Z-Wave vs Zigbee

I know this question is beat to death, but I am having a problem figuring it out. I'm completely new to this and trying to get started. My issue is that I see lots of Zigbee bulbs (Hue, GE, etc) and more Z-wave switches. I've already decided that I will go with Hue lights (Unless someone tells me otherwise here) but is there a reason not to use Z-wave switches alongside the bulbs? I know it's 2 different networks, but it seems like they would work with the HE hub. That being said:

A. Should I just use Zigbee switches and forget about Z-wave completely
B. Will using both of these cause issues in the future?
C. Do you need a switch in place of all of the regular switches on a line or can you just change out one of them. (Currently 3 switches do turn on and off across the circuit through 3-way or 4-way switches)

Forgive me if I sound stupid, I feel like I'm making this harder than it needs to be.


You can mix Zigbee, Zwave, or even Lutron.

You don't want to put smart bulbs after a switch, unless you can disable the switch and just use the switch as a controller. It will certainly mess up your smart bulbs operation, and/or the Zigbee mesh. This is also pretty expensive way to do things, why not just use a dimmer switch with a dumb bulb?

If you really need the smart bulbs, you have other options for controllers other than a Zwave wired switch. Lots of us use things like the Lutron Pico remotes (Lutron Pro Bridge required), or something like RGB Genie's remotes and RGB controllers. There are other options too.

For 3-4 way, there are some Zwave switches that can operate like this. Zooz, Inovelli, and GE (Jasco and Honeywell are GE too) can usually be wired like this, depending upon your homes wiring. Lutron with a Pico in a secondary location is also an excellent choice especially if you don't have neutrals in your switch boxes, or you don't want to mess with the wiring too much. With the Lutron system, you cap the wires at the secondary locations, and use a Pico remote instead of a hard wired switch.


No reason not to use both! I'd guess most people do. Some devices are a lot easier to find in one protocol vs. another (or have a feature set, appearance, price, or something else that you prefer). One of the great things about a hub like Hubitat is that it can tie together all these devices of different protocols (Zigbee, Z-Wave, LAN/Wi-Fi, cloud, etc.), as long as they are supported. You've discovered one area where one protcol has many more options than the other: there are a multitude of Z-Wave in-wall switches/dimmers out there right now and very few Zigbee ones, and many of the newer Z-Wave ones (Inovelli, Zooz, and even the older HomeSeer ones) tend to have a lot more features. If you do have your heart set on Zigbee, Inovelli has mentioned that they're working on Zigbee ones with a similar featureset to their new Red/Black (i.e., gen 2) switches, and I think late this year might be their target (but I'd plan on waiting a while longer just in case :slight_smile: ). Smart bulbs tend to be an area where there are lots of Zigbee options, including Hue, though it's worth noting that Inovelli also just released two (color and color temperature) Z-Wave options that are reasonably priced and work well. I still prefer Zigbee for lights. I also prefer Zigbee for motion sensors because they tend to react faster.

So, to answer your specific questions:

A) As above, no need to choose! However, both Z-Wave and Zigbee are "mesh" networks and will work best if you have at least a repeater or two for each protocol (assuming you use it), more if you have a larger area to cover. Most powered devices like switches and plugs are repeaters. See How to Build a Solid Zigbee Mesh - Hubitat Documentation and How to Build a Solid Z-Wave Mesh - Hubitat Documentation for more.

B) Nope! (Aside from the above.)

C) This depends on the exact switch you use, so you'll have to consult their documentation. Off the top of my head, GE and HomeSeer require special "add-on" switches in three-ways for other locations, Zooz requires "dumb" switches but some may require rewiring (depending on the Zooz switch), and Inovelli's new (Red/Black) switches can work in either configuration or even with another smart switch (though some have special requirements like a neutral wire--which most switches do and is also something worth checking if you haven't already).

I'll only tell you otherwise if you want to pair them directly to Hubitat instead of using a Hue Bridge. See the end of the Zigbee mesh docs I linked to above for more on this. :slight_smile: (Most of my lights are Hue, and they are my favorite. But I use Hubitat's LAN-based Hue Bridge integration. Actually, I wrote my own, but used Hubitat's before that. Either works well.)

If you feel like spending lots of money, there's no reason you can't use both smart switches and bulbs together. I have some Inovelli switches that with local control disabled (this functionality is key unless you want to bypass this in the switch wiring; Inovelli and Zooz are two that I know let you do this) whose only purpose is to control Hue bulbs, which I do via Hubitat. This gives me smart bulb functionality (color/color temperature changing, etc.) with a traditional switch feel for guests (or me if I feel like manually adjusting something my automations don't handle). In other places, I use Pico remotes to simulate switches. You probably don't want to start here--if a switch/dimmer is enough to handle your needs, that's even easier (and cheaper than replacing both switch and bulbs) and already usable for other people, and if you use Hue, a variety of accessories they make or "bless" (Hue Dimmer, Hue Tap, Lutron Aurora) can act like switches and are easy to set up through Hue, though most of those don't easily replace a standard wall switch if you're worried about people still using those.


When it comes to automatic whole homes, I always recommend using switches over bulbs. Typically cost is lower once you factor in multi-bulb housings. You also don't have to worry about someone coming along and manually operating a light switch somewhere in the house and disabling your automations.

