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General => Lighting & Load Control => Topic started by: paulcusick3 on February 05, 2014, 08:31:37 am

Title: 3way with dead-ends powered from light - Confirming options
Post by: paulcusick3 on February 05, 2014, 08:31:37 am
Hi all.  I've done a ton of research, (e.g. http://forum.micasaverde.com/index.php?topic=9160.0 (http://forum.micasaverde.com/index.php?topic=9160.0).  I've learned a lot, which is always worthwhile.  So many intelligent people in this community.   

I believe that all of the multi switches in my house (3 and 4 ways) have the main feed going direct to the light and then out to the switches, with dead-ends.  I've drawn this conclusion after finding only 2 travelers and 1 common in the three way switches.  I am trying to wire the lowest end, GE 3-way from Lowes.  I think I have one option to make this work, but it has been a few months since I gave up last.  Not all of the boxes have other neutral wires that I can tap to power the aux switch.  Here is my thoughts:

 1. Pull the wires out of the ceiling at the light and identify the two travelers going to the three way and main switch
 2. Convert one of the travelers from each switch into the zwave traveler that goes between the switches, wire nutted at the light.
 3. Convert the other traveler going to the aux switch into neutral. (mark appropriately)
 4. @aux, identify the new traveler and neutral, test, mark, connect and ground.
 5. @main, tap other neutral, wire load, line and ground.

Comments please.

Title: Re: 3way with dead-ends powered from light - Confirming options
Post by: BulldogLowell on February 05, 2014, 08:43:34 am
Look at this thread for the Aeon switch setup, which you may want to consider.

Power going to the light directly is very common and this approach may suit your requirements better.  Lowes has a great return policy!

http://forum.micasaverde.com/index.php/topic,22980.msg155212.html#msg155212.
Title: Re: 3way with dead-ends powered from light - Confirming options
Post by: oTi@ on February 05, 2014, 09:00:14 am
5. @main, tap other neutral, wire load, line and ground.
So you have another neutral in the main box? Is the power coming in there (instead of at the light) perhaps?
Title: Re: 3way with dead-ends powered from light - Confirming options
Post by: paulcusick3 on February 05, 2014, 10:22:36 am
@Oti - The main switch is a shared box with others that have a neutral.  The 3-way stands alone w/o a neutral.

@bulldog - I like that option.  This also would keep the existing switches.  Which diagram for this 3-way situation?  3-way has only 3 wires, two travelers and common, +ground.
Title: Re: 3way with dead-ends powered from light - Confirming options
Post by: aa6vh on February 05, 2014, 10:23:31 am
I believe that all of the multi switches in my house (3 and 4 ways) have the main feed going direct to the light and then out to the switches, with dead-ends.  I've drawn this conclusion after finding only 2 travelers and 1 common in the three way switches.

I highly recommend that you do not assume anything. Get a voltmeter, and verify which lines go where, at each outlet. Might save you from considerable problems down the road.
Title: Re: 3way with dead-ends powered from light - Confirming options
Post by: BulldogLowell on February 05, 2014, 10:29:45 am
yup, use caution and "Know" which wires are the line, not conclude by looking.  Use the voltage meter.

You should try to wire like "3-Way with Live Wire"  This means you need to 'wrap' your traveller through  the 3ways as diagramed.  The wall switches will cause a signal back to the Aeon (a pulse).  The Aeon detects that pulse and switches state.
Title: Re: 3way with dead-ends powered from light - Confirming options
Post by: oTi@ on February 05, 2014, 10:32:27 am
@Oti - The main switch is a shared box with others that have a neutral.
Same neutral / circuit as the light is on? This is essential.

If there is a neutral in the main box, and there is a line, you could possibly power the Z-Wave switches and light from that. But you have then moved the light from one circuit to another.
Title: Re: 3way with dead-ends powered from light - Confirming options
Post by: BulldogLowell on February 05, 2014, 10:36:58 am
@Oti - The main switch is a shared box with others that have a neutral.
Same neutral / circuit as the light is on? This is essential.

If there is a neutral in the main box, and there is a line, you could possibly power the Z-Wave switches and light from that. But you have then moved the light from one circuit to another.

Plus, it is a 3-way switch setup, so that adds more complexity.  I would not recommend changing the switch to a new circuit, you may inadvertently create a crossover and a safety hazard.
Title: Re: 3way with dead-ends powered from light - Confirming options
Post by: paulcusick3 on February 05, 2014, 10:44:24 am
I believe that all of the multi switches in my house (3 and 4 ways) have the main feed going direct to the light and then out to the switches, with dead-ends.  I've drawn this conclusion after finding only 2 travelers and 1 common in the three way switches.

I highly recommend that you do not assume anything. Get a voltmeter, and verify which lines go where, at each outlet. Might save you from considerable problems down the road.

yes, that is representing in both "Identify" and "Test" in my steps.
Title: Re: 3way with dead-ends powered from light - Confirming options
Post by: paulcusick3 on February 05, 2014, 10:46:08 am
@Oti - The main switch is a shared box with others that have a neutral.
Same neutral / circuit as the light is on? This is essential.

