Questions on Buying into Z-Wave/SmartThings

(Kenneth Pardue) #1

Okay, with all of the developments in Smart Home technology (and Apple’s announcement of HomeKit) I find myself more interested in trying to outfit my home. I’m not a wiring expert, but I’d like to initially set up the lights in many of the rooms of my home, and eventually move to door locks and other devices. Plus, since Z-Wave seems to be a huge and increasingly supported standard, it seems like the investment in light switches would apply to other systems in the future.

I’m mostly concerned with the range. If all the light switches in my home have to be 10-15 feet from the hub, there’s no way this system will be practical. I’m not sure my light switches would even be less than 10 feet from each other. What would my options be for getting these light switches to work at a greater range than 10-15 feet, short of buying 3 or 4 hubs and sprinkling them around my home?

Also, what else would I need to get started? To outfit my kitchen and living room, am I correct in believing that all I would need is:

  • SmartThings hub
  • GE Z-Wave Wireless Lighting Control Dimmer Switch (dimmable LED lighting in the living room)
  • 3x Jasco 45609 Z-Wave Wireless Lighting Control On/Off Switch (living room fan, additional kitchen light, garage light)
  • GE Z-Wave Wireless Lighting Control Three-Way On/Off Kit (main living room light, controlled from 2x light switches)

(Brian Steere) #2

Z-wave uses a mesh network, so almost every device that isn’t battery powered will extend the range of the network. 10-15 feet sounds pretty short. I have things spread through my house and haven’t had range issues.

(Kenneth Pardue) #3

Interesting. So as long as the Z-Wave switches are within 15 feet of one another the network should, essentially, build itself out? I guess I need to measure to see what the biggest distance between light switches is.

Am I correct in understanding that the hub and the switches is everything I need to get started? The Z Wave devices broadcast themselves out and wait to be paired with whatever smart home hub (in this case SmartThings) happens to be in range?

(Geko) #4

Typical Z-Wave device range is 300 feet (line of sight). Please see here:

(Brian Steere) #5

Where did you get the 15 feet number? The z-wave site says 100m/300ft ( I would expect to get less than that in reality, but considerably more that 15 feet.

Dimming for LED lighting is spotty. I don’t know which products work properly there. I’ve also seen some people talk about neutral wiring and it being needed in some places. So be aware of that.

Other than that, I think you’ve listed what you need.

(Geko) #6

That is true. I’ve tried several in-wall dimmers and all of them go haywire with LEDs. In my family room I have 3 recessed lights on one switch. I ended up leaving one halogen and replacing two others with LEDs.

My old Intermatic HA03 plug-in dimmers on the other hand, work with LED bulbs just fine.

(Kenneth Pardue) #7

Eh, it was here, but reading that again I suppose that’s only for pairing, perhaps? The LED lights are already on a dimmer switch and seem to work well, but maybe there’s something specific with the GE dimmer that you’re referring to?

Also, I’m seeing some criticism against the GE switches because they don’t support “instant status.” Is that of any major concern at the outset when adding these devices to my home? From my understanding, not having it in the devices means it may take 30-45 seconds for the command from the phone to trigger the light, is that correct? I suppose that’s not a huge issue.

I appreciate the feedback! I’m excited to get started with this.

(Geko) #8

No, what it means is that if you flip the switch manually or using secondary controller (e.g. remote), it will take some time (1 minute or more) for the SmartThings to update the switch status in the mobile app. That’s because the switch does not send an update to the hub and the hub does not know that the switch has changed its state until it polls the switch status.

(Kenneth Pardue) #9

Fantastic, that’s even better. That slight delay when manually switching doesn’t seem like it’d be an issue. I just ordered the supplies to get started. I’m loving that by chaining a series of light switches throughout the house I’ll have a great mesh network already in place for any Z-Wave battery-powered devices (I’m thinking door locks, specifically) I eventually invest in.

(Brian) #10

sounds like you are on the right track @kpardue
I currently have 10 “things” and 3 of them are presence sensors. My house is 1400sq/ft and I havent had a single range related glitch.

(DawgOnKing) #11

Just paired a Jasco yesterday. Installed in garage, which is 3 walls and 30 feet from my hub. No issues. That said, the Jasco switches are my favorite device and worth every penny.

(Morgan) #12

I agree with @dawgonking, also the Jasco switches are cheaper at Lowe’s than online.

(Acastal) #13

If the total draw is more than 40 watts it might work. I have 8 recessed LED cans in my kitchen as well as 16 8 watt under counter light bars and both work with (separate) Evolve dimmers. If your draw is less that 40 watts you may have a special (electronic low voltage) dimmer that is making it work.

(Drew) #14

I have linear ones. They work great on low wattage LEDs

(Kenneth Pardue) #15

Awesome, I’ve gotten the hub, a three way switch kit, and a dimmer. I’ve installed the dimmer but am having some trouble with the three way switch wiring; going to have a friend that knows more about wiring help me with that later, but the dimmer couldn’t have been easier. It works flawlessly with the LED lights we have, and despite my wife’s eye rolls, I can’t help myself but keep turning on and off the lights from my phone. I’ve also set up the system to turn the lights off when we’re both away from home. I’ll be getting more switches next week. I’m hooked!

(Kenneth Pardue) #16

We have two Nest thermostats in our house that are constantly going to Away while people are still home. It occurred to me that I could use SmartThings to control this. That’s fantastic. I logged into the API but since I don’t have developer access it doesn’t appear that I can add a new Device Type. I tried to request it, and it says access was granted, but it didn’t actually seem to do anything. I still get a Not Authorized when I go to the Device Type page. I suppose I’ll wait for more official support to come to Nest in SmartThings.

(Brian Smith) #17

I know they are actively working on adding official support now that the API has been released by Nest.

(Kenneth Pardue) #18

Exciting stuff, to be sure. I’ll be keeping a close eye on it. One last question and I’ll stop bugging everyone… do you guys and gals know if there are any Z wave/SmartThings compatible duplex light switches on the market or in the works? We have a couple of these in our house that, eventually, I’d like to Z Wave enable.

(Brian) #19

anyone tried the aeon micro dimmer? Does it have the 40w minimum issue?

(Kenneth Pardue) #20

Just a quick update for you guys, I got the rest of the switches in earlier than they were supposed to arrive (yay!) and thanks to the help of a friend more knowledgable than myself we were able to get a three way and a four way switch successfully wired. Not including mine and my wife’s iPhone, I now have 6 “Things” installed and working fine: kitchen light, kitchenette light, garage light, ceiling fan and light in the living room, and the recessed lighting in the living room.

I love this stuff!