Latest advice for virtual 3/4 way switch setup w/o hub?

I have a single switch controlling the kitchen lights (at a ridiculously inconvenient location) and want to add:
1 - an additional switch in an existing socket (an existing 3 way switch is unneeded and I’ll remove to make space / get power).
2 - a battery powered switch at another doorway where there is no existing power/socket.

I don’t want a hub involved - I just want the behavior of a true 3 way switch. And I want them to match the existing Leviton Decora switches. The goal is that it all looks pretty much exactly like the existing switches and behaves ‘instantly’ like a physical 3/4 way.

From reading the forum, it seems like GoControl WS15Z-1 as the load switch (I don’t want/need a dimmer) and the WT00Z-1 as accessory will fit the bill for #1. I also found WT00Z5-1on Amazon - is that an equivalent accessory switch? Although I just noticed that’s not for delivery until Jan/Feb of next year so I guess that’s moot! :frowning:

I have no hub yet since I’m new to home automation but I believe that a minimote can be used to associate them even without a hub (is that correct?). However I see that’s discontinued so the best I’ve found so far is $65 used arriving between Dec 3rd and Dec 18th.

It looks like the best price and delivery speed for the switches is used off Amazon to get them 2 day by Monday 26th. I don’t mind used as long as there’s not a known history of these going bad and I might be getting a duff switch? But 2 day is pointless if I’m blocked for 1-3 weeks on the minimote.

So my questions are:

  1. Is there yet an alternative to the minimote that’s more available / cheaper and can still do the hub-less association? Or have I simply no alternative but to wait on it arriving? Or any suggestions where I could source one quicker (in US).
  2. Can the minimote do the association without a hub involved? Update: I think I just found a video demonstrating how to do that so I’m now pretty certain the answer is yes.
  3. Are there other switch pairs that are reliable and I could use instead of the GoControl ones?
  4. I haven’t found anything yet about battery switches - what is available? I can make a hole for a socket if necessary but surface mount would be a lot easier to avoid having to cut holes in tiling.

Update: Found the Eaton RF9500AW. Not Decora but is surface mount. Comments in the threads here seem to indicate this might be the only surface mount switch.

At some point I might also want to be able to control the kitchen lights by voice with an echo dot. I’m sure that means adding a hub but are there any gotchas if I’ve initially set them up hubless?

Also, the WD500Z-1 dimmer switch is cheaper currently. If I left that set to 100%, would it be as instant as I assume the WS15Z-1 would be? Or will it ramp up from zero? I really want instant on, with no ramp up.

I’m sorry, I’m not feeling well this morning and as I rely on text to speech I didn’t pick up all the details in your post. But I did want to comment quickly on the two different models of the accessories and also on the minimote.

Once you get to zwave plus devices, you can no longer use the minimote because association has changed significantly in the newer generation.

However, you don’t need it, because a community member has created a very nice software utility which will let you do the associations just through the SmartThings mobile app. It is called the Z wave tweaker, and it is listed in the FAQ on how to create a virtual three-way with the linear/go control switches.

When you’re looking at the two different models of the accessory switch, the one which has a “five” in the model name is Z wave plus version. (Series 500 equals Z wave fifth generation equals “Z wave plus” which is just a fancy marketing name they gave it).

So if you did want to use the minimote method, you need to have the older version of the accessory switch.

Second, when you say you don’t want any hub at all, you have to have a hub when you are using Z wave devices, because it is the hub which establishes the network and assigns the network ID is to each individual device. No hub, no network, so no association as possible. If you do you set up Z wave direct association, the messages don’t have to go through the hub at the time that they are sent, but you still have to have had a hub in order to create the network that each device will send the messages over.

In this forum, that will generally be one of the Samsung smartthings Hub models.

So if you’re going to use zwave or zigbee, you have to have a hub of some kind.

