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Old 11-28-2010, 02:06 PM   #1
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Attempt to install a in-wall digital timer switch


Hello folks,

I'm new to the community and looking forward to some expert help!

I was trying to install a GE "Smart Digital Timer" in wall switch. These are the points to note:
  • The switch I'm replacing is a regular 2-way rocker switch (NOT 3-way)
  • The light I'm trying to control is mounted in a ceiling fixture and is a circline fluorescent bulb
  • When I took out the existing switch, I found four wires coming out of the switch box: RED, BLACK, WHITE (tucked in the back with no connection) and GROUND (bare)
  • The timer has four wire tails: RED, BLACK, WHITE and GREEN
I do not have a live wire tester, so I could not readily tell which of my RED and BLACK wires (coming out of the switch box) is live.

I connected WHITE to WHITE and bare to GREEN. I then tried both these combination:
  • RED to RED and BLACK to BLACK
  • RED to BLACK and BLACK to RED (this is what the wiring diagram says)
In both cases, after I turn on the main power, the light flashes on and instantly afterwards I hear a click and then the light goes off.

Is this a bad switch, or I'm missing something?

Thanks a bunch for help!

- Prabal.
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Attempt to install a in-wall digital timer switch-ge-wiring.jpg   Attempt to install a in-wall digital timer switch-ge-wiring-steps.jpg  

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Old 11-28-2010, 05:43 PM   #2
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Attempt to install a in-wall digital timer switch


I am one who does not like guessing at these. Without a voltage tester of some type, you are seriously limited in the things you can do. I think such things are minimal investments if you plan to do ANY work with electric.

You have made the reasonable guesses. I would have thought one of those combinations would work. This means either a bad switch, or that there is something going on unexpected. The only thing that I can think to do without a volt meter is to open the light fixture and see the wiring there. Short of sticking your finger on a live wire, I would not even venture a guess as to how to test the switch.

Hopefully, you will find at least one 2-conductor wire (black/white) and a three-conductor (black/white/red). The two-conductor would be supply, I expect. The three conductor would be, I expect, the other end of the wire found in your switch box. How these wires are connected together would give a clue as to how to proceed. If there is something different than that, then all bets are off.

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Old 11-28-2010, 07:26 PM   #3
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Attempt to install a in-wall digital timer switch


SOunds like they ran a 3 wire and are useing the red and black as a switch loop. I would open the light and see what the white wire is connected to. If it is not connected to anything, connect it to the neutral and see if that fixes your problem.
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Old 11-28-2010, 08:10 PM   #4
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Attempt to install a in-wall digital timer switch


You need to open the fan and see what the other end of those wires are connected to. I suspect the white since not used at the switch might not be connected at the fan.
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Old 11-28-2010, 08:55 PM   #5
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Attempt to install a in-wall digital timer switch


Thanks guys for the responses so far. I'm beginning to think it is a 3-way connection too although there's only one switch that turns this light on or off.

@darren: Are you saying I should check the connections of the ballast plug? If I remember correctly, it is a 4-pin plug. Used to just push it into the circline's 4-pin socket. I'll look into the connections and post back. Thanks a lot!

- Prabal.
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Old 11-28-2010, 10:18 PM   #6
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Attempt to install a in-wall digital timer switch


No where the wire ties into the building wireing, check there and see if the white is hooked up.

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