If there is a neutral in the main box, and there is a line, you could possibly power the Z-Wave switches and light from that. But you have then moved the light from one circuit to another.

Everything in the box is on the same breaker.... but does that mean same circuit? No?
Title: Re: 3way with dead-ends powered from light - Confirming options
Post by: paulcusick3 on February 05, 2014, 10:49:18 am
Another option.  One of the lights is in the garage.  Given the location of the 3-way, I will never use it..... have not used it once.  Is there a way to cap it off an convert the main switch to a standard switch?  Sounds easy.
Title: Re: 3way with dead-ends powered from light - Confirming options
Post by: BulldogLowell on February 05, 2014, 10:56:41 am
yup, just close the circuit by connecting the wires.  You will then need to replace your three way in the other box with a single pole.

Then you have a phantom box and an unused traveller, which electricians and homeowners usually despise.  Just put a note in the box after you cover it, you should not leave the old switch there.

You should probably keep the integrity of the circuit and wire it as it is with the existing 3-ways.  But if you want to use your new three way kit, and not wait for the AEON, have at it.

Let us know how it works out.
Title: Re: 3way with dead-ends powered from light - Confirming options
Post by: kkl on February 05, 2014, 11:21:53 am
Same neutral / circuit as the light is on? This is essential.
There have been previous discussions here on this topic.  When I tried it, my circuit breaker kept tripping.  It turned out the problem was my lighting circuit was on on Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI).  Many others have reported success using a neutral from a different circuit.  In the load center, all of the neutrals land on a common bus (unless AFCI or GFCI protected).
Title: Re: 3way with dead-ends powered from light - Confirming options
Post by: kkl on February 05, 2014, 11:29:34 am
To the OP, is your lighting circuit like this?
http://www.homeimprovementweb.com/information/how-to/three-way-switch-option2.htm (http://www.homeimprovementweb.com/information/how-to/three-way-switch-option2.htm) (Attachment 1)

If so, and you've got that separate neutral available to your GE master switch (45609), I believe it is possible to use these switches with your circuitry.  I find the GE wiring diagrams to be very confusing.  Attachment 2 presents it in an easier to understand fashion.  As mentioned above, verify all of your wiring.  Don't trust that the wire colors are correct.  Especially in your scenario, they probably are not.  Assuming all of the above, the circuit depicted in Attachment 3 may work for you.
Title: Re: 3way with dead-ends powered from light - Confirming options
Post by: Z-Waver on February 05, 2014, 12:23:38 pm
If the wiring is as displayed in the above linked image (http://www.homeimprovementweb.com/information/how-to/three-way-switch-option2.htm), the GE/Jasco 45609(ZW4001) or it's 3-way derivative cannot be used. Additional wires are required.

If the wiring is the same as the previously linked diagram, an Aeon Labs Micro In-Wall Appliance Switch (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008VWAPU4/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B008VWAPU4&linkCode=as2&tag=zwavec-20) can be used. As depicted in the attached diagram.
Title: Re: 3way with dead-ends powered from light - Confirming options
Post by: oTi@ on February 05, 2014, 01:31:02 pm
Same neutral / circuit as the light is on? This is essential.
There have been previous discussions here on this topic.  When I tried it, my circuit breaker kept tripping.  It turned out the problem was my lighting circuit was on on Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI).  Many others have reported success using a neutral from a different circuit.  In the load center, all of the neutrals land on a common bus (unless AFCI or GFCI protected).
What is working, and what is safe / allowed, are different things. I would have taken the breaker tripping (due to an imbalance) as a sign that the problem is with using a neutral from a different circuit.
Title: Re: 3way with dead-ends powered from light - Confirming options
Post by: oTi@ on February 05, 2014, 01:37:52 pm
Everything in the box is on the same breaker....
OK. Presumably there is a line (hot) in there as well? You could power the GE main from that, then use the 3-wire going to the light as load/neutral/traveler, disconnect the light from the original feed and cap it, and wire the aux accordingly (per your original plan / and cap any unused wire).

(I'm assuming the posted diagram does not reflect your situation / your light is 'in the middle', as you mentioned identifying and connecting the travelers to either switch at the light.)
Title: Re: 3way with dead-ends powered from light - Confirming options
Post by: kkl on February 05, 2014, 02:51:19 pm
What is working, and what is safe / allowed, are different things. I would have taken the breaker tripping (due to an imbalance) as a sign that the problem is with using a neutral from a different circuit.
Point taken.  It was previously allowed, but using a common neutral is restricted under NEC 2011.  There are some exceptions.  See 200.4, 215.4.  It is allowed in feeder circuits, but not branch circuits.  The potential risk is from adding too many circuits to one neutral and overloading that wire.  As far as my previous issue, I am pretty sure it was due to the AFCI.  It did what it was designed to do.

Previous thread on this topic (http://forum.micasaverde.com/index.php?topic=10516.0).
Title: Re: 3way with dead-ends powered from light - Confirming options
Post by: kkl on February 05, 2014, 02:54:13 pm
Everything in the box is on the same breaker....
OK. Presumably there is a line (hot) in there as well? You could power the GE main from that, then use the 3-wire going to the light as load/neutral/traveler, disconnect the light from the original feed and cap it, and wire the aux accordingly (per your original plan / and cap any unused wire).

