Looking for advice on my first project: entryway smart lighting

@Simmeltron - I am not sure whether I understood your comment quoted above. If you install a smart dimmer you can still control it from the master and/or from the remote… at least this is the case with Leviton Vizia RF+ zwave dimmers. Since you have an existing 3 way system, the extra wire can be used as the traveler to connect the master to slave. My Leviton switches came with easy instructions on how to wire it all up.

On another note, I’ll tell you my setup in case it may be of interest to you. My front door light and my driveway lights both turn on together via SmartLighting app so I don’t have to walk to both switches (either one will turn the other on as the assumption is I would always want both sets turned on at the same time). The SmartLighting app turns them on/off based on sunrise/sunset however for the driveway I used a switch and for the front door (porch) lights I used a dimmer. The dimmer turns on at 20% as a default which is still plenty of light given I installed two 120W equivalent LED PAR38 bulbs… if it is linear then it may be around 50W equivalent of light. I then added a motion sensor pointing down at my porch so that any movement causes the lights to go on to 100% for a short while (or as long as there is motion) and then back down to 20%. This only happens when the lights are already on. Aside from the cool effect of the entrance glowing brighter when someone approaches my front door, it saves energy, and it may scare away potential intruders as it is a sign their presence was already detected. The motion sensor is attached to the same junction box where I have a dome camera so if they look up to see why the light turned brighter… say cheeeeeese :smiley: This actually happened in several cases. The difference between regular motion lights and my setup is that my lights are always on but they just glow brighter when there is motion. I am not worried about false motion detection as the 120W equivalent LED bulbs actually only use about 23W more or less.

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Thanks for the confirmation @TheSmartestHouse. I was assuming that was the case and it’s good to know for sure. I’ve actually been communicating with Agnes on your team via email in regards to a possible purchase and making sure that I order exactly what I need. Now to get one of those 5% off coupons and free shipping… :wink:

@aruffell, yep I’m pretty sure we’re on the same page there. I understand how I would use the traveler wire for my smart setup as long as what I purchase would need that. And most likely it is going to. I think what you may have been confused about where I was talking about z-wave dimmer vs z-wave bulb itself. Currently, there is ONLY a 3-way switch there. So that is the primary reason I’m going with a z-wave dimmer switch itself so my wife can still control it from the switches as opposed to only being able to control the dimming via a mobile app.

Also, thanks a bunch for sharing the setup you have for your entryway. Very impressive!! I never thought about a dimmer for the porch light, but that’s a great application for it I must say. :smiley: However, I’m wondering how LED bulbs would hold up in outdoor conditions? I live in the Pacific Northwest (eastern WA state)… we can get some hot summers and some coooold winters as well.

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Good question… I live in Texas so you should be ok with the heat as mine have done well but I can’t say about the cold. I am guessing the light bulb specifications should say what their operating temperature is. CFL and tungsten will eventually both go away so they better have a viable LED light for you!!

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Yes, each bulb should have specs for temperature range.

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Forgot to mention that if you’re looking at dim bulbs, your local Home Depot should be able to recommend dimmable outdoor LEDs for your local climate. Their stores are stocked individually. :sunglasses:

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So I’ve been researching several different dimmers and realize that one thing may be just as important if not even more than build or physical looks (to me at least) is (im not certain I’m calling it by the correct name) is the programmable parameters of different dimmers and how it appears that they may vary significantly from switch to switch.

I was just about ready to pull the “trigger” (no pun intended) on the zooz dimmable switch, but if I read correctly, the only programmable parameters available for that switch is the led light status and up/down direction (in case of upside down installation?).

If I understand correctly, other switches offer a much richer set of configurable parameters, such as max and min dim levels, ramp up and ramp down rate, default dim lvl vs last dim lvl on switch turn on…

I probably don’t understand this fully yet, but it seems safe to assume that each different brand/model of switch contains it’s own firmware that allows for different settings…

Would greatly appreciate knowing if I am somewhat on base or totally out in left field? =)

Good to know thanks, however I’ve been done wrong one too many times by my local HD and have been giving my business to the Lowe’s across the street ever since. I’m sure the same advice applies there still… :wink:

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Different switches definitely offer different features. :sunglasses: You just have to read each model to see what’s available.

The following thread discusses what different features you might look for. The light switch discussion starts around post 35 with details beginning in post 42.

Thanks @JDRoberts. I have finally completely read through the Bulbs switches and sensors oh my thread, and while I’ve gotten to the point where I pretty much knew and understand everything in your excellent smart switch options/issues post, it still is extremely useful in summarizing all the options/issues all in one place. :slight_smile:

Now I will be in search of understanding exactly the pros/cons of the different switches and the configurable features they provide and/or lack. Once I can get that all organized, if I haven’t found a post listing it all, I’ll add that to the conversation myself. :wink:

In the meantime, for a pretty awesome rundown of the HomeSeer HS-WD100+, the GE Dimmer, and several other dimmers, see: The Best Z-Wave In-Wall Dimmer. These people put several dimmers through the paces and did a wonderful writeup on their results.

Currently, I’m now leaning towards either the safeish, but somewhat basic GE 45613 Z-Wave Wireless Lighting Control Three-Way Dimmer Kit or the seemingly much more advanced HomeSeer HS-WD100+ Z-Wave Plus Scene-Capable Wall Dimmer paired with the HomeSeer HS-WA100+ Wired 3-Way Companion Switch. Only reason I haven’t ordered those is the current price leaves a pretty bad taste in my mouth (or it will once my wife sees what I potentially paid for a “damn light switch” lol.

I’ve seen that article on “best zwave switch” but unfortunately they really just did a consumer test where they put the switch in the wall and tried it. They didn’t go into some of the significant features like whether it has physical traveler wires or virtual or what kind of association it uses if any. They did do some looking at the spec sheets, but I’m not sure they really understood what was there.

