Z-WAVE BLOG - How To's

SAVE ENERGY. FEEL SAFE. TAKE CONTROL WITH Z-WAVE.

ZWP Dimmers and Switches now available in 3-Way Kits!

ZWP WD-100, WS-100, and WA-100

ZWP Dimmers and Switches now available in 3-Way Kits!
The majority of our users have purchased and successfully installed our ZWP line of switches and dimmers. They appreciated the quality and cost.
However, we are getting some of repeat questions when it comes to 3-Way switches.


We have added kits that help simplify your 3-Way WA-100 switch purchase. Below is some information that should help.

Definitions
 
Single pole: Your ‘average’ switch- the light is controlled from one location.

3-way: When the light is controlled from two locations. Also called upstairs/downstairs switches in some regions.

Primary switch: In a 3-way installation, the Primary switch contains the Z-Wave chip. The device used in Single pole applications is the Primary - same device.

Auxiliary switch: In a 3-way installation, the Auxiliary switch gives an alternate switch location. An Auxiliary switch CANNOT be used by itself as a Primary switch and is only used with a Primary.

Load: The light, fixture, or other item you want to turn on/off/dim.

Line: The source of the electricity from the electric box/fuse box.

Neutral: The return route of electricity. When installing a Smart Switch, a neutral is required. See What to Know Before Changing Your Wall Switch for more on Neutrals.

Traveler Wire: Also called the "common" wire, this power line is fed into the common terminal of one of the switches.

Toggle: Type of switch that sort-of looks like an older ‘standard’ switch, and will fit toggle face plates. We do not have any ZWP toggle dimmers or toggle switches, but they are available from GE/JASCO

Rocker: (also called a paddle switch or known by a brand name "Decora") Type of switch with a wider surface than the toggle. Most modern homes have rocker switches, and this is among the first upgrades done by DIYer’s.

Understanding 3-way Circuits
A 3-way switch is a setup where a load is controlled from 2 locations. There are also 4-way (3 locations), 5-way (4 locations) and even 6-way (5 locations) or more. For Z-Wave purposes (and this blog entry) we are writing about how to install ZWP 3-Way Smart Switches. NOTE: most Z-Wave devices will support up to a 5-way switch.

Why is it called a 3-way? I’ve been told that it’s because there are 3 ways for the electricity to flow, or that originally there were 3 points of contact. Nothing seems to make sense to me, and I will leave the nomenclature for electricians and scholars. The average DIY handyman/woman will need to know a single pole switch and a 3-way.

You’ve got a 3-way that you want to add to your Z-Wave network. Now what? The first step in automating your basic 3-way setup is identifying the wiring. There are at least 5 ways of wiring a 3-way switch, and each of those will require a slightly different setup. As we do not give electrical advice on this blog, we will assume you have the “standard” way that professionals will wire a 3-way circuit and refer to the wiring diagram below (full instructions available here). Know that there may be other ways before you play “Eeny, meeny, miny, mo” (yes, it happens) with the ‘extra’ wires. When in doubt, please call an electrician.



What is an Auxiliary Switch?
Smart switches can be broken up into 2 main categories: Primary Switches and Auxiliary Switches. A Primary (also known as a Master) switch contains the Z-Wave chip. It’s the more expensive of the pair. If you are only replacing one switch (non 3-way) then you would choose a Primary switch and be done.

An Auxiliary (also known as a slave or add-on) switch gives an alternate location to control the Primary switch. An Auxiliary switch will not control a load, or even work with a Z-Wave network since it does not have a Z-Wave chip. An Auxiliary is required when you want to automate a 3-way circuit. The old, existing dumb switch will NOT serve as an Auxiliary switch. A Primary Switch and Auxiliary Switch will NOT communicate wirelessly; you need the existing wiring that supported the dumb 3-Way switches.

   

What is the difference in Model Numbers?
(Click on the model number to open the product page in a new tab).

The WD-100 is an in-wall Z-Wave Plus Multi-level Light Dimmer

The WS-100 is an in-wall Z-Wave Plus ON/OFF Light Switch

The WA-100 is an in-wall Auxiliary Switch for both of the above
NOTE: Auxiliary switches will ‘become’ the type of device it supports; a dimmer becomes a dimmer; a switch becomes a switch.

