Z-Wave Switches Manual vs Remote Control?

Hello, I’ve never tried a z wave switch before, and trying to figure out whether I want to buy smart bulbs or smart switches.
For some reason i can’t google this info well…
So my question is - for Z Wave switches and dimmers, for each one, what happens if it is turned off through the unit/wall manually? Can ST still turn it on? Or because power isn’t connected, then the switch can’t be turned on with ST?
What about dimmers? Does it work the same way?

Yes, for all the smart switches that I know of, including all the Z wave switches, Zigbee switches, and Wi-Fi switches that are compatible with SmartThings, if you turn it off at the switch, SmartThings can still turn it back on. :sunglasses:

This is because the radio inside the switch remains powered even though the light at the switch controls goes off.

This has to do with the way the switch is wired when it is installed, and it is the reason that most of these switches require that there be a neutral wire at the switchbox. The neutral is used to Power the radio even when the current that goes from the switch to the light fixture has been turned off. This allows the switch to hear the next “on” command even when it appears to be off.

It’s also the reason why all the switches rest in the neutral position rather than being locked into “on” or “off.” for example, for most zwave rocker switches you press the top of the switch for on or the bottom of the switch for off, but as soon as you’ve pressed it, it returns to resting in the neutral position. :level_slider:

As for smart switches versus smart bulbs, you will find many strong opinions in the forums both ways, but the short answer is that there are pros and cons to both. And many people, myself included, use some of each just depending on the exact use case for each one.

See the following thread:

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By the way, as for dimmers, these almost all work by having you press the switch multiple times, or press and hold, rather than turning a dial. So again, they rest in the neutral position. Generally you press the bottom part of the switch to go dimmer and the top part of the switch to go brighter.

This often means the dimmer often looks exactly like the regular on/off switch in the Z wave models.

Also, since you’re just starting out you might find the following thread useful. It discusses the different features the different types of devices can have, and can help you select between brands.

You might also like the “get started” Quick browse list in the project report section of the community – created wiki. These are project reports that different community members have posted. The get started list includes things like "the top 10 things to do with home automation " and “what device should I buy next?”


Yeap I did use those threads as guidelines. Got my outlet, sensor, locks, and paired them to ST and Echo Dot, and soon GH. Lights are next. The wallet is leaking.

Thanks JD!

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I have been trying to determine if the GE or other types of switches allow you to override the default on/off switches. For example, If the switch is hardwired to the overhead light, can we use the double tap functionality to turn it off and on, and use the single tap to turn on a hue light in the room? Does anyone know if this is possible? Thanks

Not with the GE. There are some people who have tried various double tap options based on special device type handlers or smart apps which try to time the pause between the taps. But because of the cloud latency introduced by the smartthings architecture, these just never work consistently.

Instead, you want to get a switch where the single tap versus double tap is captured at the switch itself. Then the switch just sends a code to the smartthings hub to tell it which tap pattern was used.

Homeseer recently introduced a line of switches which do exactly that. You have single tap, double tap, and triple tap on both the top and bottom of the switch. The switch then sends a single code to the smartthings hub for each of these options. :sunglasses::level_slider::bulb:

Community discussion in the following thread (this is a clickable link)

With the Homeseer switches, you could do what you described. And they look just like a regular rocker switch.


@JDRoberts I have been looking at the HomeSeer switches, and I had been wondering if there was truly a difference between GE and these. If so, this sounds like they do exactly what I want them to. Thanks for the info.

Yes, big difference. The GE switch is just a basic on/off/dim switch. The homeseer switches use the Z wave “central scene” commands to tell the hub what tap pattern was used.

Whenever you have a question about any zwave device, you can look up its conformance statement on the official Z wave alliance website. That will tell you which Z wave commands it “supports” (can receive) and “controls” (can send).


This is why you need a neutral wire at the switch, the switch needs to have constant power for the radio. Turning a switch off just turns off power to the load, not to the switch.
If you do not understand how electricity works, you need to either study up on it or hire somebody to do the work for you, risk injury to yourself or burning down the house.


@JDRoberts thank you for the detailed information, gives me some reading material so I can educate myself further. Thanks again.

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Don’t worry! I’m calling an electrician to change all the fixtures and the switches!
I don’t want to set a new house on fire~

I’m an electrical engineer but ehhhh I deal with 0s and 1s now, idk anything about analog circuits…


I wasn’t trying to be condescending , but we tend to get a little cautious about giving out wiring advice when it sounds like somebody is not familiar with doing electrical work.

Don’t worry, your worries are justified.
I can try to learn about it, but I have other things to worry about right now, so for now I’ll just worry about the IoT side, and not bother with the manual work o_o (same thing with rekeying, I’ll just get a locksmith instead of breaking the lock myself)

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Just get Schlage touchscreen, no more rekeying or changing locks. Just delete and add codes as required.

I did get those. Three of them. But I wanted to rekey them before installing, to all the same lock so I can toss away the other two keys :slight_smile:

I’ve had them for 3 years. No clue where the actual " keys" are. They are on the " extra key" rack someplace, I assume. Chances of the batteries dying in 4 locks all at the same time are next to impossible.

@JDRoberts I just want to clarify, I know you can setup actions for the single tap, but can you prevent the physical load from executing on/off based on the click? From what I can tell from your response, that is what you are stating but I just want to be sure I understand properly and don’t misunderstand.