I have the GE Z-Wave Plus Dimmer Switches installed all over the place. My roommates are unable to figure out that single tap is to turn it on/off and press and hold is to change the brightness. They always keep pressing it for a little longer than required resulting in the switch registering it as a press-and-hold instead of a tap. Thus, when the switch is off, the press-and-hold results in it being “turned on” at very low brightness. That results in them complaining to me that the switches don’t work and me having to keep explaining to them (unsuccessfully) what went wrong and how it’s supposed to work.
At this point, I’ve figured it’s easier and cheaper to just change the switches than get them to use it properly. Thus, I’m looking for recommendations for dimmer switches which has explicit and separate on/off and dimmer controls. I found Leviton Decora DZ6HD-1BZ but a rocker switch with a touch panel in the center would be nice something like this Gosund Smart Dimmer. Is there something like that but which supports Zigbee/Z-wave?
Off the top of my head, I can think of four device models that do this. Each has pluses and minuses.
Homeseer has a zwave dimmer switch with a row of tiny indicator lights in a vertical line next to the rocker. Out of the box they are set up to indicate the dim level. They are probably more popular used as indicator lights because you can individually change the color, so you could use them as status lights for windows left open, pool pump running, etc. So if you search the forum for this device you will probably see more discussion about that option. But they will just work as plain white dim level indicators as well. (I’m not sure if they will need custom code if you are using them just for dim level indicators or not.) But they are a popular zwave device and will also act as a zwave repeater, just as your GE switches do, so that’s a definite plus. But they are expensive, $54, unless you wait for a sale.
Inovelli is a small company that makes zwave devices with the very latest technology, well engineered at budget prices. Again, very popular, and again, a device that will also act as a Z wave repeater. They have a long light bar to act as the dim level indicator. The biggest problem with them is supply chain: they frequently run out of product and then you may have to wait a couple of months until they are back in stock. You can find a lot of positive reviews of them in the forum, you just may have to be patient to get one. $32 - $39 depending on the model.
Meross makes well engineered very inexpensive Wi-Fi devices with good safety certifications. They usually make two models of the same device, one that also works with HomeKit and an even cheaper one that doesn’t. They have an official smartthings cloud to cloud integration which works pretty well. Some of their dimmer switch models have an LED indicator for dim level. (Note that the “single pole“ model cannot be used in a three-way set up: you have to get a different model for that.)
These would look a lot different than your other switches, though. I like meross devices In general and use some in my own home, but not the wall switches. Their biggest advantage is their cost, typically $24 a switch although you can get it even lower in multi packs or with their frequent coupons at Amazon.
Note that there are three buttons on the switch. You push the bottom of the rocker to turn it on or off. You use the two buttons in the middle to make it brighter or dimmer. It takes a little getting used to, but it would solve the problem you describe.
This link is for a pack of two switches: note that two of these cost less than one of the Homeseer.
Lutron. These are the switches I use at my house. Very well engineered, very reliable, very responsive: but they do require their own bridge and are more expensive than any of the others Except the Homeseer. They use their own proprietary frequency. And they don’t look like anything else. The controls are very clear, though, with a separate button for dimming. I did just want to mention them since they are what I use.
They are usually sold in a set with their own battery powered remote, which is called a pico. The pico can be wall-mounted or handheld. It has a 10 year battery. This allows you to make pretty much any location into a three-way set up if you want that. The button in the center of the pico is for a favorite scene, but that’s a Lutron scene, not a smartthings scene. And the pico doesn’t have the indicator lights, but you probably wouldn’t need them with this switch design. (The official smartthings integration doesn’t see the picos at all, only the master switches.)
Cheapest option would be a couple of Echo Dots around the place and teach your roommates to operate lights via voice: Alexa, living room lights 50 percent
I have some of the Leviton dimmers you mentioned and like them. I find the small rocker for dim level to be close enough to the dumb dimmer sliders we had so they aren’t confusing to the casual visitor.
If you turn on via the large rocker, they come on to whatever level they were at when switched off.
If you turn on via the small rocker, they come on at the lowest setting.
They have a little strip of LEDs that show the dim level.
And if you’re doing any 3-ways, the aux dimmer has all the same controls and LEDs as the main. Just be aware they have very specific wiring requirements. Follow the instructions exactly.
I pretty much have a mix of all the switches @jdroberts mentioned, since depending on where they are they need to do different things.
What kind of Jasco switch do you have? There are multiple models. Newer ones like the 46203 can be configured with more options, like a default brightness and not ramping, which can allow quicker response. If you have the newer 46203, I have custom code available to change those settings here - https://github.com/mwav3/smartthingscode/blob/master/devicetypes/mwav3/ge-46203-dimmer-switch.src/ge-46203-dimmer-switch.groovy . If you have the older ones there definitely is a delay to turn on which may be causing some problems. You can check the model number by going into the IDE and obtaining the “raw data” to see which version you have.
The Caseta switch definitely separates the dimmer from on/off function with the separate buttons, so that could work. You will need a Caseta hub to work with Smartthings since they use their own radio, so cost can get expensive. They make quality products though. However, my wife HATES all those buttons, and much prefers the Jasco toggles. I have 3 small kids and them and my non-tech wife and they learned the dim vs on, but it was an adjustment.
The Inovelli red series work in a similar manner to the Jasco, but tend to be quicker where you can eliminate a delay. There is a separate small button at the top right that can be used to control other scenes/automations. The other nice thing about the Inovelli red is you can program a default on brightness. So if they dimmed them down to 1% before turning off, next time they turn on they can either be turned on at the 1% (which is not what you probably want), or default to say 80% or 100% or any value that you want. They are Zwave and work straight with the hub, with a lot of customizable options. However, it still is one switch without separate dimming controls so may not solve all your problems.
I’ve always gone with the red series for the “extras” mentioned by @KOF , but if you don’t need all that the black series is a little cheaper. To me, its worth the price difference for the extras (red is currently $38.97 vs black is $31.97), but I suppose if you were buying a lot of switches that could add up. Here’s a nice article they wrote up at Inovelli.
Thanks for all the options as well as the breakdown of their pros and cons! I’d been looking at the Inovelli Red for some time now for a different use case but hadn’t thought of using them for this. The Lutron one is the most explicit when it comes to functionality but the price is what’s been holding me back. I hadn’t known about the Meross, that looks interesting. I also came across the GE Enbrighten 14289. However, that one is pretty expensive too.
I think I’ve decided to wait for a sale and snap up some Inovelli’s or the GE switches if they go for <$30/switch. For the moment, I ended up using @mwav3’s DTH and configuring them to behave like and on/off switch. I can adjust the brightness through the app or using voice control if required.
Not sure if this would satisfy everyone, but you could program then to reset to a minimum brightness if they are turned on and below a set level. I use webcore to do this with some of my jasco zwave switches. Also, if they are in locations that are acceptable to turn lights on with motion, eg a kitchen and not a bedroom, that’s on option so people don’t use the switch.
I definitely like the motion sensor idea. For the minimum dim level, you could actually set a minimum dim level right in the device settings using the custom handler. This is a configuration programmed to and stored at the actual switch. If you did it as a configuration setting, that minimum dim setting in the device would hold even if the hub or internet was offline, instead of needing to code it into a webcore piston that requires a cloud connection.