Zwave plus Dimmer/Switch with better range?

I have a GE Zwave+ Toggle switch installed at my pool electrical box. The plan is to be able to control the pool light from my house or phone without having to run extra wiring. BOY WHAT A GREAT IDEA. Bought a new v3 HUB because it boasted 150ft ZWave+ distance (as compared to my v1) as well as a ZWave Extender (Aeotech). The dimmer switch is ~60ft away (through 2 walls) from the ST HUB and line of site, through a glass window at about 45ft from the Aeotech Extender.

I can’t connect the dimmer in the current setup, if I run an extension cord and the ST HUB to at about 30ft from the dimmer the ST HUB can pair but the second I move it back inside it goes offline. I have tried a million times to get it to stay (good news is ST sees my neighbors Samsung TV thats ~200FT away and tries to connect just fine, cool Samsung, cool!)

Is this a HUB limitation or the switch? I find it hard to believe its the HUB as its rated for such a huge distance and even with the extender it never connects (once paired0 Ive tried rebuilding my zwave network, etc. Are there better dimmer switches out there? Currently using GE Zwave Plus 14292 (I think its 14292)

This may help

Also this used to be included in the manual for zwave devices and yes this is the older zwave tech range but it does give good examples some of the things that can cause interference and the expected degradation in signal.

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The hub is only rated for up to 150 feet for Z wave plus, and that’s through clear dry air with no other interference. That’s true of all certified Z wave plus hubs. It’s basically like the posted mileage value for a new car. It let you compare one model with another, but it’s not telling you that that’s the value you’re going to get in real life everyday commuter driving.

From the official faq for the new hub :

What is the range of the SmartThings Hub?
The range of the SmartThings Hub is 50-130 feet (depending on your home’s construction).
Range also varies depending on a number of environmental factors, including interference from other electronics and atmospheric conditions.

Outdoors, zwave tends to perform somewhat worse than zigbee if the day is humid or raining or snowy.

The extender

The Aeotec extender is no better or worse than any other Z wave device of the same generation in the same position. We still need those back in the third generation of the wave, but now it’s fifth generation, so you can use anything that’s convenient that mains powered: A switch, relay, plug in motion sensor, etc. You didn’t give the model number, so I don’t know if you have the third generation extender or the fifth generation, but if it’s not out a zwave plus device, I’d replace it with a zwave plus pocket socket and you’ll get better performance.

OptimizingYour network?

You might find the following FAQ helpful. Start with post 11 in that thread, read it, then go back up to the top of the thread and read the whole FAQ. ( The topic title is a clickable link)

The most important thing to understand is that all zwave devices of the same generation have about the same range. The key to improving transmission is to have more repeating Devices.

You said that your extender device is about 45 feet from your dimmer switch through one Clear window. Does that mean 45 feet through clear air? No walls, no other windows, no cabinets, no bushes, etc.?

There are certainly better engineered switches than the GE, because that’s a budget brand and it’s not particularly well-made. But they aren’t likely to give you any better range.

So there are a couple of things you can do. One would be to switch to a Wi-Fi switch that has an official integration with SmartThings. That’s a much better range.

It’s not a toggle switch, but the following Leviton Wi-Fi is an on/off switch, not a dimmer, and should have a much better range than any of zwave plus switch in the same position.

Sorry, I just noticed you wanted a dimmer for your pool light. Are those bulbs dimmable? That’s fairly unusual for a pool. But if you do need a dimmer, the Leviton Wi-Fi line also includes a dimmer model that has an official SmartThings integration.

Thank you for the info, yes the 45ft is a clear shot right to the electric box. When I pair the ST hub with the switch (when running an electric cord outside) its about 8ft closer than the extender with no glass door. I am trying to get more Zwave devices to build a better network I just dont really need anything else at the moment lol. Also there is nothing I can do to put a repeater closer to the switch than it already is (no other outdoor outlets, etc) Ill look into the Leviton. Thanks!

Oh and its the Aeotech Extender 6

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Thats some good stuff, thank you for sharing!

