3-Way Setup With Outlet

I got the dimmer and I am trying to use it to replace a switch that controls an outlet. There is another dumb switch so it’s a 3-way setup. I got it installed, but thought it was odd that the switch only received power when something was plugged in the outlet. It then seemed to work. I was able to get it paired with Smartthings and setup the device handler. Then suddenly it went into an endless loop of turning off the light plugged into the outlet, increasing the brightness, then the LED on the switch went from green, to red, to blue, then turned off the light and did that over and over. The config button no longer responded either. Even turning the power off and back on didn’t help.

That aside, my goal with the switch was to control a set of smart bulbs using automation on the hub. So I don’t even really need a load on the switch itself. So now I’m not sure this switch is what I want, even though it was recommended in articles talking about this exact scenario.

The root of your problem is that you CANNOT use a dimmer to control a receptacle. There are valid safety reasons that you shouldn’t. In fact, the NEC (if you’re in the US) specifically prohibits it. Same thing in Canada, I’m pretty sure.

You need to use a switch with a receptacle, not a dimmer. But I am guessing that the switch you are replacing is on a switch loop which means that you don’t have a neutral in the box. I’m guessing that because of your statement that the dimmer only works when something is plugged into it. An Inovelli switch won’t work without a neutral, so maybe that’s why you’re using the dimmer?

That being said, there may be a way to power the dimmer so that it does not control the receptacle but you can still use it as a scene controller. But you are going to have to explain your wiring. It sounds as if you just need a scene controller to control your smart bulbs.

Also, if you are not familiar with electrical wiring, it is best to consult with a licensed electrician.

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Thanks. I don’t WANT it to control the outlet, just some smart bulbs. The switch is in a convenient and logical position to do that. It just happens to be one that controls an outlet. Sounds like this particular one won’t work, at least at this location, since it’s wired to an outlet.

I don’t know if there is a neutral in the box or not. There are two wires from each run tied together. I assumed they’re the neutral. I pigtailed into them and connected that to the neutral screw on the switch. Like I said, the switch worked for a bit, I was able to pair it with the hub.

Thanks for letting me know what the problem is. I’ve put the original switch back in since you said there’s a safety issue with having a dimmer there. I’ll have to figure out what I want to do from here.

This is a scary statement. When doing electrical, if you’re not sure then you should ALWAYS test. The last thing you want to do is burn down your house because you assumed wrong.

Depending on your wiring, it may actually be possible to re-wire the outlet so it’s always hot instead of controlled by the switch. And then you’d be fine installing the dimmer there, putting it in smart bulb mode and controlling your smart bulbs with it. Based on the statement you made above, I’d call an electrician to come give you a quote. He should be able to tell you if it’s possible or not without charging, and to do the actual work I’d expect it to be just an hour’s labour which shouldn’t cost you a fortune.


If you do decide to consult with an electrician, explain to him that you do not want the receptacle controlled by the switch (whichever one you want the Inovelli at). Tell him that you need a hot and neutral at that switch box. You may or may not be able to have the other switch still control the receptacle. This all depends on your wiring configuration.

Then you’d be fine putting the dimmer in that switch box. It would not have a load connected to it, so you wouldn’t be putting it in the smart bulb mode, but you would be using it as a scene controller for your lights.