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Author Topic: Do I have a bad auxiliary switch?  (Read 9971 times)

Offline Edieguez

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Do I have a bad auxiliary switch?
« on: January 03, 2014, 02:59:34 pm »
Hi,

I figured out the 3-way wiring for a ceiling light but I have a problem: The light switches on/off whenever the primary switch is pushed (i.e., the one with the blue light) but pushing the auxiliary switch does nothing.  I believe the wiring is correct (i.e., only the neutral and traveler wire go to the aux switch) and I confirmed there is a current flowing to the aux switch (via the traveler).  Could I have a bad auxiliary switch? Or is it possible the wiring is still incorrect?  There should be power flowing to the aux switch right?

Thank you,

Offline nemix

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Re: Do I have a bad auxiliary switch?
« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2014, 05:22:03 pm »
What brand zwave primary switch are you using?  What kind of aux switch?  Zwave aux or just a standard 3way switch in the aux wired position?

Offline Edieguez

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Re: Do I have a bad auxiliary switch?
« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2014, 05:25:10 pm »
Sorry I keep on forgetting to specify what I am installing.  Its the GE 45614 Z-Wave Wireless Lighting Control 3-Way Switch Kit.

Offline RichardTSchaefer

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Re: Do I have a bad auxiliary switch?
« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2014, 05:27:43 pm »
I hope you checked the wiring diagram for the N-way setup for your particular switch.
There are no standards for the Z-Wave switches.
But most I saw required 3 wires between the switch and aux.

Offline Edieguez

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Re: Do I have a bad auxiliary switch?
« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2014, 05:44:36 pm »
The GE switch only needs the traveler, neutral and ground.  The aux switch is wired exactly as the diagram specifies.  There was no ground wire so I added one connected to the box.  The primary switch works without a problem but pressing the aux does nothing. I read the aux just shifts the voltage along the traveler in response to being pressed, which the primary switch interprets as an on/off signal.

Offline BulldogLowell

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Re: Do I have a bad auxiliary switch?
« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2014, 07:10:39 pm »
I have had problems with the auxiliary on the GE 3way too.  I think the product quality is poor.

Offline RichardTSchaefer

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Re: Do I have a bad auxiliary switch?
« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2014, 08:28:25 pm »
Usually the 3-Way via direct connection is very reliable ... that's why I recommend that you double check the wiring ... for your particular switch/aux-switch combo.


Offline Edieguez

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Re: Do I have a bad auxiliary switch?
« Reply #7 on: January 03, 2014, 09:07:58 pm »
I have had problems with the auxiliary on the GE 3way too.  I think the product quality is poor.

Could you share what problems you've had? I found a thread online on another forum where someone said its not unusual for the aux switches from GE/Jasco to be defective?

Offline BulldogLowell

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Re: Do I have a bad auxiliary switch?
« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2014, 06:59:26 pm »
I wired them in, they worked correctly for a while and then the aux unit stopped working.  I live in a new house with modern wiring and have a lot of experience with electrical.  Two stopped working.  Fortunately I bought one at Lowes so I just went and bought a new one, switched the bad aux and returned it.

Perhaps there is some transient line noise in my house that fries the aux at my house!

Offline TC1

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Re: Do I have a bad auxiliary switch?
« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2014, 07:22:19 pm »
I wired them in, they worked correctly for a while and then the aux unit stopped working.  I live in a new house with modern wiring and have a lot of experience with electrical.  Two stopped working.  Fortunately I bought one at Lowes so I just went and bought a new one, switched the bad aux and returned it.

Perhaps there is some transient line noise in my house that fries the aux at my house!

Not likely (but anything is possible) since the Aux switch gets no power directly, only a voltage from the main switch through the traveler wire. If anything would fry it would be the main switch. The manufacturers of these zwave devices also take into account that there will be noise on the lines in some homes, so they build in some minor transient suppression. I'd be surprised if there were any active electronics in these Aux switches since simply grounding the traveler through a passive resistor would be able to signal the main switch.

Just installed another one of these GE 3-ways the other day with no problems, but I first mapped out my current wiring with a volt meter.

Offline BulldogLowell

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Re: Do I have a bad auxiliary switch?
« Reply #10 on: January 04, 2014, 07:34:34 pm »
OK, perhaps mine were just bad.  Like i mentioned, I replaced the aux unit and it has been working since then.  On two different switch set-ups.

Offline Edieguez

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Re: Do I have a bad auxiliary switch?
« Reply #11 on: January 09, 2014, 09:44:32 pm »
Alright please bear with me because I've done some tests but I am confused!