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Im fine not going dimmable, I was just under the impression that all smart switches are usually dimmable. Regarding the WiFi light you mentioned, does that use my WiFi network instead of Zwave?

It’s just like dumb switches. Some switches are made to be dimmable. Others, often called relays or binary switches, just do on/off. Most major device manufacturers make both.

The main reason to have binary on/off switches is that dimmer switches will really only work with dimmable lights. If you have something like a siren, or a television set or a single speed fan, then you probably want a binary switch to control that.

And yes, the Leviton Z wave switch uses your Z wave network via the smart things hub. The Leviton Wi-Fi switch uses your Wi-Fi network. I’m not sure of the details in that particular model, but a Wi-Fi device can communicate with your SmartThings account either cloud to cloud or via LAN For a few official integrations, like the Phillips hue bridge.

Is your electric box of metal, near the pool, working as a cage of Faraday, blocking the Z-Wave radio signal?

Then that could be a problem for the range.

Grtn Ben


Here an example of a Fibaro Z-Wave dimmer, with a wire antenna. Let the wire go outside the electric box via a “grommet” or feed through to get coverage.

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Pool can have incandescent lamps like the PAR36 bulbs, even underwater.


Hallo JD,

Here an other claim from Aeotec:

Stunning range.
a long-range antenna capable of communicating over 150 metres (490 feet) outdoors

Wireless switch.
Wireless that isn’t weak. Heavy Duty Smart Switch can communicate with other Z-Wave devices that are up to 150 metres away.

This is product information of their heavy duty switch.

Don’t know of that is true. And it is in open free air… :innocent:

Grtn Ben

I’m not sure how the GE switch is constructed. Often there is a small wire used as an antenna (sometimes stored in groove on the face of the switch). I’ve had great results just adding bit of wire to the end of the antenna and leading it outside of the metal box. Let about the same amount of wire outside the box as the original antenna is long. It is inexpensive to try and it can always be removed if it does not help.

It worked great for me on z-wave relay installed in a metal lamp post out my back door.

It may help with reception, but it can screw up transmission, because frequency is based in part on antenna length. To quite precise measurements.

People are used to the idea of extending the antenna from televisions, but those are receive only.

For IOT devices that transmit (which is pretty much all of them) if you extend the antenna length you run the risk of losing your outbound messages, including any messages which are being repeated for other devices.

I agree it is a hit or miss type of thing. That fact of the matter is the length is tuned for both transmission and reception. If you mess with the length you can mess it up. In reality there is a fair margin of error that can be used in antenna “tuning” so you can be off by a fair amount and it will still work. The bigger issue here is that the antenna is in a metal box. That forms what is known a Faraday cage that blocks the signal. When extending the antenna the length of antenna inside the Faraday cage is mostly canceled out. When I did mine I made the antenna an extra inch longer with the intent of trimming a bit at a time until it worked. It worked great right away so I left it extra long. My nearest zwave device is only about 20ft away inside the back door. I had almost no functionality without the antenna extension. With it, functionality is perfect. Obviously the farther away you are the hard it will be to tune the antenna. I admittedly had it easy.

Glad I found this thread on line. I have the same situation with my pool. Yesterday I installed three GE enbrighten Z-Wave Plus dimmers #ZW3010 or #46203-1 to control my pool lights. I believe Benerkens is correct the metal electrical box is a Faraday cage that I did not take into account and is stopping or greatly reducing the signal. I would like to first try Sainsworth idea about extending the antenna on the dimmer switch closest to the side of the electrical box outside the box. Not sure if I would need to extend the antenna on all three switches or if the one switch will relay the signals from the other two? Scott or someone please add more details on the best methods or ways to extend the antenna without damaging the dimmer switch.
Thank you so much for this thread.

Some antennas are internal coils and are difficult to extend. In my case I had a relay with the antenna easily hanging out to solder a wire to. Some wall switches have an external antenna in a groove that is right behind the face plate. Those would be easy to extend.