The KITZWP-WD-WA-100 is a Dimmer/Auxiliary Switch set for 3-Way applications

The KITZWP-WS-WA-100 is an ON/OFF Switch/Auxiliary Switch set for 3-Way applications

Multi-gang Switch Boxes
When you have multiple switches in the same box, this is called a multi-gang switch installation. Although you MAY have one or more 3-way circuits in a multi-gang box, each of the switches in that box will be it's own circuit. Handle these like any other single gang installation with one caveat: You may not be able to fit multiple Smart Switches next to one another. In this case follow the manufacturer's instructions on how to clip/break off the heat sink tabs on the sides of the switch. This will allow you to fit more switches side-by-side, but removing tabs will decrease the load rating of the switch. Read the instructions that come with the switch for more information.

NOTE: This is an updated version of a previous blog that specified GE/JASCO devices instead of ZWP devices.

Have questions? See any errors/omissions/confusion? Please leave a message using the link in the bottom right of this screen, or fill out our Ask An Expert form for more help with your Z-Wave installation projects.
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You bought a smart home- Now What?

You bought a smart home- Now What?
Congratulations!

You have finally closed on your dream home. You have taken the final walk-through with your real estate agent, and you both have confirmed that all is on the up-and-up.
Or is it . . . ?



You may be in love with that new stainless steel fridge, and laundry is going to so much easier with the appliances on the second floor. Groceries are a cinch; no more 4 story walk-up! These are the things that get your attention. So what are you forgetting?

Many homeowners have installed SOME type of home automation while upgrading. When it's time to move, the homeowner usually takes the easy things with him (or her); leaving in-wall switches and installed panels to confound the new homeowner. The first night in the house, the moving trucks are there, your helpers are milling about, boxes and furniture are flying through the halls. Then, either the lights go on, the lights DON'T go on, or, the siren from the alarm system starts to blare. Making friends with the new neighbors has never been this easy.

For the first two items, there's usually some good news. Lights acting on their own usually means the previous homeowner left the panel or gateway in place, and it's running a scene (aka automation or timer). It's annoying, but a little tracking down usually allows one to find the gateway, contact the manufacturer, the real estate company, or the previous owner for some help.

However, from the panicked emails I've gotten from new homeowners, a siren blaring (usually at midnight, after the real estate agent has gone to bed) holds no good news. At all. Unfortunately, there is little someone in my position can do. Actual questions include (paraphrased and sanitized for my G-rated audience): 'Can you give me the secret universal password for this alarm panel so I can shut it off?' Or, 'I know I'm supposed to get an account for this alarm system, but if I give you my address can you just turn it off and I'll call you in the morning?'

I can tell when someone is desperate when they hit all of our emails with a question. As much as I'd love to help, a secret universal password would probably not be secret for very long, especially if I gave it over an email to someone I don't know. And since I don't know the type of panel in the home, the service provider the previous homeowner employed, or even what protocol (radio) we're talking about, I'd say unplug everything you can and deal with it at another time. But isn't there a better way? I have asked a few real estate agents to give a statement for this blog. Unfortunately I have not gotten a response. But now you know to bug them about those 'little white boxes all around.' From the tone of at least some of the emails and tickets I get about this, the new homeowner knows there was something he/she was supposed to do, but wasn't sure what it was.

If you have been caught by surprise and either the real estate company gave you no warning (or the homeowner is MIA and an honest attempt was made with no success) the first thing you'll need to determine is the KIND of radio you're dealing with. There is Z-Wave, WiFi, Bluetooth, Zigbee, and 319/345 MHz sensors. See if you can pull off a cover and get a model number. Maybe you did, and discovered it's all Z-Wave and that's why you're here? What's next? A good conversation starter is discussing your wants and needs for a smart home. Since this is a one-way street and I can't talk to you, I recommend reading my Getting Started with Z-Wave guide to see what works best for you. It also explains the various radio frequencies and how to make other devices talk nicely.

If you discover that you bought a new hub/gateway and still are having trouble, your devices may still be paired with the old MIA gateway; use your new one to exclude them first then try again. If you happen to read this blog before you close, share it with your real estate agent before you're panic-emailing panel manufacturers at 2am.

If you find a panel and not a controller, see if you can get the name of the service provider in your area. A good agent will tell this to you; probably while you're staring dreamy-eyed at the refrigerator or already mentally soaking in the hot tub. Call them up and find out; maybe using a few points from the text above.

Are you a real estate agent who would like to share a funny story or advice on this subject? You, or anyone else with questions, can reach me by clicking the tab in the lower-right corner and leaving me a message.

