Recommendations for kitchen remodeling (2020)

A worse doom then being forced to use the new app awaits me – soon my kitchen will get gutted and we will be without it for 3-4 weeks. While the cabinets and backsplash are being replaced, I’ll have the opportunity to replace 4+ outlets and 4+ switches. I’m wondering what I should do in 3 areas:

  1. Outlets
    As it is a kitchen, all the outlets are GFCI on individual circuits (as best as I can tell). I don’t actually need controlled outlets in there; my thought was only to install a Zigbee and a Z-wave outlet just as repeaters. But since GFCI controlled outlets doesn’t seem to a thing (I’ve just read 3-4 threads about that), I’m wondering if I should just remain with regular dumb outlets.
    If I go with dumb outlets, are there other repeaters I could/should hide in the outlet box? (I’ve got 2 plug-in repeaters in the kitchen now)

  2. Switches/dimmers
    I’m going to take this opportunity to put in controlled switches for the various sets of lights. None are currently on dimmers, but I’m thinking of using dimmers. Z-wave or Zigbee doesn’t matter to me (I think). The switches control various gangs of BR-30 LEDs: 4, 3, and two sets of 2. Only one of the switches is 3-way.
    Zooz and Inovelli are the two I’ve seen recommended. (I can’t even easily tell the difference between Inovell’s Black and Red switches from their web site.)
    My only smart dimmers right now are the old GE/Jasco 12724s (I’ve still got 2 new-in-box, but I’ve got 5 others installed around the house). They work “ok”. At this point I would consider swapping them all out.
    I wonder about smart switches that work with smart bulbs - is this a switch that supports scenes? I was considering using color bulbs and I thus wanted to be able to talk to them. I’ve never done that before. I might not, because I might reserve the color for (3) below.

  3. Undercabinet lighting
    I’m considering adding undercabinet lighting since I’ll have an electrician in to do the work. Any recommendations for color controllable lighting? Again, either Zigbee or Z-wave is fine (I think).

Update clarifications:

  • All my bulbs in the kitchen are plain LED BR-30s.
  • I’ve got about a 15 plugin controlled outlets (some Ikea, most Iris) acting as Z-wave and Zigbee repeaters. Both meshes are really in great shape.

Recommendations for or against any particular products?

  1. take the opportunity to have the electrician move fhe GFCI to the breaker box through a GFCI breaker. Then you can make a decision on the smart outlets later if you want. Also Ive gone to putting in the new GE Zigbee smart outlets whenever I replace an outlet just to strengthen my Zigbee mesh.

  2. Inovelli. Then if you want to putnim smart bulbs in the cans you can put in ZWave bulbs and tell the inovelli switches to act as controllers only (through software) and leave the load powered

  3. I like the Sylvania (formerly Osram) stuff here. Good color reproduction, bright and about half of the cost of Hue.


I’ve not used Inovelli’s gear so can’t comment. I do have around 30 Zooz devices, mostly a mix of Decora-style ZEN26 switches and ZEN26 dimmers. I’ve been happy with them. I’ve got a few Levitons and a couple of GE/Jasco. Some comments.

  • The Zooz devices only come with white faceplates and they don’t quite match the standard white (set by Leviton, I think). Leviton, at least, offers numerous swappable faceplates.

  • The ZEN26 and ZEN27 devices can go into a 3-way without replacing or rewiring the load-side switch (note that there is a wattage limit). One downside is for dimmers, since the one side remains a dumb switch it can’t adjust dim levels.

  • Zooz are only Z-wave. If I had it to do over, I’d mix in more Zigbee.


You mentioned you’ve got a number of BR-30 fixtures. Are you going to take the opportunity to swap them out for LEDs?

My home was nearly built in 2018. We did almost 100% LED lighting. Definitely like it. Some smart switches haven’t been able to dim my LED can lights. The Zooz ones have been fine, I had to return a GE Enbrighten 2 dimmer plus add-on that wasn’t compatible.

1 Like

Here’s a trick to think about if you really want smart outlets but don’t want to install a GFCI breaker.

Only the first outlet in the circuit needs to be GFCI. If you feed the downstream outlets off the load side of the GFCI and label them as “GFCI protected”, you can use standard smart outlets. They will all be protected by the GFCI outlet.


The 4 counter top outlets all have their own GFCI buttons, which makes me think they are on separate circuits now.

I’ve got BR-30 LEDs in all my cans now. The old GE/Jasco Z-wave switches have been able to dim all of them.

Oh! That would be a big deal and would influence the WAF. None of our switches are white.

Ah… That makes sense. I only really want to replace the outlets to remove some of the plug-in Iris smart outlets in the house.

Thank you all!

Zooz added support for scenes via multi-tap. I think their support is similar to others but I’m not really sure. To get multi-tap scenes, you have to run the Zooz custom DTH and you have to use the Advanced Button Controller to map the various tap combinations to a scene change.

I decided against it.

  1. I’ve kept to standard DTHs so I can have local execution. Avoiding cloud delays when I tap a switch is critical to both me and the WAF.
  2. There was no way my aging brain was going to remember that three taps on the upper paddle of the pendant light switch meant one thing and two taps on the bottom paddle of the kitchen sink light meant something else.

So I run stock DTHs on all my smart switches and control scenes and other combination actions via Alexa. “Alexa, let’s clean up” turns on the lights over the kitchen sink using an Alexa routine. “Alexa, activate evening” turns on and sets dimmers throughout the great room via a SmartThings scene. Etc etc etc.

