Dumb question re: light switches w/ 3 separate switches

So I’m looking at replacing my dumb light switches w/ smart ones. 2 of the ones I’m looking to replace have 3 separate switches running horizontally on the same receptacle controlling 3 separate lights.

How would I go about replacing these? I’m having a hard time finding a smart switch that has 3 separate switches on it. Any help or guidance is greatly appreciated!

Are you located in the US? Do you mean that there are three switches situated horizontally in the same box? If you remove the cover plate, you will find that there are individual switches mounted in the box (US). You replace them individually.

If Bryan is correct, and you do not realize how the installations work, I would strongly suggest you get a Handyman to replace the switches and watch how he does it and the tools he requires. Would cost $$, but the next time you may be better able to do yourself.

1 Like

Ah makes sense. So I would need 3 separate plates in that sense correct? To replace the single plate I have currently for 3 switches.

Unless they make a ST-compatible 3 gang plate…

Thanks! I would definitely feel more comfortable with someone doing it at least the first time around.

1 Like

They make a variety of 3 gang plates. look on Amazon for the Amazing varieties. Most smart devices come with plates because they are dirt cheap; however, most (if not all) use standard plate cut-outs.

So the plates aren’t smart themselves…I think that confused me too.

1 Like

Correct. The plates are just covers.

1 Like

Do I have to buy certain covers if only 1 of the 3 contained within the same box is a dimmer switch?

You are going to buy covers with cutouts that match the switches in the box. For example, if all the switches are paddle switches, you want a cover with the three big cutouts. Can you post a picture of the switch bank(s) you are referring to?

1 Like

Are you in the US?

If so, as others have said, if you remove the cover plate (which is literally just a piece of plastic, no electronics, no moving parts) you will see three separate switches underneath. You will replace as many of these as you want with individual smart switches. Most smart switches have tabs along the edge which you may have to break off to get them to fit: the instructions will be in the user manual that comes with the switch, so make sure you read that.

In addition, when you do remove those tabs, you reduce the total wattage that the switch can support. Again, read the manual.

If you live near a Home Depot, many of these have a free class on installing light switches which will teach you more about how switches work, the tools you use for the wiring, etc. They won’t be about smart switches per se, but they will still be very helpful in understanding what is going on. So it’s often worth taking that.

As far as a cover plate once you do have multiple switches installed, any Home Depot will have the cover plate or you can get them online. You just look for a “three gang cover plate.“ For most smart switches, you will want “Decora“ or “rocker style“ to get the right fit. :sunglasses: these come in different colors and finishes.

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Leviton-3-Gang-Decora-Screwless-Wall-Plate-White-80311-SW/301349018?MERCH=REC--PIPHorizontal2_rr--301349049--301349018--N

By the way, this isn’t a dumb question, but it is one that has been asked and answered quite a few times. :wink:

You keep saying Plates…plates are not switches.

I would give you advice but I am very confident that you are going to electrocute yourself when you go to do this. PLEASE DON’T DO IT YOURSELF. At least not without watching a bunch of youtube videos on basic electrical work and reading up on how to work with electricity and getting the proper tools to check that it is safe to work on them. Or the classes JD suggested. Multi-gang setups might be connected to two breakers or a have an incorrectly divided neutral. You may end up electrocuting yourself if you’re not careful…and nobody wants that. So, please be careful. 110VAC can be lethal!!!

2 Likes

You will be able to find cover plates with all kinds of different cut out shapes to accommodate whatever shape switches you have underneath.

So example, here’s one for two toggle switches next to one rocker switch.

If Home Depot doesn’t have what you need, you’ll be able to find it online. And it all kind of decorator finishes, as well. :sunglasses:

image

And again, this is just the plastic piece that goes over the top to cover up the actual switches underneath. It doesn’t have any smarts in itself.

They also sell modular plates that you “assemble” yourself. While more expensive, you can get any combo or pattern you want.
http://www.homedepot.com/p/Leviton-Sectional-1-Gang-End-Decora-Nylon-Wall-Plate-White-905-PSE26-00W/100356951

That plate is part of a line that you can buy blank, Decora, toggle or outlet style plates for the end or middle. So, the possibilities are endless.

1 Like

The big rectangle cutouts are commonly referred to as “decora” openings… just an FYI, smaller as JD explained are toggle.

20+ years licensed electrician in Chicago and surrounding burbs.
retired… now a 3+ years sys admin

1 Like

Thanks for all the input everyone…it sounds like it’s a job much better served for someone with experience at this point.

1 Like

Technically “decora” is a trademarked name which refers only to Leviton devices. They own the trademark. The generic name is “rocker.” But no question lots of people refer to that general shape as Decora. It’s like “Kleenex“ instead of “tissue.“

It’s just important to know that because of online searches. If you walk into Home Depot and ask for Decora cover plates, they’ll show you every brand. But online, you might get only Leviton results for your search.

1 Like

agreed or jacuzzi instead of spa.

1 Like

Or “paddle” in my part of the country. :sunglasses:

1 Like

“Decorator” is another term used to describe them.

1 Like