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Old 03-21-2011, 03:21 AM   #1
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3way/4way Switch Problem


Quick background. 2 switches controlling a chandelier; both work as they should. I installed a new fixture; decided I wanted a dimmer controlling it after install. Picked up Cooper Aspire master and slave digital dimmers so I could control dimming from both switches. And that's when the fun begins...

I open up the 3 gang box where I want the master dimmer and find a 4 way switch controlling the light from there. I've always thought a 4 way switch had to be between 2 3 way switches, but maybe this has been rigged somehow - it did work after all. The other switch has a normal 3 way.

All the wiring is behind the wall so I can't tell what's coming from where and where it's going to, and where the light falls in the circuit. All I know for sure is the 2 romex cables for the circuit, coming in to the 3 gang w/a black, white, ground and red. The black wires (the commons I assume - carrying 120) are wire nutted together (no other connections). The red wires from each romex were wired to the gold and black screws of one side; the other red and whites were wired the same way on the other. Is that right??

So any thoughts on how I should wire the dimmer in? I can get it working but I'm not convinced it's right and it's not working right consistently once I add in the other 3 way - forget about the slave dimmer! The master dimmer has wires for a ground, a common, and a red and blue wire that the instructions are very vague about (which need to be wired together if the common goes to the common and the neutrals from the romex are connected). What am I missing?

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Old 03-21-2011, 04:25 AM   #2
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3way/4way Switch Problem


Broke out the multi-meter (better late than never). Supply line ID'd in the 3 gang box. When I hook up the hot/black from the supply to the hot/black that feeds the light/switch, I'm reading 50V on the red and white wires at the other 3 way switch (120V on the black). At the 3 gang box, I'm reading 50V on the red/white wires that feed the light/switch, and the red wire from the supply. The neutral wire from the supply has no load as you'd expect. Is that right?

P.S. The light install in the ceiling box was a straightforward hot-to-hot, neutral-to-neutral, ground type deal. If there's something funky up there, it's out of sight.

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Last edited by golddog; 03-21-2011 at 04:43 AM.
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Old 03-21-2011, 11:45 AM   #3
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3way/4way Switch Problem


Sorry to keep replying to myself, but I found this link:

use neutral wire from another circuit?


And it occurred to me that in thinking about the old setup, and the only way I can get the dimmer to work, the neutral from the supply line has to be under load at some point and that what I probably have is a "dead end 3 way" w/no neutrals. I'm (obviously) not an expert but people on this site and others have suggested this is OK as long as it is balanced?


The instructions for the dimmer, aside from the common and the ground, talk solely about connecting it wires to the romex wires going back to the switch. But you can't do that w/out wiring in the supply wires too or that'd leave an open red and white from the supply line. Doing that though, the dimmer works but the other switch doesn't function properly. Ugh.
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Old 09-27-2011, 08:16 PM   #4
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3way/4way Switch Problem


As a follow up to this post, it turns out that my house does not, in fact, defy the laws of electrical physics. A 4way switch does indeed need to be between other 3ways. Turns out some genius drywalled over the other 3way box and once I opened it up I found a different genius had 'jumped' the wires in a way that made everything else work. Once I installed the 3rd switch it all came together.
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Old 09-27-2011, 09:22 PM   #5
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3way/4way Switch Problem


Sometimes it just takes time. Too bad we couldn't help
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