I need to verify the existing switch has a neutral but I think when I replaced a switch last summer it had one. I’ll pull one out tomorrow to verify.
I think this would be a wise idea before deciding on a switch. If you do not have a good neutral, you could update with GE Link bulbs which run off the normal light switch, but come integrated with ZigBee control so you can Dim and obviously turn on and off. The problem here though is the switch needs to always be on for you to control the light remotely.
I have a partially updated house with 1950’s wiring on one side, and 2008 wiring on the other. The new side I have had no problem installing Z-Wave switches. The old side, some of the areas have good neutrals, others well… No Neutral (SMILE). So I am using GE Link (Cheap around 15 per light) where I need HA to control lights on the old side of the building.
Also, there are the Phillips HUE bulbs which I like for the color choices. But more expensive, and with the exception for mood lighting. Have not really determined a good use for them yet given the cost involved and additional hub to attach to your network.
Just a bit of further info…
There is an older, discontinued GE switch that does have a neutral: 45606 or 49607. I’ve been able to find them on eBay periodically. The easiest way to tell that you are getting one of these switches vs. one of the newer 45612 is the older switches have wires sticking out the back end instead of the holes that your screw your house lines into.
If I’m not mistaken GE has also said that the 45612 is being discontinued now as well to be replaced with a new dimmer that requires neutral.
I’m using LED lighting exclusively and have used a number of different light switches and dimmers. For on/off switches without dimming capabilities, the GE/Jasco 45609’s work great. They do require a neutral wire, and for 3 and 4-way deployments you will also need traveler wires. The only downside for me is that they make an audible click noise when switching off or on. For dimmers, I highly recommend the Evolve LRM-AS. They are completely silent (no clicking when toggled and no buzzing either) and work with LED bulbs as long as the bulbs are dimmable. What I don’t like about them is that 3 and 4 way deployments do not use the traveler wires, and instead require you to pair the accessory switches with the master switch, which is something SmartThings cannot do at the moment. (You’ll need a separate z-wave remote to do this).
Just because I like throwing on side information… I had two Evolve dimmers that I was trying to pair with an Intermatic remote. I could never get them to pair. I ended up replacing them with 45607s. Other than that I did like the Evolves. They worked perfectly with ST, just not with the Intermatic Remotes.
One nice thing about the Evolves, in my opinion, was the green LEDs. They are dimmer than the bright blue GE LEDs so I liked 'em in my bedrooms where you don’t want super bright switch LEDs.
I’m using the GE/Jasco dimmers with dimmable LED bulbs without issue. In one room, I only have 2 small LEDs on a given circuit and they won’t turn all the way off and also flicker when ramping up/down. I have found that Fibaro sells a “Dimmer Bypass” which is basically just a resistor to add a “dummy” load which should resolve this problem. Please take a look here for more information.
Any Z-wave light switch that requires a neutral will work. I believe that all the On/Off switches have this. The GE dimmer that requires a neutral will work with LEDs, the dimmers that do not require a neutral will not work, as they pull power from the bulb, and LEDs don’t run enough wattage to supply it.
@73roderick This is not entirely accurate. I am actively using dimmable LED’s with the GE/Jasco dimmers that DO NOT have a neutral and they work just fine so long as there’s enough power draw. I have about 20 of them that work fine and 1 that does not because the draw is too low (just 2 small LED bulbs in sconce fixtures on that dimmer). Otherwise they work perfectly (especially for homes that do not have an available neutral). Hope this helps.
I second the linear switches that geko recommended. Installed new strip led lighting under my cabinets and the lights would flicker on the regular switches the house was built with. The linear switches work perfectly.
I’d heard that, but that it was still flaky. It needs at least 40 Watts of actual draw right? So if I have a switch with 6 dimmable 10 w LEDs it would work? I thought about going that way, but heard that it was hit or miss. You have 20 switches working though? That may convince me to try it out. Does the 3-way addition switch operate alright without neutral as well?
@73roderick I’m pretty confident 6x 10w LEDs will work just fine. I have loads with less draw than that working just fine (4x <10w LEDs). I’m using Feit dimmable LED bulbs. I have 2 locations where a 3-way is needed, but havent tried to wire it yet. I don’t have neutrals in either 3-way location, but do have travellers from the old switches. I’ll let you know if I succeed with the 3-ways as the accessory switches allegedly require a neutral, but I’ve heard of people somehow using the traveller to power the accessory switch.
So, you use the Z-wave dimmers in your 3-ways and leave the other switch untouched? That means that if someone flips the other switch your z-wave switch can’t turn it back on, right?
You need to replace the switch with a paired switch from the z wave manufacturer of choice. It will not work without the pair for the switch. There are many good threads about this issue.
No, I haven’t installed my 2 3-way setups yet. They will consist of a GE/Jasco Dimmer (no neutral) as the main switch and a GE/Jasco Accessory switch (which does require a neutral, but I’m still looking for the best way to handle that as I do not have a neutral where I intend to use the accessory switch).
OK sounds like you have it straight. May I ask given the neutral situation, why haven;t you looked into the Philips HUE or GE LInk systems? They would only require replacing the light bulb (the GE Link doesn’t require a hub) and with the HUE system you need to add an additional hub to your network.
I’d consider using automated bulbs that didn’t require an additional hub, however the 3-way I’m worried about has 2 light fixtures (one is an MR16 spot light for art and the other is a ceiling fixture with 2 standard bulbs). I’m not sure how this would work with multiple automated bulbs (and the cost could start to get prohibitive if we eventually change to a larger chandelier with many bulbs).
In the case of a simple on/off 3-way with a single bulb, how do the bulbs respond if they’re turned off by ST and then i want to turn them back on with the regular switch? Wouldnt the switches already be in the “on” position, but the bulb will be off? Thanks for your advice!
Yes you would have to first turn the switch off, and then back on. I just ended up setting up the system so that the switch is always on, then there is no need to worry about if they are on or off. I used a Motion sensor to detect when I come into the room, turns on the lights. I had to do my own app, it waits for no motion, and turns off the lights 15 mins later as long as there is no additional motion.
The Linear WD500Z-1 dimmer switch I ordered came in yesterday and went in without any trouble. There’s a Phillips 9.5W BR30 dimmable LED bulb attached to the switch and it works beautifully. The switch is silent and it dims down smoothly without any blinking or other craziness.
I’ve got a Linear WS15Z-1 that should arrive today for another switch that doesn’t need dimming. Hopefully that will go as smoothly as this one did. Then it’s on to the 3-ways. I’ve never wired one of those before. I know there are multiple ways they can be wired. Hopefully the people that built this ouse stuck with just one.
Very nice. Will get one too if I can actually install one… I am not that handy… Good to hear that it is working well for you.
@smart, if I can do it, pretty much anyone can. My partner is generally the handier of the two of us but she runs from electricity and every time I do something she reminds me that today isn’t a good day to go to the hospital. So far, I’ve managed to ensure that’s the case.
For this particular task a non-contact voltage tester is useful (you can pick one up for < $20 at Home Depot or Lowes) so you can identify the line wire vs the load wire. Other than a screw driver and some of those wire coupler screw on cap thingies, there isn’t anything else you need.
For this switch, you need a neutral wire. Our house was built in 1998 so has neutrals available at the switches though it wasn’t hooked up at the switch. The hardest part was stuffing it all back in. The new switch and the extra wires bulk it up compared to a simple conventional switch.
There’s lots of good reference material on the net. Just take your time. I always move one wire at a time from switch to switch so I don’t lose track of what wire is what. With only one unconnected wire at a time, not even I can get confused about which wire it was (really only an issue for load vs. line since those are the same color in my house).