Author Topic: Having problems with 3-way switch  (Read 414 times)

Offline tamorgen

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 74
  • Karma: +1/-0
Having problems with 3-way switch
« on: August 26, 2017, 03:27:25 pm »
Good afternoon,
I'm in a new home and I'm replacing all the standard switches with z-wave switches.  I have about half of them done so far (two of which have been 3-way).  I'm having problems with the three way switch to my basement stairwell lighting. 

The switch at the top of the stairs is a single gang, with a two romex wires inside.  The switch the bottom is a double gang, with one switch (single) controlling the basement lighting, and the other switch paired with the one at the single gang at the top of the stairs.  it also has two romex wires inside.  I wired up the master switch at the top of the stairs, and the add-on at the bottom.  I'm using GE/Jasco switches (ZW4006, ZW2004)

I used a multi-meter to confirm voltages.  On my attached picture, the one on the left is the top of the stairs, the one on the right is the bottom.  What doesn't make sense to me, is that there seems to be two lines based upon how it was previously wired.  Both the basement black bundles have 120 V, as well as the Romex-3 at the top of the stairs.

Any ideas?

Offline treetop777

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 175
  • Karma: +3/-5
Re: Having problems with 3-way switch
« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2017, 04:46:05 pm »
These threads helped me sort things out when a was dealing with a 3-way.  It helped me to identify for sure which wire is which (120v source, travelers, load).  You have a 12v in the mix, what is that for??

http://forum.micasaverde.com/index.php/topic,33452.15.html

Offline mvader

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 379
  • Karma: +29/-74
Re: Having problems with 3-way switch
« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2017, 07:33:43 pm »
good luck.. i have a similar situation. did my whole house, except the basement stairwell. it's a similar setup.i tried many times and have given up.
based on your diagram. i would put the master 3 way switch at the top.
break the neutral and pigtail it over so you have neutral. blacks to line/load red to traveler
ground to ground.
on the bottom. use the addon/slave switch
red to traveler, break the blacks and pigtail them over to line & load
don't need neutral at the addon. so leave it be.
disclaimer: not an electrician. if you burn down your house that's on you :)

note: it would be helpful to see how they are wired to the switches now..
also take pictures with your cell phone in case you need to go back.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2017, 07:39:19 pm by mvader »

Offline tamorgen

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 74
  • Karma: +1/-0
Re: Having problems with 3-way switch
« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2017, 07:54:45 pm »
good luck.. i have a similar situation. did my whole house, except the basement stairwell. it's a similar setup.i tried many times and have given up.
based on your diagram. i would put the master 3 way switch at the top.
break the neutral and pigtail it over so you have neutral. blacks to line/load red to traveler
ground to ground.
on the bottom. use the addon/slave switch
red to traveler, break the blacks and pigtail them over to line & load
don't need neutral at the addon. so leave it be.
disclaimer: not an electrician. if you burn down your house that's on you :)

note: it would be helpful to see how they are wired to the switches now..
also take pictures with your cell phone in case you need to go back.

The only way I see to do it is similar to what you said, but why does the add-on not need neutral?  The labeling on it specifically says neutral and traveler.  Also, the black wire in the basement is line (120 V). 

Pictures:  Yeah, I should have done that....  I did take pictures of how it is in it's unwired state, but that doesn't help much putting the old switches back in if need be.

Offline tamorgen

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 74
  • Karma: +1/-0
Re: Having problems with 3-way switch
« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2017, 07:55:45 pm »
These threads helped me sort things out when a was dealing with a 3-way.  It helped me to identify for sure which wire is which (120v source, travelers, load).  You have a 12v in the mix, what is that for??

http://forum.micasaverde.com/index.php/topic,33452.15.html

I'll take a read through that thread.  I have no clue why I have 12 V on the traveler line.  Doesn't make any sense to me.

Offline Z-Waver

  • Master Member
  • *******
  • Posts: 4431
  • Karma: +246/-120
Re: Having problems with 3-way switch
« Reply #5 on: August 27, 2017, 09:13:47 am »
The linked thread is for a different type of switch and its wiring is not applicable to this GE switch. Do not follow that thread.

The 12 volt reading is also highly suspicious. If you tested with the old 3-ways connected and one or more of them having locator lights in the switch, then the voltage makes sense. Otherwise, further exploration is necessary to find out why that voltage is present and where it is coming from.

Double check your wiring and make sure that your diagram is complete. It is essential that you accurately determine which wires are Line, Load, Neutral, and Traveler.

As the diagram stands, it shows that the Line is coming in at the bottom of the stairs. If this is correct, I would put the Master switch at the bottom of the stairs, where the line comes in.

See the attached diagram for how I would suggest you do this, based on the assumption that the present diagram that you provided is accurate.





Offline tamorgen

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 74
  • Karma: +1/-0
Re: Having problems with 3-way switch
« Reply #6 on: August 28, 2017, 09:27:41 am »
Hi Z-Waver,
Thanks for the input.  I'm still not 100% sure where the 12V is coming.  I didn't test it again yesterday, as I was away all day.  I did some googling, and I saw something about residual voltage that could explain the voltage.  I did not disconnect the wires at the light sockets.  The bulbs are both LED, so they may have had some voltage in their capacitors. that would explain the voltage.  On the single line in the basement, the 12 V is on a red line, which I would normally think would be a traveler line, but it's a single switch, so I believe it's the load line, leading to other light sockets.  I'll try tonight removing the bulbs and see if I still get the 12V off of the line.  If the electrician followed the same pattern, that would make the 12 V on the 3-way in the basement a load line as well.  What I can't figure out, is if the switch at the bottom is the master, what line would be the traveler?

