Will a single GE Smart Dimmer work in a 3-way config with dumb switches?

I have two light panels in my living room. The first panel has three switches; one for the overhead lights (this switch is the subject of this topic…we’ll call it “Switch 1”), one for the lights in the fan, and the other for the fan itself. The second panel has a single switch and it controls the overhead lights as well (same lights as the first switch above…let’s call this Switch 2).

In case it is important, there is a red “Traveler” switch in Switch 1 as well as the middle switch. There is not one for the switch on the right side of the panel (fan).

I have one GE Smart Dimmer (12274) with which I’m trying to replace Switch 1. To the best of my knowledge all of the wiring is correct (Load, Line, Ground, Traveler, and Neutral). But, I cannot get Switch 1 to manually adjust the lights (dimmer, or on/off). The weird part is once I plug in Switch 1, Switch 2 no longer works either. The two switches for the fan light and the fan continue to work as normal.

It is not the switch, as I have tested it in another location in the house and it works.

Best theories I can come up with:

  • Do I need to replace all other panels in my living room with smart switches (or add-ons)?
  • Should I replace Switch 2 instead of Switch 1 with the smart dimmer? (I have not looked at the wiring in Switch 2)

I am not even close to being an electrician. I was just introduced to the neutral and traveler wires today. So I’m not exactly sure how the lighting in the house is set up. I’m guessing my living room is technically a 4-way setup?

Smart switches are wired somewhat differently than dumb switches. For this reason you need to replace all of the switches in a three-way set up, which is what you are describing, or things won’t work properly. The auxiliaries need to be specifically designed to work with the master. Meaning switch 2 has to be a brand and model specifically designed to work with switch 1.

This should also be of help.

Thanks for quick reply. This makes sense, but I do have one additional question.

Even though Switch 1 and Switch 2 are in different panels, it sounds like an add-on switch would be sufficient for Switch 2 (the stand-alone)?

, probably, but it depends on the exact wiring. There are at least eight different ways to wire a three-way for a nonnetworked master. But not all of those will work with the network to master. So you should go to the FAQ on GE wiring and take a look at the discussions there. There are a lot of small details that can make a big difference.

Also, I’m pretty sure you don’t mean that they’re on separate “panels” because that would be separate circuits, and they can’t be on separate circuits if they control the same light. I suspect you just mean that they are in different switch boxes, but again, look at the FAQ and see if that helps.