Using Linear Z-Wave dimmer switches with dimmable LED’s

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Everybody these days is concerned about energy conservation, not only for a green planet but also in their own homes.  One of the easiest things you can do to conserve energy in your home, is convert your existing light bulbs from the horribly inefficient incandescent light bulbs to LED’s or CFL’s.

I have been getting a lot of questions lately regarding the use of LED bulbs with Z-Wave dimmer switches, so I wanted to post some of the results of some tests that I completed recently in my office to help those of you with questions on where to start and what type of bulb and switches to use.  I will expand more in future posts on additional bulbs and switches, but for now I am posting the results of my tests using three common brands of dimmable LED’s (yes you DO need to use “dimmable” LED’s) wired into circuits being controlled by a Z-Wave dimmer switch, Model WD500Z-1 by Linear Corp.

Here are the results of my tests…

1) Cree 6W Dimmable LED (450 Lumens)

– Dimming steps good.

– Dims full on/off (0-100%) nice and smooth

– Resume dim good.

– no discernible noise

– no flicker but hard to control on lower spectrum of wattage (close to off or 5-10%)

2) Philips 8W Dimmable LED (470 Lumens)

– Dimming steps good.

– Dims full on/off (0-100%) nice and smooth

– Resume dim good.

– no discernible noise

– no flicker

– Good control at all dim levels.

3) EcoSmart 9W Dimmable LED (650 Lumens)

– Dimming steps good.

– Dims full on/off (0-100%) nice and smooth

– Resume dim good.

– no discernible noise

– no flicker

– Good control at all dim levels.

Now there is no guarantee that buying these brand of bulbs and these switches will absolutely work for you in your environment, as every home is wired differently and may have other mitigating circumstances, but at least this is something for you to start with. I would recommend that you get one switch and one LED dimmable bulb and hook everything up properly then test to see if it works for you in your home environment and that you are happy with how the bulb and switch work together and with their performance.

These tests were done on my test bench in my office under perfect conditions, I did not do anything but wire up the switches and screw in the LED’s. I have a VeraLite controller as well as HomeSeer but did not set them up within either controller as I wanted an unrestricted unbiased test using a standard GE Z-Wave remote controller and/or and Aeon Labs Minimote, so those were what I used for my tests. That’s not to say you couldn’t improve the step rates and presets with Vera or another controller to improve the performance even more, as I am sure you could.  Also, the more load you add to your final circuit – ie: the more LED bulbs – the better the performance will most likely be as I only used one bulb as noted in each test above to ensure I was giving you tests based upon the worst case scenario. More often than not, multiple bulbs with a total higher load (usually above 40 Watts) than what I used will afford better results and improved dimming than a lower load like I used.  Again, please follow my advice and conduct some tests on your own before going out and buying dozens of bulbs and a bunch of switches only to find out later that they do not work very well in your home.

Good luck on your fight to save the planet and stay tuned for more test results in future posts!  Thanks for letting us “automate YOUR world”!

Kelly R. Foster – HA World