Wiring Switches/Dimmers in Banks


(John Roberts) #1

I have three (3) GE Smart Dimmers wired in a bank BEHIND a three way GE Smart Switch, all of which are working perfectly. Under this configuration all of the dimmers are powered off/on with the three way switch; in other words, the dimmers are completely powerless when the switch is off. I was curious as to what state the dimmers would return to once they were powered on with the switch. As it turns out, once the devices have a history of “recent” activity, they return to the last know state; in other words they operate exactly as the legacy switches they replaced. This is contrary to what the support techs will tell you.

As a side note, these dimmers will create an exception flag in the SmartThings app. This can be cleared by tapping on the device with the flag, closing the message window by tapping the “X”, and then refreshing the device by tapping on the circular arrow.


(Ray) #2

I am curious about this setup. Why an on/off smart switch to control a smart dimmer?


(Jimmy) #3

yeah, this sounds…interesting.


(John Roberts) #4

I have 3 banks of lights that I want to control independently. Yet I want to be able to turn all lights off/on with one switch. This is how to do it…


(Don) #5

I still find that an odd way to do it. Alas there are many was to accomplish the same result.


(Jimmy) #6

yeah. I think i would have just bought a minimote or used a group in Alexa.


(Ray) #7

That’s one way to do it for sure. There are other ways as well and if that’s what you want then we will leave it at that. Let us know if you want other options.


(John Roberts) #8

Yes I would be interested in how else you would do it. Please understand the system must be able to operate as conventional lighting since guests, my family and others have no idea how to use Alexa or Google home. I’m well aware of how to create groups with Smartthings, and that would work very well for me if I were the only one using the system, however that won’t feed the bulldog when someone else walks in the door and flips the switch expecting the lights to come on. Under my system there is one light switch by the door which turns off and on all of the lights in the room just as it was in my legacy system.


(Don) #9

Could you not just have the 3 smart dimmers run the banks of lights. Then wire the main switch without a load to anything.

Then use a smart app to tell the other smart switches to follow the main switch.

Granted you’ll be relying on smarthings to keep them in sync, and you won’t be able to use the master switch without smarthings. You still get to use all the sets of lights independently, and still turn them all on with one master switch.

You could possibly even use a scene capable multi-tap switch to control the seperate sets of lights independently through smarthings from the master switch.


(Jimmy) #10

Can you explain more how it worked with your dumb switches? You flipped the switch by the door and then had to flip other switches?


(John Roberts) #11

I have one 3-way switch beside my door exiting to the carport. The mate to that 3-way switch is in my hallway in a gang box with 3 dimmers. When I exit the room I need to flip only one switch which will kill all the Denver’s. When I enter the room I flip only one switch which will return the lighting configuration to where it was when I left. Simple… of course I can turn off/on or brighten/dim any of the dimmers as I please, but nevertheless they remain in their last state when turned off/on with the “Master” 3-way.


(Ron Talley) #12

Hey, if it works for you then it works! However, I find this to be counter-intuitive. A simple rule that says: If master switch changes to on then turn on the other 3 switches But-If master switch changes to off then turn off the other 3 switches.

This way you can have control of the other 3 switches even if the master switch is off. Smart Lighting or CoRE can do this fairly simple. There is also a cool little app called Trend Setter that will keep lights including dimmers in sync.

I don’t even know how you got the three way working correctly using 1 smart switch and 1 dimmer…


(Ray) #13

He’s not using 1 smart on/off per smart dimmer. If I understand correctly. 1 smart on/off cutting line hot to all 3 dimmers at another location.
I have a few switches sync with smart lighting app in my house and don’t have much problem.
With the new health check update. Not providing constant power to the dimmers will be a pain as you stated about the unavailability and have to click X.
I would provide constant power to the dimmers and do what @TN_Oldman suggested. This way you can also automate the dimmers with other rules as well.


(John Roberts) #14

Ok… Let me try to make this as simple as I know how…

  1. I want ONLY ONE switch by my door that will manually turn ALL of the lights off/on collectively. I do not want to be bound to a device to do this. That way when anyone walks in the door they simply flip the switch.

  2. The health check is not an issue because the exception flag will go away once power has been reapplied to the dimmers. I brought that up merely to explain how to clear the flag if you wanted to before the exception clears itself.

  3. I wanted a system that would work whether I had internet access or not. I wanted redundancy built in. I do not want to be bound to a device to turn my lights off and on. I can unplug my Smart Hub and everything works just as it did before.

It’s not that difficult…


(Jimmy) #15

i’m curious to see the long term effects of this. Typically smart devices don’t like having power repeatedly cycled to their radios because it can lead to premature failure.


(Ray) #16

Unless you have really flaky Internet and even so the local processing is in place for it. You can also just go over and press the dimmer switches to turn them off/on or dim.
What you are doing above is one of the option but that option is using only half the smartness of the smart switches.
You can sync all the dimmers to the on/off switch meaning.
When smart on/off switch is off = all dimmers off and when smart switch on/off is on = all dimmers on. You can still operate the dimmers individually.
The advantages of having constant power to the dimmers.

  1. You can operate the dimmers physically without having to turn the on/off smart on.
  2. You can select the dimming level at certain time of day or automate them to go full bright when the physical switch is pressed.
  3. Status is always there
  4. Your guest won’t get confused when the on/off is off and they try operating the dimmers.
  5. The dimmers are repeaters and with no power to them. You mesh could be random depend on when or how you do your mesh repair.
  6. If you want to turn the lights on for certain automation. I Dim my lights to 10% when someone in the house needs to go to the Washroom or such but 100% bright when smoke detectors active or intrusion.
    Of course these things mean nothing if all you want is to turn the lights on/off.

(Dan) #17

John,

Thanks for sharing the information regarding how the GE Dimmers remember their last state through a power off/on cycle. Good to hear that they behave as most users would expect (i.e. like the old non-Smart switches that they replace.)

Glad to hear your setup is working the way you want it to. Knowing all of the options is always a good thing!

What matters is that it works for you!

Again, thank you for sharing your setup and use case!


(Don) #18

I’m not “piling my advice” he asked for other options,

I provided one. Obviously not what he wanted by his “Let me make this simple” reply.

I have no vested interest if he uses my suggestion. I just offered it trying to be helpful, and offer alternatives. I only offered that option as I thought the one master switch telling the other switches what to do would meet his desire.

If not? that’s fine, don’t do what I suggested.

I appreciate his sharing of the dimmer default operation, and the description of a possible way to perform what he’s doing.


(Ray) #19

OK I started it… Willing to give free hug if needed…:grimacing: also I blame @TN_Oldman!


(Robin) #20

I would use Zwave plus micros for each circuit and then use a Zwave plus switch (or another micro) for the master switch.

I would then use direct association between master switch and slaves so that the master toggles the salves instantly without the need for a hub / internet connection.

@zcapr17’s Zwave tweaker app could do the setup in minutes.