Top positive review
Top value z wave plus dimmer on the market
September 11, 2017
Amazon lumps nearly all of the GE Z wave items under the same reviews, this review is specifically for the z wave plus paddle wall dimmer.
Bought a number of these and their Jasco equivalents to connect to my Smarththings hub to control the lights via app and Alexa on echo dots.
Evaluating these as a manual dimmer, these are very very good when compared to some Feit and Leviton LED dimmers I've tried. The Feit dimmer from Costco was the worst; it suffered from an ill fitting wall plate that left gaps to the wall, ever so slight buzzing (even with Feit Led's!), and it had power issues; dim it too low and you induce flicker or the light wont' turn back on because the initial power draw is too low. Using it required, dimming to a level that is satisfactory from both a output and power draw standpoint to make sure one can turn the lights on and off. The Leviton unit addressed all these shortcomings but at $20-30 was rather expensive even without z wave, some models are cheaper but none of them are what I would call cheap.
This GE or really Jasco unit strikes an excellent compromise on all fronts as a mechanical dimmer; no buzzing with Cree or Feit LED retrofits, dims smoothly with no power on/off issues. The only drawback as a mechanical dimmer is that there is no dedicated slider; you hold he up/down paddle as needed to get to desired light level.
The inclusion of Z wave is where this shines and the value proposition increases when compared to a $20-30 mechanical dimmer. With a smartthings hub, it's now a dimmer, a timed switch, alarm signal, etc.
I have 3 generations of these in the house; early gen with no neutral wire, z wave with neutral wire, and now z wave plus. The latest gen supports scenes better but I haven't quite explored in that direction yet so the only notable differences to me are in installation and dimming performance; the latter two have about equivalent performance while the early gen was easier to install due to one less wire it also doesn't dim as low. Given minimal cost differences, it makes sense to buy the latest gen for future functionality upgrades.
From an install perspective, these are quite big and bulky but manageable. The contact points are clearly labeled (neutral, line, load, ground, remote) and makes me wish regular switches were labeled too but alas that is often not the case since there are a myriad of ways to wire them. With a voltage meter in hand it should be easy to figure out the wires; colors are usually white is neutral, bare is ground, and black can be line or load. The voltage meter makes it easy to figure out and worth the $20 as part of your general toolbox; turn off breaker, pull switch out to expose wires, turn on breaker, set meter to detect 200V AC and touch one lead to ground and the other to either black line withe power on and whichever shows ~120V is the line wire aka "hot". Turn off the breaker and proceed to install safely. You'll have quite a bit of wire and switch to cram back in so the flexible neutral white wire they pack in takes at least some of the pain out. All the contacts are push in screw type so no need to break out pliers to bend wire around the screw terminals.
Once I got the hang of identifying wires, it became easy to upgrade throughout the house and I'm onto 9 switches already! so buyer beware, these get addictive.....