4-way light circuit with dimmer as the last switch before the light

Light circuit is...

Line in -> first 3-way switch -> 4-way switch -> last 3-way switch -> dimmable LED light.

...and I want to adjust brightness from the last 3-way switch location at a minimum.

Plan was to use a Zooz ZEN77 dimmer as the 1st switch and a dumb dimmer as the last switch, but I just realized you can't do that with the ZEN77 (or the ZEN72).

Are there any smart switches that allow the brightness to be set from locations other than the first switch location? Z-wave is preferable, but will consider zigbee, wifi, caseta, etc.

Lutron and its picos can do this with no problems. Not sure about the others.

No matter the technology, you likely will have to put the smart switch in the place where the line in is located. Or at the very least you will have to have the correct wires in the proper box if you want the smart switch in say position 3.

I would think the easiest thing to do would be to put a Zen dimmer in the first position, and the Zen34 remote in the other positions. The wiring would simply pass through position 2 and 3 and onto the light.

You could do this with a Lutron Caseta and Pico remotes, but you would need a Lutron Bridge Pro2. The Lutron setup probably would be more reliable long term, but at a much higher cost for both the switch, and the bridge.

Lutron gives instructions how to do this 3 -way setup, but the Zooz setup would be very similar. https://assets.lutron.com/a/documents/0301710_caseta_advanced_instructions.pdf

I would rather do this without battery powered remotes. Would using Zooz switches/dimmers in the following layout work? I have several 3-way light circuits, so that's what I'm using as an example...

  1. Replace existing switch (which is connected to line in) with a ZEN76 switch. Have no load wired to this switch. Existing traveler will not be wired to this switch.

  2. Replace existing dimmer with a ZEN77 dimmer. Light fixture will be wired to load terminal as it is today.

  3. Repurpose two of the conductors in the 12/3 traveler between the ZEN76 and ZEN77 to provide continuous power to the ZEN77 dimmer from the "line in".

  4. Use Hubitat rules to react to on/off actions from the ZEN76 switch and send an on/off command to the ZEN77 dimmer. Maybe scene controls or associations could also be used for this? I'm pretty new at this, and haven't looked into scenes or associations.

If the above will work, can it be taken a few steps further by using additional ZEN76 switches to replace current 4-way switches in a circuit (ZEN76's would be powered by the travelers, i.e., always powered up). Can the above use ZEN77 dimmers at all locations to allow dimming from any switch location on the circuit via Hubitat rules/triggers?

You should check out Inovelli Dimmers that can use the Aux switch/dimmer .
The connected to the main dimmer and can do what you want. You should check if Inovelli devices still support the Aux switches (don't see why not) AND how you would need to wire you situation.

GE/Jasco Enbrighten support this via their smart dimmer and Aux switches. From the Aux switch you can dim the light just like the smart switch. In your example you will need one smart dimmer and 2 Aux switches which I know can be a bit more expensive than other brands but it gets you what you want.

Are you saying that even though GE calls it a "add-on switch", it can be used as a dimmer if the primary line in device is a GE dimmer? If so, is there any noticeable difference between dimming from the master vs dimming from an add-on switch? Slower? Faster? Delay? Smoothness? Flicker?

It looks like the setup requires some very specific wiring, i.e., the add-on switches all have to be "after" the load. To make it worse, the doc doesn't show a 4-way wiring diagram using add-on switches.

Looking at the GE wiring diagram here...

Instead of the traditional 4-way wiring scheme I have (described in my first post), Would I...

  1. Replace first switch with master/dimmer.
  2. Replace all other switches with add-on switches.
  3. Run T1 (black wires in travelers) from master dimmer to light fixture thru all the other boxes, but only connect it to the light fixture, i.e., T1 isn't connected to any add-on switch.
  4. Run T2 (red wires in travelers) and neutral wires in travelers to all add-on switches in parallel.
  5. Connect traveler neutral wire in "last" add-on switch box to neutral wire going to light fixture.

If the above is done, is it correct to say...

  1. All of the switch locations can act as a dimmer and switch.
  2. Hubitat could control the light on/off/brightness by sending commands to the master dimmer.

How would this work if Hubitat is "down"? One problem with my previous idea is that if Hubitat is down, only the ZEN77 connected to the light fixture would work.

