Is it worth the savings to mix in dumb switches?

I’ve been working on a new house build and have identified 75 switches needed between Switches, Dimmers, and Light/Fan.
Total cost just over $3,000
Is it worth some money in savings by mixing in dumb switches where possible in any 3-Way and 4-Way scenarios?
I’ve gone through all the recent 3-way posts in forum and seems like there can be issues when mixing.
Maybe a better way to ask the question is, Is it wasting money to not use dumb switches in some places?

Keep in mind that I’m coming from an all Insteon setup with a ISY-994i-zw controller in my last house.

What about in Home Assistant? If I have 3 Inovelli switches in a 4-Way connection, do I add them all to HASS and then group them to treat them as a single unit? Do you add just one of the switches in HASS and then manually link the other Inovelli switches to the first one?

Thanks for helping me out. Any other thoughts and advice are appreciated.

There seem to be more issues with the switch with a dumb switch then there are with the dimmer with a dumb switch. I think that part of this is because the dimmer is configurable to specify the setup, whereas the switch auto-detects. The suspicion is that the auto-detect doesn’t always work perfectly perhaps in cases where LEDs are in use with a low draw.

Using an Aux switch instead of a dumb switch seems to remedy the switch situation.

Part of the consideration in using a dumb switch with a dimmer is at the secondary switch locations are you going to be satisfied with an on/off there? If you need to dim from all locations, then you’ll need Aux’s, or perhaps additional Inovellis. Using additional Inovellis adds to the cost factor and can bring with it some configuration challenges.

Can’t help you with the HA questions, but someone will jump in.

In regards to the 3 or 4 way configurations, you’ll need a neutral in at least all non load boxes. The load box can be non neutral but you’ll have better compatibility with a neutral. If the house is new construction in the US they should all have neutrals. Once you add an the dimmers to HA you’ll use associations to sync the 3 or 4 dimmers. The associations take a few minutes to setup but once setup you shouldn’t have to do anything. Also they still work if the hub is offline since associations are device to device communications.

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I went with Red Dimmers throughout my house with the exception of a few Zooz on/off switches. Am also using Home Assistant and could not be happier with how they operate in 3/4 way configurations.

Having a consistent look and user experience across the board was important to me. The HA setup only takes a few minutes per circuit My LED bars on the switches sync up just fine, which is a huge plus. Only thing I wish was available was a separate parameter to control the ramp down speed independently of the ramp up. I will likely replace the Zooz switches with red dimmers as soon as 10 packs come back in stock.

My only other wish list item would be for a dimmer type switch to control ceiling fans. Most of my fans don’t have lights on them and the lights in the room are on a separate switch so the current fan/light switch combo isn’t a perfect fit, but I’ll likely settle for it when it comes back in stock, unless I can find a decent alternative. Any recommendations on that front are welcomed.


If you’re not too far along I would suggest you think carefully about your switch requirements, and consider what switches you really need vs which ones you think you need. I’m not sure the size of house you are building, but houses with too many switches are just as bad as ones not having enough switches. My rule of thumb as I was laying out the switches was that 1-gang boxes are ideal, 2 gang boxes are fine if it will make sense but 3-gang boxes should be avoided if possible and no >3-gang boxes. Reason is that big gangs of switches simply are confusing to users. The house is about 1400sq-ft per floor and I only have 3 x 3-gang boxes with both the basement and main floor finished. I think I have about 30 devices, and that includes a switch in every closet.

I would also suggest adding any wiring for motion sensing or other types of sensors you might want on the ceilings. The bathrooms, closets and kitchen have sensors so the lights work automatically. Bathroom fans are somewhat automated too with a humidity sensor. I found the parts to do a cheap ESPhome motion sensor that is a clip in ceiling mounted dome and runs off 12V.

For any lights going into insulated ceilings, find a plastic insulation rough-in that you can mount at the light location to create a sealed pocket around the light. Then, you can pull the light down or replace it later without dealing with the insulation. Besides, I don’t know of any lights that seal well to the vapor barrier.

As already posted, make sure there is a neutral in every switch box. You can do 3-ways with 2 dimmers by associating them which is my preferred way. I managed to grab a bunch of black dimmers during the final sale to use in locations that would never need scenes or notifications.


Neutrals in every switch box is certainly good to have. And there is a perception that this is a requirement with the newer electrical codes. (I’m speaking the US NEC here.)

This will vary a bit by what year code you are subject to. The later codes do specify that there must a neutral in a switch box. However, there are exceptions. Two of them are:

1 - This pertains only to habitable spaces (i.e not attics, storage areas, bathrooms, garages, etc)
2 - For multi-way switches, if you can stand in the room they are controlling and see all the switches, then you only need a neutral at one box.

Just bringing this up so you don’t automatically assume that because you are subject to a newer code that you will automatically have a neutral at each switch box. It’s best to discuss with the electrician before rough-in.


This is what I was going to say.

Use Aux, it’s the middle ground and significantly more reliable IMO.

Ditto on @PJF suggestion on drops for motion and other sensors, internal cameras etc that you want to mount in ceiling or up high and out of the way. Also for any LED strips (i.e. in kitchen cabinet, island, etc.). Having the electrical there nice and neat and tucked away up front is definitely a plus. I built my house last year and covered all the network/POE drops (which could be used for cameras) but didn’t consider sensors I’d like to mount in ceiling or wall. Also Would have been nice to have the electrical in place for an inwall tablet type Dashboard (i.e. for SmartThings or Home Assistant - they have some great options for dashboards).

