April 06, 2016
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!
September 14, 2018
Good question. Unfortunately, as far as we know, none of the existing Z-Wave switches can be connected to another Z-Wave switch or dimmer. They either need a dedicated add-on or can be wired with a regular on/off switch (not a dimmer). Sorry we couldn’t be more helpful here!
What if I want to use two Zwave smart switches in a 3way config and NOT a add-on/companion switch. Can I not do that and then just add the non-load switch to an association to keep it in sync? I hate the idea of having the companion switch not have dimmer LEDs on it.
I want to be able to manually control and see the status of dim at both ends of the 3way.
July 10, 2018
Hi Peter, sorry for the late reply! You wouldn’t use a wall switch to trigger the receptacle here. Instead, you would mount a Z-Wave remote on the wall (like the Nodon Octan or Aeotec Wallmote) that would then trigger the Z-Wave plug in the receptacle via SmartThings. If you get in touch with our support, they’ll be able to guide you through the process step by step.
July 06, 2018
Thanks Jan. Want to make sure I understand – the Zwave receptacle wouldn’t be connected to the Zwave switch directly. I would use a hub (Smartthings) to turn on/off the Zwave receptacle. Eg. Zwave switch is clicked, it triggers an event on the hub which turns on the Zwave receptacle. My concern however is that the Zwave switch will have no direct load on it.
Is this the situation you are saying shouldn’t be done? Thanks for your help.
Hi Peter! Z-Wave switches are not recommended to be used to control wall-receptacles because if they’re wired this way, whatever is connected to that wall receptacle, becomes the load for the Z-Wave switch. And if that load is beyond the specifications of a given Z-Wave switch, for example if it’s a motor or a heavy-duty appliance, then the switch may be easily damaged. That’s why the best way to automate receptacle is through Z-Wave plugs (our Zooz ZEN15 or ZEN06 are popular models, you can also check out the Fibaro FGWPB-111 and FGWPB-121 for smaller form factor) and have a Z-Wave remote control mounted on the wall to control the plug if needed, so you get the same functionality as with a switch-controller receptacle. Hope it helps!
I currently have a switched receptacle controlled by a single-pole switch. What I want to do is replace the switch with a Zwave switch, and convert the switched receptacle back to an always-on receptacle. I want the Zwave switch to control a Zwave receptacle on another wall in the room. Based on your post though, it sounds like the Zwave switch won’t function as there will be no load on it. Are there Zwave switches designed to be operated with no load?
June 29, 2018
Good question Vincent! That depends on which model you have exactly. We don’t carry the GE products anymore so don’t have any experience with the Z-Wave Plus product line but one brand we know advertises support for electronic transformers is Fibaro with their Dimmer 2: https://www.thesmartesthouse.com/products/fibaro-z-wave-plus-dimmer-2-fgd-212
June 28, 2018
Is there a specific transformer (digitally or magnetic) that will work without problems, if I am using a GE smartdimmer to feed LED lights???
May 25, 2018
It looks like this may be a configuration issue. The first thing to try if something isn’t working from the app is to exclude the switch, reset it, and add it back to the system to see if it helps.
Hi Ron, 5 ways (so 6 switches controlling 1 light) should still be OK for the GE switches. But with so many locations, there a few things that may go wrong. It’s best to get in touch with Jasco support for up-close troubleshooting.
May 24, 2018
What a great resource! My issue is: I’ve installed many z-wave switches in my house and most work perfectly. I put two new ones in yesterday and everything about them works perfectly except they won’t turn off via software. They work if you physically push the button, you can turn them on via an app and even dim them via an app, but they won’t turn off. The app (either Iris or Alexa) thinks the switch is off, but the light stays on. I’d suspect a bad switch but it’s happening to two different lights in different locations (each light has the same dimmable LEDS my other lights have). Any thoughts on that? Thank you!
May 21, 2018
I am unable to get my GE ZWave Smart Switch to work on my kitchen lights (I have 6 floods). The switch works using the same neutral line when plugged into a single light in the same box so I am confident neutral line isn’t the issue. Also works when using a standard switch. Have reconnected countless times to make sure no issues. I was able to successfully set up several other smart switches in my house. I have done in depth research with no luck. Only thing I can think of is, the switch won’t work given there are 6 lights together or incorrect house wiring (modern house build in the 90s). Any thoughts?
April 06, 2018
Hi Ronald, this is the air-gap switch which cuts power to the light when you’re changing the bulbs – it’s a safety feature that prevents shocks. You’ll see them in the Zooz dimmers as well.
April 02, 2018
What is the little horizontal switch under the toggle switch on the z wave 12729 dimmer?
February 04, 2018
Scott Bemis. In your description you say there should be 120V from load to ground. And 0 V from Line to ground. I believe you may be connecting those two cables incorrect as Line is 120V and load should be 0 volts.
January 25, 2018
This is for unsual results when wiring in GE/Jasco switches and also a Leviton Decora DZ15S on the same switch (same circuit); same gang box; single pole connection
After turning the circuit breaker on and off at the correct times, this what I have done.