They ended up picking a switch which is probably a good switch, but they didn’t really understand enough to know what some of the issues might be when using it with SmartThings.

Specifically when using the Homeseer switch with SmartThings, it cannot at present run locally. So the double tap and triple tap functions will not work if the SmartThings cloud is not available. (They would work locally with the homeseer controller.) This is the kind of distinction that makes it very difficult to come up with a “best” anything – – it always depends on the match of the devices features to that person’s specific needs and set up.

Then there is also the issue of dimmer range, and how low it is possible to dim the lights. A lot of people won’t care about that at all, but some people do, and the GE are pretty much the weakest in this regard. And then there’s the issue of universal dimming. So just a lot of specific issues that weren’t even touched on
That I would’ve expected to see in a consumer reports type evaluation.

I did find the article interesting. But I think it is also in some ways misleading.

JMO :sunglasses:

Thanks @JDRoberts, I was hoping to get your thoughts on the article. :slight_smile: I agree that they didn’t cover traveler wired vs virtual very well and I am still in search of a definitive list of what are the configurable features of this switch vs that switch. I realize more and more that fine tuning how the switch is physically controlled at the wall plate is going to be pretty important to me, as that will be how my wife controls things the majority of the time.

I didn’t realize the double and triple tap wouldn’t function locally, and would be willing to accept that as long as the primary tap on/off and dim up/down function properly, obviously. (There wouldn’t be any issues there, correct??) Also, what’s the universal dimming issue you mentioned? Don’t believe I read about that in my research.

On another note, my SmartThings hub arrived today!! It’s all setup and connected to my Wemo wall plug so far lol. I also am trying to get the Nest Manager app setup for my Nest Thermostat. Fighting with it at the moment to show up in “My Apps” but hoping to get that resolved over at [RELEASE] Nest Manager 4.0. Fingers crossed!!

Did you read about resistive loads?

If you’re technical, the following is a good article on the universal dimmers. If you’re not technical it will be both boring and confusing. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

And this is a really good article on leading edge versus trailing edge, but again only if you’re interested in the technical details


To put it more simply… The physics of an incandescent bulb are different than that of a dimmable LED. And different yet again from florescents. A universal dimmer is intended to be able to handle many different types of bulbs.


If you look at the homeseer manual for the switch, you’ll see that in the wiring diagrams it is wired to the load. It then describes “local” operation where tapping the top of the switch once send power to the load, and tapping the bottom of the switch once cuts the power to load. That should work even if your home automation system is down just like a regular non-networked switch.

But it is also possible to wire the switch so that it is just a scene controller, and it is not directly control of the load. In that case, it won’t work at all if the smartthings hub and cloud account are not available.

So it depends on how you wire it.


I definitely fall on the technical side of things (I’m a web developer) so I’ll be giving those a read for sure. I’m especially intrigued by the leading vs trailing edge dimmers but acknowledge the importance of LED technology and how inconsistencies among manufacturers can/do cause issues among various dimmers.

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Good call. Reading the actual manual for the switch will probably tell me everything I need to know about its configurable features. I’ll be giving that a read also. I wouldn’t imagine wiring the switch up different than the most common way, allowing for maximum functionality, enabling both local on/off/dimming features as well as any enhanced network required controls.

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So, I read through the homeseer manual, looked through their website, and for the life of me, I still cannot find a list of specific features that are configurable.

It does mention “dimming is configurable” or something to that effect, but that is quite a vague statement. I’m looking for something like: “max dim threshold, min dim threshold, dim speed, led light configuration, etc”.

I’m basically wanting to ensure that the control from the switch itself is a pleasurable one. Otherwise I’d just go with the GE switch and save some money…

Am I missing this important info? Or perhaps I should I just call their customer service…

Asking the manufacturer is a good idea. You should also ask the community members who have this particular switch. You’ll find them in the following thread:

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Well I finally pulled the trigger on the HomeSeer HS-WD100+ paired with the HS-WA100+ companion switch. My next decision is what would be an ideal LED dimmable bulb to use. I just created a thread located here asking just that. If anybody with experience wouldn’t mind chiming in, I would greatly appreciate it as always.


Installation of my on/off and dimmer switches went (fairly lol) smoothly. The dimmer was a bit of a puzzle for awhile but I was able to work out the kinds and all is well now. :slight_smile:

Next question is I’m going to add a dimmer switch in the family room downstairs and would like to add a motion detector as well so it turns on when we walk downstairs. Any suggestions for this? I like the idea of it having a temp monitor also as the main thermostat is upstairs so this would be helpful having a connected monitor downstairs also. I’ve seen this one:

Does anybody have any experience with this or can chime in good or bad or recmmend others over this?


Monoprice devices are inexpensive for a reason. Simple and cheap, so just depends on what you’re looking for.

I think right now if you live in the US at the Lowe’s iris motion sensors are probably the most popular. If you get a 10% off coupon from Lowes, which they seem to distribute pretty regularly in their sales flyers , you can get a very good price. You’ll find lots of discussion in the forms about them. The following thread discusses the various features that motion sensors might have and why some cost more than others. But the truth is they’re all pretty good. The more expensive motion sensors have more features, but you may not need those.

All of these PIR motion sensors work on the same principle, which is measuring a change in heat as it moves across the Detection field. For this reason you will get the quickest and most reliable detection if you don’t place the sensor so that the person is walking straight towards it. Instead you want to catch them moving across the field. For this reason some people place them on the ceiling pointing down others place them on the wall crosswise to where the people will walk. There are some sensors specifically designed for ceiling mounts which have a wider angle to catch people coming from both directions.

If you have pets, you’ll need to think about whether you care if the pets’ movement triggers the motion sensor or not.

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