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.

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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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