Using a physical dimmer with no load to control other devices

Have a group of GE Link Bulbs out in the backyard (currently connected to an “always on” power source… don’t ask… still fixing stuff from the previous owners) that I want a physical switch for. I have an empty switch box near the back door that used to go to light that is no longer in use.

Does anyone see any issues with putting a GE dimmer in that slot with no load and then using Dim with Me from @wackware to run them?

I would say this should work. I’ve not used dim with me but I’ve used a similar app “big switch” using physical switches to control multiple switches.

And ok to have a dimmer with no load?

Yup as long as the dimmer is powered it has no idea if a load is actually connected.


@evanbeek did you ever try this and get it to work? Trying something similar but getting pretty bad latency.

I did not. Was concerned about having a no load switch in the wall (probably unfounded, but yea…). Instead I put one set of the outside lights on a dimmer and am using the dim with me app to control the other outside set. There is a slight delay, but it actually looks cool. One set dims up with the switch and the other follows a few seconds later. Same with dimming down.

Got it. I’m trying to bring up my WAF by adding a physical switch to a set of lamps with Cree Bulbs in my living room. I happen to have a free switch on the wall that doesn’t control anything. So, assuming there’s current running through the switch, my plan was to replace it with a z-wave dimmer (GE/Jasco 45606) and control them using @wackware 's DimWithMe app.

Before switching out the dimmer though, I tested this on an already installed dimmer (which does carry a load). Unfortunately, there’s a 5-10 second delay before the lights dim on/off. I’m afraid the latency will be too much for my wife to bare. Anyone have any thought’s on why the delay? Is it the round trip to the cloud? The fact that it’s carrying a load? Something else that can be optimized in the app itself?

Option B is to replace the switch with an outlet/USB and mount a tablet, but I’m looking to avoid doing that. Not sure I could even get that one approved. I think it looks cool. She thinks it looks too techy.

The delay seems to be when the second set is polling the first set for changes. If you catch it at the right time, it’s a couple seconds. Otherwise it can be (as you said) about 10 seconds. No big deal outside where the perimeter lights are just for ambiance (the lights on the main switch are the important ones), but I definitely can see it being an issue for normal, in house usage. Maybe @wackware can shed some light on faster polling?

Higher WAF would be achieved if you use devices that can be directly associated. E.g., a Z-Wave switch associated with other Z-Wave bulbs or switches. There’s nearly no delay, and it will continue working if ST is offline.

I’ve done this with Z-Wave devices before, but I’m not sure how Zigbee associations are made. Perhaps your Cree bulbs can be associated with the Zigbee version of that dimmer.

Hmm, that’s interesting. I have an old house that doesn’t have neutral wires at many of the switches. That’s why i’m sort of forced to use that model of the GE/Jasco dimmer. I can’t find confirmation that these zigbee switches don’t require a neutral wire.

Regardless, my DIY relay got approved so hopefully, I’ll get that going and increase my WAF that way.


The delay is most likely due to the zwave switch not instantly reporting back to ST after you press the switch. ST has to poll the switch to find out it was manually triggered, then the SmartApp can see the update and trigger the Cree bulb. So the delay is mostly about how soon the next poll from ST comes. It’s a limitation of zwave switches because the instant status report feature is part of a patent that few device makers pay to license. Direct associations are the way to go for zwave switches when you can.

As far as I can tell, Zigbee doesn’t operate with direct associations the way zwave does, but it also should be able to report instantly back to the hub. I expect the latency would be much lower, but I’ve never tried one of these switches.

How is the DIY Relay gonna be powered if you don’t have neutrals?

Dang. Didn’t think of that. I was planning on simply replacing the switch with a usb outlet.

Would the Pollster help in this case?

The Lutron patent applies to lighting devices, not a specific network protocol. So zigbee, zwave, bluetooth, wifi doesn’t matter. Unless the manufacturer has licensed the patent, the switch can’t instantly update the hub. For example Crestron, which uses zigbee, just settled a patent infringement case with Lutron last year.

Zigbee has groups, but not association groups like zwave.

Would Polling help in this case?

The fastest way to cripple a mesh network is with excessive polling. Excessive meaning more than 5% of total network traffic.

The hard truth is that mesh networks, including zwave and zigbee, simply aren’t intended for instant status updates. They’re intended for low energy draw, low cost, low traffic networks.

The Phillips Hue Bridge, for example, won’t let you force poll individual bulbs.
Within 15 minutes, all statuses should be up to date in an efficient mesh network.

If you really need more frequent status updates, you should look at plugged in WiFi devices. That’s why WiFi is a good match for thermostats in homes with large families, for example, to keep people from fiddling with them. :innocent:

Back to the problem…the Dim with Me issue is almost certainly caused by problems in the ST cloud. (So polling will only make things worse, as it currently goes through the cloud as well.)

Hopefully the V2 hub will solve many of these problems with more local processing, but we don’t know any details yet.

Zwave association groups require no hub or cloud processing, so switch on/light on is really fast. The hub may take a few minutes to catch up on the status for lighting, but that’s the price you pay for all the other benefits of mesh.

edited to add The Lutron patent applies only to lighting. If a specific lighting switch model supports “instant update” it will almost always say so in the manufacturer’s description, it’s how they justify the higher cost.

Hmm, my usage of this is practically instantaneous. I have a dimmer that is controlled via Control4, I have unlinked the load from the dimmer in C4 and have C4 sending an API request to a smartApp (in the cloud) to turn on the GE and Cree bulbs in the bathroom to the right dim levels.

The delay is less than a second and with the ramp rate it is barely noticed.

Wonder if the big delay is the zwave switch state to the hub?

Control4 licensed the Lutron patent.

Yeah, it’s why their costs are so high on the dimmers too. But it is zigbee, not zwave too.