Monday, May 18, 2015

GE 12728 Z-Wave Add-on Switch review
The main thing to start out with is that this is an add-on switch and WILL NOT control lights on it's own. It can't switch 120V itself but is meant to be used with something such as the GE 12729 dimmer. I purchased 3 pairs of the 12729 and 12728 to set up three rooms of my house with home automation capabilities.

Setup- Definitely read the instructions and consult an electrician if you need but I'll describe it in my own words. The easiest was to think of this switch is as a remote that controls the main Z-wave enabled one. Where a normal 3 or 4-way setup will run one power wire(line) to the first switch then through two wires(usually black and red) until the last switch and one(load) to the light, in this case the power(line) goes to the GE 12729, and right on to the light. Because you run the main switch right to the light, where the in-between old switches had a black in and black out, just wire-nut these together so power is uninterrupted to the light. Then, where the old ones had a red in and red out, these are what you hook up to this item. You can daisy chain as many as you want back to the control switch.

The wiring in my house has always been a mess but with a little testing of the wires I ended up getting them to work fine. Note that these are fairly bulky so if you have gang boxes and you're patient enough it may help to take everything out and shorten the lengths of wire that are unneeded. It took some pushing and using the screws to pull them all the way into the box due to everything behind them. I also had to break some pieces of plastic off my switch plates because they didn't want to sit close to the large metal face.

Important note- When attaching the switch plate, you may be tempted to use the screws that were already in it(assuming you are replacing existing switches). The package includes screws for a good reason; the standard ones are usually too long. You'll find that if you tighten a regular screw all the way in the light will suddenly turn off. I don't know if this is some sort of safety feature or if it is shorting the internal circuit, but I found that backing the screw out and cycling the air-gap switch fixed it.

These have worked flawlessly for months now on a Veralite so I would highly recommend.
See my review on GE 12729 for some tips on Z-wave control settings.

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