Turn off dimming with GE/Jasco Dimmer

(Andy) #1

I got some of the GE/Jasco dimmer switches, works perfect for my old house lacking neutral wires in most of the boxes! Only issue, and it’s really just an annoyance and loses me a few points in WAF, is that in my kitchen where I installed one of them I still have an unfortunate fluorescent light fixture that when dimming off flickers. What I’d like is for the Dimmer to act just like the GE On/Off switch that I use when I have a neutral available. I tried going into the IDE and changing the device type to z-wave switch and while it got rid of the dimmer slider in the app for me, the lights still dim on and off, is there any way to just get On/Off or is the dimming a function of the hardware I’m stuck with tell I get rid of the fluorescent light?

Edit I’m seeing now and I don’t know how I missed it but the switch warns against using it with fluorescent lights. Does anyone know if this is a safety issue or because of the flicker I’m seeing?

Edit 10 months later these Cree dimmable florescent replacement LEDs have come out, using them in the florescent fixture solves the flicking problem. Just a note for whoever finds this later.

(Edward Pope) #2

@andy Sadly it is a function of the hardware. Also, it is not dangerous to use them with florescent lights, but as noted it does flicker. I decided for areas where it made no sense to use dimmers, I just used On/Off switches.

(Andy) #3

I would love to use On/Off switches, but the lack of neutral wire at most of my switches has forced me to use dimmers, unless there is a On/Off switch that is neutral free that I’ve missed? (If so I’d be jumping for joy)

(Edward Pope) #4

Hmmm Good Point, I have been fortunate so far to have Neutrals in this 1954 house. I just picked up a new batch to implement, I will let you know if they work that way once I have a chance this weekend.

Now you could purchase the Hue system by Phillips, this will allow you to work around the Neutral issue, and you will have the option of colored bubs that can be used to accent or even provide information to you via the colors that they are presenting.

(Raphael Turnerstone) #5

I’ve just gotten started with HA and SmartThings (just received my kit, in fact), and I don’t understand all of these neutral wiring requirements? I was told that I need to have a neutral wire for the Z-Wave Switches to work? Why is this the case? I have all different types of bulbs (Incandescent, CFL, LED, etc). What sort of problems would I be running into?

I’m pretty sure most of my electrical switches do NOT have a Neutral, so I might be pretty stuck here. :frowning:

(Convinced ST will never be unbroken…) #6

These switches need power to work (radios, triac, etc). Having a neutral available closes the circuit and provides that power. Without the neutral, the switch must get electrons to flow from the neutral side of the load. It does this by trickling a small amount of current through to the load, even when it is off.

This can have a nasty side effect when connected to loads with very high sensitivity (like LEDs), where you may see the lights actually flicker a bit even when the switch is off.

(Chrisb) #7


The problem here is that a z-wave switch is an electronic device in and of itself. The old switches are nothing more than a mechanical device that opens and closes a circuit. But a Z-wave switch has a small radio and various other electronic components built in. In order to these components to work it needs flowing electricity of course. It’s a very small amount but it does need to have this power flowing.

Many switches do this taking power off the hot line and then it flows out on the neutral line. If you have an on/off switch hooked to a neutral it can be used with any light type without any issues at all.

There are some dimmer switches that require a neutral as well. This should work fine with any light that is dimming capable (incandescent, most LEDs, a very few CFLs).

There are also some dimmer switches that DON’T use a neutral wire. They get around this by “leaking” a small amount of electricity through the light circuit. As I mentioned above, the switches only use a very small amount of energy so this little trickle of power is not enough to cause a standard incandescent bulb to light up at all. (Think of it as full power = Mike Tyson throwing a punch at your face. That’s light you up pretty good! But the little trickle of power when the z-wave switch is off = my 4 year old nephew throwing a punch. Odds are you won’t even notice it. And if you do, it certainly wouldn’t be enough to light you up!)

These switches do present problems with other bulbs through: First, very, very few CFLs are compatible with any dimmer, and there are no on/off switches that use this trick, only dimmers. Second LEDs (and CFLs too) use a lot less energy than an incandescent bulb. The little trickle of power might be enough to light up an LED, or at least cause it to dimly glow even when the switch is fully off.