(I'm assuming the posted diagram does not reflect your situation / your light is 'in the middle', as you mentioned identifying and connecting the travelers to either switch at the light.)

Exactly what I was thinking.  Attached is another diagram to reflect that.  If it is a light 'in the middle', that would obviously require different wiring.
Title: Re: 3way with dead-ends powered from light - Confirming options
Post by: paulcusick3 on February 05, 2014, 03:04:03 pm
Thank you to all.


To the OP, is your lighting circuit like this?
http://www.homeimprovementweb.com/information/how-to/three-way-switch-option2.htm (http://www.homeimprovementweb.com/information/how-to/three-way-switch-option2.htm) (Attachment 1)

If so, and you've got that separate neutral available to your GE master switch (45609), I believe it is possible to use these switches with your circuitry.  I find the GE wiring diagrams to be very confusing.  Attachment 2 presents it in an easier to understand fashion.  As mentioned above, verify all of your wiring.  Don't trust that the wire colors are correct.  Especially in your scenario, they probably are not.  Assuming all of the above, the circuit depicted in Attachment 3 may work for you.

YES - This is how it is wired. 





If the wiring is as displayed in the above linked image (http://www.homeimprovementweb.com/information/how-to/three-way-switch-option2.htm), the GE/Jasco 45609(ZW4001) or it's 3-way derivative cannot be used. Additional wires are required.

If the wiring is the same as the previously linked diagram, an Aeon Labs Micro In-Wall Appliance Switch (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008VWAPU4/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B008VWAPU4&linkCode=as2&tag=zwavec-20) can be used. As depicted in the attached diagram.

I think this is the best option.  I will put in the order and try this weekend.  Stay tuned for an update.
Title: Re: 3way with dead-ends powered from light - Confirming options
Post by: kkl on February 05, 2014, 04:27:00 pm
If the wiring is the same as the previously linked diagram, an Aeon Labs Micro In-Wall Appliance Switch (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008VWAPU4/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B008VWAPU4&linkCode=as2&tag=zwavec-20) can be used. As depicted in the attached diagram.

How would the Aeon work if power is through the light?  There aren't separate pairs of wires for the line and load, just a single pair.  There is also no neutral coming in to the switch box as it is on the "back" side of the light.
Title: Re: 3way with dead-ends powered from light - Confirming options
Post by: tbully on February 05, 2014, 04:54:16 pm
If the wiring is the same as the previously linked diagram, an Aeon Labs Micro In-Wall Appliance Switch (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008VWAPU4/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B008VWAPU4&linkCode=as2&tag=zwavec-20) can be used. As depicted in the attached diagram.

How would the Aeon work if power is through the light?  There aren't separate pairs of wires for the line and load, just a single pair.  There is also no neutral coming in to the switch box as it is on the "back" side of the light.

Put the Aeon in the light box?  Interesting solution.  I may have one fixture like this where this will come in handy.

Title: Re: 3way with dead-ends powered from light - Confirming options
Post by: kkl on February 05, 2014, 05:10:26 pm
Put the Aeon in the light box?  Interesting solution.
;D  That is interesting, and something that never even crossed my mind.
Title: Re: 3way with dead-ends powered from light - Confirming options
Post by: Z-Waver on February 05, 2014, 06:28:48 pm
If the wiring is the same as the previously linked diagram, an Aeon Labs Micro In-Wall Appliance Switch (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008VWAPU4/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B008VWAPU4&linkCode=as2&tag=zwavec-20) can be used. As depicted in the attached diagram.

How would the Aeon work if power is through the light?  There aren't separate pairs of wires for the line and load, just a single pair.  There is also no neutral coming in to the switch box as it is on the "back" side of the light.

The microswitch is placed in the junction box with the light. The switches(3-way or 4-way) become a separate loop that do not directly connect to line, load, or neutral. Here's a 4-way diagram for visualization.
Title: Re: 3way with dead-ends powered from light - Confirming options
Post by: oTi@ on February 06, 2014, 06:21:55 am
The potential risk is from adding too many circuits to one neutral and overloading that wire.
Exactly.

Quote
It was previously allowed, but using a common neutral is restricted under NEC 2011. [...]
I haven't looked at this, but I'm assuming this deals with a properly wired (and thus safe) common neutral (i.e. one neutral shared by 2 circuits on alternate legs of the panel). This is different from (the user) connecting a light to (line and neutral belonging to) two different circuits.
Title: Re: 3way with dead-ends powered from light - Confirming options
Post by: oTi@ on February 06, 2014, 06:31:30 am
YES - This is how it is wired. 
Wow; ok. As always, understanding your current wiring is vitally important. Your initial description appears consistent with another wiring scheme.

Regardless, you could still consider using the GEs, if the switch 'in the middle' represents what you designated as main, is in a multi-gang box, and has access to neutral and line there, preferably on the same breaker (which you confirmed).