With circuit live and all the wires (no switch)
Verify neutral (white wires) are neutral, 0 (zero) between neutral and ground (ground are the bare copper wires pigtailed)
Verified the load or hot, live circuit, 120 V between load and ground; 120 V between load and ground; 120 V between load and neutral
Verified the line is 0 (zero) volts between line and neutral, and line and ground
Checked for continuity between neutral and ground; there is continuity – neutral and ground are connected, hopefully back at the panel
Connected switches per the provided instructions
With the circuit off via the circuit breaker
Load/hot wire connected to load on switch (bk on the Leviton)
Line wire connected to line on switch (rd on the Leviton)
Neutral wire connected to Neutral on the switch (wh on the Leviton)
Ground wire connected to ground on the switch
With the Ge/Jasco switch, nothing happens, locator LED always remains off with even after multiple resets of the switch (led should blink on the switch for resets); switch cannot be found by Zwave controller after following the instructions for inclusion mode (press paddle up or down once)
With the Leviton, locator LED is on (set to default of on when there is no load) when the circuit is energized
Turn Leviton switch, light controlled by switch turned on for several seconds, in the meantime, the switch locator LED flashes amber, then it flashes red about 5 times, the light controlled by the switch goes off, and the switch locator LED turns on, indicating no load (which matches the light as it is off)
Is there something wrong with how neutral is connected back at the panel? Or something else? As a side note, I BRIEFLY connected the neutral on the switch to ground, and then the switch works. For anyone reading this, in general, please do NOT do this. Use the neutral wire for neutral on the switch. I BRIEFLY did this only for troubleshooting AND made sure I did not touch any grounded device (ex. a metal computer case) . I have removed the ground wire from neutral; I re-connected the neutral wire back to neutral on the switch.
- end -
January 09, 2018
Hi Monica! If you only have black,red, and white on each side it means there’s no direct connection to power line in any of the boxes so none of the smart switches we’ve seen so far would work. BUT if you have access to the light fixture, you can always install a Z-Wave module there to get the whole circuit automated. Feel free to get in touch with our support for more details.
January 06, 2018
There is no edit button. That last comment was supposed to say black wires, not black switches, but you probably already knew that.
I am trying to install 3 way & 4way switches, but I only have 1 black wire ( also 1 white, 1 red, and a ground) in all my switches. As you know, smart switches require line AND load. (2 black switches).
December 02, 2017
What an awesome resource you have here — I have been looking for a site just like this one. Thanks for the tips. My question is actually about a Leviton lamp (dimmer) MODULE (rather than an in-wall installation). In the past with the APPLIANCE modules, I have connected 3-pronged power strips so that I can turn on/off several devices at once, such as the AV centre at home. However with DIMMER modules, am I able to do something similar, for example with a 2-wired “tap” such as the following ones: (example 1: http://bit.ly/2klV64t) or (example 2: http://bit.ly/2AQfaD2) ??
Any advice would be super helpful. For the actual context: By using a tap like the ones in the above examples, I am hoping to plug in 2 lamps (each with dimmable LED bulbs) into the same z-wave module (a dimmer module), just to save money since each module is expensive. During December, I’d also like to plug the Christmas tree into an available socket on the tap. The LED string of Christmas lights has an AC adapter block as the wall plug, if that is helpful info.
Again any advice here in this community would be so super helpful. Thanks so much for putting this great blog and resource site together!
July 11, 2017
Hi Keith! You’ll need a Z-Wave light switch for every set of lights you want to control. So basically if you currently now have one switch per room controlling all the lights, you’ll need to replace each one with a Z-Wave switch. If you have 2 different switches per room controlling 2 different set of lights, you’ll need to replace both of them with Z-Wave light switches. But if you have 2 different wall switches controlling the same set of lights, you’ll need one Z-Wave switch only and then depending on the product you go with, you may need a companion add-on switch to replace the “slave” switch (controlling the same set of lights). Feel free to contact our support with more detailed questions!
July 09, 2017
I have a question about how many Smart Control switches vs Add On switches to use. I want to control lights in 4 different rooms, so am I correct that I need a Smart Control switch in each room? Thank you
May 04, 2017
I’m afraid that if you powered up the load terminal, the switch has been probably damaged already. The electronics in these devices are very sensitive so you need to be careful, especially when identifying load and line since they’re usually both black.
May 03, 2017
You say you must have “neutral, line, and load identified correctly on the first try”. If I accidentally switched the line and load did I damage the switch.
I have a dimmer switch I cannot seem to get working in multiple location and unsure if It’s broken or I’m clueless.
March 17, 2017
Qubino has a 0-10V Dimmer which seems should do the job for you: https://www.thesmartesthouse.com/products/qubino-z-wave-plus-flush-dimmer-0-10v-zmnhvd3
Feel free to contact our support team for details!
March 16, 2017
I want to replace a Lutron Diva DVELV-300P low voltage dimmer with GE Z-wave dimmer. The Luton has a neutral, used to power the night light in the paddle. However, it sounds like the GE Z-wave may not work because of the need for a minimum load, which I’m not sure a transformer provides. Is there a z-wave alternative?
