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Author Topic: Good Z-Wave 3-way wall switch pair?  (Read 7587 times)

Offline Vicente

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Good Z-Wave 3-way wall switch pair?
« on: December 22, 2010, 04:27:11 pm »
Anyone have recommends? No need for dimmer for me.

Before Z-Wave came into the house, we had lots of Leviton Decora "lighted" switches and I like the simple and positive action in them.

I have an Intermatic CA3000 for 4-ish years now and love it... EXCEPT for that CLUNK it makes.  And doesn't have a locator/visual indication of status.  It's a bit pricey IMO for what it does but I'd buy more of those if they would at least lose the loud relay.

I picked up one of the GE 45614 packages and got intensely annoyed with it.  First it says it's a drop-in replacement for existing 3-ways.  My lone 3-way configuration is the most common of all, switch-switch-lights.  Should be easy then right?  I attempt to install and eventually work out I have to tie line+load together at #1 location, and provide additional neutrals.  OK fine I work through that, the schematic was more useful than the text.  I also found the posts for holding the wire inserted were not very solid, and ended up wrapping them around the screws.  THEN I cannot get the auxiliary to work at all.  Too far apart from what I read later.    I did like the fairly standard toggle action (top=on, bottom=off) and the relay on the main was nice and quiet.  I actually like the blue LED locator and status indicator, but it's only on the main.  Anyhow, THAT set is going back to Lowe's.  I think as single-pole switches they are probably fine, but as 3-way just terrible.

I like a nice simple toggle.   The Vizia RF+ are all bottom toggles right?  I'm not crazy about having radically different switches in my house.

I look at the Cooper Aspires (non Z-wave) I saw in Lowes but did not like their toggle action.   The price is also REALLY high but I would pay it if they were not such a goofy toggle since I don't mind paying a little extra for things that will last a decade or so.  I suppose I could get used to it but why should I?   Surely there's a better choice I don't know about yet.
« Last Edit: December 22, 2010, 07:48:25 pm by Vicente »

Offline woodsby

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Re: Good Z-Wave 3-way wall switch pair?
« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2010, 06:37:01 pm »
You should always use the screw terminals, never the stab-locks.  ;)

I use Vizia RF and love them. And they are scene-capable, and reliable z-wave devices.
Vera1 (1.1142), Vera2 (1.1182), VRI06 (12), VRS15 (3), VRS05 (2), VRF01 (2), VRCS4 (2), ZRW113, ZRF113 (2), 45602, 45603, TZMT400 (2), FE599 (2), 99100, Thinkstick, Harmony 890Pro (2), Harmony RF Extender, Nevo S70, Nevo NC-50, Minimote, SQ Remote, SQ Blaster, EtherRain-8, Cliste ActiveRFID, TED5002

Offline ctbaker

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Re: Good Z-Wave 3-way wall switch pair?
« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2010, 07:24:40 pm »
I am very interested in this as well. I just sent the GE 45614 back because I didn't have the 'a' firmware.

My wiring is far from the most standard for 3-way switches but I figured I could make everything work with the wiring I had in the box (multiple 3-way switches per box) but I am concerned about what you wrote about the secondary switch not communicating to the primary.

I'd love to hear everyone's recommendations as well.

Thanks
« Last Edit: December 22, 2010, 07:27:24 pm by ctbaker »

Offline ctbaker

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Re: Good Z-Wave 3-way wall switch pair?
« Reply #3 on: December 22, 2010, 10:22:23 pm »
THEN I cannot get the auxiliary to work at all.  Too far apart from what I read later.  

I am confused about this one. The installation instructions read, "The auxiliary switch does not actually control the power; instead, it sends a momentary voltage signal through the traveler wire to the primary switch which in turn, controls the power to the load."

If this is the case, it doesn't seem like distance plays a role in the two switches working together. You just need the traveler wire (red wire in my case) to run between the two switches. Am I missing something here?

Thanks,
Chad

Offline Vicente

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Re: Good Z-Wave 3-way wall switch pair?
« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2010, 01:20:44 am »
The changes you do to the common 3-way circuit to get the GE to work, basically bypass hot to location #2 and it becomes like a single-pole switch setup onto which you have hung this signalling device at location #1 using the traveller.   What I have read is, if the distance is too great whatever signalling method they use quits working.   Seems a pretty common complaint with their dimmer models.   I dunno, but the auxiliary did not work at all for me.  Wiring was fine I checked it several times.  I didn't have another GE to check against, so I suppose it could have just been a bad apple and the design is OK.   And I didn't think to try coupling auxiliary up right next to the primary to verify the traveller distance as the culprit.  Ooops.

