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Author Topic: Another GE 3-way Dimmer wiring question  (Read 5951 times)

Offline Broncswon

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Another GE 3-way Dimmer wiring question
« on: July 16, 2011, 02:47:55 pm »
First post here so be gentle with me.

I have been reading other posts and wiring problems for the GE 45613, but haven't come across my exact set up.  I figured I would just post some photos of my situation and see if it's even possible to use this 3-way switch, I'm thinking no. 

Photo 1: Main switch in 4 gang box.  Top 2 wires (black and white) come out of Romex, bottom black runs separate from Romex.

Photo 2: 2nd switch in 2 gang box.  Top 2 wires (black and white) run in same Romex, bottom black runs into another Romex.

Photo 3: Light fixture that is controlled has one Romex running to it.  I'm not even sure if this is enough information, but thought I would try.  Does anyone even think this is possible?  It seems I don't have enough wires.

Thanks,

Offline steveg

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Re: Another GE 3-way Dimmer wiring question
« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2011, 11:43:34 pm »
This is a pretty standard setup.

The Romex that has a Black and a White connection to the switches is the traveller. It runs between the two switches. One switch gets power (the other black wire on the switch). The other switch is closer to the load (the other black wire on that switch). You can verify this by looking at the screw colors on the existing switches -- the traveller screws will be the same color and the other one will be a different color.

Officially, you don't have enough wires since there's no neutral running between the switches. Practically, you have a neutral in both boxes however it may not be the same neutral (look for a bundle of white wires connected together). If every switch in both boxes is on the same breaker, you may be able to get away with using the neutral in each box. It may be unreliable due to issues that have been covered in this forum.

You can always buy a scene controller and use that in one of the boxes. Assuming both boxes have a hot and a neutral, that will work great. You can even get a 4 scene controller and do more lights.

Offline Broncswon

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Re: Another GE 3-way Dimmer wiring question
« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2011, 06:40:55 am »
Thanks for the response.  Not all the switches in the boxes are on the same breaker, but I'm not looking to control every light in the box with Vera either so I will have to do some more research on that today.

Everything you said makes total sense on the wiring of my switches, with that said so you have a recommendation on switches that would work better for my situation?  I don't need dimming capability, I just want to control with Vera and be able to use both switches to turn on/off the light.

Offline S-F

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Re: Another GE 3-way Dimmer wiring question
« Reply #3 on: July 17, 2011, 09:04:29 am »
You will need to have a clear neutral between the switches for any Z-Wave 3-way. Apparently they all operate the same way (as confirmed to me be Leviton support). Do you have a way to test the neutral wires for continuity? Even something simple like using a long wire with a battery and a light bulb would work.
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Offline kaldoon

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Re: Another GE 3-way Dimmer wiring question
« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2011, 10:32:59 am »
You will need to have a clear neutral between the switches for any Z-Wave 3-way. Apparently they all operate the same way (as confirmed to me be Leviton support). Do you have a way to test the neutral wires for continuity? Even something simple like using a long wire with a battery and a light bulb would work.
Wiring a 3-way switch can be done a multitude of ways depending on whose devices you are using. The GE/Jasco devices can only be wired one way. Evolve / ACT switches can be done several ways depending. Something to always remember with Auxliary switches:

The master unit must have power all the time and must be wired so that it "directly" controls the current to the load.  As I said above, the Auxliary switch is actually a voltage divider circuit.  It has a few electronic components inside which divide the voltage in such a way so it will send a specific voltage range back to the master unit, depending on whether you pressed the top ("On") or bottom ("Off") button.

In order to work properly, it must have the 'exact' same voltage reference as the master unit, therefore, it must be connected to the same line (or neutral) wire as the master unit and the load.  If the installer uses a line (or neutral) from another circuit, or a "neutral bundle", the lack of a mutual voltage reference will cause a problem.  It may not sound like much, but often, using a different neutral or line wire will give enough of a voltage different that either the top button will not work (or is erratic), or the bottom button will not work (or is erratic).  In extreme cases, neither button will work.

The exception to this is the Leviton 2 wire dimmer switches if the companion switch doesn't have an LED Locating Light on it(VP00R-10Z) only the Leviton companion switches with LEDs need a neutra as that is what powers it 8)
     

Offline oTi@

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Re: Another GE 3-way Dimmer wiring question
« Reply #5 on: July 17, 2011, 01:51:53 pm »
@Broncswon,

Welcome!

[...]  It seems I don't have enough wires.
Depends on what is actually available in both boxes. As always, key is to understand your current wiring. Not just the wiring in between the switches, but also where the power is coming in, and which switch is connected to the load (i.e. the light); not just the hot, neutral also, as others have said. Don't rely on wire colors.

Sounds like you have no 14/3 romex in your setup, just 14/2. You only need 2 wires between the GE primary and aux switch, so that may work. But you do need a neutral, or a hot on the same circuit as the load, in the box that currently has the switch that controls the load. This is where your primary switch would go in your case.
Dezwaved at the moment...

Offline Broncswon

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Re: Another GE 3-way Dimmer wiring question
« Reply #6 on: July 17, 2011, 02:07:41 pm »
What does everyone suggest I get to test the wiring?  I don't have a volt meter, but I could sure go buy one if that's what I need to determine my needs.

