Light switches might be the first thing that pops into most people’s mind when they consider automating their home. Controlling my lights is one task that I am certainly willing to delegate to a smart assistant to automate scheduled events, respond to activities in my house, and even support my verbal commands.
The following table summarizes features of popular Z-Wave in-wall light switches. This table will continue to receive updates as data becomes available and new products are released.
Although several of these switches support direct interoperability through Z-Wave associations and scenes, I’ve been typically more focused on home hub controls (see the Best of the Home Automation Controllers Review) to achieve the highest level of automation.
The information on the switches in this table is based on my research and/or testing and any reader feedback. There may be discrepancies with the actual products. Please let me know of any errors or omissions. Suggestions on additional products or comparison features are always appreciated.
In-Wall Z-Wave Light Switch Comparison Table
|Dim Level Display|
|960W inc||960W inc||900W inc||960W inc||960W inc||1000W inc||1800W inc|
|600W inc||600W inc||600W inc||500W inc||500W||1000W inc|
|same as on
|same as on/off add-on||same as on
|same as on
|White, Off-White||White, Off-White||White||White, Silver, Off-White||White||White, Black, Off-White||White, Ivory, Lt Almond|
|2 year||2 year||1 year||2 year||1 year||2 year||5 year|
|–||–||√||√||–||–||RF+ model ($) required|
The new switches appear to be manufactured by Dragontech, but have custom HomeSeer firmware that provides double-tap, triple-tap, and hold functionality for both up and down presses, as well as instant status – all via Central Scene Notification. These new switches include the new 500 series Z-Wave Plus module sporting extended range and network-wide inclusion (NWI).
Interestingly, these HomeSeer WS100+ and WD100+ switches physically look and feel very similar to their GE 12722 and 12724 counterparts – including very similar casing and screw terminals. The WS100+ on/off switch also has the same (annoying for some) short delay as the 12722 before the physical relay responds after a press. The WD100+ dimmer performed similarly to the GE 12724 dimmer, with no flickering or noticeable hum when used with a dimmable LED bulb.
Aside from the added LED dim level indication on the WD100+, the main physical differences are that the HomeSeer switches have bluish-white and slightly brighter LED indicators, and the WS100+ on/off switch does not include an air gap switch as does the GE on/off switch.
The LED dim level indicator, instant-on, and double/triple press and hold functions worked well in my testing and are welcome additions to the GE capabilities, at an only slightly higher price-point. These are now my top recommended switches in the bang-for-the-buck category.
A simple use case for these switches might be to turn on your porch light with a single press, include pathway lighting with a double tap, and also include flood lighting with a triple tap.
For a preliminary evaluation review and SmartThings Device Handler information, see the DarwinsDen.com HomeSeer 100+ Switch and Dimmer Evaluation post
Also Consider: GE Z-Wave Wall Switches
The GE / Jasco line of wall Z-Wave wall switches are reliable and provide a consistent installation interface. If you’re just beginning in the home automation scene, these switches are are an excellent bang-for-the-buck option for evaluating the best smart home scenarios for your needs. There is a 0.4-second delay between when the physical on/off switch is pressed and when you actually hear the switch relay click and see the light turn on or off. That sounds like it would be a little more annoying than it ends up being in practice. You get used to it – or, at least I quickly did.
The 12724 dimmer is CFL and LED compatible. Ours worked well on our dimmable LED bulb with no noticeable hum. The GE 12723 auxiliary / add-on switch can be added to both the 12722 and the 12724 switches for 3-way and 4-way switch setups. The add-on / auxiliary switch requires one of the GE main switches and a traveler wire.
Although the GE switches do not support instant status capabilities as do the higher quality and 50% more costly Cooper Aspires, I’ve found in practice that the notification delays to my hub from the GE switches are on the order of fractions of a second and are negligible. For my purposes, very low-latency status back from the switch is not a critical feature.
While Leviton switches are a nice compromise between price, quality, and features, I have a hard time getting past that these switches are both activated and de-activated with a press on the bottom part of the switch. It’s a logical design considering these switches are actually just momentary toggles, and I’m sure I would get used to it. I’m not sure, however, how well that works for occasional use by family and friends.
Should you get Smart Switches or Smart Bulbs?
It’s a common question, and depends on your specific use cases. I find that smart switches are generally superior to smart bulbs for my specific purposes for the following reasons:
- Smart switches can be cheaper to implement; A single switch can be used vs. multiple bulbs when controlling a multi-light setup, such as ceiling recessed lighting.
- Smart switches operate very similarly to the conventional switches they replace. Smart bulbs, however, when connected to conventional switches, will be inoperable and uncontrollable if the switch has been turned off; For set-ups where you still require a conventional wall switch, your home lighting controls are less likely to be confusing to family and friends that may be unfamiliar with your system.
There are, however, very valid and compelling reasons to use SmartBulbs:
- If you are uncomfortable with the installation and wiring of wall switches.
- You are renting or otherwise are not planning on living at your property for a long enough period to justify the type of installation required.
- You require the full control of color/level capabilities that smart bulbs offer.
- You have no need for a physical switch to control the bulb.
Originally Published: 4 April 2016