New to SmartThings, lots of ideas. Need guidance (switch brand comparison)

Brands are discussed in the other thread. Everybody has their own favorites. Sometimes it’s just a matter of preferring blue LEDs to green LEDs.


The GE switches are based on an older design, and they use traveler wires. Most of zwave switches now do not use traveler wires, instead the three-way acts as a wireless remote, Sending a message to the hub which then sends it to the master.

The newest GE switches require that the auxiliaries be on the same neutral as the master as well, which actually limits the number of three-way configurations they can replace. Just something to be aware of.

On the other hand, some people prefer a three-way that uses traveler wires because it means that the auxiliary switches will still work even if the hub is not operating. But you can get around that with Z wave direct association. So it’s not quite as bad as it sounds.

Not all switches support instant status update. That’s not necessarily a big deal, but if you intend to have one switch follow another that is not part of the three-way, like you want all the lights in a zone to dim to 50% at the same time, then instant status does matter.


Cooper switches have instant status and one of the longest warranties at five years. I also like them aesthetically. They have some interesting colors that the other brands don’t have. They are my personal favorite for rocker switches but they’re very expensive. (Rocker switches are easier for my service dog to use than toggle switches)


Leviton switches come in two different lines. The more expensive Vizia line has instant status update. The less expensive DX line does not. Both lines appear to me to be well engineered. I prefer the Cooper aesthetically, but many people prefer Leviton’s. They’re a nice quality switch.


For midway range switch, the Linears are very popular. They don’t have instant status, and the warranty isn’t as long as for Cooper or Leviton, but a lot of people like them. Evolve seems to be a similar quality, although I haven’t looked at them myself. Neither of these two brands support zwave association groups although some of the early marketing material said they did. That can be a problem for some of the specialty smart apps but not for everyone. Just something to be aware of.


Then we come to the low end switches. This is where you find GE And DragonTech. Neither offers instant status. (But they do both support association for one group.) The GE has screw connections. I think everyone else has wire nuts, but DragonTech may have screws as well. No reports so far of DragonTech having the dropping off problem, but they’re a newer brand.

Retailers carry GE because the brand has weight, and they’re very inexpensive. So people buy a lot of them. Many people are just fine with the idea that they may have to replace 10% of the switches they buy about 18 months in. They probably will still have saved a lot of money over buying Coopers or the high end Levitons. So most of the GEs work just fine. It’s just that they do seem to have A higher failure percentage once they’re out of warranty, but not a percentage which is out of line given the price you pay. That’s why it’s a personal decision. A lot of people who buy them will feel that they made a very smart purchase, even three years later after they had to replace some.

So it’s not that there’s one right answer. Because I use a wheelchair, “simple maintenance” is more difficult for me, and having a switch fail to stay connected is a really big hassle for me. I’m willing to pay more to avoid those issues. But if I didn’t have the physical challenges, I might be happy to save the money.

Different people, different preferences

That’s why it’s just a matter of doing the research with the perspective of what’s important to you. The right answer for me might not be the right answer for you.

Also, I tend to put stickers over all the LEDs, so I don’t care whether they’re green, or blue, or don’t match. Other people care a lot.

Inwall Relays with Legrand Faceplates

When it comes to looks, I am a sucker for the look of momentary switches using in wall relays. Not so much the Hong Kong style of glass front plates, but the LeGrand Adorne style. If you do this, you can use virtual or physical three ways. These are also very dog-friendly, which is important in my house.

Here is one of @Mike_Maxwell 's , he’s done a bunch of the LeGrand face plates. If I had enough money to do everything I want this is what I would do. But I don’t, so I’m not sure what I’ll end up with.

Also, new FAQ for the UK section on lighting control options. With the exception of the square switch plates in number three (which are an alternative To the more rectangular switches we just been discussing in this post), all of the options there have visually identical US equivalents. You just need to buy them from US retailers in order to get the US frequency of Z wave. Most of the alternatives in that post aren’t about three ways, but they are about lighting control. I think it’s worth taking a look at that as well for some additional ideas.

I’m not planning to replace my switches for another year or two. So I don’t know whether I will be going for Cooper’s, or momentary’s, or something altogether different. For now, like you, I control most of the lights by voice anyway. :sunglasses:

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