Switched receptacles?

Most rooms in my house have a lamp that plugs into an outlet which is controlled by a wall switch. I want to add automation to these lights but would still like to toggle them from the wall switch.

I have a Zooz dimmer switch controlling my porch lights and figured I could just buy the on/off version for my lamps. However, there was a warning not to use the switches with switched receptacles. I emailed Zooz to ask them about this and was told the switches were only rated for lighting loads per regulations and electrical code. They had switch failures from the switch being used with heaters and vacuums.

I only plan on using the outlet for a lamp, but there is the possibility of someone who doesn’t know any better unplugging the lamp to plug something else in. I was leaning towards the Zooz switches because I prefer a toggle style and they don’t need an add on for 3 ways.

Am I going to run into this issue with other switches like the switches from Jasco or the relays that go behind the existing switches? Is there a certain type of switch I should be looking for? Zooz recommended using the bottom switch of this https://www.thesmartesthouse.com/collections/zooz/products/zooz-z-wave-plus-s2-double-switch-zen30-white-for-light-fan-combo but it says it won’t work in a 3 way and I’m really hoping to keep a toggle style.

How serious would it be if I went ahead and used the Zooz Zen23 switch? Is my house going to burn down because a well meaning relative plugged the vacuum into the outlet or will the switch stop working after I used it for a heater all winter?

OK, that’s a lot of different questions with someone different answers so I’m going to divide this up.

Follow the Manufacturer’s Directions

If the manufacturer, in this case Zooz support, tells you not to do something, don’t do it.

Yes, you might burn down your house. :scream: also, once you deviate from the manufacturer’s instructions, you are no longer up to code in almost all jurisdictions in the US, which also means your insurance company likely doesn’t have to pay out on a lot of different things.

If you did have an electrical fire, it would then be up to you to prove that your intentional decision to disregard manufacturer’s instructions was not the reason.

So just don’t go there. There’s no reason to, there will almost always be other alternatives to accomplish what you want to safely and to code. As there are in this case. so let’s get to those. :sunglasses:

Virtual Control

One way to solve the problem you are describing is to use two separate smart devices, a switch and an in wall receptacle. Then have them talk to each other wirelessly. Once you do that, it doesn’t matter what the specified load is for the wall switch: it won’t be controlling the circuit branch anyway. You could even use a battery powered wall switch or handheld remote.

In your case, you can use a Zooz switch, but you have to set the parameters so it is not controlling the load. (that’s a couple of extra steps, but it’s not difficult.) And you pick a smart in wall outlet. That would let you match all your wall switches if that’s important to you.

In this case, I would also recommend selecting a Z wave in wall outlet and then using what is called “zwave direct association“ to have the switch control the outlet. If you do it that way, the switch will work even if your smartthings hub is not working.

Here’s a typical outlet, but there are other brands as well.

Switches that are rated to control an outlet

Or you can get a switch from another brand that is rated to control an outlet. These definitely exist, and if that’s what you prefer, you can choose one of those. here’s just one example. In the US, in general if a switch is rated for a half horsepower motor, it should also be rated for up to 15 A, and it should be fine for a normal switched outlet. There aren’t a lot available in toggles, but here’s one.

Here’s the manufacturer site so you can check the specs.


The jasco on/off mentioned by @JDRoberts is rated to 1800 watts, which is the high end of most things you would plug in. I have them on several outlet controlled switches, and regularly plug in a vacuum to one without issues. They use a relay and you hear the relay click.

Whatever you do, DO NOT use a dimmer, even if it can be programmatically made an on/off switch. You want that load isolated by the relay in the switch for safety.

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Thanks for the replies. I threw the GE switches in my cart, but just couldn’t pull the trigger on that price tag. I think the issue is the motor loads right? The GE and Zooz both handle 1800w and 15A resistive, but the Zooz says it only handles 3A for fans. I’m guessing that is less than the 1/2 HP for the GE?

I did some looking around and ended up getting this: https://minoston.com/product/z-wave-plus-switch-on-off-smart-toggle-switch-ms12z/

It has the same load specs as the GE but doesn’t require an add on switch. The manual has many warnings, but didn’t mention outlets, so hopefully this one will work. If it is going to burn my house down do let me know.

Looks ok, it says 1/2 HP motor, so that’s good.

I’m not familiary with this Minoston switch, but not needing an add on switch is a nice benefit and cost savings, where you can use your existing “dumb” 3 way switch over the Jasco. The Inovelli switches can also work this way but are not available in the toggle type you needed.

One other note in case anyone else is considering. I just bought the latest GE/Jasco on/off switch and installed it. One benefit to the Jasco is the support of central scene control, where you can program other automations for double and triple flips of the switch. I checked the Zwave alliance website on the Minoston switch and it does not have these “extra” features so it won’t support double/tripple tap. Otherwise, the wattage rating is almost identical so it should have no problem handling being a switch on an outlet unless you’re plugging in some crazy 20 amp appliance. This one could be a good alternative for lower cost if you don’t need the extra double/triple taps.

