Smart Switches

Hey Folks,

Hoping that someone here could help… or maybe what I am after is not available.

W all know the bane of SmartBulbs, the switch! I’ve seen the covers (unappealing), I’ve seen the add-on battery controlled boxes (no thanks), and I have seen the Smart Switches (they still cut power).

Is there something that acts like a cover, and looks like a switch? In a perfect world I picture a decora switch, as thats what my house has, with 2 small buttons like the wemo light switch. These would be hardwired ON/OF switches, and the toggle part would be programmed to turn the lights on and off.

Why care about the functionality of the On/Off? Visitors. I’d like them to be able to operate the lights “normally”

Thanks in advance

Not sure I 100% follow what you are after, but I will offer an idea. You seem to want a decora light switch that doesn’t cut the power. You can install a smart switch and not hook up the load wire to your fixture, or wire nut it to the power so it’s always on. The switch will still require power and a neutral, but when you toggle it, it won’t do anything in a manual fashion. Once added to SmartThings you can program it to do anything you want.

I did this exact thing in my sons room where I couldn’t physically run a wire to an outlet that I wanted to control a bedside light. I have a smart switch with no load and using Smart Lighting when the switch is toggled so is a smart outlet that the bedside lamp is plugged into.

1 Like


I think Maybe you have it. If I did as you suggest, could I program ST to turn the lights off when the toggle is pressed?

This would basically allow a functioning Decora switch, that is always on, and has the benefits of ST. Now to wrap my head around the wiring, and to buy a switch.

Also - How long between pressing “Off” and them shutting off?

As @ritchierich mentioned, you can use what is essentially a dummy switch so that it is not controlling the current load to the bulbs but rather talking to the hub which then talks to the bulbs. The Linear/GoControl WT00Z1 is popular for this purpose as it is designed to be an auxiliary switch (you don’t wire the load wire into it) but it is still a Z wave device that can talk to the hub. Because it’s not intended as a loadbearing switch, it’s less expensive then the master switches of any brand. Yet it still has its own Z wave radio, unlike auxiliaries like the GE’s which use physical traveler wires to communicate to their master switches.

That will work fine as long as your home automation system is working.

But if you use a dummy switch and you don’t have a connection to the SmartThings cloud, or if your own hub isn’t working, you won’t be able to turn the bulbs on and off. That’s important to some people, and not to others.

There are a number of other alternative approaches as well. The Cooper 9500 is popular because it looks exactly like a regular switch but it’s battery operated. You can leave the original switch in place and just put a child safety lock on it so people don’t use it most of the time and put the Cooper near it.

There are some other similar wallmount options in the buttons FAQ, and the Cooper is listed there as well. :sunglasses:

FAQ: Full list of buttons and remotes confirmed to work with SmartThings [Not all devices listed work with the 2020 Platform]

Both of these options and a few more are discussed at length in the following FAQ.

Ok @JDRoberts. Stop posting the picture of the Cooper switch. You are not helping me on Black Friday! What a beautiful switch. :drooling_face:

1 Like

These are great ideas guys, thanks! I had seen the 9500, but dont like the idea of another “thing”. As far as, say, a remote switch, awesome. My work is mostly on the main floor, so I’d like to leave everything looking and functioning as a “normal” house… but that I can play with :slight_smile:

If I go with a dummy switch, whats the lag time between button press, and action (on/off)?

It depends on three things:

  1. Whether the switch uses the “hail” command set

  2. How efficient your local network is, including how many “hops” the switch is from the hub

  3. How much lag there is on the cloud trip to the SmartThings cloud and back

  4. and 3) are usually the most significant. If your local network is inefficient, you might be adding as much is three or four seconds to the trip.

Lutron (which unfortunately is not directly compatible with SmartThings) sets a goal of about 300 ms from switch press to light coming on. Most other companies say they are aiming for 500 ms, but it could certainly be one second even if everything was operating perfectly.

With the smartthings cloud component involved, I’d say a second to a second and a half is pretty typical in an efficient network, but there are times when it might even be two seconds.

If it’s longer than two seconds, there’s an inefficiency somewhere. If that’s local, you can likely improve it. If it’s a cloud problem, there’s not much you can do except Hope the congestion clears up.

JDR - Thanks again. I’ve been skimming the forums, and there are lots of
great posts, and you seem to be the author of most of them.

All my home automation is on its own router, and I tend to buy good ones…
So home network should be great. 1-2 seconds is certainly fine. 4 and up
sounds bad.

Thanks for the kind words. :sunglasses: There are lots of people making great posts here, just that I had a professional interest in the networking protocols which most people don’t share, so I tend to stand out because there are fewer people posting about that stuff. These days I rely on text to speech, so you won’t find me in any of the coding topics; trust me, you do not want to try to read groovy with text to speech. :wink:

Anyway, sorry I wasn’t clear. When I was talking about and “efficient network” I was talking specifically about your Z wave network. That won’t have anything to do with your router, which is using different protocols (ethernet and Wi-Fi).

