GE Smart Toggle Switch vs GE Toggle Switch

I’m a newbie to home automation (other than X10 years back) and will be purchasing the smartthings hub. My first desired application is to control my kitchen lights. The lights which are controlled by a toggle switch at either entrance to the kitchen and are are simple on/off (no dimming). Its set up as three way switch at least logically (I’ve not opened up the existing switches yet to verify how they are wired). It’s not clear to me the functionality of the GE 12727 Z-Wave Wireless Lighting Control Smart Toggle Switch vs the GE 12728 Z-Wave Wireless Lighting Control Add-On Toggle Switch. The first question is what does the smart switch do and the second question is whether I will need a smart switch for this application or whether two 12728s will do the job. Thanks much.

If you are replacing a standard 3-way, this kit should work for you. I think this is what you need.

Amazon GE 3-Way Z-Wave

The add on switches cannot communicate with SmartThings directly. They act simply as a wired remote to their master switch. SmartThings actually doesn’t even know that they went on or off, it gets its information from the master.

So no matter what you’re doing, you always have to have at least one master switch.

When you see this language:

Works with a master Z-Wave switch to create a multi-way switch

That means the master is required.

Thank you both for your reply.
I now understand that the smartswitch (SS) is the one capable and responsible for communicating to the hub.

The dumb switch only communicates to the SS to indicate whether that it’s state has changed (switch flipped up or down ie. on or off). In this way the SS knows whether the light is on or off and that is what is communicated to the hub.

Thanks for the link to the 3 way switch.

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Yep. That’s why the master costs more. It has a Zwave Radio and the Add on switch does not.

Check to make sure you have a neutral wire (required) in your switch box to save you lots of frustration. You will see a number of threads on folks who bought everything and then discovered they didn’t have a neutral on their switch box.

I use all GE Smart Switches and they work great.

Thanks for the heads up on the neutral wire. Any links on how to test to see if my circuits have a neutral wire. I guess I was assuming they did as most circuits have a ground, white and black wire. However, the house is 40 years old so it was probably up to spec at that time, but may not have the necessary circuitry that I need now.

The “house is 40 years old” was the first clue. Likely no neutral wire unless the wiring has been updated. You should have the three wires you referenced in a normal single pole setup. Lots of the old houses will just have the black wire in and out of the switch. Modern wiring has a bundle of neutral wires in the back of the box with a wire cap joining them together.

Just pull off the cover plate and see what is there to work with. There are a limited number of switch options that do not require a neutral wire.

I was successful installing the switches as I did have a neutral wire. I had one false start because I was told that the primary (for a three way) could go in either location. But this wasn’t true as I discovered. Once I figured out that the primary switch had to go to the location nearest the breaker box, then the units had power to operate.

I found the following youtube helpful: