Leviton vs Cooper dimmers


#1

I have decided against the GE dimmers after experiencing a time out issue/ lack of response from the one I purchased to test. I have also read that leviton and Eaton Cooper switches are superior in many ways. Looking at pricing, it is much of a premium for me to go with the nicer switches.

I like the look of the Cooper switches (both styles actually) and have read the dimmer on them is a bit easier/ nicer to use. It also looks like the models I have read about have been around a long time. Is there a specific model I would be looking at for use with LED lights?

My alt option will be to pick some of these up- maybe I’ll make a decision before the deal of the day is over!


#2

If you already have LED lights, then make sure whatever dimmer you are buying works with your bulbs. The GE has compatibility with all bulbs, that’s why it’s popular. If you buy a dimmer that doesn’t support your bulbs it might work or it might flicker or hum or both. There should be a compatibility list on the website for what bulbs they’ve tested to work with the dimmer. For example, none of the A19 Ecosmart bulbs from home depot are supported by the AL series of dimmers from Cooper.


#3

Thanks - I haven’t purchased any bulbs yet, but would prefer to use LED if I can. Maybe at the end of the day LEDs are truly more of a headache than anything but ultimately Halogens and or incandescents are harder to find a variety of at my local big box store these days, and they will continue to be so.

Based on the website here:
http://www.cooperindustries.com/content/public/en/wiring_devices/products/lighting_controls/dimmers/smart/accell_aal06.solutions.wiringdevices!energy_efficiency!alseriesdimmers.html

The AL series doesn’t even specify that it is zwave compatible anywhere. I does say it is a smart dimmer, but that means little to me at this point. I clicked through each documentation PDF listed on the website above and did see anything regarding ZWave.

Where did you/ do I get the reference for the bulb support list for the dimmer?


#4

There’s an FAQ on bulb/dimmer combinations that have issues and why that can happen. Basically it’s a combination of the fixture, the bulb, and the switch, so sometimes it’s just trial and error.

The GE switches have a narrower dimming range than most of the other brands, they won’t dim below 10% while both the Cooper and the Leviton do and sometimes that’s the source of the problem, that is the flickers happen in a range that the GE doesn’t even try to access. But multiple community members have reported issues with the GE switches as well in some circumstances, again sometimes you just have to try it yourself and see.

As it happens, the video in the FAQ thread is using a GE switch and you can see buzz and flickers on a couple of different bulb brands.

Back to the original question…

Eaton is the company, Cooper is the division, Aspire is the design style, and Aspire RF is the Z wave model line. You can find the devices sold under any of those names.

Both Leviton and Cooper are good devices. :sunglasses: Both have licensed the instant status patent and offer a number of configuration parameters. Leviton has updated their line with zwave plus versions, which is always good, but they do cost more and personally I like the color and style combinations for the Cooper better, but that’s just personal aesthetics.

The Cooper line includes a battery-powered switch looks identical to the mains powered one, so some people choose them just so they will be able to mix and match those. Cooper even has a special underplate so you can put a battery powered one right next to a mains powered one creating a double gang where there used to be a single gang and it will look really nice.

Cooper has a couple of special features like child lock and panic mode, but setting those up to work on the SmartThings platform can be complicated and these days you can generally do the same thing in other ways.

Leviton uses physical traveler wires for its auxiliary switches in a three-way set up, while Cooper uses RF, so that can make switch placement a little easier. Again, it just depends on your own needs. And of course with SmartThings you could use two Leviton master switches on different circuits and have them follow each other if you wanted.

Whenever you want to check zwave certification for any device, start with the official Z wave alliance product site and look up the device there. If it certified for Z wave it will be listed if it’s considered a current device. (Some older EOL devices may have been previously listed but not have a current listing.)

https://products.z-wavealliance.org

The AL series from Cooper are definitely Z wave certified, they just choose not to put that in the individual product descriptions in the marketing materials, which is their decision. It is in the top level description of the aspire RF line, as well as on the technical spec sheets.

http://www.cooperindustries.com/content/dam/public/wiringdevices/products/documents/brochures/aspire-rf-brochure.pdf

They used to feature it more prominently, I think they are trying to avoid calling out the fact that these devices are not Z wave plus, as Leviton has now been pushing that in their own marketing materials. :wink:

So different people have different preferences, just depending on the specific features you’re interested in. Choice is good. :sunglasses:


#5

So my home will have less than 50 connected devices on the high end assuming I don’t need any outlets. Cameras and alarm system, etc are separate. I don’t see a need for ZWave Plus.

I really like the look of the cooper switches (both styles actually), and read that the dimmer features ‘feels nicer’ than the leviton models.

All of my three way lighting circuits are wires as such:
(Power into the 3/4 gang box using 2 wire, 2 wire running to the lighting fixture(s), and 3 wire running from the main switch to the aux switch)

In this scenario it sounds like I can use either the Leviton or the cooper for a 3 way installation. I can power the aux cooper switch with the 3 wire spicing into a power source at the main box so the switch has power to it.

Is there a preferred model number for the cooper switches that is the most advanced/ recent in terms of features and technology?
It looks like the RF9501-DW is going to be my pick (decorator’s white). It really isn’t anymore expensive than the GE switches though - I was thinking I was looking at the wrong Cooper switch, expecting to pay 75-100 dollars vs $45-50.


#6

Check the load specifications versus the number of bulbs you want to put on the switch. Both Leviton and Cooper name their models by the incandescent load they can manage. The LED load will be about half that. So that 600 watt is the incandescent load for that model.

In terms of the Cooper switches, I’m pretty sure they all came out about the same time. You can check the dates on the conformance statements on the Z wave alliance site.

Cooper dropped the price of their switches near the end of 2017 because they weren’t zwave plus, I think. So definitely shop around, as there is now a pretty big variation between retailers on the cost. :sunglasses:

I’m a little bit confused by your comment about the number of devices, though. Z wave and zwave plus both have the same Max as far as number of devices per controller.

The two big differences as far as light switches go are the Z wave plus has a longer range and is easier to pair in place. With Z wave switches, you may have to move the hub on a long ethernet cord to be closer to them when you pair them initially or do a bench pairing and then do a “zwave repair” utility after they are in their desired location. But maybe that’s what you were referring to in terms of the total number of devices, Just the amount of work in the pairing process.

(I leave wiring diagram reviews to @Navat604 and the other electrical experts in the community. :wink: )


#7

@whoismoses has done a lot with Cooper switches and may be able to say more. :sunglasses:


(Ray) #8

You have the best wiring configuration for 3 ways smart switches so it will be smooth sailing for both brands you are looking for.


#9

You can find it right on this page:
http://www.cooperindustries.com/content/public/en/wiring_devices/products/lighting_controls/aspire_rf_wireless/dimmers/ASPIRE-RF-All-Load-Smart-Dimmer-RF9540-N.html

There a PDF that’s linked there. There should be one on each of the product pages on the manufacturer’s site.


(Chris Donovan) #10

Just a bit of advice for the Leviton 3-ways, be sure to read the wiring instructions. It’s not the same as wiring a standard 3-way w/ traveler. The Leviton (maybe Cooper as well, but I don’t have those so I can’t be sure) uses the traveler as a signal wire, not an alternate load. Basically, the master is in charge of sending (or not sending) power from the hot through the load, and the remote switch also gets power 24/7, and simply uses the second traveler to handle status changes.


#11

Yeah…you have to have special “add-on” switches. That’s true of the GE as well.


#12

It doesn’t look like Cooper has matching fan speed controllers that work with ZWave like the GE products- Or dummy switches that match there Decorator line. That really stinks.

Does anyone have suggestions for trying to match switches for dumb switches? I have multi gang boxes, IE bed room has two switches, fan and can lights; bathroom has four switches, vanity light, main cans, shower can with Exhaust fan on same circuit, and two more cans over the tub that. I need a dumb switch for the exhaust fan and a few other switches around the house.


#13

If it’s just an on/off exhaust fan, you can use a regular on/off switch in most cases. It’s only the variable speed motor fans that need special switches. It’s true that right now only Leviton and GE have Z wave fan switches, but since it’s a fan switch it may not need to match your other styles exactly, that’s up to you.

