It’s been about a year since we made the switch to Z-Wave for home automation and so far we’ve been impressed. We’ve since added many more Z-Wave devices to our network and we’ve expanded the footprint of our network to cover the house, barn and garage and the Z-Wave mesh network technology had no problem reaching the barn or garage modules. Z-wave is here to stay in this household!

We’ve been testing some of the latest Z-Wave devices from GE/Jasco, FortrezZ, Aeon Labs and others for a short time and in this review we will discuss how we’ve installed and integrated these devices into our Z-Wave Home Automation network controlled by Vera.

GE/Jasco 3-Way On/Off Kit – 45614

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GE/Jasco has got to be one of the best light/appliance switches around, with the only drawback being lack of association support with other modules.   This means you’ll need a Z-wave controller or remote to manage the modules interaction with other modules.  We installed this 3-Way On/Off Kit in our formal dining room with a switch on both ends of the room.  The instructions for installation are very easy but more complicated than a typical 2-wire with ground switch installation since the 3-way lights have traveler wires.  Once we figured out the main switch it was a breeze to install.  There is also a air-gap switch for fully disconnecting power when changing light bulbs, and the integrated LED light can be set to be on when the light is on, or it can be used in “nightlight” mode which keeps the blue LED on when the light is off so it’s easy to find in a dark room.  The action of these switches are fantastic and feel more solid and responsive than some other Z-Wave switches we’ve tried.
Buy the GE 45614 Z-wave3-way Switch Kit NOW from Amazon.com

Z-Wave Details: Does not support Association Command Class to directly associate with other Z-Wave modules.

How does the device work with Vera?: It works great in Vera.  All of the GE devices we’ve tested work perfectly with Vera and show up as an appliance module – ON/OFF.  This module will also act as a repeater in the mesh network since it’s powered and best of all it supports “the Beam” – a low power status message to Vera used in the Schlage Link Z-wave locks. Not many devices support this Z-Wave “beam” mode for the lock so this will help you place Vera further from the lock than before if needed.  You just need to place some GE/Jasco devices in the path that can repeat this beam, look for Firmware Version 2.0a or 3.0a on the back of the GE/Jasco module or package.

GE/Jasco Dimmer Switch – 45606

45606dimmerswitch.jpgThe GE/Jasco dimmer switch has the same great look and feel of the other GE/Jasco switches yet it allows you to control incandescent or dimmable CFL lighting.  When adding the module you can set the dim level so each time you turn on that light it automatically adjusts to the level that was set when added.   There is also a air-gap switch for fully disconnecting power when changing light bulbs, and the integrated LED light can be set to be on when the light is on, or it can be used in “nightlight” mode which keeps the blue LED on when the light is off so it’s easy to find in a dark room.
Buy the GE 45606 Z-Wave Dimmer Switch NOW from Amazon.com

Z-Wave Details: Does not support Association Command Class to directly associate with other Z-Wave modules.

How does the device work with Vera?: It works great in Vera.  All of the GE devices we’ve tested work perfectly with Vera and show up as a dimmer module – ON/OFF or Set Level.  This module will also act as a repeater in the mesh network since it’s powered and best of all it supports “the Beam” – a low power status message to Vera used in the Schlage Link Z-wave locks. Not many devices support this Z-Wave “beam” mode for the lock so this will help you place Vera further from the lock than before if needed.  You just need to place some GE/Jasco devices in the path that can repeat this beam, look for Firmware Version 2.0a or 3.0a on the back of the GE/Jasco module or package.

GE/Jasco Outdoor Appliance Module – 45604

45604outdoormodule.jpgThe GE/Jasco outdoor appliance module offers Z-Wave control for your outdoor lights, pumps, heat cables or even Christmas lights.  The module has protective rubber over the receptacle and switch offering protection from the elements while providing you remote control of whatever device or lighting you desire.  We combined the GE Outdoor module with a 50 foot run of Ice melt cable used our MiCasaVerde Vera controller to turn on the heat tape remotely when it was snowing instead of trudging out in the snow to plug the cable in.   If you have outdoor lights, appliances or other devices you wish to remotely control, you can’t go wrong with the GE/Jasco outdoor appliance module.
Buy the GE 45604 Z-Wave Outdoor Module NOW from Amazon.com

Z-Wave Details: Does not support Association Command Class to directly associate with other Z-Wave modules.

How does the device work with Vera?: It works great in Vera.  All of the GE devices we’ve tested work perfectly with Vera and show up as an appliance module – ON/OFF.  This module will also act as a repeater in the mesh network since it’s powered and best of all it supports “the Beam” – a low power status message to Vera used in the Schlage Link Z-wave locks. Not many devices support this Z-Wave “beam” mode for the lock so this will help you place Vera further from the lock than before if needed.  You just need to place some GE/Jasco devices in the path that can repeat this beam, look for Firmware Version 2.0a or 3.0a on the back of the GE/Jasco module or package.

GE/Jasco LCD Advanced Remote – 45601

ge45601.jpgOne of the benefits of Z-wave is remote operation when both home and away.  The GE Advanced Remote turns on/off and adjusts the brightness level of Z-Wave enabled lights and can also operate Z-Wave thermostats and other devices such as Appliances.  We prefer the GE Advanced Remote over others due to the LCD screen and easy naming of devices, scenes and groups.  One neat feature of this remote is the timer function which allows for up to nine timed events to be automatically activated.  Although this remote won’t operate A/V devices as the GE Z-Wave Home Theater Remote does, we find this remote attractive and easy to use and the LCD screen enhances the usability over other Z-Wave remotes we’ve tried.  This remote also works great with direct device control as a secondary controller and also works perfectly with the Vera Z-Wave for activating a scene within the Vera primary controller.
Buy the GE 45601 Z-Wave LCD Remote Control NOW from Amazon.com

Z-Wave Details: This remote can act as both a primary and secondary controller, and the LCD screen makes it easy to program and know what module you are controlling due to custom naming of each button.

How does the device work with Vera?: It works great in Vera.  You can add the remote to Vera as a secondary controller and it also can map to a scene in Vera.  We used this remote to create a scene called unlock door and assigned it to scene button #1 on the remote.  Now if someone knocks on our door we can ask who it is and then unlock the door from the remote control.   Takes 3 AAA batteries and they last quite a while with normal use.  If you are looking for a better remote than the junky Intermatic and Hawking remotes, the GE/Jasco LCD Advanced remote is fantastic.

GE/Jasco Duplex Receptacle – 45605

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The GE/Jasco in-wall Z-Wave receptacle in another great addition to our Z-Wave network.   Receptacles are another great way to add automation to your lights and appliances with minimal visual impact since they  look like any other standard wall receptacle.   The receptacle can handle heavy duty appliances, as well as incandescent, CFL and florescent lighting.  The bottom outlet is Z-wave controlled and can be activated with the integrated push button in the middle of the receptacle.  The blue LED light can be reversed to allow “night light” mode when off, or as an indicator that the outlet is on.   We use this receptacle in the kitchen to turn on a series of under-cabinet lighting and plan on adding many more of these receptacles throughout the house as we enhance our Z-Wave network.
Buy the GE 45605 Z-Wave Duplex Receptacle NOW from Amazon.com

Z-Wave Details: Does not support Association Command Class to directly associate with other Z-Wave modules.

How does the device work with Vera?: It works great in Vera.  All of the GE devices we’ve tested work perfectly with Vera and show up as an appliance module – ON/OFF.  This module will also act as a repeater in the mesh network since it’s powered and best of all it supports “the Beam” – a low power status message to Vera used in the Schlage Link Z-wave locks. Not many devices support this Z-Wave “beam” mode for the lock so this will help you place Vera further from the lock than before if needed.  You just need to place some GE/Jasco devices in the path that can repeat this beam, look for Firmware Version 2.0a or 3.0a on the back of the GE/Jasco module or package.

Fortrezz Water/Freeze Alarm – WWA-02

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The FortrezZ  WWA-02 Water and Freeze alarm is one Z-Wave device everyone should have.  This newer not-yet-released model ditches the older speaker for a red LED.  This allows the battery to last much longer than the previous model WWA-01.  Otherwise they are identical and appear as a motion sensor in our Vera controller.  The device also has a temperature sensor that triggers an alarm at approx 36 degrees Fahrenheit.  We currently use this sensor under the water heater and boiler for water leak detection and monitor the temperature of the basement.  If the sensor detects water it triggers a water leak scene in Vera that sends us a txt and email, turns on the strobe alarm and then turns off the FortrezZ WV-01 main water supply to the house.   We plan on adding several more of these under every sink in the house and in the crawlspace beneath the bathroom plumbing.   We’ll know about any leaks within seconds of detection, and best of all it will turn off the water main and leave it until we fix the problem.  The FortrezZ WWA-02 is only an improvement of a low-cost fantastic device that can save you thousands of dollars.

Z-Wave Details: Has Association Command Class to directly associate with other Z-Wave modules.

How does the device work with Vera?: It works great except Vera hasn’t implemented the device properly as a multi-function device (temp and alarm)  It works in scenes but only with flood or freeze alarms – this triggers the same alert in Vera.  You can’t use the temperature sensor to trigger a scene due to this issue as well – we hope Vera supports these devices more extensively.   Another issue with Vera not fully support the device is that a freeze alert could trigger the water valve OFF if you have a scene that is setup when the device detects water.   The best way around this is to directly associate the FortrezZ devices.  The WWA-01/02 shows up in Vera as a Motion Sensor.  Since it’s a battery powered device, give Vera at least 4-6 hours to get the info from the module.  Simply ARM the motion sensor and set your commands and notifications.  Does not act as a repeater in the mesh network since it’s battery powered.

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