Wall Switches?

I just hooked up my hub, and now I’m trying to build out a system. Do you guys have any recommendations for the best wall switches?

Here’s what I’m looking for:

  • Fastest response time (i.e. no delay)
  • Works like a regular light switch (up = on, down = off)
  • Can handle at least 240W
  • Dimming not required

Thanks!

Welcome! :sunglasses: Assuming you’re in the US, this should help .( this is a clickable link)

The discussion on switches starts around post 40.

If you’re in the UK, see the following:

As far as “no delay,” SmartThings is a cloud-based system. Delay is somewhat unpredictable and can vary from day to day, but there is always a little bit. We just had this discussion in another thread, but I would say a typical delay in a SmartThings system is 1 to 1 1/2 seconds. If it goes over two seconds, you would start looking for things you could improve in the network.

That’s noticeably longer than, say, a Lutron lighting system. Lutron is not compatible with SmartThings and they use their own proprietary and often patented protocols. Their goal is 300 ms from command to light coming on, but there aren’t any other brands that really get down to that. Most will say that they’re aiming for 500 ms, but that’s not in a cloud-based system.

So I just wanted to mention that because cloud-based systems are what they are, they’re never going to be quite as fast as a local only system.

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Define delay, too. I’m fine with delay from the app or cloud, that happens. What drives me (well, to be fair, my wife) crazy is delay when you physically flip a switch. I installed one of those little dual relays behind two of my switches, and when you flip the actual switch, there’s a split-second delay. Maybe 500 ms at most, but it’s enough to bother her.

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I like the GE ones. They are good and you can get them at your local lowes which makes it easier I think. However If I had it all do to over again I would have went with the toggles for everything but the fans as they dont’ have toggles for fans well none I found. I like the feel of them and they respond well if there is no cloud delay. Most are almost instant. There is no delay if you manually flip the switch.

@joewom makes a good point that if the switch controls the current load, then regardless of brand there usually won’t be any more delay then a non-network switch as the action is the same. ( in the wall relays, as @jdstach mentions, can be an exception, it just depends on the exact set up.)

When delay typically enters the picture is when The switch is being operated by a network command. Most of the time, you wouldn’t notice these delays such as if you had a light scheduled to come on at sunset or at 7 AM, a one second delay wouldn’t matter.

The times when delays are noticeable is anything when hyou are triggering the lights to come on by another event that the person is aware of. So for example, if opening the closet door is supposed to make the closet light come on, delay is noticeable. If a motion sensor is supposed to make the lights come on when you walk into the kitchen, delay will be noticeable. If pressing a button on a handheld remote is supposed to make the lights come on, delay will be noticeable.

But just clicking the switch on the wall should not have usually any delay if that switch actually controls the load to the light fixture.

I thought about toggle switches, but they don’t really operate like a “regular” light switch (i.e. always in neutral). I guess most/all of the paddle switches work that way too, so this might be my best option.

I’m not quite sure what that means - I thought all switches control the load. Also, from reading around the forums, I learned that some device handlers run locally and don’t need to access the cloud, so response time is quicker. I’m pretty new to this, so I’m not sure what all of that means.

Thanks for your help, guys. Looks like I have some more reading to do…

In most home automation systems, including SmartThings, you have the option to use some devices which work like a wireless remote. They may look just like the other switches, but rather than controlling the current flow to a particular light fixture, when you press the switch it sends a message to the hub and then the hub sends a message to whatever radio – enabled device is actually controlling the current to the light.

Probably the two most common examples in a SmartThings set up would be when you have a smart bulb, like a Phillips hue bulb, and you put a switch on the wall that can cause the bulb to go on or off without actually cutting the current to it.

This is also the method for a “virtual three-way” where the master switch does control the load and the auxiliary switch just sends a wireless request that The master turn the fixture on or off.

When do you introduce the option of wireless communication, you also introduce the possibility of lag.

So it’s good in that it gives you a lot more choices about what kinds of devices to use and where to put your switches, but there is a potential negative, which is some added delay.