Remember I said that Cooper allowed for a wireless auxiliary switch set up that didn’t require a physical traveler wire? That’s the RF 9517 accessory switch. It comes in both styles.

http://www.cooperindustries.com/content/public/en/wiring_devices/products/lighting_controls/aspire_rf_wireless/switches/aspire_rf_accessory_switch_rf9517.html


#14

Thanks @JDRoberts.
I only need the accessory switches for two three way circuits upstairs right now.
But I have some other lights such as the second bedroom closet light that I don’t care to put in a smart dimmer for, just a regular paddle switch. I would prefer the switches match in the whole house, but I understand the limitation there. I can get pretty close with the Aspire Designer line.

I suppose I can just use a Leviton VRF01-1LZ Vizia or the GE equivalent. and have two different style switches side by side.

Looks like Eaton makes this switch which matches the designer aspire line:

I would prefer to match the decorator line though. Reading the description of “RF9520DW” which is an accessory switch, it looks like it can be used as a stand alone switch, not needing to talk to a master in a 3 way environment. Would this work for the circuit with a single speed 120V motor and a can light?

If that is what you meant this entire time I apologize, I was thinking an accessory switch only worked with a master switch to control a separate circuit, and in this circumstance I assumed that it didn’t need a traveler because it simply needed a power source to power the switch, not that it could interrupt a circuit like a dumb switch.


#15

To confirm
Can I use: RF9517DW as a stand alone Zwave switch (no dimmer) and control it with zwave, or does it have to use a master? (Ie the lights going to the basement stairs, porch lights, etc)

Can I use RF9520DW as a stand alone switch like a traditional switch without wiring it as a 3 way to a master? (Ie for a bathroom fan, or garbage disposal)


#16

If you check the spec sheets, you will see that the 9517 does not have a line out, so it cannot control a fixture on its own.

What it can do is communicate wirelessly to the master switch That controls the fixture. So it does not need a physical traveler wire.

It is a mains powered accessory switch that acts as a wireless remote to its master switch.

On the smart things platform, the master switch is not required, you could just use the 9517, for example, to act as a switch to trigger smart lightbulbs, to change the armed status of smart home monitor, to change the mode, whatever smartthings can do. Because it does have a Z wave radio and is recognized as a binary switch, the 9517 will send a message to the hub when it is physically turned on at the wall and then the hub can act on that.

What it cannot do is directly control current on a circuit branch. Again, just look at the wiring diagrams. It has hot, neutral, and ground. No load wire.

http://www.cooperindustries.com/content/dam/public/wiringdevices/products/documents/instruction_sheets/technology_rf9517_instruct.pdf

http://www.cooperindustries.com/content/dam/public/wiringdevices/products/documents/spec_sheets2/AspireRFAcessorySwitchSpecSheet.pdf

If those diagrams are not clear to you, you should probably consult an electrician.

So you can use it as a standalone switch, but in exactly the same way as you would use the battery powered version of the switch. Not to control a particular circuit branch, but rather to get a message sent to a smart device which does control the actual light.


#17

I see. I didn’t look at the diagram - I just read the description which reads:
"ASPIRE RF Accessory Switch (RF9517) replaces regular switches or dimmers to provide local and remote ON/OFF control. "

I wanted to verify that local mean line in/ line out and could open a circuit.

So it doesn’t seem that they have a normal z wave switch in that style without the dimmer.


#18

I’m sorry, I don’t know what you mean by “normal“ in this context. Do you mean a binary on/off switch?

That’s the RF9501.

http://www.cooperindustries.com/content/public/en/wiring_devices/products/lighting_controls/aspire_rf_wireless/switches/aspire_rf_15a_wireless_switch_rf9501.html

http://www.cooperindustries.com/content/dam/public/wiringdevices/products/documents/instruction_sheets/technology_rf9501_instruct.pdf


(Joshua Rush) #19

I would be cautious using Cooper switches. I had about 60% fail in less than 2 years. I have not had any issues with GE.


#20

I don’t doubt at all that that has been true for you, but it’s an unusual experience based on reports on multiple home automation forums. It may depend on where you buy them.

Since Cooper has not refreshed their model line for four or five years, although they continue to manufacture new devices, if you buy them from eBay or someplace similar you may be getting very old individual devices. With older lines like this, I personally try to buy them only from retailers that I know are getting them fresh from the factory, which would include those sold by Amazon itself (not just fulfilled by Amazon).