All the best, and congratulations on your purchase of your new home.
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Automate utility lighting with this GE motion sensor and LED bulb

Enbrighten 35931 Z-Wave Smart LED and GE 34193 Z-Wave Tabletop Motion Sensor

Automate utility lighting with this GE motion sensor and LED bulb
Cost and time; About $70 and 30 minutes (assuming you already have a Z-Wave gateway)

I have a closet where I stuff photography gear, blog ideas, reams of paper and Christmas gifts I’ve hidden yet forgot to give to my wife. It's lit by a single bulb operated by a pull chain. The closet door is in my line of sight, and every time I walk in to my office, the bulb is on. I’m not sure if I just leave it on, or if the pull chain is being pulled by ghosts determined to watch my electric bill climb. I'm not using the closet nearly enough to be burning the bulb 24/7.

   

As a blog writer with access to everything Z-Wave, I got my hands on the GE 34193 Z-Wave Plus Tabletop Smart Motion Sensor as well as the Enbrighten 35931 Z-Wave Plus Smart LED Bulb, Dimmable, (60w equivalent).



The 34193 was a bit smaller than I expected out of a device advertised as a ‘tabletop unit,’ but felt solid. Not related to your user experience, but I'm not crazy about the tagline, "Use any mobile device!".  While OUR customers would never see it on a shelf, I've already gotten an earful (or keyboard-full) from disgruntled users who purchased this from their local box store and were misled.

THESE DEVICES REQUIRE A Z-WAVE HUB! Regardless, both devices were packaged well and had a good feel and even some directions.

  

I used the motion sensor's included mounting bracket, screws and anchors, and installed it just above the transom of the closet door, so it will trigger as soon as I stick my head in to look for something.



I paired this and the 35931 bulb (a simple screw-in installation) with my Fibaro Home Center Lite, which took only a few minutes with no drama. I used the Magic Scene wizard to create two scenes: turn on the Enbrighten LED when the motion sensor detects motion, and turn off the Enbrighten LED when the motion sensor doesn’t detect motion for 4 minutes. So far, 3 days since I set this up, the LED bulb is off, and responds quickly when I need something. This inexpensive and easy solution automated my office closet to save energy and money. Granted, it would take approximately 1 year to recoup the $70 cost of this project (A 60 watt bulb costs $0.0071/hour x 24 hours 365 days =$62.34/year) but the convenience of the automation and never walking into a dark closet gives value as well.

Take a look and see if a quick automation project like this will work for you. As always, please feel free to send me a message using the link in the bottom right corner, or ask our team at Ask An Expert
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Stop Air Conditioning the Great Outdoors

Save energy with WINK 2 and a simple Robot

Stop Air Conditioning the Great Outdoors
Are you having second thoughts about that tie you bought your dad or husband for Father's Day? Want to really give a thoughtful gift? We guarantee with this simple setup, never again will you hear him scream, "Close the door! I'm not cooling the whole neighborhood!!"

For under $220 you can automatically turn the A/C off when the door is opened for more than a pre-set amount of time. Like everything with Z-Wave devices, you can modify this as needed to fit your lifestyle.



The 3 pieces of this project are a WINK 2 hub, a GC-TBZ48 Z-Wave thermostat from Go Control, and a ZW120 Door/Window sensor from Aeon Labs.

Replace your existing thermostat with the Go Control (instructions on how to do that are here) After downloading the free WINK 2 App, setting up the WINK 2, add the stat and sensor to your network. Check out my blog WINK 2 OVERVIEW for a few tips.

Something new regarding sensors that wasn't in my previous entries, you can select the type of door for the best calibration of the device (you'll see this screen when you're just about done adding the sensor).





By this point you'll be able to control the stat from your smart phone, but that's no fun. Let's create a simple Robot (the WINK word for scene, or automation) to keep that cold air inside.

First, create a new robot by selecting the Robot at the bottom of the main screen, then selecting the + for "Create a New Robot".

You'll have a few choices, including schedule, device, or geocaching. We're going to have the sensor drive this Robot, so choose Product or Sensor.



You have many choices to set up the Robot. In this example I chose, if Any Entry Door Sensor, at any time of day, is open for more than 10 minutes, then turn the thermostat from Cool to Off, and notify me via push notifications from my WINK 2 App on my phone.

Having a grace period (in this case, 10 minutes) to allow the kids or pets to enter or exit the home allows the A/C to run for a little while.

    

You can create a similar Robot to turn the A/C back on after all the doors are closed for more than 10 minutes. This system will work with windows too; you just add as many sensors as your home needs and add those sensors to the Robot.

Did I get it right? Do you have any questions or issues?

In the bottom right corner of this website is a link to Leave me a Message.

Alternately . . . Ask An Expert by filling out this form, and one of our experts will get back to you with an answer.

I hope this was helpful. Please share this, and check out my other blogs!
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