The issue of toggles versus rockers is an aesthetic one. As you noted, most networked switches rest in the neutral position. With the toggle, this is really obvious, because the switch is sticking straight out rather than up for on a down for off.

With a rocker, particularly a shallow rocker, you’ll hardly notice that it’s resting in neutral, especially from across the room.

A lot depends on how many visitors you have to your household. Many people find that visitors will keep trying to flip the toggles, because they just seem wrong when they are sticking straight out. The rockers tend to be ignored. This is probably why most brands only make the rockers and just a couple also make the toggles.

If you want the switch to work like a regular switch, I suggest you use a regular switch in conjunction with a micro relay. This works because the regular switch is wired to the micro relay. The micro relay is also wired to the load (light). When you move the regular switch it commands the micro relay to change the state of the load (switch it from on to off or off to on).

@joewom said he noticed a delay when doing this, but I have not. Perhaps we’re using different micro relays. I will note that you can’t use lighted regular switches, as the lights won’t work as expected. Also, you have to be able to fit the micro relay into the wall box with the regular switch. Given switches are fairly low profile this is usually not a problem.

So now you have regular switches, and you have Z-Wave compatibility to control (on/off or dim) the light. The response time is good and you can handle 240 watts. You can dim or not.

Check out also https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/yoswit/yoswit-reinvented-smart-wall-switch/. Yoswit has a wide range smart switch options for you.

I only notice a delay in the OSRAM swicthes I use. None of my hardwired switches if used manually. I also stated I notice a minor delay if the request comes from alexa or GH or the app if the cloud is slow. But other times it comes on before Alexa says ok.

@JohnCarter, I highly recommend the GE in wall switch. I have 8 of these in my home, and they are fantastic. As a bonus they also report power usage for the load they are attached to. It can be eye opening to see how much power certain things draw.

Go with the Zigbee version of the GE switch. These are the ones I use and have yet to have an issue. Every Z-wave device I’ve added to my system has been a little flaky and you don’t want flaky for a switch you use every day.

In regard to latency or, @jdstach what I call WAF (wife acceptance factor), these switches have been a non-issue. I would say from button press to load connection is definitely <500mS, probably closer to 250mS. It’s enough to be noticeable, but not enough to be annoying. This would have been the first thing my wife complained about if the latency were too great.

I agree they are probably the best option but cost effective no. I have 36 zwave switches and never had an issue with one of them and you can find them for 32 - 37 dollars. Add that up, just take my case if I went zigbee it would have been $444 dollars more at the $37 dollar point. The latency at the switch will not change by protocol as they are identical except the signal they use. And honestly all mine are attached to lights with LED bulbs. I don’t’ care how much power they draw I need lights when I need them. Other things I have attached to a smart switch which does show power. Like my sons window air unit. Yeah its neat to know. My pool pump shows watts and while first thought it was great I now know what certain RPMS draw. But regardless it still has to run for a set time depending on the RPM ran at.

The issue with Zigbee is that strong Wi-Fi can drown it out. That does not happen with Z wave, which operates in a different frequency band.

For this reason, historically Z wave has been more popular for fixed location devices like wall switches and door locks, because you can’t just move it a foot to the left to avoid a bad interference spot the way you might for a zigbee sensor.

We use a Wi-Fi booster. As I’ve mentioned before, if I put it on the north wall in one room, all of my smartthings – connected zigbee devices to the west of that position are unreachable. :disappointed_relieved:. If I move the Wi-Fi booster 90° to the east wall, all the zigbee devices come back.

If Zigbee is working well for you, that’s great. The Wi-Fi interference issue is just something to be aware of.

@JDRoberts, yep, I’m well aware of the issues that can happen with WiFi and Zigbee. Unfortunately smart things doesn’t provide us a way to change the Zigbee channel. At least that’s what they’ve said here. My hub uses channel 15 so I’ve setup my router and AP to use WiFi channel 1 and channel 11 respectively with 20MHz bandwidth not 40MHz. That has pretty much eliminated any interference issues I might have had.

Here is a good article for WiFi-Zigbee channel coexistance for those interested.

You’re certainly right, the Z-wave version of the GE switch would be a cheaper option. It will probably only get cheaper since the Z-wave versions are sold by Lowe’s (and others) as part of their home automation. It’s likely that they are built in much larger volume.

I’m not sure why I have trouble with Z-wave to be honest. The lower 900MHz frequency should have less interference and in theory should travel better through the house. I think the problem is less about the RF connection and more about the maturity of the protocol. Zigbee is just a more tolerant protocol. Fortunately I’ve been able to mitigate the WiFi interference issues.

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Like they say, “All home automation is local.”

If you have a set up that’s working for you, that’s what matters. :sunglasses:

I appreciate your enthusiasm for your planned product, but one of the reasons this forum is useful is that people can come here and get answers about devices that they can install now that have proven compatibility with SmartThings.

Your device is still in pre-release and is not compatible with SmartThings. It uses a protocol which SmartThings does not currently support. I know that you hope that you might eventually create a cloud integration, which is good, but it’s still not a solution that someone could select today for a current project.

There are a number of home automation company employees who participate in this forum, which is great, because they can give specific advice on their products or may just have creative solutions to offer on general topics. So I don’t want to discourage you from posting.

And please do feel free to add a new thread under Devices to discuss your kickstarter campaign if you want.

https://community.smartthings.com/c/devices-integrations

But it would be better if you don’t post links to your campaign in threads where people are looking for immediate answers for current projects. It just makes the forum harder to use for everyone. Thanks!

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Thanks again, guys! Here’s what I’ve learned:

  • Toggle switches are fast but not realistic, since they’re always in the center position
  • Micro relays (like the Aeon Labs G2 one) are fastest and most realistic, but the position of the switch could get confusing with automation
  • This thread is the #1 Google result for “smartthings fastest wall switch”, so hopefully it can help some people in the future

So, I’ll probably end up with a Z-wave paddle switch controlling the bulbs directly. I’m worried about the quality of the GE switch from what I’ve read, but there don’t seem to be a whole lot of other choices out there.

This may be a stupid question, but can I still use SmartApps with a wall switch, without impacting the response time of that switch?

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Yes, provided you don’t clog up your entire network with too much polling. Which was more common about two years ago than now, I think most people have learned that lesson. :wink:

As far as switches other than GE, there are several popular choices. Among the less expensive ones, the Linear/GoControl are a standard shallow rocker switch, use virtual three ways (no traveler wires), and are widely available including at some big box stores.

The new homeseer switches have a functionality that so far the other switches don’t offer, and that they can distinguish between single tap, double tap, and triple tap, at both the top and the bottom of the switch, so they’re nice for zone lighting where you want to have the whole room come on with the single tap, but you might want to have different sets of lamps come on for the double tap and triple tap. Or even use those tap patterns for something completely different. And because their new, they are also Z wave plus, which is nice. That gives you longer range and better pairing in, both valuable for switches. However, they are reportedly a little slower then switches that only do single taps, probably because they’re waiting to see if there will be a second tap.

Among the more expensive switches, both Leviton and Cooper are good. Leviton has an unusual form factor in that you only tap the bottom of the rocker, never the top. Cooper has some decorator options which give you different color combinations and some different shapes. Both Cooper and Leviton are also very well engineered switches. Both have Z wave plus models coming out in early to mid 2017, but right now you can only get the Z wave classic versions.

Zooz are brand-new wall switches in the budget category, but so far community reviews have been mixed.

Dragontech is a Z wave plus brand that’s gotten good reviews for the plug-in pocket sockets, but not for the wall switches.

There are a few other fairly popular brands, including evolve and enerwave, so just depends on the exact features that you’re looking for. It’s good to shop around, because prices will vary a lot and Amazon isn’t always the least expensive.

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