I have an electrician coming Saturday to install some electrical for me…I am getting 6 recessed lights installed and I want to use a 3 way dimmer. I see GE has an add-on switch, but the problem with that is you won’t be able to dim it with either switch. Is there a way to have 2 zWave dimmers in both switches?
There are several ways to approach this. So I can move this to project so you can get comments on the various different methods.
The simplest way is to install the master so that it controls the load to the fixture.
Now install any dimming switch you want elsewhere, but do not use physical traveler wires to connect it to the master and do not use it to actually control the load to the fixture. Instead, just power it. Note that this device must be something that can talk to the smart things hub. So it cannot be the usual GE auxiliary switch, because those are not actually network devices at all. But it can be another GE master, or it can be a master of another brand.
Now Use any smart app you want to have the switches follow each other. You can just use them and dimmer or you can use something newer.
This creates a “virtual three-way.” The auxiliary is sending a request to the hub and the hub is sending the instruction to the master and the master is making actual adjustment.
Like I said, this is the easiest way. However, you will be missing a feature that you would have from an actual auxiliary which is that if your home automation system is not working, your master switch will still work, but your auxiliaries will not work at all. That may be OK for most use cases, but is just something you should be aware of.
Alternatively, you could go for zwave devices which do have dimming options in their auxiliaries.
Note that you should always match the auxiliary to the master that the manufacturer says it goes with. You cannot mix-and-match auxiliaries from other brands as the wiring differs.
Before we go too far, let me just clarify one thing.
As long as you are able to wire them into the same circuit, the GE auxiliary switches do allow for dimming in the same way that the master switch does: you just hold down the rocker at the top and the longer you hold it the brighter it gets.
So I have been assuming that the reason you’re asking this is because the place where you want to put the auxiliary is not on the same circuit as the master and you cannot run the physical wires between them. That is, you are creating a new auxiliary where one never was before and it’s maybe on the opposite side of the room.
Is that all true? Because if they are all on the same circuit you just use the recommended auxiliary switches.
But if they’re not all on the same circuit, then yes, you can just buy another master but your electrician will have to know how to wire it so it’s not controlling a load.
It’s all on the same circuit. I have complete flexibility as the walls are exposed and the goal is to have 2 dimmers on each side of the room controlling all 6 recessed lights. Based on this, sounds like I can indeed use this physical switch to dim:
Perfect! Thanks as always @JDRoberts, you are the best! I will get one Master and one Aux. This is the first time I have dived into the 3way switch zwave world and I have an electrician to help which makes this easier.
You need to know the exact model number. Some of the early GE Masters could only handle two auxiliaries. The newer one, GE 12724, can handle four auxiliaries for a total of five switches controlling the same light. This is called a “six way” setup (5 switches plus one fixture). But because it uses physical traveler wires, you have to be able to run a traveler wire from each of the four auxiliaries to the master. Otherwise you have to go with the same kind of virtual set up I described above.
Interesting. Good thing I asked before I troubleshooted :). So what’s the point of buying the aux as opposed to leaving my old switch in? I am on the same circuit and there is a traveler between master and aux.