Best anywhere switch Leviton Z-Wave vs. Simply Automated UPB?



Posted 28 April 2014 – 11:23 AM

Best Anywhere Switch, Leviton Z-Wave vs. Simply Automated, When I first decided that I wanted some degree of home automation, anywhere switch, remote switch, one of the first decisions was which lighting control protocol to use. Z-Wave or UPB.  Simply Automated. My wife and I are planning on building house this year and I have been exploring some home automation and lighting control equipment remote switches in the past few weeks.

I was intrigued by the anywhere virtual 3-way Z-wave switches as it would reduce the amount of traditional 3-way wiring in our house and provide some flexibility in controlling different circuits.  How reliable are the virtual switches and is there any latency from the virtual switch to the actual operation? 

Z-Wave seems to be the most popular but I see a lot of people in this forum talk about UPB?  What system would you recommended for new construction?

#2 NeverDie

Dedicated Cocooner

Posted 29 April 2014 – 10:56 AM

Z-wave is still an evolving work in progress.  It can take non-trivial effort (and additional costs) to get a system to where the speed and reliability match that of a wired connection.  You can have 3-way wired switches that are nonetheless z-wave.  It’s not an either-or choice.   If you’re building up from scratch, I would wire the 3-way connections, rather than rely entirely on a virtual 3-way, because it will never be less expensive or more convenient to install than doing it then.  Once in place, the wire will last forever, and you won’t later wish you had it.

Edited by NeverDie, 29 April 2014 – 11:22 AM.

    #3 pete_c


    Posted 29 April 2014 – 11:48 AM

    @mtmgtz – welcome to Cocoontech!  Many folks here on the forum have done just as you and your wife are doing today.  

    Have a quick read.  Lots of friendly folks here and this is the place to go to relating to your questions. 

    Personally here evolved a bit over the years relating to my HV (high voltage) (light) switches.

    Technologies are changing very quickly.  Newest being remote controllable wireless lamps type stuff. 


    I was intrigued by the virtual 3-way Z-wave switches as it would reduce the amount of traditional 3-way wiring in our house and provide some flexibility in controlling different circuits.

    I did start by just capping the installed 3 way traveler wires and using Insteon switches in virtual three ways a few years ago (with its introduction) having migrated to Insteon from X-10 (using that since around 1978). 

    As ND mentioned above I would keep travelers or wire for travelers anyways as said legacy mechanisms of three way switches isn’t going away any time soon.

    Today my automated in wall switches are all UPB.  Recently have “updated” a few (well most of them) to multpaddle dual load UPB switches to reduce the footprint of multiple UPB switches in the metal cans here. 

    The three way switches are just regular UPB and not AUX UPB switches; but that was me and how I did this.

    I am still a bit on the “fence” relating to automation of the switches even though I have migrated to using UPB in wall switches; I have in place still today Insteon, X-10, Z-Wave and Zigbee (new) and always playing (mostly here its the WAF and patience with my experimenting).

    The above noted; I can’t really say what is best; I can only say or write what I have done over the last 30 plus years of experimenting with my automation stuff 

      #4 mtmgtz


      • Posted 29 April 2014 – 11:51 AM

      Hardwiring has been my gut feeling as well.  I think I’ll just run a lot of cat5e, make sure the electrician puts neutrals in all my switch boxes, and put some wire chases from my basement to attic and deal with the home automation part later on.  

        #5 pete_c


        Posted 29 April 2014 – 12:52 PM


        Here too the home has much CatXX wired to patch panels.   

        IE: Started with Leviton Chopin digital controllers relating to volume control of the zoned audio.  Today its Russound Keypads (still sort of legacy) using the same catXX cables and zoned audio cables run some 10 years ago. 

        Personally I am more of utilizing wired stuff than wireless.  That is my personal opinion.

        Hardcore lighting automation folks here on Cocoontech still wire their lighting here with Lutron technology. (one of the grandpappy’s of lighting automation.  Well now also using Lutron’s RadioRA 2 stuff.  It can be a bit expensive to use.)

        Trending is wireless; but wireless automation itself is not the perfect technology; geez a sun flare can reek havoc with my wireless stuff today….

          #6 pete_c


          Posted 30 April 2014 – 08:11 AM

          Yup; here started with X10 in the late 1970’s in a 3rd world country with bad electricity (there were 3 way switches back then).  Worked fine for me. 

          Today the UPB switches are very much little computers.  They utilize the power line as a mechanism of transport.  The application to manage the switches lets you focus on each switch’s functions and created inter switch links.  What I like about them is that they only utilize your powerline. 

          I still utilize X10.  I have tested UPB, Z-Wave and Insteon over the years for the holiday decorations.  I went back to X10 because it was much easier to set one house code for all of the modules that to spend the time programing.  I have also now integrated an update to my X10 network using hardware from XTB.


          Here though still playing with the technologies as I tend to be a pragmatist not truly believing it works unless I test it myself and see it with my own eyes. 

          Having mentioned the above; a 30 plus years of playing with this stuff; I am optimistic in the evolution of lighting automation.

