3-way switch mixing main and add-on

Our kitchen lights are in a 3 way switch config. Additionally, one switch has no neutral, but the other does.

I have a GE 45606 zwave decora style dimmer switch that does not require a neutral which I’ll use as the main switch. For the add-on, I was planning on buying a newer toggle style GE 12728 on/off switch.

My questions are:
Is it possible to mix and match switches and add-ons?
Can one be a dimmer and the other an on/off?

Short answer: no. Use a three-way set consisting of a master and its matched auxiliaries.

Long answer:

If you are using non-networked switches, then it is possible for both to control the load to the fixture and for them to be set up in a kind of figure 8 pattern where flipping one switch closes its loop and opens the loop from the other switch.

In fact, there at least eight different ways to wire a three-way with non-networked switches, but not all of them will work with networked switches.

This is because the networked switch has to always be on power so that it can hear the next “on” command from the network even if it looks like it is off.

There are two ways to do this, but in both cases there will be one master switch which controls the light to the fixture and the other switches in the set up will act as essentially remote controls for that master switch. They will not control the load to the light.

GE zwave switches and a few other brands use physical traveler wires between The auxiliary switch and the master. In these cases the auxiliary does not have a Z wave radio. And it typically has to be on the same neutral as the master.

The Linear/gocontrol switches and most of the other zwave brands use a “virtual three-way” where the auxiliary does have its own Z wave radio. The auxiliary talks to the hub, the hub talks to the master, and the master controls the current to the load. (Or you can use direct association and have the auxiliary talk directly to the master.)

Anyway, the main point is that regardless of which of these methods is being used, you always have to replace all of the switches in a three-way when you add a new Z wave switch and you can only select auxiliaries which are specifically designed to work with the master.

It is possible in some cases to use two masters in a virtual three-way, but there’s no real point in it. It’s actually a little harder to wire this that an auxiliary switch that doesn’t control the load, and you’d be be paying more for features of a device that you wouldn’t be using.

So choose a three-way set up from whatever manufacturer you decide and install both the master and its matched auxiliaries at the same time.

If you were just asking the simpler question of can you use the GE 45606 dimmer with the GE 12723 add on, then the answer to that question is yes, because the manufacturer has ensured compatibility.

As I mentioned, the GE add on switches work through physical traveler wires. For this reason they make only one add on model, and it works with both their dimmers and their on/off master switches.

In fact, the same add on works with their Z wave master switch, their zigbee master switch, and their Bluetooth master switch, again because the add on doesn’t even have a radio in it.

You can check with the manufacturer to be sure. :sunglasses:

Questions? Call GE/Jasco at 1-800-654-8483 between 7:30AM - 5:00PM CST.

Thanks @JDRoberts for the awesome detail!

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