Look at https://www.leviton.com/en/products/brands/decora-smart as they should be able to do what you want without Hubitat. You could use the Z-wave dimmer and connect that with wired, dimmer companion at the other locations. The companions use the traveler wires to communicate on/off and brightness levels to the main switch. Hubitat would only need to be used for automation purposes in this scenario.

@JohnRob ...

It looks like Inovelli works the same as GE/Jasco (and can use the Jasco add-on switches). They also have a wiring diagram that fits my requirements (wired the way my previous post suggests).

Inovelli also says you can use all smart dimmers in the light circuit instead of just one smart dimmer and multiple aux (add-on) switches. That opens up some interesting possibilities, albeit at a pretty big price increase over the aux switches.

That's great! Let us know how you make out.

It looks like there are several solutions from different vendors for this setup that don't require any wiring changes outside the boxes, which is a huge relief. I like those solutions better than my idea of using several smart dimmers to tell HE what commands to send to the "real" smart dimmer.

All three of the smart dimmers mentioned are contenders. Each has something I like. I wish they all had Leviton's separate dimmer bar and brightness indicator, Inovelli's LED bar and favorites button, and Jasco's status LED. My guess is they are all reliable.

Inovelli is the only dimmer I saw that has the option of using smart dimmers at all locations instead of one master dimmer and additional aux/add-on dimmers. Expensive, but very interesting.

Thanks for everyone's help. On to the next issue.

One last comment... I reached out to Zooz to see if they had any suggestions. They responded (quickly) with the idea I suggested in post 3, i.e., using associations and scene controls with virtual dimmers. The wiring would be the same as the other manufacturers' devices, i.e., using the travelers to power the 2nd thru nth dimmer, and to connect the load terminal of the first switch to the light fixture via the travelers.

I don't see anything on the Zooz website about add-on/aux switches, so I guess they don't offer that. They do however support using traditional mechanical switches as the 2nd thru nth switch. Benefit to this is nothing needs to be done for the 2nd thru nth switch (unless nth switch is a dimmer). Downside for me is first dimmer (the new smart dimmer) always becomes the only dimmer.

Aux switches have zero difference than main smart switch except they don't have an LED. You can click upper button to turn on to previous dimming level or hold to increase, same with lower button. My house is full of these including several 4 way situations and I have been very satified with them. Jasco also offers a 5 year warranty which is much different than Inovelli and Zooz.

You wiring notes are correct. Aux only require 2 wires, traveler and neutral.

All Aux switches continue to work with or without HE being up.

Correct, I do have a few Inovelli as well. Inovelli does have an advantage in that the LED on the dimmer can also be used for "notifications". You can set the color of it to be solid or blink under various conditions. I have read where some make it red if say the garage door is open.

My information may be dated but I don't believe they support Add-on switches which IMO is a negative for dimmers. Switches can use "dumb" switches but if you want to dim from all locations, Aux switches are necessary.

The Leviton Z-Wave+ product line has a dimmer module and companion dimmer modules. Unfortunately, for a 4-way circuit your would need 1 dimmer, and 2 companion dimmer modules. Dimmers are approximately $49 and companions are $36.

The most economical and less invasive 4-way switching option is definitely the Zooz dimmers since they work with existing 3/4-way companion switches. I have had great success with the ZEN 77 800LR dimmers. Using Zooz Dimmers, I saved 60% on the hardware cost and many hours rewiring seven complicated 3/4-way circuits. I decided having multiple dimmers in each lighting circuit would be too tempting for the grandchildren. The cost & sacrifice of complexity :slight_smile:

But you cannot control the dim level from the old/existing switches. This can be a deal breaker for some people and I believe a feature that @user2164 is looking for.

That is correct. I don't want to change the dimmer locations. Looks like that leaves two options: 1) use devices like the Jasco dimmer with their add-on switches, and 2) use devices like the ZEN77 (and probably the Jasco/Leviton/Inovelli dimmers) at all 3- and 4-way locations and implement z-wave associations.

In my case, the home is under construction so I have several months to make the decision. That also means I don't have existing switches to contend with.

The wiring rough-in was designed to work without smart devices, e.g., I could have dumb switches and a dimmer at either the first location or last location. The reason for the post was to make sure the same design would work with smart devices without losing the ability to have a dimmer at the last location. Based on the helpful comments here, I not only don't lose the last dimmer location, but I gain the ability to have dimmers at all locations at the same time.