I appreciate the time and effort you put into these videos, which I assume act as advertising for your smart home business, but I think you also need to put more effort into accuracy.

For now, you should at least add an overlay bubble explaining that wiring traveler wires is different for the GE switches.

Submitted with respect.

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BTW, John Stone has an excellent video on installing the Zooz Switch in a three-way configuration, and he points out the differences between it and other brands. He even has a video of what happens if you try to wire a GE switch in the same fashion as the Zooz switch is wired.

Very well done video, and I think you would find it interesting.

He’s using the wink hub rather than a smartthings hub, but The main point I was making in my first post was just about the wiring, which would be the same regardless of the hub being used.

(Oh, and I liked your tip about not unscrewing the screws all the way so you don’t lose the inner plate. That was a really good reminder for beginners, and I wish Stone had included the same tip in his video.)

@thesmartesthouse

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Thanks for the tag @JDRoberts and for featuring the Zooz switch in your video @jnewbury2280!

There’s always a lot of confusion about multi-point control terminology AND installation so completely agree with @JDRoberts about the need to be super clear and careful about it. The best way to remember it is that the name of the set-up refers to the type of switches beings used - if you have 2 switches controlling the same light, you’ll need a 3-way switch on each side (it will have 3 wires connected to it as opposed to just line and load for a single pole) - that makes it a 3-way. Then a 4-way set-up will have a 4-way switch in the middle box with (you guessed it) 4 wires connected to that switch.

While neutrals will almost always be white wires, not all white wires will be neutrals. In the latest manuals, we include a disclaimer about not following color codes blindly for your installation but rather identifying the wires based on their role in the set-up.

It’s also important to remember that neutrals used for the switch need to come from the same romex cables as line and load. In the box in the video, we can see there are more white wires in the back and it’s not always obvious for beginners which ones to use.

We also recommend turning the power off BEFORE opening the box and disconnecting the wires from the switch (yes, marking them and taking a picture is definitely helpful, especially for 3-ways and 4-ways) prior to measuring voltage on them. That’s very important for 3-way and 4-way installations where you’ll have power on some of the traveler wires as well and one of the most common mistakes we see is identifying one of the travelers as power source.

These are all things you don’t think about much as an installer but we’re pretty much at a stage where we’ve seen it all :slight_smile: and honestly, you can put a hundred disclaimers and tips in the video but it’s nearly impossible to cover everything that could go wrong. Our general recommendation to DIYers is, if you can’t match your set-up with one of the “before” wiring diagrams from the manual or Zooz support page, please get an electrician or send images to support because it’s never a good idea to take the trial-and-error route with 120V.

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Thank you for your feedback.

I miss spoke when calling the switch a 1-way switch as seen in the comments of the video. I meant to say 2-way switch and the up coming video to be a 3-way switch.

The installation of a Zooz and GE Switch is identical for a 2-way Switch as the traveler wire is not needed and that is why I showed both switches at the beginning.

The three way switch install will mention the requirement of an add on switch required of the GE switch to work.

I am not an electrician and are just making simple instructional videos for normal people without out all of the technical stuff to make it confusing.

It’s still not called a “two way switch” in the US.

In the UK, what we call a “3-way switch“ in the US is called a “2 way switch“ there. So if you Google “what’s a two way switch?“ You will find lots and lots of articles, but if you check closely, you will see they are all from UK sites.

The switch that controls a light from only one location in the US is called a “single pole switch” or a “single location switch,“although many articles and electricians will just call it a “single.“ So they will talk about putting “a single in the bedroom, and a three-way in the hallway.“

There are only three kinds of wall switches that are used to control light fixtures: simple single-pole (ON/OFF) switch, 3-way switches, and 4-way switches. Each of these types come in different operating styles, including toggle, rocker, and push-button. They may also be available in dimmer-style switches that allow for variable control of a light fixture’s illumination level. It’s important to choose a switch that provides the function you need.

So your video should be titled “how to install a single location switch.“

Or even just “how to install a smart switch” and then early on or with a bubble say “this video covers a single location switch, and in another video we will cover 3 way switches.”

I understand not wanting to confuse people with too much technical stuff, but it’s less confusing when you are using the same terminology that everybody else is. Particularly when you are offering paid pro services. :sunglasses:

Why would a single pole switch have a traveler wire, @JDRoberts?

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It wouldn’t. My bad – – I just got confused.

So my apologies if I was confusing to others as well. (Confusion is often contagious! :wink:). You are of course right that a single pole switch would not use a traveler wire by definition.

There are a few situations where you might be removing a dumb switch that had a traveler wire and then not using the traveler wire because you were going to set up a virtual three-way, but that’s not what was happening in this particular video.

Thanks for the correction. :sunglasses:

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In the United States when you wire a single pole switch with one light you have two components and the common term in the United States in a 2-Way switch (no traveler wire as seen in the video). If you are wiring two switches together with one light you have 3 components and this would be called a 3-Way switch (must have a traveler wire).

I will change the title of the video and explain more in the video description to avoid confusion but if you watch the video and compare it to your wiring you will be able to determine if your set-up is the same and using the non-contact voltage tester will ensure your safety and correct wiring.

Most people cannot read the wiring diagrams included with switch that is what I wanted to make a free (obviously non pro) video to help regular people out just like me.

Do you have a reference for that? That’s not what it’s called in the national electric code (NEC) or by any switch manufacturer that I am familiar with. Nor is that what the major retailers like Home Depot and Lowe’s call it.

All of those refer to it as a “single pole” or “single location” switch.

( oddly, the only light switch I saw listed at Home Depot as “2 way“ was a Jasco zigbee smart Switch.)

Home Depot‘s website has over 200 results for a search on “single pole switch“

And less than a dozen for “2 way switch,“ most of which are not light switches.

I could not find a single reference in the NEC to “2 way switch.” The standard terminology used throughout for light switch wiring is:

“single-pole, three-way or four-way switch loops”

As mentioned in the Spruce article I linked to above.

Good Housekeeping, Bob Vila, The Spruce, Mike Holt, This Old House, and other popular do it yourself sites all use the same “single“ terminology in their professionally written content.

https://www.mikeholt.com/mojonewsarchive/NEC-HTML/HTML/Article-404-Switches~20040624.php

Again, you can get lots of Google results for “2 way switch“ but they are almost all from UK sites. Or a few from US sites explaining the differences between US and UK terminology.

But if you have an expert US reference that refers to a single pole switch as a 2-way, that would certainly be interesting.

OK, this is fascinating. The product description for that GE zigbee switch at Home Depot and says “two-way or three-way“ operation.

But the official documents at the US Jasco site say

“May be used in single-pole installation or with up to four GE model 12723 add-on switches in 3-, 4-, 5- or 6-way wiring configurations”

No mention of “2-way.”

And the Lowe’s description is as follows:

Providing ultimate flexibility, the ZigBee Smart Dimmer allows you to operate the switch by itself or easily integrate the switch with three-way or four-way applications

So I’m thinking just some individual marketing writer at HD got the terms mixed up on that one.

I think we can all agree that a “1-way switch” also goes by the name of “wire.” :slight_smile:

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