NewB seeking help please - set up for new house - Zigbee, Zwave, dimmers, hardware, thank you!

Hi all - sort of overwhelmed and not sure where to begin.

  1. I have a SmartThings Hub v2 which seems on paper to be better (to me) than V3
  2. i am moving. i don’t mind buying a new hub, but i may take what i have.
  3. i plan to take and add wall vents - those (from Keen) are Zigbee
  4. my current door lock is zwave, i’m going to leave that
  5. new house is sizable, all paddle switches, a bunch of 3 way, maybe some 4 way, and some dimmers
  6. I THINK Zigbee is the better choice, 1) to repeat for the vents, and 2) i note Zwave or Zwave Plus only allow 4 hops, and i was reading of folks not properly reaching the edges of their network
  7. I would also like dimmers that have little dimming lights or status - i saw some for Zwave but didn’t see for Zigbee
    though not my first choice, i’m not opposed to a hybrid, some zwave some zigbee in order to have the network hopefully reach everywhere. The other alternative, which i’d prefer to avoid, is go all insteon is highly recommended by my buddy, has a lot going for it — but it is closed source. I really like the open source nature of Zigbee and Zwave.
    Lastly, i’ve seen some flakiness with my current smartthings though EVERY device i have with it is battery operated (except my washer dryer) - so i attribute some of that to maybe low battery strength at times.
    Thank you for any help. if this has been discussed before (my search didn’t show it) then i’d kindly ask for links.
    Lastly, if there are any known great switches, stores, sales, etc. i’d appreciate it - i may drop a couple of thousand now, so i’d like to try to do it "once’ and do it right. I can’t even figure out if non-netural wires is beneficial as the house doesn’t have smart switches (yet) but i believe everything will have a neutral wire available - whether i use it or not is another issue - thank you again!

Welcome! Sounds like an exciting project. :sunglasses:

What country are you in, and what is the size of your new house?

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Personally I spent time building a strong wired mesh for both ZWave and Zigbee. To donthat I used GE and Inovelli wall switches and fan controllers but GE Zigbee switched outlets. Considering i have at least one of each in every single room in the home theres not a single weak point in the mesh in a 3000sqft single story home. Im GE heavy right now but if I were doing it all over again I’d go Inovelli except for the GE fan controllers (because I like independent switches for fan and lamp kits)

To add to that and prevent routing flakiness that usually comes with smart bulbs. I use either ZWave bulbs (when im pairing them through association with an Inovelli for local control) or Sengled specifically because they DO NOT repeat and I leave the GE outlets as the Zigbee repeater mesh.

I installed at least 1 ZWave switch with beaming capability near every entry door… As ZWave locks work neat routing through a beaming repeater.

Dont worry so much about 4 hops on ZWave youll rarely need them except for the longest hauls. Just make sure you have great coverage.

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As far as sales, In the US they tend to be around the same times as other DIY projects. So if Home Depot is having a sale, you’ll probably see sales on home automation devices at multiple retailers.

We have a deals section in the forum where people post good deals that they see:

Some specialty retailers will also offer quantity deals.

There’s a list of retailers in the following thread:

FAQ: List of Home Automation Retailers

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Also, if you haven’t had a chance to read it yet, the wireless range FAQ is a good place to start. Begin with post 11 in that thread, read that, then go up and read the whole thread. :sunglasses:

(The topic title is a clickable link)

Many thanks to both replies - I have my homework ahead of me tonight!
one challenge i have - no issues with electricity - but to see what i have going on, i feel i need to remove switches (preferably with power off, but probably won’t do that - “Zzzzzap”) to see if a switch is 3 or 4 way if it isn’t obvious)
i don’t know if someone wrote a suggested guide on how to get started, or checklists - for example, i suppose i need to go room to room, hope i figured out which switches are 3 or 4 way, dimmer, etc. - create an inventory - and then off to the races! i’m also not sure if i install say, 10 switches at once, do i flick a switch to assign to smartthings to control, versus assign some maccaddress to be the living room light kind of thing. i’ll learn…thanks again!

I’m not sure I understand this question. :wink: Technically, you can’t install 10 switches “at once.” Each Z wave or Zigbee switch has to be individually Paired to your hub, and its device ID will be logged in at that time. You will also give it a human language name at that time. So there’s never any confusion about which switch is which from the network’s point of view.

thanks again for replying.
if i physically install 10 switches with the power off, then i power them on, and whether my hub automagically detects, or i reboot it, i expect it to say “new device found” or else i physically go through the menus and add the devices. if i add 10 “identical” switches, i dont’ know if it will indicate, “switch 1, switch 2” and THEN i either from the switch or app trigger the switch, and then see that it say, turns on a light, so i know THEN to use the human name, which room, etc. - i dont’ know if i’m being clear - i don’t know as a best practice if folks slap all the hardware in, and then program, or switch 1, program, then switch 2, program. as i recall, when i installed my vents, i did them one at a time. i don’t think i needed to reboot, i think i did manually search. ditto the motion detectors and water sensor, and maybe door lock…i dunno. i’ll check out those links. i’m still not sure if zigbee is better (for me) than zwave - i clearly wanted zwave plus for my outgoing lock - i felt it was a better choice (for me) but for the distance in the whole house, i think zigbee, unless those links say otherwise :slight_smile:

SmartThings “automagically” detects only one device at a time. Not a group of devices. So you have to stop for each one and give it its human language name. Then start a new discovery to find the next one. For some devices you will have the option of scanning a QR code, but again, it’s one at a time.

