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Author Topic: 3 Way switch without neutral and ground?  (Read 15503 times)

Offline arthurmck

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3 Way switch without neutral and ground?
« on: November 19, 2011, 06:04:37 pm »
My current (non z-wave) 3-way light switch doesn't have a neutral or ground wire.  I purchased a GE z-wave 3-way switch and realized it won't work since it requires my missing wires.  Are there any z-wave 3-way switches that will work without the neutral and ground

Offline foghat

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Re: 3 Way switch without neutral and ground?
« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2011, 06:23:48 pm »
I'm pretty sure you can just cap the ground wire on the switch. 

I found a number of links that say just ignore the ground wire on the switch if you don't have a ground wire to connect to.

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_do_you_wire_a_new_light_switch_with_a_ground_wire_when_the_old_switch_had_no_ground

Though if it requires a neutral as well, not sure what you can do.


« Last Edit: November 19, 2011, 06:29:21 pm by foghat »

Offline Chimpware

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Re: 3 Way switch without neutral and ground?
« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2011, 06:25:44 pm »
I am pretty sure Leviton 3-ways do not require a neutral.  Here is manual:

http://smarthome-products.com/productspecs/VizaRZ106Manual.pdf

Just not cheap, but cheaper than Cooper Aspire, which also I believe does not require a neutral:

http://www.cooperindustries.com/content/dam/public/wiringdevices/products/documents/instruction_sheets/technology_rf9534_36_42_instruct.pdf
« Last Edit: November 19, 2011, 06:28:13 pm by Chimpware »

Offline Chimpware

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Re: 3 Way switch without neutral and ground?
« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2011, 06:26:38 pm »
I'm pretty sure you can just cap the ground wire on the switch. 

I found a number of links that say just ignore the ground wire on the switch if you don't have a ground wire to connect to.

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_do_you_wire_a_new_light_switch_with_a_ground_wire_when_the_old_switch_had_no_ground

He is not referring to Ground, he is referring to Neutral I believe.  These are not synonymous.

Offline aa6vh

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Re: 3 Way switch without neutral and ground?
« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2011, 06:27:10 pm »
The neutral wire is used to carry current to run the ZWave radio. Radio will not run without constant power.

There are some ZWave dimmer switches that do not require a neutral. They work by allowing current to flow through the light bulb, but not enough to cause the bulb to light.  Which is why those dimmer switches can only be used with incandescent light bulbs. CFL bulbss do not tolerate that constant small current very well. GE (JASCO) makes these kind of dimmers.

The ground wire is only for safety reasons. A lot of older wiring did not have ground wires.

Offline foghat

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Re: 3 Way switch without neutral and ground?
« Reply #5 on: November 19, 2011, 06:30:59 pm »
I'm pretty sure you can just cap the ground wire on the switch. 

I found a number of links that say just ignore the ground wire on the switch if you don't have a ground wire to connect to.

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_do_you_wire_a_new_light_switch_with_a_ground_wire_when_the_old_switch_had_no_ground

He is not referring to Ground, he is referring to Neutral I believe.  These are not synonymous.

He says both Ground and Neutral are missing.  I edited my response (before reading yours) to say I'm not sure what to do about the missing neutral.

Offline arthurmck

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Re: 3 Way switch without neutral and ground?
« Reply #6 on: November 19, 2011, 07:00:56 pm »
I am pretty sure Leviton 3-ways do not require a neutral.  Here is manual:

http://smarthome-products.com/productspecs/VizaRZ106Manual.pdf

Just not cheap, but cheaper than Cooper Aspire, which also I believe does not require a neutral:

http://www.cooperindustries.com/content/dam/public/wiringdevices/products/documents/instruction_sheets/technology_rf9534_36_42_instruct.pdf

Thanks for the info, i'll look into these

Offline Double J

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Re: 3 Way switch without neutral and ground?
« Reply #7 on: November 21, 2011, 12:40:07 am »
I believe Chimpware is correct. Leviton's RZI06 & RZI10 are the only switches I've found in the last 2 years that don't require a tap off the neutral. They're not as easy to come by, though as they used to be.