Specifically about switches though, will you be using smart bulbs or regular bulbs? Do you care about dimming or just basic on/off? you should also consider if you’re using regular bulbs I have Mostly Inovelli switches in the common areas and bedrooms. Almost all the bulbs in my common area are smart bulbs. In non-common areas like bathrooms, pantry, laundry, I opt’d to put some cheaper “smart” switches there (i.e. like my bathroom I have a all in one GE z-wave motion/smart switch and just the regular light fixture). Pantry and Laundry room are same thing - might save a little $$.

If i had to do it again, I would just standardize on red series on/off as opposed to mixing and matching black series dimmers and red series dimmers and on/off. Believe me, when it comes to firmware updates you’ll be great as it’s a pain to keep track of the various update cycles for different switches. Plus as was stated above it’s aesthetically better looking.

I need to educate myself on what an AUX switch is and does :slight_smile:

Thanks for the detailed advice. I don’t need to pick out low voltage stuff yet, just the 120V items. I’ve gone through and slimmed down the number of switches. House will be about 4500sqft.
For the motion sensor and humidity sensor stuff, I just planned on trying the Inovelli 4-in-1 for places like the pantry for motion and bathrooms for humidity.
I’m not sure what the under cabinet lighting options will be. In my last house I ran outlets (receptacles) inside the cabinets and plugged in some LIFX strips there. Since a lot of my LIFX bulbs turned out not to work all that well over time, I will not be buying anymore of their overpriced stuff.
Here’s my first floor electrical plan. The house has a few more architectural changes being made but the layout is pretty much set.
Ignore the 3-way switch on the LEFT wall in master bedroom in top left corner, i’ve removed those. A couple of 3 gang boxes in Kitchen and Dining but I think that’s the only place.

In the upstairs main living area I have a crown molding mounted about 4-5" down from the ceiling which then has 24V LED light strips in it. There is a triangle wedge put on the wall first with the molding over it with the strips stuck on the top of the triangle piece. Ceiling white paint on the triangle and wall from there up. I like the lighting this gives. I think there is about 17-18 meters of LED strip, with a 12 gauge wire feeding power at each corner. I used a ESP PWM circuit board to power it. Here’s a picture testing it before adding the crown molding onto the backing wood. The light at the strip isn’t nearly as glaringly bright as the camera shows.

I almost forgot, I put a wire at each window in the main area too, I’m thinking powered curtain rods so all can be opened or closed at once.


I don’t plan on putting smart bulbs this time. I’ve had them in two previous homes and really didn’t alter them that much. I did have some that I changed color temperature on between morning and evening but mostly that just causes issues with the wife.
I will have a combination of dimmers and switches and then some fan/light controls.
One of the areas I’m trying to figure out how best to handle is the three ceiling fans on patio. I did use a BOND device at my last home to relay out RF signals. If I get fans with remotes then I think I could set them all to the same frequency and use a BOND to control them. Put a smart switch in place but configure it to be always on and just send commands to the bond for paddle presses???

I’d like to do the automated powered blinds but the good ones are so damn expensive, we’re talking like $900+ per window.
I need to search that product space again though and see if there are any cheaper options for any of the areas that I would like. Might also just do them in a couple of rooms too.

That looks like a nice pad. I don’t see much you could reduce and I do see you’re already limiting the number of devices at any one location so my advice for that wasn’t needed. But I do have have to ask, do you really need 3-way switches for the fans?

I’m not that fussy so I was looking at but to be neatly integrated into HA I’d have make a small circuit board that could be tie wrapped onto the back side of the motor.

An aux device is a momentary paddle that allows both on-off and dimming so it mimics the operation at the dimmer. It’s similar to an Inovelli paddle but without the LED bar.

Spend the money now or later (and pay more in labor) because you’ll be frustrated with dumb switches as the 3, 4, or 5 ways. Just buy the aux switches and be happy.


Aux switches basically have different resistors??? (or something else) between traveler and neutral that the switch can detect on it’s traveler screw and act accordingly. They are mechanical in nature so less expensive than true smart switches. They run ~$20 apeice.

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@PJF Nice crown molding accent lighting. I don’t want to hijack this thread so I’ll send you a DM on it - have some questions :slight_smile:

You’re right about not needing the 3-way on the fans. I’m going to kill that one.
Now I can just use a regular red switch and get fans with remotes and use Bond device to adjust the speeds.

another use case for fans - I use an Innovelli switch and Bond Bridge. Bond Bridge controls a bunch of RF and IR stuff). Once Bond is integrated into your hub (I did this in SmartThings, and am about to do this in Home Assistant) you can trigger the fan controls (on/off, speed). It works quite nicely and since it’s RF, it’s got great range (my Bond is on my first level and controls all fans on main level and second level). I have minka fan/remotes so Bond recognized it very well.

Thanks @miker2069
I had a Bond at my last house and will use it at this one too. I did have some consistency issues early on with it but it probably had 15 firmware updates over the few years I was using it and worked great for me.