Very basic question on using two switches to control two lights

(Ken Blakeslee) #1


I am totally new to z-wave technology so if my question is in the wrong place or is common knowledge I apologize. I have two ceiling lights, each with its own switch. I want to configure this so either switch turns on both lights. I know I could do this by rewiring to the lights to both connect to one switch and replace both switches with three way switches and pull wires with travelers, etc. (what a pain).

Is there a way to accomplish the same thing with z-wave so I don’t have to do all that rewiring?


The easiest way is to put a $15 smart bulb in each fixture, like the GE link, and then controlling the bulbs through the smartthings hub. Then lock the existing switch, and add a battery operated switch at each location. This would give you the ability to control both lights from either switch, no wiring required. (you have to lock the existing switch because the bulbs must have power at all times, or they won’t know what to do.). Total cost to do two switches would be about $130. Cost will vary a bit depending on whether you actually need two battery-operated switches on the wall, and whether you need more than one bulb in each fixture.

The simplest way aesthetically, is to replace each switch with a single master Z wave switch, and use a smart app like “big switch” so that the lights will work in tandem because the hub tells them to. For this you would keep your existing dumb lightbulbs. The new Z wave switch could be an entire replacement for your existing switch, or it could be something like the aeon micro relay which fits inside your existing switch. In either case, though, this option does require rewiring, but only of the individual switch. You don’t have to run wires between the two switches like you do in a regular three-way. Total cost for the devices for this option could be anywhere from $80-$400 depending on whether you replace your existing switches and, if so, what style you get. If you’re going to pay someone else to do the wiring, that’s an additional cost as well. But it does mean you have only one switch on the wall for each light.

In either of those cases, the relationship between the two switches is handled by the smart things hub via over the air communications, rather than by wires running to the lights.

We should note though that you may see a slight but noticeable delay when running the request to the hub versus your old switches. It’s hard to predict this because it depends on your specific network, as well as lag from the cloud. But I did just want to mention it before you start rewiring. If you think any delay would really bother you, you should consider switches that can do direct association. These will reduce some of the delay. And if you go upscale even further, and get switches that support “instant status” you will also get even faster response. However, they are significantly more expensive than other switches.

So that gives you some choices.