1. I purchased a new aux switch and replaced the original aux switch.  Just like the original aux, the new one did not turn on/off the light when pressed.

2. I wired the original aux switch directly to the primary (i.e., I used two small 14 AWG wires to connect the aux directly to the primary without using the wiring in the wall).  In this case, the original aux switch correctly turned on/off the light when pressed.  From this, I assume the primary switch is OK and when wired correctly a signal is received at the primary switch when the aux switch is pressed.

3. I connected the primary switch to the new aux switch using the in-wall wiring. Again, pressing the button on the new aux switch did nothing.  So I measured the voltage at the aux switch (between the traveler and the neutral).  My multimeter reported 121V.  When I pressed the top of the button, the voltage dropped to 110V.  When I pressed the bottom of the button, the voltage dropped to 105V.  I assume this is how the primary switch is signaled by the aux switch. 

So now that I know there is power at the aux, and that pressing the aux switch seems to change the voltage, I assumed the signal was not getting to the primary switch.  Could something be wrong with the in-wall wiring?  So I did another test. I measured the voltage at the primary switch between the traveler and the neutral.  But when I pressed the button at the aux switch, the multimeter registered the change in voltage at the primary switch! In other words, when the new aux switch wired into the wall is pressed, the voltage at the primary switch (between traveler and neutral) drops to 110V/105V depending on whether the top/bottom of the aux switch is pressed.  So there is a signal arriving at the primary!  But I know the primary is OK because wiring the original aux to the primary (in the same exact way) results in the original aux working correctly.

Any thoughts short of "hire an electrician"?
« Last Edit: January 09, 2014, 09:46:48 pm by Edieguez »

Offline TC1

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Re: Do I have a bad auxiliary switch?
« Reply #12 on: January 09, 2014, 10:51:31 pm »
Did you measure the voltage drops when you had the Aux wired directly to the primary switch? That would tell you for sure if something is wrong with the wall wiring.

Offline Z-Waver

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Re: Do I have a bad auxiliary switch?
« Reply #13 on: January 09, 2014, 11:09:31 pm »
2. I wired the original aux switch directly to the primary (i.e., I used two small 14 AWG wires to connect the aux directly to the primary without using the wiring in the wall).  In this case, the original aux switch correctly turned on/off the light when pressed.  From this, I assume the primary switch is OK and when wired correctly a signal is received at the primary switch when the aux switch is pressed.

3. I connected the primary switch to the new aux switch using the in-wall wiring. Again, pressing the button on the new aux switch did nothing.
If you proved the Old Aux switch was good, why did you switch out to the new "unproven" Aux switch? It doesn't matter, I'm confident the new aux switch is good too.

Your switches are improperly wired. Simply measuring the presence of voltage on the wires isn't telling you anything useful. My suspicion is that your meter might read voltage at the Aux switch with the traveler disconnected from the primary(that would be useful in telling you that the wiring is not what you think.).

Your wiring is not what you think it is. You need to positively identify every wire. If you can't then hire the electrician.

Offline Edieguez

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Re: Do I have a bad auxiliary switch?
« Reply #14 on: January 09, 2014, 11:25:44 pm »
2. I wired the original aux switch directly to the primary (i.e., I used two small 14 AWG wires to connect the aux directly to the primary without using the wiring in the wall).  In this case, the original aux switch correctly turned on/off the light when pressed.  From this, I assume the primary switch is OK and when wired correctly a signal is received at the primary switch when the aux switch is pressed.

3. I connected the primary switch to the new aux switch using the in-wall wiring. Again, pressing the button on the new aux switch did nothing.
If you proved the Old Aux switch was good, why did you switch out to the new "unproven" Aux switch? It doesn't matter, I'm confident the new aux switch is good too.

Your switches are improperly wired. Simply measuring the presence of voltage on the wires isn't telling you anything useful. My suspicion is that your meter might read voltage at the Aux switch with the traveler disconnected from the primary(that would be useful in telling you that the wiring is not what you think.).

Your wiring is not what you think it is. You need to positively identify every wire. If you can't then hire the electrician.

Thanks for the reply Z-Waver.  I actually checked if there was any voltage on the traveler at the aux switch if the traveler was not connected at the primary switch... but there was none.  The box where the aux switch sits does not have any hot wires entering it directly... it must get its current from the main box.  Now I should mention that the original non-z-wave switch had three wires at the aux switch position: a traveler, a black and a neutral.  I am only using the traveler and the neutral... the black wire is capped off at both the aux and the primary switch.

I will try again this weekend before giving up.  I am confident I have correctly identified all the wires.  But clearly something is wrong!