How to add a GE Z-Wave Smart Switch & GE Z-Wave Fan Control Switch (2 gang) to your Home Assistant system

In this post, I will show you how to install a GE Z-Wave Smart Switch & a GE Z-Wave Fan Control Switch (2 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!

Here are the tools and devices you will need to do this installation (affiliate links below).

There are 2 primary steps in this installation.

  • Replace the old electric switches with the new smart switch
  • Register your new smart switch & fan switch with Home Assistant

Replace the old electric switches with the new smart switch

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!

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 switch you want to replace. Obviously, you could turn the power off to the whole house, but that would be silly! 🙂

This usually involves turning on the switch 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 switches because it is possible your outlets in a given room are not on the same circuit as the lights, but it is a good possibility. 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 switch you want to replace, you can remove the old switch. Remove the 2 screws that hold the decorative faceplate on and then the 2 screws that attach the switch to the electrical box. Pull the electric switch out and look at the wires.

At a minimum, you will see 3.5 wires (usually black & red, but this is not guaranteed). These are known as the “line” (black), “light” (red) & “fan” (black). The “line” is the wire from your electrical breaker box and supplies the power. This is important because the smart switches must be installed with the correct wire inserted into the correct receptacle on the smart switch or it will not work. The 0.5 wire you see in my picture provides power to both switches (line) with a single wire (instead of 2 separate wires linked together with a wire nut).

This next step is where your mileage will vary considerably depending on the age of your home and the quality of the wiring job the contractor did when they built and wired your home. To install the GE Z-Wave Smart Switch (and most other smart switches), you must have 2 other wires. You must have a “neutral” (usually white, but not guaranteed) and a “ground” (usually copper and uninsulated, no plastic insulation around the wire). The colors of the wires are absolutely not guaranteed. Color coding has not always been the standard and there is no guarantee the contractor used the correct colors even if it was code (you must test the wire to be sure which is which). The typical skinny toggle switches many homes have don’t usually require a ground or a neutral to function, so many homes won’t have it. However, 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.

If your electrical box doesn’t contain a neutral wire, you cannot install these smart switches. There are certain kinds of switches that don’t require a neutral, but I have never tested them, so I can’t make recommendations at this time.

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).

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” since this wire has power from the breaker box. 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!

Because of the complexity of this box (so many wires!) you will likely need “jumper” wires to complete the circuit. These can be either 12 or 14 gauge wire. Buy a spool, cut off about 3 inches and strip the ends.

In hindsight, I should have used the correct color for the jumper wires so it would be obvious which was which. I didn’t have the right colors and worked with what I had. The colors of the wires in the box are correct, just the jumper wires are all white.

You will probably need to break off the “tabs” on the side of each switch to make the 2 switches fit in the existing box next to each other. Break off the “right tabs” for the left-hand switch and vice versa.

Obviously, you need to make careful note of which switch is the fan and which one is the regular switch and wire them appropriately. In my case, the fan is on the left-hand side and the regular switch is on the right to control the light.

Now insert the “neutral” wire (probably white) into the “neutral” receptacle, add the jumper and tighten the wire. In my case, there was a pigtail with the neutral wires, so I removed it and stripped a jumper wire out of either 12 or 14 gauge wire to pigtail together later to complete the circuit. An alternative would have been to tie one of the neutral wires into the screw on the side of the switch, run a jumper to the other switch and tie off the other neutral to the other switch. This would be useful if the electrical box is too cramped to fit all the wires and switches.

Take the “line” wire (probably black) and plug it into the “line” receptacle on the smart switch (probably in the bottom left-hand side when looking at the back of the switch). Add the jumper and 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 “fan” (probably black), and plug it into the “load” receptacle on the smart switch (probably in the upper left-hand side when looking at the back of the switch). Add the jumper and 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”. Add the jumper wire to make it easier to ground the switch (otherwise, the wire would have been very short and it would be too easy to pull out) and tighten the screw.

Now do the same thing to the other switch, plug in the neutral, light, line and associated jumper wires.

Now you need to screw together all of the jumper wires with the remaining neutral, ground & line wires. It is very important to get a tight twist on all of the wires to ensure they don’t work themselves out.

Now you can test the switch to see if you did the wiring correctly. Go turn the breaker back on. Begin toggling the switch. If you have wired everything correctly, toggling the switch up will turn on your lights. Toggling the switch down will turn the lights off. You will also see a small blue LED light when the switch is off. If you don’t see the blue light and the switch doesn’t turn on the lights, go back and carefully check which wires are plugged into which ports on the switch. If you hear crackling or popping, turn the breaker off and tighten all of your wire connections.

Now carefully push the switch 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.

Register your new smart switch & fan switch with Home Assistant

Link to Home Assistant documentation.

  • 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 fan switch, press up or down to put it in “pairing” mode
  • Click the Heal Network button. This will cause all of the Z-Wave switches to “report in” with the controller and it will optimize the routing of Z-Wave signals through your Z-Wave network.
  • Your Z-Wave fan switch is now added to Home Assistant
  • Click on the Nodes combobox and look for your new fan switch (it will likely be called Jasco Products 14287 Fan Control Switch (Node: # Complete)). The Node number will vary based upon how many Z-Wave devices you have.
  • Click on the Node Information button
  • Click on the name of the fan Z-Wave entry to rename it
  • Click on the gear
  • Click on the name override and give it a descriptive name
  • Click on the entity ID and give the name you will use to refer to it in the YAML files
  • Click Save, then click on the back arrow, then X

The other place to make these edits is the States page.

From the States page, we can add a descriptive name to the fan.

What’s really cool about the fan control is that it will detect that it can set the speed.

Do all of the same steps for the regular light switch.

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 groups.yaml file
  • Create a new group master_bedroom_lights to store the lamps & light switches, but not the fan. 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_hidden and list your group using the name you defined above and add your new fan.
  • 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
master_bedroom_lights:
  name: Master Bedroom Lights
  entities:
    - switch.master_bedroom_kristal_lamp
    - switch.master_bedroom_light
  control: hidden

master_bedroom_hidden:
  name: Master Bedroom
  entities:
    - group.master_bedroom_lights
    - fan.master_bedroom
  control: hidden

master_bedroom:
  name: Master Bedroom
  entities:
    - group.master_bedroom_hidden
  view: yes

For even more fun, let’s add the lights to the Bedtime scene we created in the Bedtime scene blog post.

  • Open the scenes.yaml file
  • Add your new group to the scene and what command to run.
- name: Bedtime
  entities:
      group.downstairs_welcome_home_lights: off
      group.all_locks: locked
      group.pc: off
      group.kitchen: off
      group.master_bedroom_lights: off
  • 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 at the top with the switch inside it

That’s it! You have now successfully added a Z-Wave switch & a fan control to Home Assistant.