This is a light switch.
More specifically this is a GE Z-Wave + Smart Switch. And that means its better.
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Today I’m going to review the GE Smart Switch for you. I’ll go over installation, functionality, and generally what I like and dislike, and at the end, I’ll let you know if it’s worth buying or not.
If you’re unfamiliar with smart switches, they essentially add connectivity to the light switch itself, rather than the light bulb, like Philips Hue for example.
Let’s take a look at the device itself, and then dive into more details and installation.
In the box you get the Switch, both a white and almond colored rocker, a traveler wire and the instruction manual. There are a variety of nameplates available, however the dimensions will fit any normal one you already have.
The device itself is non-descript, as most light switches are. There’s an LED at the bottom to let you know if it is on or off (though this can be disabled) as well as a little reset button.
Even though it is a rocker style switch, the switch doesn’t actually rock back and forth like on a regular switch. It just basically presses a button on the inside of the housing.
Speaking of the housing, It’s quite large, as are almost all smart switches and dimmers. The back connections are very straight forward and easy to figure out. Instead of having pre-connected wires at each connection point, it just points to where you need to connect and screw down the wire.
This is really useful because it means you don’t need to worry about splicing wires together, and it’ll take up less space in the box in the wall.
Installation and Setup
Installation is pretty straight forward; you need to identify which wires are which in your wall, and then connect them to their respective locations on the switch. Each part is labeled accordingly (Live, Load, Neutral, Ground, and traveler if needed) and has a screw so you can tighten the connection.
As stated above, this does require a neutral wire, so if you have an older home without one, you will be much more limited in your smart switch choices, though the Lutron Caseta lineup is available.
Remember to always turn off the circuit breaker before doing any electric work, and if you’re not confident in your abilities, call a professional to help out.
Once the wires are connected safely, you can turn the breaker back on, and the LED’s on the front should light up, and pressing the switch should turn your lights on.
Since this is a Z-Wave switch, you’ll need some sort of Z-wave hub to connect this to if you want to control it remotely. (of course you want this, why else buy it).
Connecting is near instant to the Samsung SmartThings Hub. There aren’t any further steps to take which is nice. Of course you can go ahead and rename it and place it in the room and test it out to make sure it’s working.
Performance and Reliability
Performance and Reliability are two of the main criteria people look at when it comes to putting smart switches in their homes.
The performance is great, exactly the same as it was with the regular switch that this replaced.
Even from the SmartThings app (or Homekit using Homebridge) the switch responds quickly and flawlessly.
I will point out that there is an audible click/thunk whenever the switch is used, I’m not exactly sure why that is. It’s not very noticeable when you press the button, but it’s certainly noticeable when it’s done from your phone.
Reliability has been excellent so far, with no disconnections and “no response” errors popping up in the SmartThings app (or Homekit), which can be a common occurrence on less reliable products. There have not been any issues with the automations not working either.
Like I mentioned before, this dimmer requires a neutral wire, but it also can be used in 2-3 way switches. Thankfully, if you do have this sort of setup, the additional switches are only $20.
Meaning if you have a hallway light that is controlled by 2 separate switches at each end of the hallway, then this is the smart switch you are looking for. The instruction manual provides instructions on how to properly wire this scenario.
If you want to use this smart switch in a 2-gang setup, it’ll be a bit tight on space, but because there are no extra wires to connect or splice, it should still be very doable. And because of the “normal” design, it should blend in with any regular switches you still have.
Tie ins with automations are flawless through the SmartThings app, allowing for things such as turn off all lights when leaving home, and turning them on when coming home.
All in all this is a great smart switch to start your home conversion with.
That brings us to the golden question:
Should you buy this?
At about $40 it costs about as much as most other smart switches. It is Z-Wave so you’ll need some sort of Hub like SmartThings or Wink, but that’s neither the end of the world, nor is it necessarily a bad thing.
Because of this, it will compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant, but not with Siri (natively). For those of you looking at HomeKit compatibility, checkout some of these devices.
For the excellent performance, and great reliability, it’s hard to not recommend.
This makes the GE Z-Wave Smart Switch the perfect way to start your smart home conversion, one light switch at a time.