“Clap on, Clap off. The clapper” ring any bells? This infomercial is long gone, and we all miss that catchy jingle, for fear this was the pinnacle of smart technology. But, thankfully, it's not!
What if I told you that there’s still hope – that controlling your home lighting can still be ridiculously effortless and, dare I say, entertaining?
A Z-Wave Zone Quick Tip
You will need a Z-Wave hub to control your Z-Wave light switches. If you don't already have one, check out our suggestions as to which are the best!
What Are Z-Wave Light Switches?
Imagine, with the touch of your tablet, you are able to dim all the lights in your home theatre? Or any light in your home for that matter. That’s handy.
What about saving on those money trickling electricity bills? What if you could schedule the outside lights to come on at sunset and then off at sunrise, taking the idea of an energy efficient "green" home to the next level. Now that’s clever.
There’s convenience and there’s smarts and you don’t even have to clap; Z-Wave light switches do both.
Now I know what you’re thinking, “this sounds complicated and expensive, and it’s just out of reach”. It may be out of reach, but it’s well within range. Let me explain. For less than $200.00 you can easily replace a handful of standard in-wall light switches with the Z-Wave controlled switches.
The days of calling an electrician, rewiring your entire house and hiding cables is long gone. Z-Wave light switches are fitted to replace your existing switches, using current wires. Once connected, you're able to control every light in your house from anywhere in the world, with your smartphone or laptop. No more wondering “Did I leave the kitchen light on?” You're able to schedule lights to come on automatically and even create ambience with any light in any room using a Z-Wave dimmer switch. It may sound far-fetched, but I assure you it’s not, it's even cost effective and takes little time to set up!
As mobile devices become ever more common, home automation is evolving into a considerably more economical and user-friendly option. The industry, as a whole, is expected to increase to $14.1 billion in worldwide sales by 2018 (11.5% increase since 2012) [ABI Research Company]. With this, we can expect the prices of home automation, and Z-Wave light switches, to decrease substantially; in correlation to demand.
Z-Wave Light Switch Industry Players
With more than 300 companies and 1,200+ certified products that work with Z-Wave technology, it’s not surprising to find a lot of players in smart lighting either. GE, Leviton, Evolve, Linear and Cooper are big names in the niche market of Z-Wave light switches and they each have their own pros and cons. Let’s take a look.
Leviton and Cooper – Expensive, but feature rich; stylish and high quality.
Most owners of Cooper Z-Wave light switches will tell you that they are really well-engineered. Cooper backs this statement up in its solid 5 year warranty. Its high-end counterpart, Leviton, has some very sleek and stylish models (brightness indicators, discrete dimming buttons, etc.). As well, their dimmer switch products tend to be more feature rich. For instance, user configurable default brightness and a mode that boots up LED bulbs at low power levels by jumping to 10% and then back down. These switches start at a whopping $60.00 for the most basic versions.
General Electric (GE) – Your flagship, ‘middle-of-the-road’ brand.
The high popularity of GE Z-Wave light switches is due to their availability within major brick-and-mortar retailers (think HomeDepot, Lowes and Walmart) and value price-point. Yet, with most value brands, the general consensus of online consumers is that they tend to have a somewhat higher rate of failure; this is indicative of their 1 year warranty. That being said, GE switches still have a lot to offer!
Evolve and Linear – Your online stars.
These two brands are your economy Z-Wave light switches. Their dimmer products are comparable to GE in terms of functionality and quality (offering the same 1 year manufacturer’s warranty) but they cost a little less. It’s just harder to find them in physical stores. Your best bet for these hidden treasures will be to buy them online, at Amazon.com.
Our goal with this article is to shed some light on the best entry-level Z-Wave light switch. To do this, we looked at more than 2,000 consumer reviews and compared the above 5 brands; their offerings, price points, feature set, proposed value and level of quality. In the end, we simply couldn’t overlook Linear, specifically it’s Linear WD500Z-1 Z-Wave 500-Watt Wall-Mount Dimmer Switch.
Why is the Linear WD500Z-1 Rated Numero Uno?
The combined quality and price (around $30.00) of the WD500Z-1 makes this our go-to recommendation for dimmable Z-Wave light switches. There are no issues with any CFL or standard dimmable bulbs, or the finickiest of LED bulbs. The switch feels well-made and durable. There’s no noise or hum and it pairs easily. Not only that, but they all feature a bright green LED that illuminates when the lights are off, so you can always find them! What else can you ask for in an entry-level dimmable Z-Wave light switch?
Again, the WD500Z-1 may not be the snazziest looking of all the dimmable Z-Wave light switches, and we’re not claiming otherwise, but it makes up for this in its simplistic, easy-to-use design. The GE competitor does come with both white and almond trim ring and this one is only available in white. Still, the color of the device can be altered with the trim ring kit model in black, brown, almond and ivory – of course at an additional price, but it’s nice to know that some customization is possible. Worth noting that the LED light is green and not blue like the GE switches.
The switch also doesn’t have the wide array of features that the Leviton or Cooper counterpart offer, but it does have a beautiful light transition feature that, when turning the fixture on, gradually brightens to your preferred, set illumination level – the same can be said when you turn it off.
We’re not going to get into the technical details of installing any particular Z-Wave light switch, but we can say that this one is relatively easy to install. Furthermore there is a great instructional video, if you’re more of a visual learner. Please note that these dimmer switches *do* require a neutral wire, so be aware of that. If you ever feel the installation is overwhelming, please call an electrician!
Now all you need to do is get a hub and you're ready to start lighting up your life, the E Z-Wave way!
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