(Chrisb) #8

Oh, I should also add: It doesn’t matter what neutral you connect too! It does not need to be the same neutral that’s leading away from your light fixture. You can tap into any available neutral line. I have an older home too and in some cases, no neutral. But in some I’ve got a bunch of neutrals tied together in the back of the box. You can tap into any of those if you have 'em.

(Raphael Turnerstone) #9

Thanks @scottinpollock and @chrisb ; sounds like if I’m using incandescent bulbs I’m okay with no neutral, but if I’m running CFL’s or LED’s, then I have a problem. :frowning:

I was looking at the 45609 and the 45612.

(Chrisb) #10

If I recall correctly, the 45612 is the one with no neutral.

FWIW, as long as the load is enough on the LEDs, you will be okay. For example, I’m running in my dinning room on a 45612. The light fixture has three LEDs, each about 17watts I think. That was enough to prevent the “leaking” power to light them up.

(Raphael Turnerstone) #11

Can any harm come to the electronics from allowing that current to “leak” @chrisb ?

Also, I was thinking about using this in the bathrooms to run the heater/blower and to run the exhaust vent. That would be like a regular incandescent bulb I would think as it draws more power … but could I potentially burn out the fan or blower/heating elements? I guess it’s time to swap out the remaining CFL’s for LED’s. :frowning:

I saw that ST works with Phillips Hue; is there anything working with LIFX? Those bulbs seem to be way brighter!

(Convinced ST will never be unbroken…) #12

Don’t use dimmers on motors and heaters. You will most likely burn out the triac in the dimmer.

(Convinced ST will never be unbroken…) #13

Actually, here it only takes two 8 watters to settle them down.

(Chrisb) #14

[quote=“bigjay2050, post:11, topic:4359”]
Can any harm come to the electronics from allowing that current to “leak” @chrisb ?

Also, I was thinking about using this in the bathrooms to run the heater/blower and to run the exhaust vent. That would be like a regular incandescent bulb I would think as it draws more power … but could I potentially burn out the fan or blower/heating elements? I guess it’s time to swap out the remaining CFL’s for LED’s. :frowning:[/quote]

As @scottinpollock said, never use a dimmer with a motor. The variable power isn’t good for 'em.

Yeah, um… no. Lifx has been VERY slow to put out any cloud ability and direct communication would have to come from inside the WiFi network, which the ST Hub can’t do. And yes, the bulbs are brighter, though I’ve heard they are less true to color.

This weekend, if I have time and feel the spirit move me, I’m going to try and run an experiment were I setup a virtual tile in ST that works through IFTTT to send a push over command to a Android device inside my WIFI network which will activate a tasker command to send instructions to LIFX. If this all works it should give me the ability to turn on/off the lights from with in SmartThings, but this is such a huge clunky way to do it…

(Chrisb) #15

I’ve never experimented to see the bottom end for my house. The only place I’m running LEDs on a neutral-less switch is the dinning room, so I just knew the 3 at 17ish Watts was enough for me! :smile:

(Raphael Turnerstone) #16

How does Sonos work then? Isn’t the ST Hub communicating with the units through the local WiFi network?

(Chrisb) #17

Hmm… that’s a good question. I don’t honestly know. Anyone with Sonos know if the communication is from the Hub or from the ST cloud?

(Convinced ST will never be unbroken…) #18

I don’t know about Sonos, but I have no problem issuing HTTP requests to both my thermostats and Mac via HAM Bridge. While the Mac is hard wired, the thermostats are WIFi. They go out to SmartThings and then come back in again, but if LIFX has an REST style API, it should be doable now.

(Raphael Turnerstone) #19

I know I cannot access my Sonos units via iOS controller from outside my local network, and I’m running the 5.1 Beta Firmware (no bridges, yay!). I could only assume it was coming from the Hub directly. Interesting to say the least – if that’s the case, then LIFX and any number of other integration should be possible using the ST Hub as a Gateway, no?

(Raphael Turnerstone) #20

GFCI Outlets require a Netural, correct? I have one pretty close to the where the switches would go … can I tap into that Neutral? Or is that dangerous to do?