Which in-wall Z-Wave remote works best?

I need a 4-button in-wall remote to control my GE Z-Wave switches. Since SmartThings doesn’t officially support any in-wall Z-Wave remotes, I’m wondering which one has the best unofficial support. Here are the ones I’ve found so far:

Leviton VRCZ4-M0Z 4 Button Zone Controller
Leviton VRCZ4-MRZ 4-Button Zone Controller with Switch
Leviton VRCS4-M0Z 4-Button Scene Controller
Leviton VRCS4-MRZ 4-Button Scene Controller with Switch
Leviton VRCS2-MRZ 2-Button Scene Controller with Switches x2
GE 45631 Z-Wave Wireless Keypad Controller
Cooper RFWC5 Aspire 5-Scene Keypad
ENERWAVE ZWN-SC7 7 Button Scene Controller

I’ve tried bdahlem’s device type for the Leviton VRCS4-MRZ, but the lack of two-way feedback makes it confusing. doggy reported that the GE 45631 works fine with the generic device type, however it’s not hardwired, so I don’t know if it will have enough range.

Which remote works the best?

FYI, 45631 as well as its handheld cousins, 45600 and 45601 cannot currently be used as generic controller, i.e. you can use it to control Z-Wave lights, but it won’t send commands to the hub, so you cannot use it control other ST devices.


Thank you for this information! Do you know of a wall controller that can send commands to the hub?

This one can, although @ $45 price tag, it’s cheaper to put a 7" Android tablet on the wall :smile:

By the way, the price of scene controllers seems absolutely arbitrary. If nothing else, they should be cheaper than dimmers because there’s no load control circuitry. Otherwise, it’s the same chip, just different software.


@wackware Now am i correct in thinking if the GE keypad is installed then it would work whether or not ST is online or offline because it just talks to the zwave switches, whereas the enerwave would cease to function because commands are being sent to ST in a situation where ST is offline? Thank you.

Yes, this is correct.

whereas the enerwave would cease to function because commands are being sent to ST

Yes, if you configure it this way. I can also be configured to send commands to Z-Wave devices directly.


Does the ENERWAVE ZWN-SC7 have any feedback issues? Some scene controllers expect two-way feedback, so they don’t function correctly with SmartThings.

Take the Leviton VRCS4-MRZ for example: When I turn a device on from the scene controller and then turn it off somewhere else, the scene controller still thinks the device is on. So the next time I try to turn on the device from the scene controller, it’s actually trying to turn the device off. Will I have this issue with the ENERWAVE ZWN-SC7?

These controllers are going in outdoor seating areas, so that isn’t really an option. For the inside of my house, I am putting old iOS and Android devices on the wall.

I’ve heard that Leviton’s Vizia RF+ controllers cost more because they pay a lot of money to license Lutron’s two-way feedback patent.

I don’t know where you heard that. Z-Wave scene activation is a one-way command sent by scene controller to scene actuators. There’s no need for feedback. The problem is if the scene actuation command bypasses the hub (i.e. sent to devices directly), so it has no idea that something happened.

I should probably clarify that I’m not creating “scenes” with the scene controller. I’m trying to use each button to toggle a device. When you have a Leviton switch directly connected to a Leviton scene controller (no hub), they communicate bi-directionally. If you press the Leviton switch, the corresponding button on the scene controller will light up by itself. Pressing that button on the scene controller will turn the switch off if the switch is on, and turn it on if the switch is off.

I feel silly writing that last sentence because of course it should work that way! However, that’s not how the Leviton VRCS4-MRZ works when I go through the Hub. Pressing a button the first time sends an “on” command, the second time sends an “off” command, on, then off, on, then off, and so on. It doesn’t matter if the switch is off, it will still send an “off” command. If the Hub would just toggle the switch when I press the button, then there would be no need for two-way communication. But as it stands, the VRCS4-MRZ needs feedback in order to send the correct command.

@geko, Are you saying the wall mount GE/Jasco 45631 keypad is a primary controller? I understood it is a purely a secondary controller, thus not able to directly to other z-wave devices as per @JDRoberts. If the former, have you physically seen this keypad work independent of a hub?

Apples and oranges. A Secondary controller can still talk to other Z wave devices without going back to the hub, it just needs to be set up by a primary controller.

There’s a difference between needing a hub to add a new device to the network, and needing a hub each time to talk to another end device after everything is set up.

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@JDRoberts, ohhhh now I understand. I’ll give it a try. Thanks for the great info!

We’re talking about many different possible situations here. Each with different consequences.

If you take a scene controller like the Enerwave or the GE, you can add it to a smartthings network as a simple on off device. Where none of the buttons work the way you want them to. But because it is owned by the same Z wave network, it could control scenes with other end Devices like Zwave light switches, only you can’t set up the scenes. So it just doesn’t work.

Now you have a whole bunch of different options.

A) set the scene controller up with a different primary controller like a GE remote or Vera, and when all the scenes are set up correctly, then exclude it from that primary controller and add it and its individual light switches to smartthings, and Smartthings will think it’s just an on off switch and will be out of sync as far as tile status, but you will be able to control the individual light switches either from smart things or from the scene controller. And if the smartthings cloud is unavailable, the scene controller should still work. This is what people tend to do with the GE handheld remote.

B) fool the scene controller into thinking it is a set of individual contact sensors. This is basically what the button controller smart app does. If you do that, then you can keep smartthings in sync with whatever you do on button controller, and they can both control the end devices.

It is not possible to do this with all devices, in particular it is not possible to do this with the ones that require controller replication. So you cannot do this with GE controller devices. But, and this is the difference, you can do it with the enerwave. It doesn’t always work perfectly but the basic idea works.

So now you have a button controller on the wall, smartthings knows what it does, and very important it can only talk to the end devices by sending a message to smartthings which then sends a message to the end device.

So if you choose this approach everything stays in synch as long as the smartthings cloud is available but if the smartthings cloud is not available, it doesn’t work At all with the V one hub.

It might work with the V 2 hub’s local processing, but only if the device type is an approved type. Which is why the minimote will work. But the Enerwave will not.

C) is a simple master switch and use Zwave association to let it control a simple accessories switch. This is not intended for scene controllers. This is basically used to set up a wireless three-way. All the devices have to be within one hop of each other. Which pretty much means the same room. But they can talk to each other without having to talk to the hub first.

It’s true that the smartthings hub status tiles will get out of sync if you use the switches on the wall. But other than that everything works really well. You can control the light from the switch. You can control it with schedules via the hub, if the smartthings cloud is unavailable the switch can talk to the other switch without going to the hub at all.

It doesn’t need special set up. It doesn’t need controller replication. It’s just one device talking to another device. This is a really common way to have a motion sensor control a light switch. To make this work, both zwave devices have to support “association.”

So you can see, here are three completely different ways of getting one and device to talk to another end device. Like a motion sensor to talk to a light switch. Or a master lightswitch to talk to an accessory light switch. Each way has its own pluses and minuses. And each Way works with a different subset of zwave devices.

So I think that’s where things have been getting confusing. People have been talking about the Enerwave sometimes as a scene controller, and sometimes as a button controller. They’ve been talking about the GE wall panel as a scene controller ( that’s the only thing it can be) . The GE handheld remote can be a primary controller or a scene controller (if set up by a primary controller other than SmartThings), but cannot be a button controller. The Aeon Minimote can be a primary controller or a secondary controller or a button controller. And a Cooper master switch can be associated with a Z wave accessory switch even though they are both just plain switches.

I don’t know if all that makes anything more or less confusing, but at least I hope it points out that we might be talking about the same device used in different ways in different threads.


Below is a link to Discussion for the Cooper scene controller DH.