Trying to find answers on light switches


Hello everyone,

I’m new to this home automation stuff and I haven’t been able to find a clear answer as to what I should be looking for. Right now I’m trying to research light switches. Next to my front door I have a switch panel with 3 traditional on off switches, the small kind not the big rectangular switches. All 3 share a single large faceplate. One of those switches controls the exterior lights on the front of the house and I"d like to replace it with one that I can control via smart things and set them to go on and off at specific times and things of that nature.

Everywhere I look light z-wave light switches are always displayed as a single switch in its own dedicated faceplate. What do I need for what I’m trying to do? Also syncing things to Smart Things it always says to bring whatever item you’re trying to pair close to the hub… how do you pair a light switch that is on the opposite side of the house?

Thanks in advance.

(Brian Diehl) #2

I use 2 of the GE toggle switches, both are in multi-switch plates (1 is a 2-switch and 1 is a 3-switch plate).
No issue. It fits fine (although it may be a tight fit to squeeze it into the standard gang box).

I paired mine on the other side of the apartment without an issue. This is the reason why batteries are in the hub. Get a long network cable if you can, and get as close as you can and pair it.

Then put the hub back where it goes and do a Z-wave repair. This will then help the switch find a good route back to the hub.

You might be able to pair it where it’s at without issue and without the need to move your hub.


Are you in the US or the UK? I’m not quite sure what you’re describing as far as the type of switch goes. If you could post a picture that would help a lot.

As far as the initial pairing to the hub, there are a few different factors in this.

For a light switch, they should pair fine up to about 30 feet from the hub.

If the light switch is a Z wave plus model, which is the newest generation, it may be able to pair father away from that as long as there are other Z wave plus devices in between to pass along the messages.

Otherwise you have three alternatives.

One) attach the switch to power close to the hub and pair it there, then move it to its intended location. This is easy for plug-in or battery powered devices, but a lot of trouble for a mains-powered light switch.

  1. get a really long ethernet cord and bring the hub over to where the switch is for the initial pairing

  2. pair using a minimote. This works even with the older Z wave generations. If you shop around you can typically find a minimote for about $20. The ability to add new devices to the Z wave network is in administrative function, and you will still be able to use the minimote as a handheld remote control for other purposes on your network. A lot of people do that. :sunglasses:

(Nate Schwartz) #4

You can buy any of the various z-wave switches and use them in a triple gang box like you are suggesting. You simply use whatever face plate you need for the number of switches in the box.

That being said, the bigger issues you need to be aware of are space and wiring. The z-wave switches tend to be larger than standard ones so getting them in can sometimes be a challenge especially in a shallow box. Also, multiple z-wave switches next to one another can be very difficult and sometimes impossible depending on what kind of load they are operating (there are metal fins on most of them that can be broken off if the load is small enough to give a little more room). Lastly, pretty much all of them require you to have a neutral wire in the box. Any newer build will but if you have an older house that may be an issue. Just some things to consider.

As for pairing it with ST, I have never had an issue even from several rooms away with pairing a switch so I think you will be ok. Worst case you may have to bring your hub close to the switch. Hope that helps.


I’m in the US.

Random pic from the internet but this is basically what I have for switches.

All of the exterior lights are on one of those 3 switches. I just want that one automated. My house is about 10 years old so electrically I’m going to assume there wont be any issues.

Is there anything that would make you guys think this switch would NOT work for my application?

(Brian Diehl) #6

With a newer house, you should have a neutral. That is about the only thing that would be a question.

Otherwise, that Zooz will work fine.


Got it, so by “the small kind” you meant a toggle:

As opposed to a rocker:

Just be aware that there is a difference between a networked toggle and a regular toggle in that the networked toggle rests in the middle sticking straight out rather than being locked into up for on or down for off. This is very noticeable, which is one reason the style is not as popular as the rocker. (The rocker does the same thing, but you don’t notice it as much.)

If you just automate one of three switches that are side-by-side, it’s going to be really obvious which toggle is the networked one because it’s going to be sticking straight out while the other two are either up or down. Some people won’t care about that, but some people will. So just know what you’re getting. :sunglasses:

(Brian Diehl) #8

Adding to what @JDRoberts said, the toggles are only available in white, so if you have a beige or off-white switch currently, it will stick out even more.
I don’t mind it, but some people might.

(Michael) #9

I have a similar setup. I replaced the switches for outside lights with smart switches by Leviton and replaced the other two with dumb paddle switches so they would match. I eventually replaced one of the inside lights too. I’m leaving the last switch as a dumb controller so if all else fails… it should still turn on a light.

I wish I’d taken a pic before the upgrade…

The three switches with the tiny black square at the bottom are the Leviton z-wave switches. It’s tough fitting that many modern switches into a gang box but it can be done.

(Dale C) #10

You have another alternative and that is to use one of the available micro controllers tied into the existing wall switches, like the enerwave or aeon micro switch. Make sure you have a neutral in the box. the advantage here is you could automate two of the three switches for cheap.


If it’s a really crowded box and you decide to go with the behind-switch modules (so you still have a toggling toggle), we would throw in Qubino modules into the mix which are the smallest on the market and also the most advanced:

(You can get them for 10% off with QUBINO10 coupon code through the end of February)


I ended up going with a pair of the GE switches, they fit and worked perfectly and they paired no problem without having to move things around.

Thanks guys