I’m looking for the most affordable way to install a multi-location dimmer in an existing 3-way dimmer setup. I’d really like to add the ability to dim these lights from either the top or bottom of the stairs. This can be either a smart or dumb switch setup, but need to be able to control from the switch (not app or voice assistant).
Open to ideas here. I searched and found a couple switches indirectly, but no definitive list of options.
Interestingly, one of the middlepriced reliable options that includes dimming from the auxiliary is Lutron Caseta. You use a Lutron master, which is expensive, in the master position but then you can use their battery powered pico auxiliary, which is relatively inexpensive. And you won’t have to worry about what your existing three-way wiring is, because the communication between the pico and the Lutron master is RF. (Only the Caseta models will integrate with SmartThings , and the new Caseta motion sensor does not, although The motion sensor would work with a Lutron switch, it’s just invisible to smartthings.)
You do need to get a Lutron SmartBridge in order to get smartthings integration. One SmartBridge can handle up to 75 Lutron devices. (It used to be 50, but they updated it about a year ago.)
Personally, I recommend getting a Lutron SmartBridge Pro 2 as it will give you additional integrations with other platforms, but if you’re only going to use it with smartthings/Ifttt/HomeKit you can save about $25 and get the regular SmartBridge. (The 2 on the end of the model number is for the second generation, I recommend that over the first and if you want HomeKit integration you have to get the second generation.)
The pico‘s will not be visible to smartthings, but it won’t matter if you’re just using them as auxiliary switches to a Lutron master switch.
Lutron Devices are widely available including at Home Depot and Amazon, but the pro bridge can be hard to find.
Here’s a pro bundle of one SmartBridge pro 2, one master, and one pico for $185.
The basic three way dimmer kit which includes one master switch and one pico is typically available at Amazon for about $65.
But prices vary a lot on these, so shop around.
At the prices above if you needed three three way set ups, so three masters, three auxiliaries, and the Smart Bridge Pro 2, all with dimming from the auxiliary‘s, the total cost would be $315. So like I said, a middle price, but good features, good reliability, and good integration with a number of different platforms. This is what I use in my own home.
GE Enbrighten Zwave switch with its own hardwired auxiliary.
A slightly less expensive option which also gives you dimming from the auxiliary is to get the GE Enbrighten Z wave dimmer as the master and their own auxiliary. This has to be hardwired between the two switches, but you will then get dimming from the auxiliary. Again, widely available, including at Home Depot and Amazon.
Typical cost is $54 for the master and $27 for the auxiliary, but again shop around because prices do vary.
So for the same three pairs you would pay $243. But you would need a smartthings/Aeotec hub
edited to update based on @Bry ’s correction below
Zooz and Inovelli both have very well engineered Z wave master switches, and with Inovelli you can get dimming from the auxiliary if you use one of the GE models that @bry lists below. I’m not sure what the options are for zooz.
If you’re willing to have the auxiliary switch be only on/off, not dimming, then either an Inovelli master or a Zooz master would be an excellent budget choice as these can be wired to an existing dumb switch for the auxiliary.
I like the engineering on the Zooz and Inovelli switches a lot, and the price is great if you can do without dimming at the auxiliary.
If you have an existing dumb dimmer in a 3-way, then you only have the ability to dim from one of the two switches.
I’ve used a couple of different brands of smart dimmers that allow control of the light level from both sides.
The current GE/Jasco Enbrighten Z-wave dimmers with their matching add-on will allow dimming from either side. My problem with these is it’s not obvious they are dimmers. It’s just a Decora-style rocker that you have to know to press and hold to change light level.
My favorite, though, is the Leviton dimmer and its matching add-on. The Z-wave Leviton DZ6HD-1BZ has a separate small rocker that controls the light level and includes a row of LEDs for feedback. Their matching DD00R-DLZ has the exact same extra rocker and LEDs.
That is one way to do that, but with the Inovelli dimmer, the more common installation is to mate it with an inexpensive Aux switch. Since this is a wired solution, it will work without the hub and without the use of associations, and give you dimming in both locations.
Inovelli’s currently line is Zwave, but there is a Zigbee dimmer under development.
I am also looking for a similar solution. My basement has 6x9watt dimmable triac LEDs I have two 3-way switches controlling them. One is right coming downstairs and the other one is in the area where the LEDs are. I really only cared to be able to dimm from the area where the LEDs are, the other one is ok as a simple 3 way switch.
I was planning to use the recommended Zooz Z72 alone as mentioned above and keep a regular 3 way switch. The problem is according to the instructions the Zooz master has to be installed / replace the existing 3 way switch where the power line is (not on the 3 way switch where the load is). In my case the power side is right by the stairs which is not what I wanted.
I assume I need to get an auxiliary switch, scene control, button to have it in proximity of the area I want the control to exist.
Sidenote, while searching, onething that surprised me is to come across an amazon basics wifi 3 way dimmer for $22 canadian and can be installed on the “load” side. Unfortunately can not be controlled via smartthings (at least directly). works with Alexa only
If the Leviton DZ6HD and matching DD00R auxiliary are available in Canada and you’ve got neutrals in both boxes, they’d work. This combo gives you full dim operation from either side. That’s the Z-wave versions. They also have ZigBee and WiFi versions, neither of which I’ve used.
Amazon lists the combo for $73 (US) so not cheap.
For my money, the Levitons give the best “naive user” interface with a second small rocker that controls dim level. Both the main and aux have the extra rocker and both have a row of LEDs to visually confirm dim level operation.
From memory, the aux goes on the line side, main on the load side. Once installed the two switches are indistinguishable.