On a side note for the same switches, one is simply a switch that controls an outlet for a lamp.  It has black, white and red wires.  I don't need a dimmer switch but just an on/off switch.  Do I need a special switch for this setup?

Sorry for all the newbie questions, but I'm learning fast and I love this hobby. 

Offline S-F

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Re: Another GE 3-way Dimmer wiring question
« Reply #7 on: July 17, 2011, 02:24:36 pm »
To test the wiring you really don't need anything too sophisticated. Like I said earlier you could test the wiring with 12 volts and some cheap wire from walmart. get a auto light bulb/socket, a length of wire, a 12 volt battery and 2 alligator clips. Have the bulb and battery in the middle of the wire. Turn off all power to everything in the vicinity at the breaker, Clip one gator clip to a wire in one box and then clip the other end of it to what you think might be the same wire in another box. When the bulb lights up you know it's the same wire.... or is connected to the same wire in a J box in the wall/ceiling. Start at the ends and test for continuity to the middle first. Make a diagram of what you find. A volt meter will be useful for finding where power is actually coming into the circuit. You could also do this with a test light. They are simple things you can get at home depot or the like that will light up and may even beep when touched to something hot. Basically unless your power enters the circuit at the fixture you can accomplish your task without running new wire. Such a 3-way configuration (called a Connecticut) is pretty uncommon in newer wiring and is actually out of code now.
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Offline kaldoon

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Re: Another GE 3-way Dimmer wiring question
« Reply #8 on: July 17, 2011, 02:31:21 pm »
What does everyone suggest I get to test the wiring?  I don't have a volt meter, but I could sure go buy one if that's what I need to determine my needs.
A meter is always good and or a Greenlee Pen(GT-11 Voltage Detector) use the pen on the fly

Quote
On a side note for the same switches, one is simply a switch that controls an outlet for a lamp.  It has black, white and red wires.  I don't need a dimmer switch but just an on/off switch.  Do I need a special switch for this setup?
If you are going to control an outlet with a switch then it needs to be a Relay Switch relay switches need a neutral. Another option might be a plug-in module or Z-Wave Receptacle I converted alot of the switches that controlled receptacles to the receptacles constant hot and some sort of controller where the switch was.       

Offline Broncswon

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Re: Another GE 3-way Dimmer wiring question
« Reply #9 on: July 17, 2011, 02:37:59 pm »
Thanks for the detail S-F, I will get the proper items and do some testing to determine my exact configuration.

@kaldoon

I have replaced one of the switched receptacles with a z-wave receptacle so now the switch is basically dead which I don't like.  So if I understand you correctly you're saying now change out the switch with some sort of scene controller?

Kudos to you guys, this is one of the best forums I've been on.  Appreciate the responses.

Offline JOD

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Re: Another GE 3-way Dimmer wiring question
« Reply #10 on: July 17, 2011, 03:49:40 pm »
Not a good idea to change a switched receptacle to a Z-Wave receptacle, it's not only a waste of a Z-Wave outlet, but could screw up your routing.
Instead, just change the switch that controls the outlet. That way you keep the constant hot half of the duplex (if you had it) and provides the Z-Wave switched portion your looking for.

JOD.
I'm sorry, my responses are limited. You must ask the right questions.

Offline Broncswon

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Re: Another GE 3-way Dimmer wiring question
« Reply #11 on: July 17, 2011, 03:57:34 pm »
Just so you know, I capped off the red wire so the switch doesn't control the receptacle.

Offline JOD

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Re: Another GE 3-way Dimmer wiring question
« Reply #12 on: July 17, 2011, 04:15:32 pm »
But now you've lost the ability to switch that light on when entering the room using the switch.
So basically the switch is now not used?

JOD.
I'm sorry, my responses are limited. You must ask the right questions.

Offline Broncswon

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Re: Another GE 3-way Dimmer wiring question
« Reply #13 on: July 17, 2011, 04:25:00 pm »
Yes that is correct.  I did it on a temporary basis because I need to control that light while I'm on vacation this next week.  I have a bunch of these z-wave receptacles so I put one to use.  I'm really confused on what switches to buy to control that light as well as the other 3-way switches I have. 

I would love some recommendations on what switch to buy for controlling that receptacle.  Leviton seems to be getting the best results in the forum?

I'm very confused on the whole light switch situation, so I'm just trying to absorb all the knowledge you guys are throwing out there and then decide which direction to head.

Offline kaldoon

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Re: Another GE 3-way Dimmer wiring question
« Reply #14 on: July 17, 2011, 06:19:52 pm »
Not a good idea to change a switched receptacle to a Z-Wave receptacle, it's not only a waste of a Z-Wave outlet, but could screw up your routing.
Instead, just change the switch that controls the outlet. That way you keep the constant hot half of the duplex (if you had it) and provides the Z-Wave switched portion your looking for.

JOD.
Not sure if I explain myself correctly - I have change numerous receptacles that were controlled by a switch making the receptacle always on and changing out the standard switch with a controller like the VRCS4-1L or VRCZ4-1L I am still able to control the outlet and 3 other scenes also. How does that effect the network?

Here is a document to look at: