Z-Wave Switch + Virtual Switch with SmartThings

zwave
switch

(Raj Balwani) #1

Excited to receive my Hub 2.0 today. First time using SmartThings but have previously used Revolv and Wink so fairly experienced with the market. However my situation is this. I have a GE Z-Wave switch to control my kitchen lights at the top of one stairs. However at the bottom of the next set of stairs there isnt a 3-way wiring to turn off the kitchen lights. I would love to remove the switch there and put a virutal switch/remote to control the kitchen lights as well. I cant seem to find a good virtual option like how Lutron has that will work flush like a wall mounted switch.

I also want to make sure this setup will work with SmartThings. Just easier to do this then to re-wire our brand new house.

At the top of my first set of stairs i have 4 switches that control the following: first stairwell lights, desk overhead light, pendents over the island, kitchen lights.

At the bottom of the second set of stairs i have 2 switches that control the following: desk overhead light and second stairwell lights. I would like to change this to be: kitchen lights and second stairwell lights

Thanks in adavnce for any help/advice.


(Chrisb) #2

Okay, I think you can make this work. Here’s what I did in a similar situation:

By my side door I had three switches, one of which used to turn on/off light in the back of my basement. Not terrible useful really, and what made it far worse is that this switch also turned off the power leading to the door bell transformer, so I either needed to leave my lights on all the time or not hear my door bell. So I pulled that switch out years ago and there was just a “dumby” switch in place there.

So here’s what I did when I started with SmartThings: I put a z-wave on/off switch in there. It had line and neutral hooked up, but nothing is on load. The switch, by itself, does nothing.

Then I wrote a simply little SmartApp that basically ties this switch together with a different switch I have (my back door light in this instance) and when one is turned on, the other will get turned on. If other is turned off, the one will be turned off.

Now with Smart Lighting I think you can do this without even needing my app. Setup the switch to trigger if another switch is turned on/off, and then do the reverse to make them a wireless three-way.

The only downside to this is that you need to pay for two full switches rather than a switch and a 3-way AUX. But compared to the price of re-wiring, this might be cheaper.


(Raj Balwani) #3

hmmmm this may just work. Yeah I have one switch installed for the kitchen lights. So buying another one for $35 isnt that big a deal to try out. If it works that will be awesome. This is the only room I need that “virtual/wireless switch” option.

I dont know why GE or any other zwave companies cant come up with something like how Lutron has done. So easy to buy one switch and wall mount the pico remote for a clean and simple install. Either Z-Wave has to have something like that or ST needs to support Lutron. Ahhhh such fragmentation!


(Chrisb) #4

In a couple of days I’m going to upgrade to Hub 2.0. When I do that I’m going to try to tie my switches together with the Smart Lighting app. I actually have two separate areas in my house where I’m running this sort of thing.

If I’m successful with the Smart Lighting app setup I’ll post here that I am. If it doesn’t work there’s always my Wireless 3-way app which I know works. I can help you with getting them setup installed if you need it.


(Ernie) #5

Would the Cooper Aspire RF9500WS Wireless Dimmer-RF Battery Operated Switch work in your situation? The Smartenit 3-button wireless switch might also be an option. Both are wireless and battery operated. A less expensive option could be the 2gig WT00Z-1 Z-Wave 3-Way Wall Switch. This switch does not need a load to operate.


(Chrisb) #6

Hmm… I haven’t had any experience with that device before. That might be a slick, and low cost, option. The only think I’m not sure of is how it fits on the z-wave network… how it’s seen by the Hub and how it links with the “master” switch.

The comments on Amazon talk about needing to “pair” or “associate” it with the master switch, which is not something I have personal experience with, but it is something that can be done in ST…the price is not bad… lots of 'em under $30 on Amazon.


(Ernie) #7

I have one and it is seen as a dimmer switch. I use it to control a smart bulb with the Big Switch app. It has no problem turning the bulb on/off and dimming. I believe that it is one of the few switches that does not need to be connected to a line. It does not need to be “associated” to work. However, when I bought this my intention was to “associate” with an outlet but I have not gotten to it. The advantage to it being associated would be a faster response and it should work without ST.


(Chrisb) #8

Cool… Okay, then yeah, if you can get one of those cheaper than a full fledged z-wave switch, go for it!

For the record, most z-wave switches will work without a load connected to them. As long as they have a neutral line and that’s connected, you don’t need to put a load on it to make 'em work. So there’s some advantage in getting a full switch in that it provides flexibility if you end up wanted to use it as a regular switch somewhere else later, but still… cheaper is usually better! :smile:

Tomorrow I’m moving to Hub 2.0. When I do that I’m going to try to use the Smart Lighting app to “link” two switches. If this is successful and I’m able to have it installed locally, then it should run offline.


(Ernie) #9

Does the Smart Lighting app sync up dimming between switches?


(Chrisb) #10

Umm… I don’t know… hold on.

<< insert hold music here >>

A quick check and it doesn’t look like it. This won’t be a problem for me as in my three instances I’m just doing on/off. But yeah, if you’re looking to sync dimmer levels Smart Lighting doesn’t look like it’ll work.


(Raj Balwani) #11

yeah the 2gig option looks promising. Its $26 and might take time to get to me or i just pay the $35 for a full fledged GE switch and the goodness of prime puts it in my hands within 2 days. :slight_smile:

I have 3 floors and every hallway and stairs has 3 recessed LED’s but they all have dimmers. I dont want dimmers in my hallways and stairwells. So those switches will be changed to standard GE Zwave Paddles. Some are 3-way and some are 4way. For those ill probably buy one GE switch and however many aux add ons at $20/each.

So back to the original post if i only connect the line and neutral i shoudl be good. No need for load and use SmartThings to associate the switch with the original GE Zwave Paddle on my kitchen lights on other side of the room. that way it mimics a 3-way settup without the internal wiring? correct?

on another note i want to start looking at LED undercabinet lighting for my kitchen. What great options work well with SmartThings?


(Raj Balwani) #12

however without the smartthings association (ie: if i move) this switch will not be functional to new resident correct?

Anyways thats probably minimum 10 years away since its a brand new home and were first time home buyers. So ill worry about it when the time comes.


(Chrisb) #13

[quote=“rajbalwani, post:12, topic:23335, full:true”]
however without the smartthings association (ie: if i move) this switch will not be functional to new resident correct? [/quote]

This is correct. Although, avoid the use of the word ‘association.’ You’ll be connecting them with a SmartApp. Association has a specific meaning in the Z-wave world. It’s possible to use a different type of controller to “associate” the two switches together.

It’s a bit of a semantic argument, but to avoid possible confusion I’d just say your connecting them via a SmartApp.


(Chrisb) #14

Okay, upgraded to Hub 2.0 on Thursday… what a job! Over all it went pretty well, but just long… It didn’t help that I wanted to rearrange some different devices. It also didn’t help that the SmartThings App kept crashing after just about every individual device being removed.

But… the important thing re: this thread: Yes, the Smart Lights app works very well in joining two different switches. Here’s an example of what I did… I wanted to join together Side Entry Primary and Side entry Auxiliary.

Start a new automation in Smart Lighting.
Select the switch I want to control: Side Entry Aux
What do you want to do? Turn it on.
Select the triggers: When a switch turns on, which switch? Side Entry Pri.
Also turn off? Yes

Okay, first half done! Now you just need to do the same thing in reverse: control side entry pri based on side entry aux. As long as these are just standard device types and you’re on hub 2.0, this should run locally as well.


(Raj Balwani) #15

Awesome! Thanks for the update Chris. I have been lazy to get the switch. I got a coupon to use at Lowes and I am tempted to purchase the switches from lowes as it is the same price as Amazon but with coupon comes out cheaper. However Lowes only has 3way switches. So i am wondering if a 3way switch can be used as a standard switch if no traveler is connected.


(Chrisb) #16

Yes, absolutely. Most of the GE/Jasco switches are by default 3-way ready, just add an AUX switch for 3-way use, or leave single for single pole use.


(Raj Balwani) #17

These are the wires coming out of that box where the 3way secondary switch was plugged in. There were two black wires: one was connected to “conn” on the old switch which I guess is the traveler. A red switch was plugged in as well. So the old switch had one red, one black, one black traveler and that’s it. In this picture I have pulled out the neutral cables and only connected one neutral to the zwave switch in the pic as well a black cable (no idea if I needed black or red)

Upon powering back up no blue light on the switch so I believe I got it wrong. Any advice?


(Chrisb) #18

Okay… so old switch had:

  1. Black
  2. Black
  3. Red

That means, as you stated, probably one black was a traveler, the red was a traveler, and the other black went to load (the light).

So, on the “master” switch, how did you wire that? Does the master still work with how you have this wired?

Personally, this is what I would have done:

Assuming the master had one black wire coming in (Line – from the breaker box), and then one black and one red going out (travelers to the second switch), then I would have:

On the master side:
Black from breaker goes to line.
Traveler black goes to load.
Traveler red is capped off. We’ll not use that.

On the “Aux” side here…
Traveler red is capped off. We’ll not use that.
Traveler black and load (wire going to light) will be screwed together.

This will complete the circuit and allow the master light to work.

For this new switch you are putting in… pig-tail off the black line coming in from the breaker box to the other switch you have here. This is just power coming in so you can wire those together just fine. Connect neutral as you have done there.


(Raj Balwani) #19

So chris just to clarify here. On the other side of the kitchen the Master to this switch controlled the light over a desk. That master switch I have left alone and there is another switch that controls the kitchen lights.

What I was hoping and understanding from our earlier conversation was to install a zwave switch where the secondary office light switch is and only connect it to line and neutral so it doesnt physically control anything until associated with kitchen zwave light to act as a 3way with smartthings hub.

does that make sense?


(Chrisb) #20

Yup… makes sense. So, first thing we need to do it make sure the master switch of the three way is still working. We don’t want to “disable.” That’s why I’m saying we need to tie those two black wires together. This will “by pass” the three way and allow the circuit to complete:

Again this is done to by pass the second half of the three-way. If you don’t do this the “master” on the other side won’t work.

Next, wiring in the “dummy” switch… It looks like you have a couple of white wires there, which are probably neutrals. Not sure where these came from. Where they tied together originally? If so, they do need to be tied back together. If you’re tying them back together you can cheat here nicely by putting both in to the two holes for neutral on the switch and screwing that down tight. We needed to connect to a neutral anyway, so this works great.

For line power you need to get power that is always one. For this reason we should NOT grab it from those two black wires we connected above. That likely will only have juice when the power is on at the old Master switch.

The smarter idea here is to share the black line that is sending power to the switch right next to this one. That should always be hot. If that switch has two holes like the GE does, just put a little wire in there going from that switch to the new one here.

That should do it.