You can hardwire all of them before you start working with the app if you want. They will just work like dumb switches until they are added to your smartthings account. It’s just the process of adding them to that account which is done one at a time.

There are some best practices tips in the wireless range FAQ that I linked to previously. In this particular case you should add the switch which is closest to the hub first and then work your way out from there. but again, it doesn’t matter which order you wire them into the wall, just the order in which you add them to the network. You shouldn’t need to reboot in between.

As far as zigbee versus Z wave, there’s an FAQ in the community – created wiki that should answer that question. :sunglasses:

Regarding Insteon… All home automation systems have pluses and minuses. Insteon is a good platform And although you are limited to one company, they happen to have a very good selection of wall panels and handheld remotes, so a lot of people like that. Also good fan controls.

I looked at them back in 2014 when I was getting ready for a whole house automation but dropped them off my list because they had very limited lock choices and since I am quadriparetic, hands-free smart lock features are very important to me.

Since then, they have discontinued the one line of locks that they did have and now tell people just to get August and integrate them through Apple’s HomeKit. But they no longer have any native lock support.

So it doesn’t work for me, but it might work very well for someone else. :sunglasses:

Many thanks! this is good stuff - i have not heard of Inovelli but you can be sure i’ll check them out! i saw a brand that had great Zwave (maybe it was inovelli? red switches? black switches (even though they were ALL white or almond) - to answer you and JDRoberts, I’m moving 1/4 of a mile from where I am in New Jersey (USA) - the house is 5,600 feet, plus the 3,000 foot basement - so i believe that on an individual basis, Zwave Plus has a longer reach than Zigbee (which is why I chose it for my existing house for the electronic lock) but on the new guy, if i put the hub on the main level, it might still have a pretty good distance to get to the extremes, so i don’t think 4 hops will reach to the perimeters. I’m happy to be corrected though - thanks again!

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That’s a very large house: it could indeed be challenging for Z wave plus. The following might be helpful:

FAQ: Create an all-around z-wave presence in a 4,000 sq ft home?

Have you considered stepping outside the ST ecosystem? Especially with the direction things seem to be going. If I was automating a new house of that size, I’d probably do Lutron RA2 for lighting, and go with Hubitat as my hub. You still have to build out your ZW or Zigbee mesh for other devices, but that is easy enough to do with outlets.

Also, don’t get hung up on the number of hops. A zwave plus hop covers about three times the distance of a Zigbee hop, so they end up covering about the same square footage. Maybe about 20% better for the Zigbee, but then you have to account for Wi-Fi interference, which isn’t an issue with Z wave.

Where the extra Zigbee hops come in useful is if you have an Adobe or Stone or cement building and you need the extra hops to get signal around the corners because you can’t get it through the walls.

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“I’d probably do Lutron RA2 for lighting”

I have Lutron in my home and am very satisfied with its stability and reliability.


I use Lutron in my own home as well. :sunglasses:

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I would recommend doing a mix of zwave and zibee so that you will have a strong mesh for both, that way you do not have to worry about a new product later on, that is zwave if you decided to go 100% zibee. You have both.

Also just from a basic thought don’t change too many switches at once that are daisy chained together (same circuit) without confirming they power up and work before moving on. NOTHING worse than trying to track down which switch has a loose wire when you changed 5 at once on the same circuit. I did that once :frowning.
:frowning: now I only do two at a time. I moved into a house where the circuit layout was not logical.


many thanks and what you said makes sense. i also considered it - the zwave switches, particularly the innovella dimmers, seem to have the visible LEDs i like - closest to the lumitron dimmers.
i just bought i think 11 cheap $25 zigbee switches on amazon, and 1 3 button zigbee - i think 1 button is the actual switch, and 2 are for scenes or other things.
the smartthings hub can handle both zigbee and zwave, so i wouldn’t be totally locked into a single ecosystem, though i kind of wanted to go that way. i also seriously considered (and still am considering) insteon, but then ceiling fan control and the like.
i’m still wondering, is the hub v2 actually better than the hub v3? seems that way in the specs to me.
cable/internet is being installed sunday so THEN i can actually start to do something - not sure i can set up the smartthings hub and switches without wifi, and i’d rather not use my cell as a hotspot to get it going.
GREAT idea bout debugging the switch installs, i want to do a bunch at once, but one at a time is probably the play.
here’s the question - if i wear gloves and am very careful, am i looking for trouble doing it with the circuits live? otherwise, circuit panel, switch, circuit panel, switch ad nauseum.
i’ve also been trying to figure out 3 way and 4 way switches, i may start putting numbers 3 and 4 on switches - if i have more than a 3 way circuit, i think i max out at a 3 way switch, right, and then just have the 4th switch as more of a remote without wiring?
thanks again!!!


Always cut the power before dealing with mains wiring, whether removing a device or adding one.

thanks again - in reading reviews online (and there are some conflicting things) i saw that zigbee SEEMED (from what i’ve seen) to work more reliably, where some folks said they had issues installing some zwave devices, or the network reaching (where i saw the suggestions were to remove the other switches and rebuild the mesh for more intelligent hopping.

if i add a second smartthings hub (say v3 which i understand can work wirelessly) are the hubs “smart enough” to direct hops to the closest devices?
thanks again!!!