Regarding your advice on installing Z-Wave light switches, your advice is correct.  While specifics may vary by state, in Minnesota you must be a licensed electrician to install a light switch unless the person installing is the property owner and that property is his or her residence.
Chris Allen
Arvig Communications
    Regarding the installation of Z-wave light switches, all the ones that I have encountered in the last 5 years are 110V and require you to remove the existing light switch or wall outlet and replace it (i.e., wire it in) with the Z-wave switch.  In the majority of states this requires a licensed electrician.  There are ZigBee switches that work the same as the Z-wave and they too require a licensed electrician.  Firms that I have worked with have approached this in 1 of the following ways:

  • Sell the switch but leave the responsibility of installation to the home owner recommending a licensed electrician do it.  They can install it themselves or hire an electrician.
  • Sell the switch and install it with a licensed electrician adding that to the customer’s cost.
  • Do not sell the switches but instead sell the Z-wave or ZigBee wall plugs.  These plug into an existing electrical outlet and they allow the customer to plug in the light or other device they are trying to control into them.  These plug-ins normally satisfy the need that the customer has and they do not require a licensed electrician as they are simply plugged into any existing wall outlet.
  • Do not sell the switches explaining that the customer can purchase them on their own and handle the installation as they see fit, but recommending it be by a licensed electrician


John M. Flanagan
Senior Vice President
U.S. Communications, Media & Entertainment Industry
    In response to the question regarding the z-wave light switch: do you need to be an electrician? 
    In the State of Minnesota, replacing the z-wave light switch is required to be performed by a licensed electrical contractor. 
    Thank you for all you do with the great articles to keep us updated and knowledgeable. 
Kenneth R. Davis, Owner/President
United Security & Alarm Systems, Inc.
Armory Electric, Inc.
Park Rapids, MN 
    Megan's question asked if her employees, alarm technicians but not electricians, could install the the z-wave light switches.  I think the answer is, all depends on location, i.e. state, county, municipality.......  All have different laws and regulations.    
    In NYS (new yuck state) cities require licenses (for most work), however, some cities and municipalities will allow replacement with "like or similar" without licenses or permits.  (I am about to open a bag of poop). With that being said; the NYS alarm license law does NOT mention a voltage level; therefore in NYS if you are licensed and adding equipment to the system; the answer is yes - change it.
    PS... go to e-code on the net (http://www.generalcode.com/codification/ecode/library); Look up your local laws.
    Mike, I think looking it up will be a waste of time.  Unless you're an electrician you can't work with 110v wiring, and that's what connects a non low voltage light switch.  But alternatives are suggested above.  By the way, if the z wave devices are installed in conjunction with a security system then the proper contract to use is the Residental All in One.  If there is no alarm system then the proper contract is the Home Automation and Integration Agreement.  You get these at www.alarmcontracts.com.