Virtual Switch + Secondary Controllers instead of 3-way traveler?

Hello, this scenario has been driving me nuts and I could use some help to determine the best solution. I have a situation where I need to control 4 sets of lights from a 2-gang box. Two of the sets are 3-way switches. My first issue is to find a controller that can even fit. The second is how to handle the 3-way without running traveler wires. All the bulbs are already smart and connected to the smartthings hub. Here’s what I’m thinking:

Setup a virtual switch for each set of lights. Use the GE 45631 controller,, to remotely trigger the virtual switches. For the two 3-ways, add another secondary controller that also triggers the virtual switches.

Anyone have any thoughts on whether this will work or if there is a better way? I’m looking more for an elegant solution that isn’t complex rather than lowest cost.


The 45631 cannot trigger a virtual switch, so unfortunately that idea won’t work. It’s not a button controller and does not send its button press messages to the hub. Instead, it expects to communicate directly with other Z wave devices in the same room. Via Z wave, which is why a virtual switch won’t work.

There are Lots of ways to do virtual three ways, but you need devices where each device can communicate with the hub.

The popular linear/go control switches are already designed to work without traveler wires, but I’m a little confused about what you mean by the three switch set up.

Can you show us a photograph of your current switch devices? Then we would have a better idea of what physical devices might work for you.

So short answer: any device which can communicate directly to the hub can be used in a virtual three-way set up quite easily. You don’t need a separate virtual device. Physical device A sends a message to the hub which then sends a message to physical device B.

But this specific devices to choose will depend in large part on the form factor that you want on the wall. So let’s see if we can get a better idea of that first. :sunglasses:

BTW, another popular alternative which you might consider are the Homeseer rocker switches which support double tap and triple tap on each switch. These are very popular for zone lighting. So single tap turns on the light that the switch controls the load for. Double tap turns on a different set of lights using a message sent to the hub. And triple tap turns on all the lights. That’s a single gang switch with up to six different options (single double and triple tap on the top and on the bottom of the rocker). And you can put two side-by-side in a double gang box.

The only problem is those are not intuitive for guests. But there are a number of other options depending on exactly what you’re trying to accomplish.

Remotec makes a nice eight button battery operated device which gives you 24 options (single tap, double tap, and long hold on each button) and works well as a wall controller. You still have to have done something so that each set of lights can be controlled wirelessly, but it’s a popular option, and you can put it anywhere you want since it’s running off battery.

But again it comes down to the specifics of what you would like in your own home and the use cases you were trying to solve.

(By the way, I moved this thread to projects so that you could get individualized responses based on your own needs and preferences. That way other community members can brainstorm with you, because this is an exactly a “one right answer” question. It’s more a matter of looking at what all the options are and then figuring out which ones would appeal to you specifically. :sunglasses:)

1 Like

Great info, thank you! The button controller is exactly what I’m looking for. I’ll think over whether I go with the HomeSeer or Remotetec. The HomeSeer would fit the best, but the Remotec would offer more flexilibity in how many things I could control and be less confusing. I’ll probably just put a blank wallplate on the 2-gang box and mount the remotetec either next to it. So that means I could configure a virtual switch for each set of lights then use the Remotec’s buttons to control those virtual switches as well as change the scenes?

Yes, provided there is also some device which actually controls the current to the lights. If they are smart bulbs, you’re all set. If not, you have to have an in wall micro or a smart switch that is controlling the actual load to the bulbs.

You can see more types of button controllers in the following thread:

As far as blanking off the plate, you need to check with your local township. Some, although not many, require that there is a switch that can be used to cut current to a fixture for safety reasons. In that case you can use a child safety lock on the current controlling switch, or even put a wooden box over it with the battery operated device on top of that.

Other jurisdictions don’t care if a light bulb is always drawing power, they assume the homeowner will know to cut power at the circuit box if necessary.

There is some more discussion of this in the following topic

JD, you sold me on this. Although all of my switches are smart, they are all basic GE 12k series switches and dimmers. I have about 12 buttons all around the house that do various things but I am going to get a couple of these to play around with.

What color is the LED?

Great, thank you for the help. I spent weeks researching and couldn’t find a definitive answer. You provided exactly what I needed almost immediately. Thanks again!

1 Like