3-way switch: dumb switch + push on/off dimmer

So, I got my sister and brother-in-law to buy Hubitat. He bought several Zooz Zen26 and 27 switches. What I didn't know is that one if the rooms with 4 can lights has a 3-way switch set: a regular on/off switch, and a push on/off dimmer dial. So before I go messing with everything, I was hoping some folks could give me some ideas about the best way to handle this situation.

They'd like to use Alexa to control dimming, so I guess that means replacing the dimmer switch with a Zen27. I just wanted to confirm that the on/off buttons of the switch will serve the same function as the push on/off function of the original toggle.

I believe this also means leaving the other switch as a dumb switch. Now, the smart switch will swap the on/off of the dumb switch, but not vice versa, correct? My only experience with this is my Inovelli hallway switch, and just wanted to make sure nothing's changed since then.

Thanks in advance for your help. :slight_smile:

I don't have this specific model, but I do have another model of theirs and yes, simply pushing the top of the switch will turn it on, pushing the bottom will turn it off. In fact, I've never seen a decora style smart dimmer that worked any other way. So you should be good in that regard.

I'm not quite sure what you mean by this. I have an Inovelli in a three way situation with a dumb toggle and you can turn on/off the lights with either switch just fine. I assume Zooz would work the same way. Perhaps that's not what you meant. If so I apologize.

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Since the smart switches return to the "center" they will never be in an up or down position like standard switches. You will always toggle them "up" for on or "down" for off (or the reverse if you desire) - this is actually more logical than a 3 way setup for manual switches where "down" could be on. The "dumb" switch would then function as normal.

If you really wanted to replace that switch you could bypass the load (effectively setting the smart switch as a single pole) and install a line only smart switch. You'd then either use rules to handle on/off when the dimmer gets set on/off OR Z-Wave associations.

I did this for my upstairs hallway - have like 4 switches and a smart dimmer. I used Z-Wave associations. It works but is kind of clunky - for one switch it should be okay though.

There are multiple ways to do things.

I would be inclined to abandon the 3/4 way stuff, put the Zen27 switch where all the wires originate and feed the bulbs (you will have to open up all switch boxes to figure out where this is). AKA the main switch.

Then you could use the Zen34 remotes in the other locations so there would be no wiring. These buttons look like the Zen switches, so you wouldn't even know the difference. And they do communicate with the hub unlike some of the other solutions involving 3/4 ways.

I did something similar to what @neonturbo said, but little differently. Draw a schema of all the current connections in case you want to go back anytime. There is one start switch which gets the power, from there there are wires to input to 2nd switch, it's output goes to input of 3rd switch, and it's output goes to input of 4th switch. This last one is the master, whoch has output connected to bulb. I count 4 switches here because I take your dimmer as another switch. Now, take power from the first one and run in all the way to the master 4th one. That means on all switches, you'll connect only input - to these, now, power lines. Only master will have connected output - to the bulb. Then there is app "link switches" or something similar (don't remember the name now). Via that app, link all switches so all behaves as one. The plsu side of this is that all switches are powered - they act as repeaters, and also, if your switcjes has little indicator diode, if you tun on any switch, diode on all switches turns on. Now the dimmer. If your dimmer is at the master position, then it's all good, dimmer connected directly to bulb and it works. If you want dimmer on any other position, you'd have to put dimme inwall module behind the master switch and link that dimmer level with your dimmer switch.

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Sorry bad wording - on the smart swicthes, it will not be connected to "input", but to actual power, + -. And right from there (power) it will go to next switch

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That's exactly what I meant. :slight_smile: Now I have to figure out which switch has main power.

That's a good idea!

I've done this enough where a sort of have a system for it. I draw a 4x2 grid on a piece of paper and draw a diagram of each switch for each possible configuration of the toggles. ie, up/up, up/down, etc. Then I carefully use a multimeter to measure each of the poles on the switch to ground in each of the four possible configurations. I put an X next to any poles that show 120v to ground. The wire (or pole) that shows line voltage to ground in every configuration is where the power is coming in. I imagine there may be a better way to do this, I am not an electrician. But it works for me and helps me to wrap my head around how the switches are wired. If you are going to replace the switches with remotes like a ZEN34 or Pico, this will tell you where to put the remote and where to put the actual switch. I've done this with Lutron Casetta many times and it works perfectly.


This is a very good summary of what needs to be done no matter which method. The power input (line) may not be in the same box as the outgoing wire to the light (load). :+1:

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