February 03, 2017
Hi Patty, there’s always a wire connecting the 2 switches if they control the same light. If you’re seeing 3 wires only, it’s possible that there is no neutral. Colors are not always the best indicator of which wire is which so in this case, we recommend hiring an electrician to identify the wiring in each box and compare it against the wiring diagrams in the Z-Wave switches.
February 01, 2017
What if there is no traveler wire? I have lights controlled by 2switches, but my house has no red wires. 2 black, 1white.
January 30, 2017
Thank you for sharing, very easy to follow along with.
January 27, 2017
If you don’t have a neutral, you can use Fibaro’s Dimmer just remember you’ll have to use incandescent bulbs and follow the diagram for 3-way carefully: http://www.thesmartesthouse.com/products/fibaro-z-wave-plus-dimmer-2-fgd-212
January 25, 2017
What is the solution if you don’t have neutral wires in your three way switches?
December 02, 2016
Thanks for the question! We’re not familiar with that particular product (we only deal with Z-Wave devices for now) but our understanding is that correct wiring is crucial to any electronic switch. It’s best to hire an electrician if you’re not sure how to identify the wiring in your switch box. From what you described though it seems like it may also be a range issue so it’s worth bench testing the device closer to your router to rule this out. Good luck!
Hi Brian, you can use the LTM-5 which can be a virtual control switch for any device in your SmartThings network: http://www.thesmartesthouse.com/products/wall-mount-accessory-switch-ltm-5
Good luck with the project!
November 25, 2016
This was an interesting article, and somewhat tied to my problem. I’m trying to install what I guess is a “z-wave switch” (or is that a brand name or something?) — it’s a TP-Link HS200 Smart Wi-Fi Light Switch. It just won’t work, and every 10 seconds or so the lights “blink” on and the switch itself clicks (simultaneously). (The signal meter never turns green, but stays yellow (amber) except for the “blink” times, when it goes off altogether.) When I called tech support, the acted like it was because there was only supposed to be one neutral (white) wire in the box, and I have 2, though they were already twisted and wire-nutted together. (Their own directions in their app show and describe two white (neutral) wires already in the box, but I think their tech folks don’t know that.) Can you help me with this?
November 20, 2016
I want to replace many of my switches with something that is seen as a button by my Z-wave controller, SmartThings. I just want power to flow permanently and use the button to send the on/off command. Is there anything that does this?
May 13, 2016
Hi Dale, that’s a good question! Do you mean installations without neutral and just hot and load wires present? Most, if not all, Z-Wave switches require a neutral wire. The older version of GE/Jasco dimmer switch (model number is 45612) did not require a neutral connection but due to growing demand for LED and low voltage bulb compatibility, their new model (12724), as well as all other Z-Wave switches, do require a neutral. The 45612 model has been discontinued for a while and is very difficult to come by no so I’m afraid we don’t have good news for you. Unfortunately, none of the Z-Wave switches we know of will function without neutral and ground.
May 12, 2016
What if you have an older home without ground wire? (2 wire 110 VAC).
May 11, 2016
Really enjoyed this article post.Really looking forward to read more. Will read on… Raudales
November 05, 2018
Winterizing your home used to mean lots of physical labor - caulking windows, installing heavier drapes, maybe even changing out older windows and doors that were too efficient at releasing insulated air. Winter prep can still mean all of the above, but new Z-Wave technology has made certain aspects of winterization easier while adding another level of protection as those temperatures drop.
Here’s what we’re using to stay cozy and make sure our energy bills don’t make us freeze in our tracks:
This is one of our winter must-haves. It’s the first Z-Wave line voltage thermostat in North America (but be careful, it won’t work with forced air systems!). Use it to control electric baseboards and convector heaters all from your Z-Wave hub’s app interface. Reduce your energy consumption by 30% with custom heating schedules, or just switch to the thermostat’s built-in Economy mode to keep things efficient.
December 08, 2017
Choosing the ultimate smart home system for your needs and lifestyle can be daunting if you don’t know what to look for. Each hub comes with its own advantages and limitations; a certain feature might be a godsend for someone else but a deal breaker for you. That’s why we’ve listed our top 3 Z-Wave hub recommendations below, including what we love about these hubs but also some things to consider when choosing the right one for you. And good news! They all support Alexa, so you can count on a voice-activated smart home this holiday season.
June 08, 2017
You often ask us for recommendations: what are the best, most reliable Z-Wave motion sensors out there? The choice seems endless with new devices coming out every day. While we have our favorites, choosing the right sensor for YOU will depend on YOUR needs, lifestyle, and ideas on how to apply the product to your Z-Wave network and collection of devices. So we thought we should ask one of you to test and compare our best-selling smart home security sensors. We wanted feedback from someone who has tested and programmed lots of Z-Wave devices but most importantly, from someone who has used them in real-life scenarios at home. The comments detailed below and the invaluable side-by-side comparison chart are by Kevin LaFramboise, an expert SmartThings user and the creator of some of the most advanced and stable custom device handlers for the popular platform.