How to add a GE Z-Wave Smart Outlet (1 gang) to your Home Assistant system
In this post, I will show you how to install a single GE Z-Wave Smart Outlet (1 gang) to your Home Assistant system.
I am not a licensed electrician, so take my advice only as an amateur DIYer. If you are uncomfortable re-wiring a switch in your home, call an electrician to install the switch for you!
There are 2 ways to automate & control the outlets in your house. You can either control the outlets or the devices themselves. Buying new devices gives you more control and more features, but costs a lot of money.
I prefer to just replace the outlets in my house and keep my existing dumb devices plugged into them. GE Z-Wave smart outlets have 2 outlets, one that is smart and one that is dumb. The smart outlet (the bottom one with the “Z-Wave Plus” logo, can be controlled via Z-Wave. The dumb outlet is always on. This gives you flexibility to control devices that need to be switched on and off (like a lamp), but also lets you keep things plugged in that should always have power (like a phone charger).
If you are following along from my previous post about Z-Wave switches, this one will be very similar.
Here are the tools and devices you will need to do this installation (affiliate links below).
- GE Z-Wave Plus Smart Receptical Outlet
- 1 Gang decorative faceplate (if needed)
- Klein Tools Digital Circuit Breaker Finder (not required, but very helpful)
- Klein Tools Electric Voltage Tester (not required, but very helpful)
- Phillips/flat head screwdriver (either or both)
- Needle-nose pliers (to straighten wires and strip if needed)
- Jumper wire 14 gauge (if needed)
- Electrical wire nuts (if needed)
There are 2 primary steps in this installation.
- Replace the old electric outlet with the new smart outlet
- Register your new smart outlet with Home Assistant
Replace the old electric outlet with the new smart outlet
I cannot stress this enough. You can absolutely electrocute yourself or start a fire if you don’t do the electrical job correctly.
For simple jobs, I feel confident in my electrical ability to replace outlets, switches, etc. I have absolutely called in a professional electrician for complex jobs (like when I had a short in my bathroom GFCI outlets and they kept tripping). There is no shame in admitting when you need a professional to do a job!
If you are willing to keep going, then you need to turn the power off to the circuit that powers the outlet you want to replace. Obviously, you could turn the power off to the whole house, but that would be silly! 🙂
This usually involves plugging a lamp into the outlet you want to replace (so the light is on), then start toggling the breakers one by one until the light turns off. To make this easier, I have found a very useful tool to determine which breaker controls which circuit in my house. I recommend you purchase a Klein Tools Digital Circuit Breaker Finder. You plug this device into an outlet that is on the circuit you want to find, then you use the included tester on each breaker until you find the one that matches. How it works is that it sends out an electrical signal over your internal power wires and it is received by the tester in your breaker box.
This is not a foolproof way of testing electric outlets. As always, your mileage may vary and you should still test the light switch yourself to ensure it does not work anymore after you disable the breaker.
Now that you have disabled the circuit that powers the outlet you want to replace, you can remove the old outlet. Remove the 2 screws that hold the decorative faceplate on and then the 2 screws that attach the outlet to the electrical box. Pull the electric outlet out and look at the wires.
Take a picture with your phone right now so you know how it was originally installed (both to make it easier to identify the various wires and so that you can restore it the original condition if you need to give up for whatever reason).
At a minimum, you will see 2 wires (usually black & white, but this is not guaranteed). These are known as the “line” and “neutral”. The “line” is the wire from your electrical breaker box and supplies the power. The “neutral” completes the circuit. This is important because the smart outlets must be installed with the correct wire inserted into the correct receptacle on the smart outlet or it will not work. In order for the Z-Wave antenna to function, it must be powered at all times. This is the function of the “neutral” wire. It completes the circuit from the “line” so that the Z-Wave antenna is always broadcasting and receiving.
Remove each wire from the old light switch and separate them carefully so none of them are touching each other or anything else.
You need to identify which wire is the “line” and the “neutral”. This can be done using a Klein Tools Electric Voltage Tester. This will let you know which of the wires is “hot”. The “hot” wire is the “line” because it comes directly from the breaker box and always has electricity flowing through it.
Go back to the breaker box and turn the power back on. Now go back to the exposed wires and begin “testing” each one with the leads from the voltage tester. Put one of the leads on the “ground” (exposed copper) wire and begin testing each of the other wires (probably black) to determine which one is “hot”. The tool will flash 120 and buzz when it detects electricity in the line. This will be the “line”.
