Multiple Smart Switches in 3-gang plate

Cupertino, October 4, 2021

Hello, all -

I'm pretty well invested in the HomeKit ecosystem (of course, it's all relative... compared to some on this sub I'm barely dipping a toe in the water...) and am interested in options for some lighting in front of our home.

It's a little confusing to explain in words, but I'll give it a shot:

We have 3 lights out front: one of either side of the garage and one on our front porch. They are controlled together by two switches - one in the garage and one near our front door in a 3-gang configuration. I'd prefer NOT to do smart lights because that just seems like a recipe for trouble with the other members of the household (my wife and two teenagers) who just want lights to work like lights.

The 3-gang wall plate is configured as follows:
* Left switch is "normal." It controls a Christmas light outlet under the eave out front. One of the eave outlets runs to a wired Ring Stickup Cam and the other is connected to an outdoor smart plug that has two outlets that I have attached to the eave so it's semi-permanently installed. So, basically, I want the switch in the house to be always on so the camera has power and so that when Christmas lights are up they can be controlled with an automation. I have adopted the ultimate low-tech solution of using a child-proof switch cover to prevent anyone in the house from accidentally turning that switch off.
* Middle switch is a 4-way switch. A total of 3 switches control several lights in our foyer and entryway. The other two switches that control the same lights are at the door to the garage and at the other end of the hall. I'm OK with not having a smart switch in this mix.
* Right switch is the 3-way that controls the outside lights I mentioned above.

So, if I'm replacing one switch, I have to replace them all because they are not the flat, "decora" style switches. All three are old school toggle switches. I considered a smart switch for the left switch, but I don't think that would accomplish what I'm looking for since it wouldn't let me control the plugs in the eave such that one was always on (for the camera) and one is switchable (for the xmas lights).

I can see multiple options for smart, 3-way switches for our outdoor lights but it looks like no matter how you slice it, I'll be forced to change out both switches (the one at the front door and the one in the garage). This starts a chain reaction since the one in the garage is also part of a 2-gang wall plate along with a switch for lights in the garage. So in the garage I'd have one dumb and one smart 3-way.

In total, I'd be replacing 5 switches:
* Front hall - smart 3-way + 2 dumb
* Garage - smart 3-way + 1 dumb

So, first, am I missing anything obvious here?

Second, it looks like the Lutron Caseta 3-way kit has one switch and one "remote" which looks like a switch but involves no actual wiring. Do I permanently connect the wires at one of the two switches and use that as the "switch"? And, if so, can it be installed in the wall box so that it looks like it is a switch?

Finally, all the Casetas (and other smart switches) seem to come with their own faceplate. Is that required or is it safe to assume that they can be used in 2- or 3-gang wall plates alongside other (dumb) switches?

That's a lot to ask what are probably some simple questions, but I'd love to get this right the first time. TIA

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