Zwave Smart dimmers vs smartbulbs

I will be purchasing a smartthings hub in the near future and am in the process of researching my options for devices. I have a few questions.

  1. I was looking at Zwave dimmer switches by GE
    I dont need a zwave hub if i have smartthings
    One con to these is that they dont work with LED
    bulbs, only incandescent.
    Ive also read several feedback stories of the
    lights not turning all the way off, or buzzing.
    Is this from using LEDs with them or incorrect
    wiring? If everything is wired correctly, thats not
    A problem i’d want to have as they should turn
    off. Do these problems arrise with other brands?
    Why in 2016 wouldnt they just make them
    dimmable for LEDs?
    Ive seen the Linear brand switches too, and Ive
    read the green led is not as bright as GE’s blue

  2. Two of my rooms will have 3way switches.
    I read that I wouldnt be able to use my phone
    For this option bc it doesnt detect the traveler
    Wire is this true?

  3. Would it just be better to have regular on/off
    Switches and go with smart bulbs instead?
    Im trying to keep the future in mind as well.
    Does this defeat the purpose of having a hub?

Thanks for taking the time for reading

  1. correct smartthings will be your hub.

only for incadescents? huh? they work with LED’s. actually preferred

the led light is the same brightness i think on all switches ive seen. blue, green, even white with dragontech.

  1. for 3 way you just need to purchase extra auxiliary switch that is compatible.

  2. only do bulbs for switches that have one bulb. i only do for laundry room and closets. but they are combined with motion sensors.


Not correct. Per their documentation “Switch works with dimmable CFL, LED and incandescent lighting, and wireless control works with smartphones, tablets, computers and Z-Wave remotes”. I have a few myself and they don’t buzz. The older dimmer didn’t work with LED’s and they buzzed, but you needed to put your ear on it to hear it.

I’m not exactly sure what this means, or where you may have read that. I can assure you that you can use your phone for any type of switch configuration 2, 3, 4 or more.

In my opinion no because turning off the switch causes the bulb to drop power and it can no longer communicate to the ST hub, and then things can get all wonky on you. Eventually you’ll be back asking questions about why you can’t control your bulbs, or how you can control bulbs as a group. :wink: In my opinion use a smart switch, and use bulbs in lamps or where they won’t easily be powered off.

You need an ST hub regardless. It’s the brains of your HA environment.

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There’s already an FAQ for smart switches versus smart bulbs. People get very passionate on both sides of this argument, but in general they each have their pluses and minuses and many people, myself included, use some of each depending on the exact use case. ( this is a clickable link)

The other people have already answered most of your other questions.

As far as the GE switches ago, they are now coming into their third generation.

The very first generation, which has since been discontinued, did not require a neutral wire at the switch but were only rated to work with incandescent bulbs, not dimmable dumb LEDs.

However, two or three years ago it became obvious that pretty much everybody wanted to be able to use LEDs. So GE/Jasco introduced a new generation which works quite well with dumb dimmable LEDs, but which does require a neutral wire at the light switch.

And there is a third-generation just coming out right now which also requires A neutral, also works very well with dumb dimmable LEDs, but now includes the “Z wave plus” network radio which is an improvement over the older Z wave generation.

So you were probably reading about the original generation of GE switches. But the newer ones will work just fine with dumb LEDs.

Smart LEDs are a different issue

All of that just had to do with dumb LEDs, however.

There is a totally separate issue which applies to all three generations of GE switches – – and any other zwave brand as well – – never have a dimmer switch which controls the current to the bulb try to control the current to a smart LED like a Phillips hue bulb.

Smart LEDs need to control the current flow for themselves. This was a big problem initially because it was hard to figure out what to do about the switch. People would understandably try to turn power off at the switch and then the bulb would not be available for other automations.

Fortunately, just in the last 15 months or so, a number of devices have come on the market which allow you to have a wall switch for smart LED’s without actually cutting the current to them from the switch. See the following FAQ:


In summary, you can use a dumb LED with pretty much any smart switch, including the GE zwave switches.

If you want to use a smart LED like a Phillips hue bulb, you will need to do something different with the switch so that the bulb always has current. See the FAQ for that.

And as soon as you mention either of these options a dozen people are going to pop up from the community telling you why one method is always better than the other, but disagreeing about what that one method is. In truth, both smart switches and smart bulbs have pluses and minuses, and you can select on a case-by-case basis as far as what you want to use. :sunglasses::level_slider::bulb:

Thanks for the info. I just ordered a bunch of zwave dimmers and then of course i read after that i have to buy “ge add on switches” for a 3 or 4 way configuration. I cant just use multiple zwave dimners in a 3 or r way config?

You wouldn’t want to do that even if you could use multiple. I can’t think at the moment about the electrical/control/design reasons why you wouldn’t, but just from a cost perspective you definitely don’t want to do that.

The add on switch only costs around $20 USD, while the dimmer switch will cost almost double (or more). That’s why you’ll sometimes find the switch and add on device sold together as a “kit”.

If the question is can you have a switch that dims at each of the locations in a three-way, yes, if you follow the manufacturer’s directions for the 3 way wiring, then the GE add on switch can tell the GE master to dim as well as just turn on/off.

But as @johnconstantelo mentioned, the way the add-ons work is by telling the master what to do. Unlike in some nonnetworked three-way set up’s, the add-ons do not control the load to the light. So you can’t set up two GE masters because they just aren’t wired the right way for auxiliary communication.