4-way switch

I have a couple of questions about 4-way switches.
Using the Smarthings Hub, do you only use one smart switch for the main? or do you use all smart switches?
What is the best compatible switch(s) for this type of application?

First rule of Home automation: “the model number matters.” :sunglasses:

I’m going to say “three-way“ in the following discussion, but more technically it should be “N-way“ as the same configurations will usually work for either four-way or five-way setups as well. Again it depends on the specific model number.

And in all cases where I list a brand name, that doesn’t mean that all models of that brand will work in that configuration, it just means that they have at least one model which does. There are additional brands which fit each configuration below, I’m just giving some of the more popular examples.

  1. Some smart switches use physical travel wires to connect one smart master with multiple traditional dumb auxiliaries. (Zooz, Meross, Lutron Caseta). In this setup, usually only the master can be dimmed from the switch, the auxiliaries can only do on/off.

  2. Some smart switches use physical traveller wires to connect to specially designed dumb auxiliaries. (GE, Homeseer, Inovelli, Leviton, TPLink Kasa, Zooz) This setup usually allows you to dim from the auxiliaries as well as the master. You have to check the product description for each master switch to find out exactly which model auxiliaries it can work with.

  3. some smart switches are designed for a “virtual three-way“ where the auxiliary switch is also a smart switch and can communicate wirelessly with the master switch. (Eaton Cooper, GoControl, Lutron Caseta, IDevices). Some of these will work even if the Internet is down and your hub is not operating. Model number is very important for these as the different auxiliary models have different ways of communicating to the master and they are not all interchangeable.

  4. and in a Samsung SmartThings setup, any brand of smart switch that can talk to the hub can be setup in a virtual 3 way with any other brand of smart switch that can talk to the hub. This configuration may have a little more lag than the manufacturer-designed configurations from 3) above and also requires that the hub be operational since the auxiliary is going to send a message to the hub and then the hub is going to send a message to the master switch.

So as you can see, there are many different options, it just depends on your own priorities.

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Wow! Great answer, I appreciate your help.
Thank you,

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I should note that the big advantage to options 3 and 4, The virtual three ways, is that you can put an auxiliary anywhere, it doesn’t have to be on the same circuit as the master. So if you’ve always wanted to have a switch in the kitchen that would turn on the outside lights, now you can, using this configuration.

The biggest advantage to option 1) , a smart master and existing dumb auxiliaries, is that it doesn’t usually require you to rewire the existing auxiliaries, since you are only replacing the master switch.

And another advantage to options 1) and 2) is that when you have a dumb switch as an auxiliary, even a specially designed dumb switch, it’s typically less expensive than a smart auxiliary.

Option 4), using a smartthings hub to create a virtual three-way, is the most flexible in terms of which devices you can select, but the most vulnerable to not working From time to time since if your hub goes off-line, even just for maintenance, the auxiliary will no longer be able to turn the lights on and off, although the master should still work.

So people will have different reasons for choosing different configurations for each specific location. Choice is good. :sunglasses:

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