Setting up my smart devices is usually fun, but I’ve always needed a bit more patience when it comes to wiring my Z-Wave switches. They include into your network like any Z-Wave device, but they also have different specifications. For example, unlike regular switches, your Z-Wave switches should be connected exactly as indicated in the manual and require a minimum load to function properly.
It’s worth mentioning, by the way, that after this initial set-up phase, my Z-Wave switches have made all the difference when it’s come to making my home more energy-efficient and convenient for me. That’s why I’ve compiled a short list of do’s and don’ts that will help you navigate and ease your Z-Wave switch installation process.
All Z-Wave lighting controls need to be wired exactly according to the user manual, with neutral, line, and load identified correctly on the first try. If you are not sure which one is load and which one is line, use a professional multimeter (your regular $10 multimeter will not be accurate enough) or better, consult a licensed electrician. Line and load are sometimes swapped in standard switch installations so it's best no to rely on original layout exclusively.
If you decide to hire an electrician to complete the installation, have them read the manual as well. We have found that professionals often approach Z-Wave equipment as if it was a simple electrical switch which may cause the device to malfunction. Remember to check for neutral connection in every gang box you plan to replace with a Z-Wave switch, especially if you live in an older house!
Most Z-Wave switches require at least 20 Watts on load and need to be connected to resistive load. So make sure there are no transformers along the way (common for low-voltage lighting), and preferable more than a couple of high-quality LED bulbs on the circuit. This is due to the TRIAC electronic component these devices are based on - it needs enough load to operate.
Don't forget that any motor loads like gas dryers will consume more power at start-up that mentioned in the specs. Always examine the specifications for each device carefully and compare it against the manual for your Z-Wave switch. Or ask The Smartest House support team!
3-way installation is different for Z-Wave switches than for regular electrical switches. When wiring two smart switches to control the same light, you have what we call a master switch which is connected to the load, line, neutral, traveler and ground and which also includes to your Z-Wave system. And then for additional manual control, you have the add-on switch which must NOT be powered up and connects to traveler, neutral, and ground only. That is the most popular configuration used by GE/Jasco or Zooz for example. I will go over different types of 3-way controls in a separate post soon.
If you have a set-up like that, you need to make sure none of the wires you connect to the add-on switch is hot, otherwise the switch may be damaged easily. The add-on does not include to the Z-Wave system but merely transmits any status changes to the master switch through electrical impulse communicated via the traveler wire.
Here is a great video from Jasco with a step-by-step guide on how to install a 3-way Z-Wave switch:
I hope this has helped answer some questions you may have had about wiring your Z-Wave switches. Feel free to share your tips, questions, and experiences in the comment section below!