Anyone seen the Aspire RF switches?  All I have seen around here at local stores is non-RF, so I have very little basis to judge.   First post I said Aspire button seemed terrible, but realized it was the DIMMER that seemed that way to me.  The dimmer you had to push on the top right corner or lower right corner and just felt mushy.  When I looked at one of their plain (non-RF) switches it seemed just fine, had a conventional top=ON, bottom=off kind of rocker with a nice click to it.  So if the ergonomics on the RF switches is good, maybe I'll look into that further.

Looked at Cooper 9518 but says incandescent only.  Forgot to mention I am powering 5 CFL in to ceiling fixtures, that's an additional wrinkle.   The 9501 with a wireless 9517 is just too much money scratch that.

Perhaps my original problem I was really running into the "incandescent" preference of many switches?  No I looked up the GE manuals again and it says it should be able to handle fluorescents.

Looking through ACT manuals, their switches on surface seem a lot like the GE/Jasco.

Ahah!  Perhaps a clue!  In the manual for the ACT AS101 accessory switch it talks about connecting to either LINE or NEUTRAL.  It goes on to say:

AS101’s are required to be wired to the same line (or neutral) which is also wired to the master
unit as well as the load being controlled, and not wired to any other neutral. If multiple neutrals
are tied together in one box separate the neutrals to preserve their integrity.



My switch #1 location is a double-gang box, and I have a neutral coming in which is shared between the 3-way circuit I'm trying to turn Z-Wave, and another single-pole light.  I speculate that the signalling method used is sensitive to these sorts of setups.  Assuming I'm understanding this caution, not sure what I could have done about it.  "Separate the neutrals" could use some more words there, but if they mean the 3-way must have a private neutral back to the breaker well how am I going to accomodate that?  Argh.

« Last Edit: December 23, 2010, 08:18:20 pm by Vicente »

Offline ctbaker

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Re: Good Z-Wave 3-way wall switch pair?
« Reply #5 on: December 23, 2010, 05:21:23 pm »
AS101’s are required to be wired to the same line (or neutral) which is also wired to the master
unit as well as the load being controlled, and not wired to any other neutral. If multiple neutrals
are tied together in one box separate the neutrals to preserve their integrity.



My understanding is that all neutrals are tied together at the subpanel or at least at the main panel, though I am not an electrician so I could be wrong about this. I wonder again why the vendor would write to run separate neutrals for their switches when the neutrals all get brought together sooner or later anyways.

I know that in the 3 gang boxes I have filled with 3-way switches that all the neutrals are tied together so it doesn't sound like the Jasco/GE/ACT solution will work for me either.

Thanks for posting up this thread, it has been a great education for me. I am now in the same boat as you are... looking for a good 3-way switch that isn't going to break the bank.

Thanks,
Chad

Offline aa6vh

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Re: Good Z-Wave 3-way wall switch pair?
« Reply #6 on: December 24, 2010, 01:22:05 pm »
My understanding is that all neutrals are tied together at the subpanel or at least at the main panel, though I am not an electrician so I could be wrong about this. I wonder again why the vendor would write to run separate neutrals for their switches when the neutrals all get brought together sooner or later anyways.

The reason why it is a bad idea to tie neutrals together (from different circuits) is that if someone turns off only one of the circuits at the switch box, the other still hot circuit can send current through the shared neutrals and subsequently cause the circuit thought to be off to still be hot.

Tying neutrals together that are on the same circuit is okay. Different circuits, definitely not okay.

Offline Vicente

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Re: Good Z-Wave 3-way wall switch pair?
« Reply #7 on: December 24, 2010, 02:16:11 pm »
I think I see your point about the shared neutrals.  You mean if it legs off to some other box which is on a DIFFERENT HOT and not going back to the panel neutral directly.  I don't believe that to be the case in my setup.  I had nearby circuits and lights on.  I needed the light to do the work after all.  If any of them were shared neutral in your sense then my non-conducting detector would have BEEPED when I checked all the wires before starting work yes?

The ACT AS101 manual doesn't give a lot to go on.  Anyhow, my search through manuals will continue.....


« Last Edit: December 24, 2010, 02:18:43 pm by Vicente »

Offline aa6vh

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Re: Good Z-Wave 3-way wall switch pair?
« Reply #8 on: December 24, 2010, 03:05:02 pm »
Not necessarily. The circuit might not show a current (so no beep) when tested, but quite capable of suddenly getting one when you least expect it.

I do not know how your wiring is connected, or what circuits are involved. All I can say is that there is a good reason for not sharing neutrals across different circuits. If things go wrong, you might get shocked, the wire may overload (causing a fire), and other problems. However, there may be situations where shared neutrals are permitted. But only a licensed electrician should be making that determination, not someone giving advice on the Internet!

Try googling "Shared Neutrals" or "Common Neutrals".