Z-wave wall switches

I’m planning some z-wave expansion at my place - could you recommend wall switches suitable for 4 gang installation with no neutral?

What’s are the switches controlling in the 4 gang boxes - I have several 3 and 4 gang boxes in my house as you said no neutral you will be looking for dimming switches - what you have remember is when you in have switches in a multiple gang box the switch rating - 600 watt switch - 1 gang - 600 watt max - 2 gang - 500 watt - 3 gang or more - 400 watt

I use CFL, so no dimming for me - just on/off switches.
Intermatic stuff I’m used to says “up to 2 gang”, this why I’m asking about modules for 3-4 gang installations.

The HA14C, HA20C and HA18C could go up to a 4 gang box with no problems - not sure about HA06C as it is a 300 watt Switch

I use the leviton line. If you want to avoid a neutral you will only be able to use dimmers for lighting. They also make fan modules, not sure if they need a neutral or not.

As for multiple gang installations, you have to read the specs. The larger leviton dimmers have heat fins on the back. The specs will let you know how many you can break off and how many you can fit in a gang box and the resulting wattage of the diminished dimmers after breaking the fins.

AFAIK, you can’t do CFL and not have a neutral!

There are non-relay switches, which don’t require neutral, but they only work with incandescent. With CFL you would need relay switches, requiring neutral.

Most switches have a metal heat sink fin that you break off to fit the switch beside another one in 2+ gang situations. These metal fins dissipate the heat caused by the switch. By breaking off the metal fins, you are de-rating the amount of heat the switch can dissipate. If you remove the fins and still hook up the maximum wattage the switch is ‘sold as’ you run the risk of starting a fire.

Lets say we have four 1000 Watt rated switches installed in a 4-gang box.
Each tab that gets broken off de-rates the switch by 200 Watt.
So the switch on the farthest left will require one tab to be broken off. It is now rated to carry 800 Watts. The farthest right switch is the same as the farthest left switch and will be de-rated to 800W.
The two middle switches will require both tabs to be broken off to fit them between the outer switches.
Because both tabs are broken, the two middle switches are now only rated to carry 600 Watts.

Does that make sense to everyone?

That’s something I just don’t get - how comes I can screw CFL into a standing lamp, and plug it into an appliance module - and yet there’s no non-dimming switches I could use in the same “no neutral” house…

[quote=“denix, post:6, topic:164988”]AFAIK, you can’t do CFL and not have a neutral!

There are non-relay switches, which don’t require neutral, but they only work with incandescent. With CFL you would need relay switches, requiring neutral.[/quote]

How would the light bulb possibly know the difference???

-GT

All electric sockets do indeed have a neutral. That is a return path to the breaker box from the electric socket, so that is why an appliance module works. So an non-neutral wired switch that controls say a chandelier is a different story. The leads that directly connect to the chandelier do have a circuit to the breaker box, but the manual toggle switch that controls it is wired inline with only one of the poles going to the chandelier. Thus, the switch relies on an air gap to complete the circuit to the chandelier. All z wave and, and electric switches for that matter, (as opposed to the toggle air gap switches) requires a tiny bit of power to power the radio and electronics. Without a neutral it can not get any power. Dimmers on the other hand always let a very small bit of power through, even when “off” (thus completing the circuit) and the switch can draw power using that method.

Appliance module connects to hot and neutral from your outlet. And it passes power to your CFL when turned on.

When you consider a standard wall switch w/o neutral - it’s just breaking the circuit by disconnecting the hot line. When you close the circuit by turning the manual switch on, electricity flows, lamp lights up. When you turn the manual switch off, you break the circuit, electricity does not flow, lamp is off… :slight_smile: Simple enough

Now if you want to replace a manual switch with an electronic device, it needs to be powered by some electricity. So, the circuit should always be connected for the switch device to be on, meaning the light should always be on.

There is a way to draw enough power for the Z-Wave light switch+radio and still turn the incandescent light off, without breaking the circuit. But it only works with incandescent lights. With CFL it will either not work, or result in terrible flickering…

Got it. The house is not home automation-able… well not entirely.
Tnx guys.

And speaking of dimmers - because of the above limitations, the way they work is not by reducing voltage or any other characteristic of an electric network, like current etc. - they just flicker very fast. So, basically, 50% dim level results in the lamp being 50% of time on and 50% of time off… :slight_smile:
It works best with incandescent lamp (or halogen - anything with filament), as you can’t see it flickering that fast, you just see it lighting 50% dimmer.

So, when the dimmer is in the OFF position (or for our case - a Z-Wave switch w/o neutral) - the circuit is not really broken. It’s just flickers with 99% of the time being off and 1% being on. That is not enough to light up the filament in an incandescent light, that’s why you see it as being completely off. But due to the nature of CFL or fluorescent lights in general, it may result in flickering, humming or completely breaking the circuit, because CFLs are electronic devices on their own, not a mere heating element…

Ditto on all of the above, and I just learned the hard way this weekend when I installed a Leviton wall switch in my bedroom which controls a wall socket. I had a small floor can light with a CFL bulb plugged into that socket, and as soon as I restored power, the CFL bulb begain flickering wildly with the switch off, and even more wildly with the switch on. So I had to put a standard incandescent bulb back into the can light.

However, the problem doesn’t end there. It turns out that anything other than a light which is plugged into that switched socket will suffer. I inadvertently plugged my vacuum cleaner into the switched socket, and when I turned it on, it was at a reduced level of power - my guess is due to the power draw of the Leviton switch since it doesn’t have a neutral. So now I’ve essentially rendered that socket (actually the entire set of upper sockets in the room) useless except for incandescent lighting. Fortunately the lower sockets are powered stand-alone.

Actually, dimmers by default when fully turned ON never reach 100% level. They call it “energy save mode” by only reaching 90%-95% of brightness. Some dimmers (Vizia-RF+) allow overriding it locally…

Understood. But my wall switch is just a regular 5A switch, not a dimmer. So when turned on, I would’ve expected it to be at full power, unlike a dimmer, and not affect my vacuum power like it did. Perhaps even the wall switches max out at 90%? That would be kind of weird, but certainly not the first thing to surprise me about these electronics.

The VRS05-1LX (5A switch is for Incandescent loads only) according to Leviton. Here is an application note put out by Leviton:

Interesting - thanks for the info. I didn’t realize Leviton made a CFL-compatible switch. I’ll certainly look into buying one of those so I can switch back to CFL.

ASIHome - if you’re listening…I don’t see the RZS15-LX switch on your site. Do you have that model?

So I’ve been doing some research, and actually finding the RZS15-1LX, CFL-compatible Leviton switch is confusing. On several sites, including Smarthome.com, there is only one switch available, but down in the product specs, they list both part numbers (RZS15-1LX/VRS15-1LX) which could lead one to believe they were equivalent and/or the latter replaced the former. Then I went to SmartHomeUSA.com, and they indicate that the RZS15-1LX switch has been discontinued and replaced by the VRS15-1LX.

Yet when I read the Leviton Product Bulletin you sent me, it clearly states that the RZS15-1LX is actually a newer model switch that is CFL compatible.

UPDATE…
The application note included above actually mis-states the facts. The RZS… series of Vizia switches are actually legacy models replaced by the VRS… series. It turns out that my screw-up was buying a 5A switch instead of a 15A switch. Apparently the 5A switch is only incandescent-compatible, while the 15A switch supports CFL. I have no clue why Leviton would produce an incorrect application note like that.

Kaldoon - thanks again. Even though the application note was wrong, it prompted a crash-course in Leviton switches for me today, which was helpful.

And unlike 5A switch, the 15A does require neutral