GE Smart Switches built by Jasco
When you think about starting to automate your home, you may ask yourself, smart light bulbs or smart switches? While the market has evolved significantly since we began our journey at AppMyHome, one of the best decisions we made early on was to invest in GE smart switches and outlets, built by Jasco.
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We met with Jasco at CES and learned about their complete line of GE smart switches and outlets. They now support four different protocols, Z-Wave Plus, Z-Wave, ZigBee and Bluetooth, providing many different options to control your home, with or without a smart home hub and with the right setup, with your voice through Amazon Alexa or Google Home. Since these are connected to your home’s power supply, they are always on, removing the requirement for batteries.
When we first started automating, a lot of these choices didn’t exist and controlling our house with our iPhones was state of the art. We bought quite a few Philips Hue light bulbs from our local Apple store. While these smart light bulbs are easy to install and fun to use, if someone switches off the outlet, they can no longer be controlled remotely, and there are very few lights in our house not accessed by a switch. We also had fluorescent can lights in our kitchen that we couldn’t replace with smart bulbs without ripping out and replacing the fixtures.
To get the control we needed, we started with the original WeMo switches with WiFi. Installing a switch is a bit more difficult than a bulb, but not too hard for many homeowners. The WeMo switch worked fine but the fit and finish was a little clumsy. It didn’t fit into the standard wall plate and stuck out, even with the WeMo-supplied plate.
Around this time we started experimenting with smart home hubs to give us more options for control, starting with SmartThings. Now that the lights were now controlled by smart switches we could do a lot more things, such as set up motion sensors to turn them on and off and automatically control them based on sunrise/sunset and other triggers. Since we were controlling the switches rather than the bulbs, we had complete control of anything connected to them, beyond just lights.
At this point we were sold on smart switches but hesitated to install them throughout the house. Then we discovered the GE smart switches and outlets made by Jasco. They were a bit more expensive than the competition, but they fit seamlessly into our original switch boxes in our home, even in gang boxes with two or more switches. The switches even support three-way switching to control multiple devices, something WEMO was unable to do.
These switches and outlets use the Z-Wave protocol, which is supported by most smart home hubs. Z-Wave works on a mesh network, which means when you add more devices, the range and performance improves. For example, we had a Z-wave outlet on an outside wall, too far from the hub for control, but adding another Z-wave outlet halfway between the hub and the outside outlet improved the coverage.
We now have installed GE smart switches and outlets throughout our home and are really happy with the performance. While we have experimented with different home hubs over the years, our Z-Wave smart switches and outlets have remained compatible, performed consistently and look great in our home.
Recently, Jasco have made some great additions to their product line, providing even more options for automating your home. We added the GE Z-Wave Smart Motion Switch, which bundles a smart switch with a motion sensor. This has allowed us to replace some of our separate battery-operated motion sensors we were using to trigger different switches, with a much more attractive and easy to use integrated solution. Jasco has also greatly improved their dimmer switches, now more reliable and with finer tuned control of most anything that can be dimmed.
Jasco expanded their line to include switches using both Bluetooth and ZigBee protocols, which offer flexibility when setting up your smart home. We have not yet tested the Bluetooth switches, but we have replaced one of our existing GE Z-Wave In-Wall Smart Dimmer Switches with a ZigBee version that Jasco generously provided us. We installed it in our kitchen, re-paired it to our hub and it works perfectly, all without having to replace the 3-way companion switches as they work with any GE Smart Switch or Smart Dimmer Switch.
Jasco also sent us a new GE Z-Wave Plus Hinge Pin Smart Door Sensor. Installation wasn’t as easy as we expected. The sensor goes on top of on the hinge pin of the door. Since our house is 10 years old, getting the hinge pin out from the front door was a bit tough, plus we had to adjust the movement settings on the door sensor. This required several pin removals, disassembly and re-assembly of the sensor before we got it right. Now that the sensor is installed it works great, we can keep track of when the door opens and closes and setup notifications if we leave it open too long. We have ours connected to the inside entry light so that the light comes on and switches off automatically, so we can be sure to have light when we are coming inside with our groceries in the dark. The Door sensor is powered by a CR-2 battery which should provide up to two years of battery life, much longer than the external door sensor it is replacing. We left ours white, but Jasco also sells accessory packs in dark brown, silver and paintable styles so these can blend right in with the door hardware.
In summary, Jasco has a great line of GE smart switches, outlets, and other devices that provide solid performance, high-quality fit and finish and compatibility with many of today’s popular smart home platforms. Whether you use Z-Wave or ZigBee or a combination, you will need a hub to allow you to connect the devices and control them, for example, Wink or SmartThings, so make sure you read the specifications before you dive in replace all your switches. We are definitely pleased with our investment so far and look forward to seeing new products in the future.