Double outlets three way switches, dimmers and fans oh my!


(Bob Fishel) #1

Soooooo I have a lot of double plates some of which are one switch (which is a three way) and one dimmer, some of which are just double three way switches. Some of these also control fans … OY! I’d like to replace these with switches I can control with SmartThings and Alexa… thoughts?

Thanks!

-Bob

Ps some images below


#2

[quote=“Bob_Fishel, post:1, topic:82888, full:true”]
Soooooo I have a lot of double plates some of which are one switch (which is a three way) and one dimmer, some of which are just double three way switches. Some of these also control fans … OY! I’d like to replace these with switches I can control with SmartThings and Alexa… thoughts?

Thanks!

-Bob [/quote]

Welcome! :sunglasses: Sounds like a lot going on. I’ve moved this to projects so you can get individualized recommendations based on your own set up and preferences.

First things first, all of these will be much easier if there are neutrals in the switchbox, but since these are very old style switches, there may not be. So that’s the first thing that you need to check.

Anything that you can control with SmartThings you can control with voice through Alexa or Google home, so that part is easy. Then it comes down to the exact form factor for each switch.

First I’m going to talk about what you can do if you do have a neutral at the switchbox, just because you have a lot more device choices.

A. Double gang box, one toggle, two half-gang sliders

Doable if you’re willing to widen the Switch box and change the form factor to something more like this:

Or you can go to retractive switches like the following, but you’re still going to need to widen the switchbox just to make room for three different controllers inside the wall. For a retractive switch like this, you press and hold to dim.

Or you could even just widen the box and go to three regular full-size switches side-by-side.

B. Double gang box: one toggle, one dimmer

Easy. :sunglasses: There are a lot of zwave switches that will fit side-by-side in a double gang box. You won’t have a rotary dial for the dimmer, though, you’ll need to choose between a toggle or a rocker. But as long as that’s fine, you can have dim for one switch and on/off for the other.

C. Double gang box, two toggle switches.

Again, easy. The only thing to be aware of is that networked switches rest in the neutral position, not resting in up for on and resting in down for off. So the toggle always returns to the center position and sticks straight out after you move it. It’s one reason that the networked rockers are more popular because some people do think the toggle looks a little weird sticking out like that. But it’s your choice.

D. Fan/light combo control in a single gang space

This one is not currently possible with zwave switches. You do have a couple of options.

I’m tired now, though, and fans are complicated, so I’m going to leave it to other people to explain or else you could just search the forums for fan discussions. But your basic choices are going to be to expand the switchbox so that there is one full-size switch to cover fan speed and one full-size switch to cover the light control, and you can do that with Z wave switches.

This picture would show just the two switches for the fan control. If you still need the other switch from the original picture, you would end up with a triple gang box with three full-size switches side-by-side, but I didn’t have a picture of that.

Or you can put one of these controls on the wall and put the other in the fan canopy and then things get a little complicated. Some people use a handheld remote to control fan speed, some people use a tablet on the wall, some people use other kinds of button devices on the wall. There just isn’t anything that uses Z wave that will fit into a single gang space and control both the fan speed and the light on the fan.

There is a Lutron fan and light switch which will fit in a single gang space but it’s one way communication so you can control it from SmartThings but if someone uses the controls with the manual switch smartthings won’t know that the status of the device has changed.

But like I said, fans are a whole conversation in themselves.

if you don’t have a neutral at the switchbox

Your two main options are either to use an in wall micro at the light fixture or to use Lutron Caseta switches which works fine but have a different look. No fan control switch in that model line, though.


(Bob Fishel) #3

This is so helpful, thank you @JDRoberts I think part of my problem with even starting on this was not knowing the nomenclature (single vs double gang… neutral wires etc.) I’m going to take a bit more time to digest and investigate before I respond fully but wanted to say thank you so much for the start!

And to lay it out there, I am happy to replace the look and feel :slight_smile: