Plug-in Z-Wave On/Off With Real Off?


(John J) #1

I have several Leviton plugin on/off switches that connect great and work reliably. The only problem I find with them is the fact off is not entirely off: there’s still a trickle of current that can either make an LED bulb flicker every second or two, or take a device such as a USB-powered camera click every second or so as a load builds up in the transformer. Is there a good plug-in box that has a real off setting to it? I even tried a Leviton dimmer plug-in when the name on it said it was good for CFLs and LEDs, but found it had the same problem. Do the Monoprice plug-ins turn all the way off?


(Eric) #2

That seems odd for a plug-in device. I’ve never noticed that behavior in the GE/Jasco, or Remotec ZDSx, or Everspring AN128, or Aeon smartswitch plugs. Makes me think maybe your neutral line isn’t really neutral or something like that - or it’s specific to the Levitons.


#3

All RF devices, whether they are zigbee or Z wave or something else, have to have some current going to the radio or they won’t hear the next “on” command for the network.

That said, most turn off enough that there won’t be any flickers provided you’re using compatible devices.

If the networked device is a dimmer that does not say it’s compatible with LEDs, it may produce exactly the behavior you are seeing. So it generally comes down to the specific model that you were using, not the brand.

I would go back to the user manual for the exact model that you have and see what compatibilities it lists. Then look for other models (whether it’s the same brand or a different one) which has a compatibility list that matches the devices you want to plug-in.

edited to update everything I wrote is still accurate, but may not be relevant since as @Navat604 points out, if this is a simple on/off module rather than a dimmer, normally it does kill all the power to the device that’s plugged into it. The radio still has power but that’s upstream from the device.


(Ray) #4

Just to confirm. You are talking about on/off plugin module and not dimmer? I can see dimmer module could do that but on/off plugins usually using relay inside so they do cut off power to the load. Unless there is some funny wiring like @JDRoberts said.


(John J) #5

I hadn’t considered wiring. When I bought my first on/off switches, I found this behavior with an LED light, and I’d found someone else’s review on Amazon saying they’d thrown a meter on the outlet and found what I was encountering. I just figured that was the way it was for that product, and maybe others like it.

The house itself is from the 30s, and still has knob and tube throughout most of it. It’s entirely possible something is a bit funky somewhere in one of the walls or switches.


#6

Knob and tube is always funky. But now I’d be concerned that there’s a short. I have an electrician look at the outlet itself, I’m not sure the Z wave module has anything to do with the base problem.


(Ryan) #7

Tube and knob is always unpredictable…especially if changes have been made over the years. It’s a neat system…when it’s originally installed on a build up with totally open walls…not so much once the walls are closed up, or someone adds to it, or, or ,or…


(John J) #8

Just to follow up, there was no issue with the wall outlets or the wiring in the house. As a former general contractor, I didn’t suspect there was work that suspect in the house, especially since I’d had my sparkies in the house previously, but I was willing to entertain there might be something interesting wrt knob and tube and no ground. I took the Leviton switch to outlets I knew we’d wired new, and the symptoms were the same. On a lark, I bought a Monoprice on/off plug-in, and it has no problem at all functioning properly in the same outlets where I was having problems before.


(Josh V) #9

I’ve got the same thing on a recent purchase at Home Depot. I had used the product for the Christmas tree lights and no issues with that. As soon as I plug in a single bulb lamp it starts flickering. I tested on multiple lamps, multiple outlets same result. Must be something faulty with the unit itself. Looks like I’m done using Leviton smart items unless they have a change.


(John J) #10

I’m not so sure this is actually a faulty unit. I find the problem frustrating, because I’m trying to turn on/off security cameras inside the house when I leave, and not be making pornographic videos when I’m at home! I’ve done some reading, and the best I can put together is that a lot of units have the ability to sense someone trying to manually turn on a lamp without having to use the controller / hub, and this trickle of electricity seems, in part, part of making that possible. The negative is that an LED light bulb will accumulate that trickle of electricity, as will a wall wart to power a device, and once that accumulated electricity is enough to attempt to turn on the device it will do so, only to deplete the stored energy milliseconds later and turn back off.

I did find that he Monoprice outlet boxes do not exhibit this behavior, which was a nice find. Alas, when I went to upgrade my Smartthings hub from v1 to v2, I was never able to get the Monoprice units to unpair themselves with the old hub. I eventually gave up and moved on, only to find that I cannot pair them with the new v2 hub (not really surprising, I know), but there is absolutely no way that I can find now to reset the Monoprice units. I’ve contacted them, and they have no suggestions. I will at some point go to the trouble of plugging the old ST hub back in, setting it up, then trying to get those Monoprice bricks to repair and unpair. The alternative is to chuck them out and start over with another brand. Sigh…


(Eric) #11

a likely workaround is to put a parallel load (like a multitap with 4W incandescent night-light bulb) on the Zwave plug-in . That will probably keep the LEDs from flickering. The energy will dissipate thru the incandescent filament but probably not be visible, and it is not a lot of wasted power (not a continuous 4W).


(Ray) #12

Another option is a USB phone charger. I see people doing this with success.


#13

I too got the same results with the Leviton smart plug. Would someone please recommend a z-wave on/off plug-in that doesn’t bleed electricity when off?


#14

The newest Leviton plug, the Z wave plus model, is specifically being advertised as being able to shut off even a single LED.

http://www.leviton.com/sites/Satellite?c=Page&childpagename=LEV%2FPage%2FProductDetail&cid=1469203771605&countrycode=US&d=Touch&packedargs=childpagename&pagename=LEV%2FDefaultWrapper

It uses the latest generation of Leviton’s dimming technology for smart lighting control, engineered to function with extremely sensitive, low-wattage light sources, such as a strand of holiday lights, ensuring LEDs do not glow when off.


#15

JDRoberts, thanks!


(John J) #16

I thought I should weigh in here and say that the new Leviton plugs work perfectly. I bought one of each - one dimming model, one pure on/off model - and both are fine for my cameras now.

Case closed!