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Author Topic: GE 45609 wiring, no ground?  (Read 7266 times)

Offline emocin

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GE 45609 wiring, no ground?
« on: September 16, 2012, 04:16:12 pm »
Hi all,


I want to add my first z-wave light control to my system and wanted to know about wiring a GE 45609 on/off switch.

From what I have it requires 4 wires in order to operate. But I also read conflicting info that it can use just three.

My light switch box has only 3 wires, black line in, out and a white neutral. From what I can see there is no bare ground wire, or anyother wire.

So will this switch work with the 3 wires or is a ground required? I know it needs neutral for z-wave to work, but don't know why it needs ground.


Thanks in advance!

Offline oTi@

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Re: GE 45609 wiring, no ground?
« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2012, 09:40:10 am »
@emocin,

Welcome!

So the switch that's currently in that box isn't grounded? (Ground is a safety thing; not needed for operation of the switch.)
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Offline emocin

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Re: GE 45609 wiring, no ground?
« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2012, 05:32:41 pm »
Thank you oTi@!


I just opened up the switch box, it has two switches BTW... One for the front porch and the other for the living room.
I'm trying to add the z-wave switch for the front porch light. After opening the box again, I found a bare ground wire!
It was bundled to other bare wires but not connected to either switch.

From what I can see... the wiring from the circuit breaker is new and has three wires, black, white and bare ground.
The wires from my front porch light fixture are only black and white.
White is not connected to the light switch, it is  bundled with the white line coming from the circuit breaker.
Black is connected to the switch, and from the switch it connects to the black line coming from the circuit breaker.

So I am assuming what I have is complete.
Do I just wire a new white from the z-wave switch to the white bundle, as well as one for the bare ground?

Lastly, why is it recommended to have a ground connected to the z-wave switch?


I hope this helps clear things up. Sorry if I caused any confusion. :o


Thanks again! I am really excited about adding more home automation thingys.

Offline Trotsky40

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Re: GE 45609 wiring, no ground?
« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2012, 05:56:34 pm »

Do I just wire a new white from the z-wave switch to the white bundle, as well as one for the bare ground?

Yes, that is exactly what you want to do (these are the switches I have). I just cut little short white and bare wires and then ran them from the switch to existing bundles in the box.

Since the switch is a seperate electrical device, it is a really good idea to have the ground in case of a short. I had one switch that shorted and sparked but since the ground was attached it blew the breaker instead of catching fire. This was a result of installer error (me  :-[) not an issue with the switch.
« Last Edit: September 17, 2012, 06:14:24 pm by Trotsky40 »
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Offline BOFH

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Re: GE 45609 wiring, no ground?
« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2012, 07:53:12 pm »

Lastly, why is it recommended to have a ground connected to the z-wave switch?

Note that I'm not a licensed electrician. But ground is important for electrical safety. It can prevent you from a nasty shock or fire in case of a short or electrical fault.

I would suggest that when you hook up your zwave switch, to connect ground to it as well as the other switch. I'm surprised with a ground wire being present, that setup passed inspection without it being connected.
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Offline automator.app

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Re: GE 45609 wiring, no ground?
« Reply #5 on: September 17, 2012, 08:26:32 pm »
Lastly, why is it recommended to have a ground connected to the z-wave switch?

Grounds cause a lot of confusion, but here is a short explanation.  The ground and white wires on a typical 120V circuit are electrically the same at the main panel box.  That is all ground wires also connect to the same terminal in the main electric box.  However, they do not serve the same purpose.

The white wire is the neutral line or return line for the flow of electricity.  When used (it would not be used in a very basic switch) it is the return path for the electricity.

If they are the same, electrically, at the breaker box than how are grounds different than neutral?  A neutral would never be exposed as part of the device that a person can touch. 

An easier example to understand would be a washing machine though the same applies for all electrical devices.  It is mostly metal and runs on electricity.  The outside of the unit, the metal shell, would be connected to the ground.  The actual electronics would be connected to the power line and neutral.  Should something go terribly long the worst that could happen would be the power line would touch the metal casing and cause the breaker to trip.

Without a ground the worst that could happen would be the power line would touch the outer casing but no breakers would trip.  In this case you could be shocked when just touching the washing machine.

Hope that helps.  In short, always connect the grounds when a ground line is available.
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Offline emocin

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Re: GE 45609 wiring, no ground?
« Reply #6 on: September 17, 2012, 10:41:26 pm »
Wow! thank you all very much for responding and giving me a lesson in Electricity101.
I really appreciate it. That really helped me understand a little more.

Guess it confuses me since my house was built in the 50's-60's. And some of the wiring is new and a lot is old.
I usually compare things and saw that the older switch boxes only have two wires to the light switches.
So I thought, hey this works fine.. so why does the GE switch need something special to work. but I got it now thanks to you nice people. :)



Now I have another noob question...


I want to add the same z-wave switch to my back 2nd story deck light.
The switch box only has absolutely two wires going into it that runs down from the ceiling area.

One is black and one is white. Which is completely different from the other switches that I checked out in the house.
Both of these wires connect to the switch (in/out) and I don't see any other wires or bundles. The wire sleeve looks old, so I assume it's original wire.

Any guesses as to how that is set up? I'm gona have my electrician buddy check it out. But i'm just curious.

Offline BOFH

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Re: GE 45609 wiring, no ground?
« Reply #7 on: September 18, 2012, 12:45:21 pm »
That sounds like someone spliced in a 2 wire line on the hot wire from the actual light to switch. Using standard white/black wiring. They are most likely both hot. The black one probably comes from line and the white one to load (the light) itself.

Without rewiring to provide a neutral and a ground wire, I doubt there is way you'll be able to get a switch to function. At most, if you could find a ground line, you could install a z-wave dimmer as most only need line, load and ground)

is there a piece of black tape on the white wire? Or has the end of it been colored with a black marker? As that's mostly the indication of the above setup.

Although I'm not a certified electrician, we have several at work and when I started z-waving my house, I did a lot of brain-picking with them on set up and codes and electrical safety. :)   

Your house being built in the 50's / 60's, explains the lack of ground wire hookupon your old lines.

Now I have another noob question...


I want to add the same z-wave switch to my back 2nd story deck light.
The switch box only has absolutely two wires going into it that runs down from the ceiling area.

One is black and one is white. Which is completely different from the other switches that I checked out in the house.
Both of these wires connect to the switch (in/out) and I don't see any other wires or bundles. The wire sleeve looks old, so I assume it's original wire.

Any guesses as to how that is set up? I'm gona have my electrician buddy check it out. But i'm just curious.
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