White - neutral
Red - Load
Black - Hot
Brass - Ground
Traveler -?

The one thing that would be worth pointing out, is the black line at the bottom is wire nutted with the black line on the single, so it is probably getting the 120V from the single, which may be transmitting that power up  the line to the top of the stairs.







Offline mvader

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 379
  • Karma: +29/-74
Re: Having problems with 3-way switch
« Reply #7 on: August 28, 2017, 09:29:59 am »
The only way I see to do it is similar to what you said, but why does the add-on not need neutral?  The labeling on it specifically says neutral and traveler.  Also, the black wire in the basement is line (120 V). 

Pictures:  Yeah, I should have done that....  I did take pictures of how it is in it's unwired state, but that doesn't help much putting the old switches back in if need be.

it's been about a year since i did mine, but i thought it didn't need a neutral at the addon because it got juice from the traveler.
I could be remembering that wrong though. 

Offline tamorgen

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 74
  • Karma: +1/-0
Re: Having problems with 3-way switch
« Reply #8 on: August 28, 2017, 01:52:03 pm »
The linked thread is for a different type of switch and its wiring is not applicable to this GE switch. Do not follow that thread.

The 12 volt reading is also highly suspicious. If you tested with the old 3-ways connected and one or more of them having locator lights in the switch, then the voltage makes sense. Otherwise, further exploration is necessary to find out why that voltage is present and where it is coming from.

Double check your wiring and make sure that your diagram is complete. It is essential that you accurately determine which wires are Line, Load, Neutral, and Traveler.

As the diagram stands, it shows that the Line is coming in at the bottom of the stairs. If this is correct, I would put the Master switch at the bottom of the stairs, where the line comes in.

BTW, what do you use to make your diagram?  Is there something free online?
See the attached diagram for how I would suggest you do this, based on the assumption that the present diagram that you provided is accurate.
« Last Edit: August 28, 2017, 01:54:13 pm by tamorgen »

Offline tamorgen

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 74
  • Karma: +1/-0
Re: Having problems with 3-way switch
« Reply #9 on: August 28, 2017, 04:08:49 pm »
Okay, confirmed what I deducted.  The reason that I saw 120 V at the top and bottom of the stairs was the nutted connection at the bottom of the stairs was traveling up the stairs.  Breaking that connection gives me my line and load at the bottom, which is what I was having a problem figuring out.  The 12V also went away when I removed the LED light bulbs, which must have been what was giving me the 12 V reading.  I'm going to proceed with wiring the 3-way with the master at the bottom, and report back later.

Offline tamorgen

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 74
  • Karma: +1/-0
Re: Having problems with 3-way switch
« Reply #10 on: August 28, 2017, 04:48:50 pm »
Success!

So, it actually is wired up standard, but the voltage and jumper from the single switch threw me for a loop.  Sometimes it just take a good nights sleep and a step back to think about the problem  I appreciate the input.

Offline dzmiller

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 366
  • Karma: +7/-14
Re: Having problems with 3-way switch
« Reply #11 on: September 04, 2017, 10:30:58 am »
Why in 2017 would you be installing z-wave switches that use traveler wires? Use scene controllers, not outdated technology.

Offline zedrally

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 768
  • Karma: +1/-0
  • Black Cat Controllers & Control Systems
    • Black Cat Control Systems
Re: Having problems with 3-way switch
« Reply #12 on: September 04, 2017, 08:58:49 pm »
or better still automate the light using motion sensors.


I went through the trouble of swapping out switches etc only to have 3 motion sensors do the job for me seamlessly with some PLEG Logic.



Living in the Land of Oz, give me a vegemite sandwich. Home Seer, Vera Lite & Edge, Popp, Black Cat Smart Hub & Vera G, Black Cat Lite 1 & 2's a Black Cat Dimmer or 2, then some  Black Cat Cat's Eye PIR's & Door-Window Sensors plus a Z-UNO or 2.

Offline Z-Waver

  • Master Member
  • *******
  • Posts: 4431
  • Karma: +246/-120
Re: Having problems with 3-way switch
« Reply #13 on: September 05, 2017, 08:07:50 am »
Why in 2017 would you be installing z-wave switches that use traveler wires? Use scene controllers, not outdated technology.

I'm not sure that copper wiring, nor the switches that use it, should be referred to as outdated.

Hardwired will always be more reliable than wireless.


Offline dzmiller

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 366
  • Karma: +7/-14
Re: Having problems with 3-way switch
« Reply #14 on: September 05, 2017, 07:43:45 pm »
Why in 2017 would you be installing z-wave switches that use traveler wires? Use scene controllers, not outdated technology.

I'm not sure that copper wiring, nor the switches that use it, should be referred to as outdated.

Hardwired will always be more reliable than wireless.

I've never seen a failure of a scene controller that talks directly to the load device.