          Ask your questions and you will see an almost religious fervor relating to the oldest and newest utilized technologies today being utilized by a variety of Cocoontech forum users relating to PLC, Hybrid Wireless-PLC and Wireless: X-10, Insteon, Z-Wave, Zigbee.

          Its not perfect yet; but the the benchmarking and the “bar” has been moving up over the years and for those wanting to DIY automate their lighting it does work and is not cost prohibitive in relative terms.

          Forum Source:


          About UPB Technology

          UPB technology provides an inexpensive and reliable solution for residential and commercial powerline communications applications. While other powerline communication technologies exist, none compare to UPB in cost per node, functionality and reliability.

          Highly Reliable — The UPB method of communication is 100 ~ 1000 times more reliable than current X-10 technology and 10 ~100 times more reliable than CEBUS or LONWORKS powerline technologies.  UPB is 99.9% reliable versus 70%-80% reliability of X-10.*

          UPB transmits farther (over a mile), is less susceptible to powerline noise and capacitive attenuation (signal reduction) than other technologies for three reasons:

          Pulse Position Modulation is a highly reliable time based method of sending bits; it narrows the possibility of power line noise affecting communication, unlike X-10 and other carrier modulation technologies.

          UPB pulses on the power line are approximately 40 volts; more than five times greater than the 5 to 7 volt signals of X-10.

          UPB transmits at low (4 to 40 kHz) frequencies, carrying much more power than higher frequency technologies like X-10 that transmits at 120 kHz.

          When put on one phase of a home’s two phase power line, the signals are so strong they go out to the street side transformer and are induced on the opposite phase, returning back to the home.  Since UPB transmits at a low frequency, it does not affect other powerline devices or appliance/loads.

          No New Wires – UPB dimmer switches are installed exactly like regular dimmer switches.  They connect to a home’s standard wiring. Since no new or special wiring is required, they work great in retrofit applications too.

          Affordable — UPB dimmer switches can be as affordable as high end non-communicating dimmers.  When comparing costs of home upgrades (theater TV, remodeled bath or kitchen) adding lighting automation and control to a room or whole home provides a surprising improvement in quality of life at a comparably low cost.

          Simplicity – Adding lighting control can be as simple as plugging in dimming modules or replacing dimming switches Pre-Configured Series. Unlike radio frequency (RF) wireless switches, where reliability is proportional to the number of ‘mess-networked’ switches installed, UPB provides reliability and performance anywhere in the home without the need of repeaters.       

          Peer to Peer – No host computer or central controller is necessary for single, point-to-point control or group (lighting scene) control.  UPB is a no-host, peer to peer network.  Interruption of power, or single point controller/repeater failure, will not affect a stand-alone UPB network.

          Two Way Communications – Hardware, software and protocol design allows for two-way communication in all products.  Status can be confirmed with polling or automatically transmitted upon local/manual load changes.  

          House Separation – Neighbors with UPB will not control each other’s lights.  The UPB addressing scheme allows for 250 systems (houses) on each transformer and 250 devices on each system. It incorporates over 64,000 total addresses compared to 256 for conventional X-10.

          Interaction – UPB communication can be used in the presence of all X-10, CEBus, HomePlug or LonWorks compatible equipment with no interference between either. The UPB technology uses a completely different frequency range than any of the wide-band, narrow-band, or spread spectrum technologies. The physical method of UPB communication is entirely different than the modulation-demodulation techniques of all X-10, CEBus, or LonWorks.

          Higher Speed – 20 to 40 times the speed of X- 10 in terms of data transmitted. This is equivalent to over ten full commands per second. The average latency of command to action is less than 0.1 second.


          UPB System Description X-10 to UPB Migration


          * Reliability is defined as the percentage of transmitter/receiver pairs that correctly operate upon initial installation. The UPB test units are randomly installed in the environment typical of the target market. This market is defined as the single-family residential market in the US, homes with a median size of 2500 Sq, Ft. This environment is defined to be the existing base of homes, without any modifications, which means there should be no “fixing” the electrical system of the residence by adding couplers, repeaters or filtering.


          5 comments on “Best anywhere switch Leviton Z-Wave vs. Simply Automated UPB?

          1. Try Simply Automated. Premier lighting control supplier in the home automation market. Utilizes powerful UBP Technology. Professional grade — what the electricians use.

          2. Connor Leas on said:

            rf not a realiable technology, especially in a meshed technology like zwave, i always try to keep it simple, use upb powerline, more dependable, flexible, powerful, great to have 2 click option for other switches or scenes.

          3. Landon Mitchel on said:

            Leviton uses a battery powered second switch,poor construction,if you’re looking a low cost inexpensive bandaid that will last for a few months,Leviton is the one, if you want a solution that works and lasts, go with simply automated.

          4. Will P. on said:

            I’ve installed leviton anywhere switches in many homes, getting tired returning each year to replace batteries(on my dime), switching to simply automated

          5. Liam Rogers on said:

            Understand, battery power unreliable, a cheap solution, Leviton struck out with home automation, no understanding.

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