Your smartthings hub contains a certified Z wave plus controller, and that’s what establishes the Z wave network at your house.

All of your Z wave devices will talk to that controller, but Z wave is a “mesh” topology which means The messages get passed around from one device to another until they finally reach the hub. Battery powered devices can’t relay messages for others, because it would use up too much battery life. Mains powered devices like light switches, plug-in sensors, in wall relays, in wall receptacles, and plug in pocket sockets can all act as repeaters.

So a strong network has a repeater about every 50 feet, and has been tuned so that all of the devices have an accurate picture of who their own neighbors are.

There are lots of ways to screw this up. SmartThings doesn’t provide any information in their welcome materials about how to layout an efficient zwave network, so a lot of people don’t even know anything about it unless they have a problem and then support starts working with them to “strengthen the mesh.”

Anyway, if you’re interested in reading more about this, the following is a good place to start:

But the main point is that if you have laid out your Z wave devices in such a way that any particular switch has a hard time reaching the hub, then that adds additional delay between the manual toggle and the hub getting the message.

The GE Decora Switches (Dimmer, Switch, and add-on switch) are decora style switches and look and function like a standard decora switch. Their new line of Z-wave Plus switches is also just showing up online, and there are also Zigbee variants of the Dimmer and Switch. All of the switches stay in a neutral position. Press the top to turn on, bottom to turn off. Dimming levels are adjusted by pressing and holding the top (brighter)/bottom (dimmer).

The Leviton connected switches have a strange mechanical action; they look like a standard switch, but only the bottom (off) button functions. Personally, I hate these because they look like a standard switch, but don’t function like one.

Oh, really? Hopefully the Linear operates like a normal decora.

I will use these on hue bulbs… But I just ordered a ST hub. Do I need a
ZigBee switch, or will a Zwave work thanks to the ST Hub?

Just because stuff like this drives me crazy, I know most people don’t care…

“Decora” is a trademark of Leviton. So only Leviton makes Decora switches.

The GE switches are “rocker” or “paddle” switches.

This is in contrast to “toggle” switches:

Several manufacturers make zwave rocker switches. :sunglasses:

OK, that said, if you’ll go back to the original post, you’ll see that the GE add-ons cannot work for what the OP is requesting. Those add-on switches are not Z wave devices in and of themselves. They are dummy switches that must be connected by traveler wire to a GE master switch.

In contrast, The GoControl rocker switch add on is a Z wave device in and of itself, so it would fit the requirement of a dummy switch.

I definitely agree that it is weird that the company that trademarked the original Decora rocker switch brand chose to modify the design for their Z wave models so that only the bottom of the paddle is used. But that’s why they sell them under the Vizia name instead. :sunglasses::level_slider::bulb:

SmartThings is a Multiprotocol platform, which gives you the advantage that you can use a Z wave switch, a hue bridge-connected lightbulb, and a zigbee motion sensor all in the same rule and the hub will make sure the right messages get to the right devices. :sunglasses:

Any smartthings – connected switch will work.

This was my understanding :slight_smile:

Great, so use a dummy switch (Linear/GoControl WT00Z1). If only I could get this functionality in a “paddle” switch instead of the flat design of the one suggested… but thats just knit picking.

Thanks everyone for the help!

It’s still a paddle, it’s just a shallower paddle. You still press up for on and down for off.

Gocontrol is now a widely distributed brand, you may be able to find them at Home Depot or Best Buy if you want to take a look. :sunglasses:

Nortek is one of the largest makers of Z wave devices in the US. They sell them under multiple brands, including Linear, two gig, gocontrol, and some devices under Nutone. They’re all the same device and actually have the same model number, they just come in a different box. Gocontrol is the one intended to be sold at retail for DIY. But if you happen to see the Linear brand less expensive (it’s intended for installers), you can use that as well.

How about the GE 12732? It’s an add-on switch also. I only ask because
the WT00Z1 is tough to find in Canada

Unfortunately, none of the GE add on switches can work for what we’ve been discussing in this thread. Those switches do not have a radio in them. So they cannot talk to the SmartThings hub at all. Instead they are physically wired to their master switch with a traveler wire. So the GE add-ons can only work with their own master switch, they are invisible to SmartThings.

You can use a GE master switch, but you have to wire it to bypass the load.

Another possibility would be the evolve auxiliary switch. It has a Z wave radio and doesn’t use physical traveler wires, so it should work.

I know the smartest house sells it in Canada on , and they’re also active in this forum. You could ask them if you can buy from them directly or if you need to buy through the Amazon site.


The Cooper auxiliary 9542 switch is definitely sold in Canada, but it’s expensive. Eaton is the company, Cooper is the division, and aspire is the model line. It may be listed under any of those three names.

1 Like

Wealth of info! Thanks again… And again :slight_smile:

1 Like