Z-Wave light switches can provide a world of difference in how conveniently you control the lighting in your home, and this ease of use and the energy efficieny that it brings vastly outweigh the trickiness of the installation process. Here are three tips to installing a Z-Wave light switch, to ensure that you get straight to that ease of use on the first try.
Check For Load Limits
Before you start installing anything, you will want to verify the minimum and maximum load limits of both your intended outlet, and your physical Z-Wave switch.
At least 20 Watts on a single load proper connection to a resistive load are required for a Z-Wave switch to function properly.
What does this translate to, you ask?
Essentially, you want to make sure that you have more than two or three LED lights on that same circuit, to ensure there is a minimum load for the switch to turn on/off. You'll also want to ensure that there aren't any transformers that could interrupt that circuit and cause problems after installation.
Many older Z-Wave switches are sensitive, in that they are meant to be controlling light sources that require a higher amount of voltage—therefore conditions for low-voltage lighting might put it on the fritz before you even get to enjoy it properly. For example, with these switches, certain LEDs didn't draw enough power, so they would flicker then they were supposed to be off. Nowadays, this is less of an issue, but you can still have this happen with cheaper switches.
It doesn’t hurt to leave us a comment to ensure you have the right kind of switches prior to installing.
Go By the Book
As should be expected of electronics, Z-Wave switches usually come with a detailed instruction manuals. While it may be tempting in other scenarios to toss out the how-to book and get straight to the meat of the project, in the case of a Z-Wave switch installation it’s essential to follow those instructions carefully, step-by-step.
It will likely have a detailed diagram included in the booklet that provides you with a clear look into the installation, which will identify the neutral, line, and load for you so that you get the installation right the first time around. It also helps to ensure you don’t accidentally cause any damage to your home or your Z-Wave switch.
If load and line for your home still seem unclear, then it’s important to consult a professional electrician so that you know it's being installed correctly.
Here is a great Z-Wave switch installation video for reference:
If you are attempting to control the same lights using three or more switches, or to utilize a 3-way switch option, then you will want to be extra careful with how you install the Z-Wave switches.
If a wire that you connect to that circuit is hot, or overloaded, it could wear down the switch that much more quickly over time. Also, whenever you attempt to have multiple switch controls, you will want to make sure that the master switch is connected to the load, line, neutral, traveler (some Z-Wave switches don't need this) and ground.
If you are incorporating a manual switch into this 3-way option it does not need power, it only connects to the ground, traveler, and neutral.
If at any point while installing a Z-Wave light switch you have questions or are concerned that you aren’t taking the right approach, consulting an electrician or a smart house expert is highly suggested!