GE Threeway switch doesn't fit - too fat - Alternatives?

Hey Everyone! After some really good elbow grease and considering putting a hole in a wall I thought I’d come here and ask first. Does anyone know of a thinner (width) smart switch add on that works with the GE 12722 smart switch? I need about 1 cm more in width in my gangbox to get a master (for another light) and the add on in the gangbox. Am I stuck replacing the gangbox or is there an alternative in either wiring or hardware?

Thanks in advance, this one has really got me frustrated, but I know I’ve come to the right place.

The white plastic body of the switch itself is too wide?

By “width,” do you need mean horizontally across the front of the switch? If so, these are all standard single gang sizes.

Do you see the three tabs on each side of the switch? Those are heat sink tabs. Read the user guide that comes with the switch: you can break off the heat switch tabs in order to fit the switch into a double or triple gang box, but when you do, you reduce the total wattage that the switch can handle because you no longer have the heat sink.

That’s not usually a problem if you are controlling LEDs with the switch, but it can be if you are controlling incandescents.

If instead by “width” you meant the depth that it goes into the wall, then, yes, the GE switches are fat switches, no question. But that shouldn’t be an issue in a side-by-side configuration, so for now I’m going to assume that you meant the horizontal measurement. In which case probably you just need to follow the instructions in the manual and remove the tabs to get it to fit in a multi-switch box.

The tabs are already off unfortunately, hence the question, and the issue that I’m stuck with. The horizontal width is the issue I’m having at this stage with this particular gangbox.

EDIT - I’ll get a picture posted in the thread shortly

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What’s the exact width of the box that you’re working with? Is there a plastic insert box in it that is making it narrower?

I’ve posted the pictures of the gangbox and the switches in place on imgur. Link below.

That’s a question I don’t know how to answer.

You can measure the width, though, right?

3.25" with rounded corners in the box.

That’s not a standard wall box. I did a quick Google search and that looks like a Handy box, which is designed for surface mourning rather than in-wall mounting. I’m also surprised to see what looks like metal conduit coming into the left side of that box. Was this previously exposed box/wiring that was later covered by drywall?

None of that helps or offers solutions, I’m just confused by what I’m seeing and why it was done that way.

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I just measured a couple 2 gang boxes I have (yeah - I’m the type that has a few of everything in the spares boxes) A plastic one was 3 7/8" on the inside and a steel one - one of the gangable types - is 3 3/4".

FWIW - that does not have to be conduit - could be a 2-screw connector - could also be conduit. Conduit IS required by some local codes. The Chicago / Cook county area for one.

If it was me - I’d replace the box - it also looks overcrowded and may exceed fill allowances.


As it happens I am in Chicago. This exceeds my experience. I have absolutely no idea how to do a swap of this nature. Do you happen to know where I could start?

This is a north side Chicago condo that was rehabbed within the past 20 years. By starting this project I’ve discovered a few things I don’t like about the electrical here. I just don’t have the knowledge to really solve the problems as of yet.

I really appreciate the help. For now I’m tempted to cut the plastic box and remove the corners to make a fit for the switches. Is this an advisable step or is there a reason these boxes are the way they are?

Not really safe or to code. I think -(but that could be wrong ) that code in your area does not allow any homeowner electrical work.

Conduit requirement , imho, is totally unnecessary, but probably a result of Cook county union and politics.

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Thank you for that info. So could a less deep switch work here then? Is there one with a smaller housing for the zwave tech or rounded corners? I only have GE stuff, so I’ve nothing to compare against. I really hope the rest of my multiswitch gang boxes don’t have this issue too.

If you have a few other electrical issues around the house that you’ve discovered, I’d HIGHLY recommend asking around for an electrician in your area. I recently sold a house and had to get a handful of stuff up to code. It was surprisingly cheap to have him take care of stuff that should have been take care of years ago (had I known). I then had him return to my new home to install a circuit for a microwave and run power to a projector. Again, it wasn’t a lot of money - you just need to ask around. (This guy was a retired firefighter who is fully certified and licensed.)

If you’re going to dive into home automation, it’d be worth the investment. You might sleep a little better knowing that things have been done correctly too.

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The issue I’ve discovered so far are just a few boxes without neutrals. I’ve not found a switch with a ground, and I’m not sure if thats actually an issue or not. If it is, I’m sure all the condos have that issue. I’m really enjoying learning about electrical, but I also know that there’s plenty I don’t know and could get wrong. I’m confident in my work so far, I’m just seeing things I’m not sure how to solve, like the gang box and no neutral type stuff. There’s no crazy shorts or popping when I flip switches. Thankfully anyways.