Using a z-wave switch for switched receptacles


(Ultrathew) #1

I’ve installed a couple of Aeon Labs Micro Smart Switches that allowed me to use Smart Things to my control outside lights, while keeping everything looking the same inside the house since they use the standard light switch for “local” control. I have a room where all the lighting is from lamps plugged into outlets that are controlled via a lightswitch, and was about to install one more of the Aeon Labs switches to handle this, but the box says they are not to be used with a switch that controls a receptacle. Is this a code issue? Or a matter of Aeon Labs wanting to protect themselves from someone plugging a high-draw device to that switched outlet?

Is this the case with all z-wave controlled switches? I know I could rewire the outlets to have them on all the time and then use a z-wave receptacle, but I’m trying to keep everything in the house controllable via the regular light switches for backwards compatibility with the rest of my family.


(Chrisb) #2

@ultrathew,

I had the same goal when I replaced switches. I did everything with the idea that it should be controllable locally, not just through the MobileApp. I replaced many of my switches with GE/Jasco though, rather than going with the micro controllers. I know some people really don’t like the design of most z-wave switches, but I kinda like 'em and the family has converted easily enough there.

I don’t know why they would say that it shouldn’t control an outlet. My guess is that it’s a code issue though. I know all (or nearly all?) Z-wave outlets always have one outlet always on, and one outlet switched and I believe I hear somewhere that this is done for code reasons. I’m not sure why this is a code issue, but then I don’t always understand many of the code issues. However, if that is a code issue, then setting up your micro controller to handle power to an outlet would mean that BOTH outlets would be z-wave controlled, which is apparently a no-no.

One (potentially expensive) option would be to replace the outlet with Z-wave outlets, and then plug your lights into the switched outlet. Now do two things at the switch: First, run power past the switch so that your outlets are always on. Second, pigtail off the power line to your micro controller. Now you have “always on” outlets, and a z-wave switch that is connected to no load. Finally, set it up in SmartThings so that when the switch turns on, all the outlets turn on. When the switch turns off, all the outlets turn off. This gives you your local control as well as remote control while staying correct code-wise (I think).


(Convinced ST will never be unbroken…) #3

Are your switches dimmers? If so, that may be the reason. Someone might plug a vacuum cleaner in one of the controlled outlets and fry the dimmer.


(Chrisb) #4

Oh, that’s a good point. If they are dimmer switches, even if you’re only turning them on/off, you can still do damage to things that aren’t dimmer friendly. I fried a pair of radios by plugging them into dimmer modules.


(Ultrathew) #5

No dimmer switches, just plain old “on/off”. The two receptacles are currently wired to have one outlet on at all times in each receptacle, which I don’t plan on changing. I’ve considered the switched outlet/z-wave switch combo, but it seems like an unnecessary step in this situation unless I’m missing something.


(Chrisb) #6

Personally, I think you’d be fine going for it. I have a GE/Jasco switch controlling and outlet, and so far my house hasn’t exploded, so I don’t see it as a problem. But of course I’m not an electrician so don’t sue me if anything burns down.


(Jody Walker) #7

So I am having this same issue. I went ahead and tried to set up the switch (GE jasco Z wave) toggle switch for a switched receptacle. It plane and simply didn’t power the outlet. It made me think it terminated at the outlet. Is there a add-on style solution for this to keep it from terminating at the recept (if that is what is happening)?