Switch, Socket, or Bulb

I’ve got a garage door sensor working (I love the tilt recognition on the multi-sensor, nice idea :slight_smile: ). My next step with the garage is to automate the lights. There is one inside the garage, and one outside, each driven by a wall switch inside the garage. My first thought was to replace the wall switch with a z-wave switch, but I’m new to this, and hesitate to cut into the wiring system. After thinking a bit, it’s a one-to-one system – one switch which powers one socket, which powers one bulb. Any of these things could be z-wave (or zigbee) addressable. The cost would be one factor, but simplicity holds a lot of weight for me. For example, I just got my wife a set of Hue bulbs for Christmas. One of those would work perfectly in the indoor garage socket, but that’s more capability than necessary. Aeon Labs has an LED Bulb (http://aeotec.com/z-wave-led-lightbulb) “Coming soon” which will work outdoors. I don’t think that the Spark Socket (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/sparkdevices/spark-upgrade-your-lights-with-wi-fi-and-apps) made it out of the starting gate. Does anyone else have experience or ideas as far as sockets or bulbs?

Have you considered z-wave socket like this one: http://www.amazon.com/Intermatic-HA05C-Settings-Screw-Module/dp/B000J17QWU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1388100669&sr=8-1&keywords=z-wave+socket

I’m using the HA05C and it works great. My biggest thing is its size though. Any smaller versions out there?

Thanks! I snapped up two of the HA05C sockets from Amazon. They look like the best of what’s out there now. This is definitely a rapidly changing market!


Looks like you already picked a solution, but just to throw my two cents in a little late to the party:

  1. Bulb: The big issue here, in my opinion, is the danger of damage to the bulb. If you use a z-wave switch or a socket and something happens to the bulb (hit by a ball or burns out) you just have to replace a cheap bulb. If you use a z-wave bulb, you have to replace the whole expensive bulb.

  2. Socket: This has one really good thing going for it: Super easy to install. No hacking into the wiring, no worry about neutral or crap like that. No trying to figure out which breaker to turn off. But, it also has some bad: First, you have to make sure you fixture it big enough to fit the big socket plus the bulb. Second, using a socket makes your switch become close to useless. Your physical switch can’t turn on the light, only off. And if you turn it off with the switch, then you can’t turn it back on remotely. I’d recommend this option ONLY if you really hate wiring or if you never need/want to turn this light on manually.

  3. Switch: This certainly has it’s disadvantages: You have to get into the wiring and fiddle with that… you have to know if you have neutral available or not, you have to get the right switch, etc, etc. But, it also has one really big advantage: The switch will work perfectly outside of your home automation system. You can always manually turn on or off the light if the HA system fail/dies/whatever. I did switches in all my locations for this reason. I wanted my family to be able to use any light/switch/outlet etc. normally without having to use SmartThings. For a wife who isn’t a total geek like me, this was sorta a necessity.

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Thanks for your insights. I’m getting the sockets, but as I said, things are rapidly changing.

After I ordered I saw the discussion at http://build.smartthings.com/forums/topic/screw-in-lamp-module-ha05-by-intermatic/, including the note that:

Intermatic says in their manual that the bulbs can not be installed upside down i.e. base on top for these modules. I guess heat from bulb rises up. How is your installation and do you notice any heat issue to intermatic base ?

In my case, the lights are both upside down, so I’ll have to consider what I want to do after get the sockets are read the docs. I only want the light on for a very short period of time, but if I have a paper that says “Don’t do this, it might burn down your house”, that will definitely sway my opinion :).

The garage is an easy experimental site for me, it’s pretty new. My house was built in 1942, so I’m more concerned about the wiring. Fortunately we’ll be remodeling the bathroom soon, so I think that I’ll pull aside the electrician for advice, maybe even have him install the first z-wave switch. In the long run, there are definitely things that need switches, like the xenon lights in the kitchen.

I hadn’t realized that the sockets would eliminate the ability to use the switches manually. The Hue bulbs work both remotely and manually, I guess I made the wrong assumption about the sockets. Manual control is also a requirement for me. We’ll see how that goes, maybe chalk it up to the learning process.

I really appreciate people’s help here. I pulled in my Nest with the information I’ve found on the forums, I get a text every night that everything is closed, I’ve got a WeMo switch that works through IFTTT to turn on my lights at (or near) sunset which I hope to connect to SmartThings soon, and I’m anxious for the Hue interface to be shared.

Thanks for the advice.

I used my socket with a CFL, so that might skew the results, but I never had problems with the the bulb being “under” the socket.

I got the two Intermatic sockets, and they are working well. The packaging says “Not recommended for enclosed fixtures with base-above-bulb mounting”. My garage fixtures are not enclosed, so I’ve given up that worry. The sockets are big, but they fit for my case. I’ve even tested the extreme of the temperature range. They are rated down to -35 C – it was down to -24F this morning when I went out (-31 C), and they worked fine.