Turn the breaker for this circuit back off so you don’t electrocute yourself before continuing!
Take the “line” wire (probably black) and plug it into the “line” receptacle on the smart outlet (probably in the top left-hand side when looking at the back of the outlet). Tighten the screw on the side tightly to ensure the wire can’t fall out (tug on it lightly to ensure it is firmly held in place).
Take the other wire that was originally plugged into the switch, the “neutral” (probably white), and plug it into the “neutral” receptacle on the smart outlet (probably in the upper right-hand side when looking at the back of the outlet). Tighten the screw.
Now you need to plug the “ground” into the switch. The ground wire protects you from electrical shorts by providing a path of least resistance to the “ground”.
Now you can test the outlet to see if you did the wiring correctly. Go turn the breaker back on. Plug a lamp into the top outlet (the one without a Z-Wave Plus logo). If you have wired everything correctly, the lamp will turn on. Plugging the lamp into the bottom outlet won’t do anything yet, since we haven’t added it to Home Assistant. If the top outlet doesn’t work, go back and carefully check which wires are plugged into which ports on the outlet. If you hear crackling or popping, turn the breaker off and tighten all of your wire connections.
Now carefully push the outlet back into the electrical box and replace the screws that hold it to the box. Then, put the new decorative faceplate on and tighten down the screws.
Congratulations, you have now installed the switch and can use it as a normal light switch.
Add the Z-Wave outlet to Home Assistant
- Navigate to your Home Assistant GUI in the browser
- Click on Configuration
- Click on Z-Wave
- Click on Add node
- On the Z-Wave smart outlet, press the button in the middle of the outlet to put it in “pairing” mode (it will light up blue)
- Click the Heal Network button. This will cause all of the Z-Wave devices to “report in” with the controller and it will optimize the routing of Z-Wave signals through your Z-Wave network.
- Your Z-Wave outlet is now added to Home Assistant
The next step is highly dependent on your individual configuration. If you are just starting out, you should see the outlet added to the home page. If you have started enabling groups, you may not see new entities that have never been added before.
- Click on the Nodes combobox and look for your new outlet (it will likely be called GE 14288 Duplex Recetacle (Node: # Complete)). The Node number will vary based upon how many Z-Wave devices you have.
Now you can see the specific outlet and it’s name. You will want to rename it to something more meaningful.
- Click on the Entity Information button
- Toggle the switch to see if it turns your outlet on and off (plug a lamp into it to test)
- Click on the Gear icon to rename
- Change the Name Override to the human readable name you want to show up in the Home Assistant GUI
- Change the Entity ID to the name you want to use for this device in the YAML files
- Click on Save, then click on the back arrow and then the X to close
Now you need to add it to a group so it will show up in Home Assistant (this step may not be required for your setup)
- Connect to your Raspberry Pi using Putty
- Open the configuration.yaml file
- Check to see if you have groups enabled
When you start using groups, you need to add every device to a group for it to show up on the home screen.
- Open the groups.yaml file
- Create a new group master_bedroom_hidden and list your outlet using the name you defined above. This is needed because the Home Assistant GUI will not show nested groups together in the same page if they are both shown. Note the control flag is set to hidden to hide the group from the GUI
- Create a new group master_bedroom that you will use to create a new page in the Home Assistant GUI. Note the view flag is set to yes to show the group in the GUI
- Optional, add your master_bedroom_hidden group to a “downstairs” group
(mine will have more entries than yours, customize as needed)
downstairs: name: Downstairs entities: - group.lamps_hidden - group.kitchen_hidden - group.master_bedroom_hidden - switch.front_door_outdoor_lights - switch.front_door_entryway_lights view: yes master_bedroom_hidden: name: Master Bedroom entities: - switch.master_bedroom_kristal_lamp control: hidden master_bedroom: name: Master Bedroom entities: - group.master_bedroom_hidden view: yes
- Save and close the file
- Go to the Configurations tab in Home Assistant and click General
- Click Check Config to ensure you didn’t make a mistake in the yaml files
- Click Restart to update the running Home Assistant with your new groups
- Refresh and go to the home screen
- You will see your new tab Master Bedroomat the top with the switch inside it
- You will also see the new group added to the Downstairs tab as well.
That’s it! You have now successfully added a Z-Wave outlet to Home Assistant.