If your goal of using switches and bulbs together is for colour changing lights, I'd look at z-wave bulbs. You can disable or bypass the switch's relay and just use it as a controller and use z-wave association instead of passing through the hub. It will be much faster.

If you don't care about colour bulbs... just change the switches only.

Depending on the brand of switch, some of them require an aux switch for 3-4 way wiring. Others can be wired to use your existing dumb switch.


Good thought; however, the advantages of Color Temperature bulbs are nice. The best reading light is at a higher color temperature (so you can dim some) and the best mood lights are at the lower color temperatures (but reading is more difficult).


Thanks! Y'all already helped a lot. I was thinking I had to use the smart bulbs with the switches to work, but just replacing the switches should be exactly what I need.

The house is only a year old and I shouldn't have too much problem switching them. The Pico switches look great, I may just go get a couple today and see how they work before changing everything.

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First things first.. Welcome to the community!!

This comes down to a matter of personal opinion .. I personally love z-wave and prefer it for lighting controls.. But you will get many opinions on this..

Absolutely not.. Both operate on separate frequencies and in no way will hurt each other..

There are many switches/dimmers that support 3-way configurations, where the 3-way switch is a normal dumb switch..

The main thing you need to do, no matter what tech you decide to go with, is to make sure to maintain a good healthy mesh network .. See the following links for more information:

How to Build a Solid Zigbee Mesh
How to Build a Solid Z-Wave Mesh


Check out Energy Avenue, https://www.energyavenue.com they seem to have sales occasionally. They have a free ship code (FREESHIP18)

Be sure to get the PRO bridge( L-BDGPRO2-WH), and not the regular Caseta bridge, the Pro version is the only one that works with Hubitat.

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Yes. :slight_smile:

No. :smiley:


Like I said.. You will get so many opinions on question A :rofl:



MY Rule 1: Never use smart bulbs.
MY Rule 2: Use Smart Bulbs only for RGB/RGBW/CT needs.

All 'control' should be In-Wall if that's an option, which generally means ZWave because so few Zigbee manufactured. Wall warts are readily available in Zigbee and as a result they are the most common method of enhancing a Zigbee mesh.

If you must use Zigbee bulbs, violating Rule 1 and Rule 2, be aware of their limitations and put them on their own hub/bridge, such as Hue.

You can very easily find yourself maintaining 3 independent meshes.. ZWave, Zigbee (non-bulb) and Zigbee (bulbs). And with so few options for hiding Zigbee repeaters in-wall, you will have many wall warts to verify are still plugged in.


I love CT.. Most of my lighting is CT.. I primarily use z-wave bulbs and z-wave led strip controllers to achieve this but recently got a great deal on a bunch of CT lightify fixtures, so I got another HE hub to keep these off my main mesh.. Even with the addition of the extra hub it was still well worth it..


I am greatly in favor of multiple hubs.

But it's not a 'beginner friendly answer' :smiley: I think it's something we grow into as we are falling endlessly down the Rabbit Hole. It comes right after the initial screaming.. :smiley:


I’m so far down that rabbit hole it’s not even funny :crazy_face:

I have been buying random devices to play with ideas.. One of everything..


I was in your shoes 5 months ago, and I ended up with both Zigbee, Z-wave AND I went with Lutron for my switches (I like the looks, and I like the picos, despite paying for yet another hub).

  • remember to get the pro hub which is required)
    I couldn't be happier.

I also went for bulbs (I picked Sengled since they don't repeat) for plug-in lamps I want to be able to dim, for those I don't need to went with a combo of zibgee AND z-wave smart outlets to help repeat in my various meshes.

One could argue it's more expensive to maintain good meshes going both routes, so that could be a factor depending on how big your house is, but I appreciate the flexibility in finding the best device for the job recommended here v.s. having to stick to just one range of devices.

I'm super happy.


That's interesting. Why put Zigbee bulbs on their own hub?

I don't do this as I use Sengled that don't repeat, but I've heard this as well and the rationale is bulbs tend to be absolutely horrible repeaters, so can easily destabilize your zigbee mesh. Putting them on a different hub controlled by Hubitate eliminates them from your mesh.

Thanks again everyone! I ordered a Lutron Pro hub and am getting a few switches for the lights and fans to start. I'm not as concerned about price as I plan on doing this overtime, just don't want to pay twice (or more) for the same functionality. I feel like the RGB lights are more of a novelty (I guess all of it is technically) that I will look at down the line.

This all started because I simply wanted to set a timer for my outdoor lights and then decided to go all in for the rest of this. I have a feeling this is going to be a very expensive hobby!

I'd also look to see if an LED strip could be what you really want from RGB lights. I've purchased two RGB bulbs but they are actually disconnected right now as they were more of a novelty and my kids kept wanting to play with them and it drove my wife and I nuts.

Unlike the LED strips, we've been able to use the RGB for a lot of different scenes we are proud about beyond just dimming.

Here's a post on using them for a night-light for my kids. When my kids get a bit older I'll be installing a button or a Pico so they can turn on "reading mode" which will be a different setting.

Yes! But to be honest, a hobby you will LOVE, and to be frank, perfect right now in the midst of COVD-19.

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