The alternative is to find some Wi-Fi Switch models that allow you to create virtual three ways without traveler wires, but that’s not what most people use with smartthings and I can’t think of one off the top of my head although I’m sure there are some. Most of the Wi-Fi switches will also work with an Amazon echo device once you decide you want to add voice control.

The following FAQ lists the battery operated switches that work with smartthings. But again, you will have to have a hub for most of those.

So basically you need to take a step back and think hard about your “no hub” requirement. If you really want no hub at all, not even a SmartThings hub, you can do it, but you can’t use any of the models that you’ve already listed. Because you can’t use anything that is Zwave. You need to start your research over looking just at Wi-Fi switches. ( or maybe Bluetooth, but that brings up a whole separate set of issues.)

If by chance you already have iOS devices, you might look into apple’s HomeKit. There are many fewer device choices than for smartthings, but it works reliably and there is no hub required. :sunglasses:

I just thought of a Wi-Fi switch that would work, although personally I’m not crazy about the purple indicator light. But you don’t need any hub, it already works with an echo or Google home when you want to add voice, and it will work for three ways. It doesn’t work with smartthings, however. So that’s just something to be aware of.

And in case I wasn’t clear before, with a Wi-Fi switch you don’t have to do any “association” – – that’s a method which is specific to Z wave switches. So you don’t need any of the utilities or devices like a Minimote. You just set up the three-way through the app that goes with the WiFi switch.

And here’s their battery operated accessory switch. This only works with one of their masters.

If you just search Amazon you can find a variety of Wi-Fi switches, just be careful because some of the least expensive also lack all the typical electrical safety certifications, so you are using them at your own risk with regard to fire safety.

I thought the minimote could essential be used as a hub by first adding the devices to it as the ‘network’, then associating the devices. I later found at least one thread on the forum talked about doing this and then having difficulties when they (much) later added a hub because all the devices were associated with the remote. This youtube video also seems to be showing exactly that process:

And this thread is from someone who set up a bunch of 3 ways with the minimote as the controller and then later was asking how to move them to a hub:

I did find a new minimote at a better price and USPS 2 day delivery (so probably next Tuesday) so I went for it.

Hopefully the worst case is that I already have a remote I can use when I have a hub versus a paperweight? I do expect to get a hub at some point - if only because my wife would quite like to be able to turn on the kitchen lights by voice too using the Echo Dots that Amazon is throwing as us as we bought video doorbells and security cameras.

However, if the ‘5’ versions of the gocontrol no longer associate with the minimote I will be out of luck without the hub. All the ones I’ve found have 5 in the name - WD500Z, WS15Z-1, WT00Z5-1. I ordered the latter two so I’ll find out in a few days when everything arrives. Either it’ll work, or I’ll need to get a hub just to get it working, or I’ll need to rethink and go wifi as you’ve suggested. Is it just the accessory that has to not be version 5?

The gocontrol page for the WT00Z5-1 still talks about using a minimote for association:

My bad: it will work with that specific model because it only has one Association group. The minimote does not work with most other Z wave plus devices because they usually have more than one Association group. One of the reasons it was discontinued. So we just don’t recommend it much anymore. But for that specific model yeah, you could do it.

As far as having a minimote be a controller and establish the network with older versions, yes, You did used to be able to do that, but given that the minimote has been discontinued I just didn’t go into that.

Also, sorry if I was confusing, but it’s not that every single device with a five in it is zwave plus. It’s just on those two switches that you specifically asked about. For the other devices you just have to check each individual model to see if it’s zwave classic or zwave plus.

Thanks. I appreciate the advice. When just getting into home automation, the choices and complexity is very daunting!

This caught my eye. There’s some built in association mechanism for the WT00Z-1?

Associate your WT00Z5-1 Switches to your Dimmer using the Associate Function of the WT00Z5-1 itself.

  1. Quadruple click the rocker on the WT00Z5-1, the LED will flash indicating the switch is in Association Mode.
  2. Activate the Exclusion Mode on your dimmer (Press the B button 3 times on the Fibaro Dimmer 2). The LED will stop flashing on the WT00Z5-1 to indicate it is now associated with the dimmer.
  3. Repeat the process with any other WT00Z5-1 Switches you would like to use with your Dimmer.

