Confusion over 3-way dimmable switches requirements

I have a couple of 3 and 4-way light installations which I’d like to convert to Z-wave dimmable switches to incorporate into Smartthings.

The GE Enbrighten series, as well as the Honeywell Ultra Pro switches look promising, but do I need to have a specific slave switches for the other switches on the circuit, or will the existing standard switches already installed work with these as the master?

For instance, the Honeywell instructions states: “May be used in single-pole installation or with up to four Honeywell Add-on Switches in 3-way or 4-way wiring configurations.”

Also, if anyone has any recommendations on these switches, I’d appreciate any insights.

Thank you!

It used to be that we told everybody that you would have to get the specific accessory switch for the specific master model with smart switches, because smart switches are wired differently than dumb switches. That’s to make sure that the radio inside the switch always has power so it can hear the next “on“ command from the network. A lot of dumb switches are wired in a figure 8 pattern where turning on power to one switch cuts the power to the other but that won’t work for smart switches.

Nowadays there are a few models which can be used with an existing dumb accessory switch, including some of the Inovelli and some of the Lutrons, but if you do that, even for those models you can’t do dimming from the dumb accessory. Only on/off.

The GEs, however, do require their own matching accessory switch. But then you will be able to do dimming from the accessory, so that’s a good thing. (Both GE and Honeywell are actually made by Jasco and are the same hardware, although different firmware may give them slightly different features.)

So as always, the first rule of home automation applies: “the model number matters.“

See the community FAQ:

[FAQ] GE 3-Way Wiring

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Great information…thank you!

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Zooz models are the same.

GE/Honeywell/Jasco aux switch can be used for dimming and are easy to wire. Also their new Zigbee 3.0 models have a smaller body which is very helpful when installing in multi-gang, multi-circuit boxes.

I’ve used Leviton dimmers with their matching aux. They have very specific wiring requirements but clear instructions. Something I like about these is their separate, small rocker for controlling dim level. And that’s on both the master and aux in a 3-way.

Also keep in mind that, with smart switches, you’re not limited to multi-way switching as your house is wired. One or more of the dimmers can be electrically unconnected from the load and communicating to a dimmer that does control the load.

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