That’s also got a higher WAF than a list of what switches to tap in what combos.


I think you’re going to be limited to Leviton or GE/Jasco to get changeable faceplates. Be aware that several of us have had issues with Leviton dimmers and switches randomly dropping offline. A firmware update to 1.20 fixes it. So if you buy any, check the firmware revision after you install them.

Mine are flat fixtures that integrate the trim ring and LED. No bulbs.

I don’t know how to predict what switch will have issues with what light. I also had a Zooz ZEN26 switch give me issues with some Kodak Edison-style bulbs. That switch uses a trickle of current to run its processor, that was enough that the Kodak bulbs stayed on, very dim, when the switch was off. A different model Zooz fixed that.

I don’t believe this passes code in many US jurisdictions. They are really strict about kitchen and bathroom outlets being GFCI when close to a sink. Although NEC does allow the GFCI protection to be on the entire circuit, local jurisdictions may override this simply because it is in someways easier for the building inspector to check the outlets. In addition, if it’s on the entire circuit there is a danger that a GFCI fault at an outlet might cause the overhead lighting to go off as well, which is considered a separate safety issue for the kitchen Because of fire hazards from the cooktop.

Additionally, NEC now requires tamper resistant outlets in the kitchen, and many smart outlets do not have this yet.

finally, many local codes require one or two 20 amp outlets in the kitchen, and right now there are very few smart choices for these.

So I’m not saying don’t do this, I’m just saying it’s probably going to be more challenging than you would expect. And check with your local township to get the specific rules for where you live.


Congratulations on the new project! Kitchen projects are some of the most popular. You can see what other people have done by going to the quick browse lists in the community – created wiki, Going down near the bottom of that page to the “project reports” section, then to the end of that for the “projects by room” and choosing the kitchen list. Lots of threads there on undercabinet lighting, for example.

When it comes to switch is for smart bulbs, I agree that right now the Inovelli red series is the most interesting. Or the Homeseer, although those need a DTH update to work with the new app.


That said, my suggestion for a kitchen would instead be a separate scene controller, probably battery operated, which would let you pick from multiple different scenes to handle the various lighting configurations that might occur. I think this is both more flexible and more intuitive.

The remotec 90 is a popular choice for this:


But a lot of people also like a wall mount tablet or phone:


I also recommend the following thread on zone lighting for kitchens, it has a lot of good ideas. It applies even if you don’t have an island.

And if you do have an island, the following is a good article:

Article: How to Choose Kitchen Island Lighting

1 Like

As far as colors, both Eaton Cooper and Lutron come in multiple colors, but each has a unique design and they don’t look like regular rocker switches, so they might not be what you’re looking for. And of course Lutron has its own proprietary frequency, so does not act as a repeater for your other devices.

Eaton Cooper (zwave)


Lutron (White, Ivory, Light Almond or Black)


I use Lutron switches in my own home. Great engineering, very responsive, have their own integration with HomeKit and Alexa, so they work even if smartthings is down, which is important to me. :sunglasses:


My quick look shows that the Inovelli come in multiple colors.

1 Like

My first encounter with Lutron switches was in an AirBnB. In NYC, I think. Don’t know what infrastructure was behind them.

They were so slow I usually had pressed multiple buttons before anything happened. And several of the little buttons were broken.

Then something was definitely wrong. They are engineered to under 1/2 second response time, the fastest of any networked residential system. :thinking:

I would agree with this. During a downstairs master addition a few years ago, the electrician couldn’t use a GFIC breaker for the bathroom and instead used a standard 20A breaker. He then put a tamper resistant GFIC outlet in the bathroom that all the other bathroom outlets came off of. Bedroom and hallway circuits required a GFIC-AFCI breaker though.

I would have your electrician out these all on the same circuit(s). Based on size of my kitchen I have 2 at the first outlet along counters.

1 Like

FWIW, my kitchen, which is central in the house, has 4 circuits. The stove is on a dedicated 220V circuit. The left side of the kitchen is on the front of house circuit and the right side is on the back of house circuit. And there is a separate circuit which may have been added later, which has the dishwasher and the garbage disposal.

My house was built in 1955 and I suspect some of this was load balancing, because it really Didn’t have sufficient juice for modern life. It also means that if one of the circuits does trip, there are still lights on in the kitchen since half the lights are on one circuit and half are on the other.

Nowadays we like this structure for a different reason: we use solar power with a backup battery and this allows us to turn off nonessential functions when we are off the grid and running on battery. :sun_with_face:

1 Like

How do you check that, and how do you update? I’ve got a whole house of Leviton Z-Wave switches, dimmers, and fan controllers. I’ve only ever had one that has ever dropped off the network and become unresponsive, but it’s done it it few times. Wondering if the firmware you mention is the reason.

1 Like

Log in to the IDE with your Samsung account, go to Devices and open the page for your device.

Firmware version is in the Raw Description

1 Like

Not 100%, Hal. The firmware in the RAW is the firmware level the device had at the time it joined. If you manage to upgrade a device’s firmware after it joined (without removing and re-adding) the FW level in the RAW does not get updated.

It’s good for telling you firmware of ‘at LEAST X’ though.

Learned that little tidbit when I updated my Springs/Graber/Bali shades with a Z-stick.


Does the tweaker not query the current firmware level?

1 Like