If you could @jbearnv, let us know how this one works out for you.

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I forgot about this post, but I had a bit of a fiasco, so here it goes. The Minoston switches did not work for my situation. I opened the box to find a warning to not use with receptacles printed on the switch. Oops. I began contacting various switch manufacturers including GE and was told every time their products could not be used with receptacles.

Finally, Aeotec told me their nano switches could be used. These go behind a switch or outlet so unfortunately won’t do any scene controls as far as I know. I think the issue is overload protection. Both the devices manufacturers have given me the go ahead to use with the switched receptacles have this feature. I’ve been busy and haven’t gotten around to ordering the switches yet, so nothing to report on how they work.

The Aeotec nano is an upgrade over previous versions in that the US model is now spec’d to 15A (The European model is still 10A, but that meets code there), and it has a built-in surge protection, so yes, they do advertise it for sockets.

As always, the first rule of home automation applies: “the model number matters.“ Only use a switch, never a dimmer module for a socket. And check the specifications for the specific model you are considering to make sure that in the US it can handle 15 A with overload protection. :sunglasses:

I think the manufacturers are being overly cautious in these situations. As long as you stay under the rated loads they list, and don’t use the dimmer, it is a relayed load and would be fine. I have jascos controlling a few outlets, but in my situation only occasionally put loads on them. And well below rated wattage.

I suppose the manufacturer is worried about an overload situation so it’s playing it safe here.

If you want scene control and to play it safe, you can get a zwave receptacle, and bypass the switches wiring to go straight to the receptical. Then get a zwave switch, don’t hook up the load of the switch, and do a zwave association between the switch and outlet. Then the switch can control the outlet and you can use double tap etc. For scene control. Something like these:

This could get expensive with needing to buy two things, and a bit complicated to setup. I did notice these Honeywell outlets seem older and don’t have s2 security, so associations might need you to downgrade the security (not scan barcode at inclusion) of the in wall switch.

There’s a leviton zwave outlet i saw with a 700 series chip, https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08GQLBXTX/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_fabc_WE3E421FGQ46ZEEJSJ9R but I think those might have complications too. What do you think @JDRoberts ? Reading above looks like you suggested something this as a possible approach previously.

You could use this switch https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07RQ8NWXS/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_fabc_92D20Z0JWAKGJ2TXE6CX?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1

With a device handler i updated for association, double, and triple tap actions as well smartthingscode/ge-46201-on-off-switch.groovy at master · mwav3/smartthingscode · GitHub

Just include the switch without scanning the barcode to downgrade security for direct association with the Honeywell outlet.

I like zwave direct association as a solution for switched outlets, but as you note it does require rewiring.

A similar very simple solution is to use a smart switch cover over the existing switch. I like the ecolink retrofit for this. You don’t have to change any wiring on the switch (just add a smart module to the outlet), it will work physically at the wall even if the hub is not working and you don’t need zwave direct association because it physically moves the dumb switch underneath. This is a common solution for switches that are on something other than regular 110 voltage, but it also works for switched outlets. It may require custom code. There are models available for both toggles and rockers.


As far as other smart switch brands it is a violation of the NEC to use a device against manufacturer recommendations, which also means your insurance company might not pay out if there was, for example, a fire.

In my opinion, the number one safety error that DIY projects introduce is going against manufacturer recommendations. So speaking just for myself, I follow their guidelines. :sunglasses:

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@mwav3 makes a very important point about zwave direct association: it may not work unless both devices are on the same level of security and maybe even the same generation chip. So that something you have to watch out for.

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Is it in the UL listing or on the product’s labeling not to use it on a switched outlet, or buried in a product manual somewhere? That could give some wiggle room with NEC 110.3B. For my own plausible deniability on my installation, I don’t really want to know as I don’t want to pull these out. This honestly is the first I heard they can’t be used on a switched outlet, and It’s no where in the product’s online listings or on the switch itself it can’t be used on a receptacle. I think the manufacturer knows a lot of people use these switches for that application so is trying to have it both ways here - sell more of their product while at the same time CYA.

However I will stop recommending these on/off switches to others for outlet applications altogether based on the warning the manufacturer is giving and your advice @JDRoberts .

I like the simplicity of your Ecolink idea. It side steps this messy NEC issue, no wiring is needed, its one device, and relatively inexpensive. The only downside I see is there is no scene control as far as I know and now its another thing you have to replace batteries on.

As far as any NEC, I don’t know for sure, but I think it would have to be something in the user manual provided with the device. Or an additional insert provided. I don’t think they go by what’s on the box or in the advertisements, that would be an FTC issue instead.

As far as the switches specifically, they usually get to have recommendations for a device class. A “light switch” is different than an “appliance switch.” If a device is only sold as a light switch it might only support a load of 10 A, for example.

Anyway… Yeah, the ecolink is a really simple solution for a lot of nonstandard wiring setups. It is noisy because it is physically moving the dumb switch underneath, not as loud as a garbage disposal, but definitely loud enough that you will notice it. But only when it’s actually turning the switch on or off. So just something to be aware of.

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