That’s the same minimote process that is discussed in the FAQ link that I already gave you, it’s just that in this case Wink is the zwave controller that establishes the network.

Using Linear Switches/Dimmers and an Aeon Labs Minimote

Read the process listed at the link you gave. The quote you gave is several steps into the process. First, You add all the Z wave devices, including the minimote, to the network established by the hub, and then you are just doing the usual minimote method for creating the zwave direct association.

The quadruple click step is unique though - I hadn’t seen that anywhere else and you’re not using the minimote for association at that step. Instead it’s some kind of built in assocation mechanism. That’s why it caught my attention.

That’s a great example of how complicated home automation can be if you don’t know two basic secrets. :wink:

It’s a post by a customer on the Wink forum who Tried to follow a procedure that had worked for zwave classic devices, Found it didn’t work for some other devices they had (which were zwave plus, but the person didn’t realize that made a difference, so they just started trying a lot of different things). To make matters worse, they are posting in a thread about the classic models, but then referencing the plus model, so it can get confusing just to read it. It’s actually pretty impressive that they got it to work it all.

So notice, that’s from the section about associating a device from a different brand, not from the sections on associating the model numbers you’ve been asking about. First secret of home automation: the model number matters.

Then, the Second secret of home automation: always read the manual. In this case, the 4 tap method that the poster talking about is only available for the newer Z wave plus model, WT00Z5-1. Not The classic model in the thread title. And in the manual for that model, it does discuss the four tap option.

So here’s what’s going on. Remember when I said it was sort of odd that that switch (the zwave plus one) only listed one Association group, because most of the zwave plus models have more than one?

It turns out the manufacturer did a firmware update to get more in line with what the final specification was for the versions which are branded gocontrol. And it does now support more than one Association group if you have the newest firmware. And guess what? That means you can’t use the minimote method anymore.

Instead, they introduced this 4 Tap method which is going to first associate the switch with the hub in the lifeline Association group, which is group one, and then lets you associate your master switch in Association group 2.

So… that post had a model number other than the model number used for the minimote method and, the poster didn’t realize how much the model difference mattered. The fix they eventually found worked because they were using a Z wave plus feature which handles association differently because you could no longer use the minimote because you have to associate the switches in Association group 2, not Association group one like you could with the older models. (The minimote method can only associate things in group one. )

So long story short: the four tap method is available on the Z wave plus accessory switches of the models we’ve been discussing in order to allow you to associate the hub in group one and then associate the master switch in group two. But because you are doing two association groups, you won’t be able to do that with a minimote. This is described in the product manual linked to in this post. :sunglasses:

And here is the manual for the Z wave classic accessory switch. Notice it doesn’t say anything about the quadruple tap. That’s because that model only had one Association group. Which is why you could use it with the minimote method of association.

Also, just in case you are curious, here’s more discussion of how direct association changed with zwave plus:

But some of the biggest manufacturers, including Nortek and Aeotec, put out early fifth-generation devices before the specification was finalized. So those very early versions didn’t always do things exactly the same way as the specification now calls for.

Sorry, I am really tired now, so I’m going to leave it up to other people to carry-on if you have any other questions. Good luck with your project! :sunglasses:

Thanks for all the help. So chances are high that I will not be able to successfully associate the switches until I have a hub :(. Ah well such is life. I guess I need to accelerate my research into hub options.

To be honest I’m a bit leery of smartthings because I don’t want a dependency on a cloud service being up / company still being around in 10 years.

Understood. You’re definitely not alone in that.

That said, Z wave and zigbee are both well-established third-party protocols. And once you create a Z wave association it continues to work even if you remove the hub all together. It’s just that you need one initially to hand out the network IDs.

I understand that for direct association. It’s all the other things I might end up using the hub for over time that require the hub / smart things service to be up and running.

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