Putting labels on switches

I’ve been putting labels on my switches to keep things organized – see image:


I have similar labels for my zwave devices, which are tied to the node number.

I’ve been naming my devices like this:
First two chars: zb or zw for zigbee or zwave; I should add “mq” and “ip” for mqtt and wifi devices, but I don’t have many of those so haven’t bothered.
Next 3: for zigbee, next sequential number; I started with 1. For Z-Wave, it’s the zwave node #.
Last 2: I don’t put this on the label, but in ZigBee2MQTT, I’ve been adding “dm” so I’ll know it’s a dimmer switch. If I ever get zigbee lights, I’ll use “lt” or something similar.

In Z2M, the item name would be “zb032dm” but I’ll give it a description (“Master Bedroom Ceiling Lights”) and also create items in OpenHAB that also use a more friendly name. This way, if zb032dm ever fails, it’s an easy replacement (I rename the old device, install new one, pair it, and give it the same name as the old).

My question – while I think it’s a good idea on the surface and is definitely helping me stay organized, am I actually creating a problem with heat dissipation that will cause me to regret doing this later?

To others with a large number of switches – how do you keep things organized?


Your fine with the label.


If the Blue needed help with heat dissipation, it would have heat sink tabs.

Thanks guys – I’m a bit guilty of overthinking things at times… :slight_smile:

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To answer your other question; I don’t really have a good way for organizing them. I mainly name the unit when it’s installed/added to the network. The switchplate is installed over it and I’m less likely to remove the switchplate cover to figure out what the unit is called. I only have about 30 blues installed and won’t have much more to add so easy to keep track of with the spaces.

If you’re putting notes on the switch the breaker number (and panel if you have more than one) would be helpful


That’s genius.

I wouldn’t do zwave node number. Replacement devices never use the same node number and it’ll just piss you off if you have to re-add devices for some reason.

In zwave-js-ui I added them all mine to the provisioning entry list. I can reset one and it will add again.

You can also consider using a permanent marker to write the breaker number on the back side of the faceplate. Especially handy if you use two piece snap on faceplates.

A Z-Wave “Replace” (effectively a normal inclusion, except re-using the node number) should. This is required functionality for all certified Z-Wave controllers and is also offered by Z-Wave JS, though I don’t think it’s exposed in the regular Home Assistant UI (it is in Z-Wave JS UI, including the Home Assistant add-on, for sure), should that be what the OP is using.

This can sometimes be trickier than just adding it as a new node, but it should be possible. :slight_smile:

Not just replacement devices. If you need to exclude and re-add that same device for any reason, it will get assigned a new node.

I don’t see the issue with a friendly name as a device name though. “Living Room Light Switch” instead of zb032 or whatever. What are you going to do when you get a failed device on the network, and you’re looking at the map and all it says is zb032? Are you then going to keep a spreadsheet that you can cross-reference with to find the location of zb032? Or would you just start unscrewing wall plates until you find it? At least “Living Room Light Switch” you know is the light switch that’s in the living room. And since we’re talking z2m, if you ever need to replace it you simply rename the new switch to “Living Room Light Switch” and it will keep all the same entities.

Since the zw naming scheme is based on the node id, I assume the zb032 is based on the # assigned in z2m? Since Zigbee isn’t assigned a node # like zwave, the # listed in z2m is only for sorting purposes. If you change how your devices are sorted, the zigbee # does not follow it.

So… I could have been more clear. I’ll use a real example.

I have an inovelli switch – to my Zigbee network and to Zigbee2MQTT, it is affectionately known as IEEE Address 0x943469fffe05cff3.

So – Z2M owns the mapping for 0x943469fffe05cff3 to zbsw002. I also added a description of “Switch for Back Porch Lights”.

OpenHAB owns mappings that go
mqtt:topic:zbsw002 → “Back Porch Lights” (the “thing”)

OpenHAB Channels under the “thing”:

"Item"s get created that link to the above channels:
channel → item
mqtt:topic:zbsw002:state → BackPorchLights_state
mqtt:topic:zbsw002:brightness → BackPorchLights_brightness

These items are then grouped into an entity called an “Equipment” which is really just a group–in this case, the Equipment is called “BackPorchLights”.

OpenHAB makes it fairly easy to create an Equipment and all of its associated items – but you can tell that the full lineage is available.

I do not disagree that naming it “Back_Porch_Lights” in Z2M would have worked – but

  1. It would not be readable on a small label
  2. for my installation workflow, I’ll pair 2-10 switches near my controller, then install the group wherever needed and then, before installing wallplates, update the descriptions in Z2M based on the ZB node # depending on where I installed it and what it controls. I’ll then configure OpenHAB based on the nodes and descriptions I used in Z2M.

This helps me stay organized, but I recognize it’s not for everyone and is (multiselect: overkill redundant confusing unnecessary) for many.

As for ZWave – I agree with everything that’s been said… it’s a pain to replace for me… having recently moved where I took all my zwave stuff with me, I wish I’d labelled the nodes before I moved… I had the locations well marked, but … well… I just know that for OpenHAB it would have been easier for me. For instance, I had a switch that was an old Z-Wave (not plus) device that I decided not to re-use – not having the node # handy and only having the description of “Garage lights”… hmm… was that the node for the driveway lights outside the Garage, or the interior lights? I couldn’t remember… so I was not sure which node to remove from my ZW network. That sort of thing.

Sorry for the book … if I’d had more time, this would have been much shorter.

Also – @MRobi – I manually assign the ZB node # as the last node+1, unless I am replacing…

This is a big part of my confusion. I’ve been using z2m for quite some time and I’ve never seen a node # assigned, or the option to assign one. So where does zbsw002 come from? Or are you just giving it that name and using the name as a way to call it a node #?

I’m using the name as a way to call it a node number – mainly because I’m pairing multiple switches before I know exactly where they will be placed. I’ll pair, say, 5 switches in Z2M and give them fake node numbers as friendly names, put them in a plastic box, go to the section of the house I’m working on, install them, and then update the descriptions in Z2M based on where they wound up. I could do the same with the QR-coded IEEE address but that’s ultimately more work and less identifiable then just having a label (for me).

I’ve found it to be very spotty if I try to pair at the installation location – it’s just been unreliable for me; works much better if done close to the controller.

I have an elaborate map of my home automation network and electricity, both graphical and text. I can easily see which breaker controls which devices and a master list of every device and the breaker it’s on so that when I’m adding new HA gear I’ll know when I shut off that breaker exactly what other stuff is going to be impacted so I can shut down things that need shut down beforehand.

As for naming I don’t worry about it too much, just calling it what it is since HomeAssistant will tell me if it’s Z-Wave, Zigbee, Insteon or something else (like a lot of homemade ESPHome stuff).

I also keep a list of every node ID if there is one (Insteon, Z-Wave) or IP address in a spreadsheet. There is where HomeAssistant could be greatly improved with notes, although it will tell me a lot of this if I expand the device details out.

My network is, I guess, “medium sized” compared to some. I have about 200 or so devices and am pushing the limits of my rPi 4b and about to move it to a VM.

I used to like how Insteon had the node ID label on the device, it really came in handy in the early days of home automation when you needed to get this regularly, but nowadays I don’t see a need for that - although it would be simple since all my switch plates are snap-on rather than screw on.