If you're talking a 3 way set-up you're going to need a coordinating remote switch. People will try to get you to spend $75+ for these, but you can find them for $15 shipped. Leviton's site is a web of links and they make redundant switches, but if you take some time digging around and look at the instruction pdf's you'll find what you need.

Also, make sure you know your load end of the circuit from your line end. They will not work if you have the switches on the wrong end of the circuit.
"Trust, but verify." ~ Ronald Reagan

Offline Chimpware

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Re: 3 Way switch without neutral and ground?
« Reply #8 on: November 23, 2011, 09:30:41 am »
Also HA-14WD (not in production anymore) work without neutral, and only require a standard switch as a companion.  Tough to find, but I recently bought 5.  Issue with these switches is the slave switch only acts as On/Off (no remote dimming) and goes to 100% when switched on, not last dim setting on Master.  I like then because they have been reliable and can live with the remote non-dimming issue.


Did not mention them in my earlier post (or the Intermatic HA-14 which is same switch) as I thought they were not available anymore.

Offline arthurmck

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Re: 3 Way switch without neutral and ground?
« Reply #9 on: November 26, 2011, 11:32:28 pm »
If you're talking a 3 way set-up you're going to need a coordinating remote switch. People will try to get you to spend $75+ for these, but you can find them for $15 shipped. Leviton's site is a web of links and they make redundant switches, but if you take some time digging around and look at the instruction pdf's you'll find what you need.

Not sure what you mean by a coordinating remote switch.  I'm new to all of this.   So far have just replaced single switches.

Offline arthurmck

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Re: 3 Way switch without neutral and ground?
« Reply #10 on: November 26, 2011, 11:36:00 pm »
Is it possible to just use 2 regular switches instead of a 3-way switch and have one of the switches send the command to the main switch over z-wave and not use the traveler wire at all?  I have no knowledge of how any of this works so forgive me if that's a dumb question.

Offline oTi@

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Re: 3 Way switch without neutral and ground?
« Reply #11 on: November 28, 2011, 09:09:06 am »
Is it possible to just use 2 regular switches instead of a 3-way switch[...]
AFAIK, not with two regular Z-Wave switches; but you can use a controller/transmitter in the other location, such as the Evolve LTM-5. Such a controller/transmitter is capable of sending Z-Wave commands to another Z-Wave device.
Dezwaved at the moment...

Offline arthurmck

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Re: 3 Way switch without neutral and ground?
« Reply #12 on: November 28, 2011, 09:11:47 am »
Is it possible to just use 2 regular switches instead of a 3-way switch[...]
AFAIK, not with two regular Z-Wave switches; but you can use a controller/transmitter in the other location, such as the Evolve LTM-5. Such a controller/transmitter is capable of sending Z-Wave commands to another Z-Wave device.
So If I did this I would have a normal z-wave switch as the main switch and the evolve switch as the second switch?  Do they both use the traveler wire still or can I put a cap on that?

Offline oTi@

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Re: 3 Way switch without neutral and ground?
« Reply #13 on: November 28, 2011, 09:21:05 am »
So If I did this I would have a normal z-wave switch as the main switch and the evolve switch as the second switch?
Correct.

Quote
Do they both use the traveler wire still or can I put a cap on that?
Nope, not in the sense that there is an electrical connection between the two switches. But, you'd have to provide a permanent hot and neutral in the spot where you're putting the transmitter, and you may have to repurpose the third wire to connect the load. So it's key to understand your current 3-way wiring, to figure out how to reuse that.
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Offline ufd108

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Re: 3 Way switch without neutral and ground?
« Reply #14 on: November 29, 2011, 06:06:57 pm »
In a standard 3-way switch both switches have to pass the current through 2 different paths to work, so they require 2 traveler wires.  The GE z-wave switch only uses a single traveler because it only passes a signal from the remote switch to the master switch to tell it to turn on or off.  If there is a neutral in either box you can use one of the existing travelers and turn it into a neutral.  Disconnect the traveler at the end with a neutral in the box and connect it to the existing neutral.  At the other end you should mark the wire with white electrical tape to denote it's function is changed to neutral for future reference.

Of course this won't help if there are no neutrals in either box.