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Old 11-23-2010, 11:23 AM   #1
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Help with Two Switches & Two Lights


Hi Everyone,

This is my first post on this forum. Typically when it comes to electricity, I just call my electrician, but I'd actually like to try and learn something this time without paying money (it's the holiday season, who has any money left )

So here's my setup:
Two Switches & Two Lights, when you flip one switch, the lights come on. Flip the other switch, they go off. Works great as is.

The circuit breaker says Hallway, Stairs Closet, Bathroom

I wanted to change out one of the switches to be a Z-Wave switch, it has the following connection screws available:
- Traveler
- Line
- Load
- Negative
- Ground

The instructions that came with it... are hilarious at best.

On the switch farthest from the garage (where my breaker is), I have two sets of wires:
- Black, White, Ground
- Red, Black, Ground

The grounds are capped together.
The white is capped.
The red attaches to the top left of the switch.
One of the black goes to the top right (black screw).
The other black goes to the bottom right.

On the switch closest to the garage, I have 3 sets of wires:
- Black, White, Ground
- Black, White, Ground
- Red, Black, Ground

Prior to me messing with things, they were hooked up like this:
- The two blacks (part of the Black/White/Ground sets) were joined together with a Red cap, and another black wire came out of the cap that went to the switch.
- The other black wire, which was part of the Red/Black/Ground set, ran to the switch
- Whites were both joined together - they didnt run anywhere.
- Grounds were joined together - they didnt run anywhere
- The red wire from the Red/Black/Ground set, ran to the Top Left of the switch

Now, obviously I was dumb for not marking which of the blacks was top or bottom on the right side. The top right of the switch is a black screw.

So my problem is, it feels like I've tried every variation on the face of the earth to make everything work. What I typically come up with is:
- Neither the closet, bathroom or hall lights work
- Only the closet and bathroom lights work (but not based on either hall switch)
- Only the hallway lights work (based on either hall switch - Note that this only worked when I moved the new Z-Wave switch over to the switch closest by the garage, the one 3 sets of wires... I've yet to have it work on the other side (where I want it) yet)

Currently, only the hallway lights are working. The light switch farthest from the garage is where I put the new switch that has the 5 screws. I have the top left (Traveler screw) attached to the red wire. I have the ground attached to the green screw. I have one black going to the Line, and the other going to the Load.

The light closest to the garage has an old switch on it, with the red attached to top left, the capped blacks wire running to top right and black wire that was part of the Red/Black/Ground group is running to bottom right.

I'm just not sure what I need to do. My fingers feel like they're sore, the skin is rubbing off of them and I'd like to just get this done without bringing someone in! Can anyone help me?


Last edited by simplyphp; 11-23-2010 at 11:25 AM.
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Old 11-23-2010, 01:10 PM   #2
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Help with Two Switches & Two Lights


[quote=simplyphp;539275
So here's my setup:
Two Switches & Two Lights, when you flip one switch, the lights come on. Flip the other switch, they go off. Works great as is.
[/quote]

Do I understand correctly; Are these all the fixtures / switches that are involved or have others been effected by attempting to replace the switch.

Do you have a 3 way z wave switch or is it a regular switch?

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Old 11-23-2010, 01:16 PM   #3
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Help with Two Switches & Two Lights


I have not studied your post thoroughly, but wanted to offer a couple of thoughts. Understand, too, that I don't use Z-wave, but use insteon instead. Z-wave is RF. Insteon is a combination RF and powerline communcation. I understand, however, the concepts are the same.

First, Z-wave (and insteon, UPB, etc...) switches require unswitched power, neutral, and, if controlling it, the feed to the load. To set up Z-wave switches as "three-way", one switch would control the load and the other would control no load. The switches typcially have a black, white, and red wire (plus ground). White goes to neutral. Black to unswitched power, and red to the load. If you are not controlling a load, cap the red wire with a wire nut. Once installed, you must program the switches to control each other. I will leave that to you and the instructions that came with the switches.

When replacing a "standard" three-way switches with ones such as Z-wave, you often must repurpose and abandon a couple of wires typically used as travelers and commons. Often, one of the three-way switch locations have nothing but two travelers and a common wire. Most likely, all three go back to the other switch location, where there is usually power and neutral. This means that in the switch location that includes unswitched power, you oftem must tie that in with the black wire, formerly a traveler, to supply the second Z-wave switch. You must do the same to the white wire to the neutral, and probably cap off the red traveler in both locations. The load (light fixture) would be tied to the red wire of one of the Z-wave switches. The red of the other is capped. Of course, if you have unswitched power at both switch locations, then the traveler can be abandoned entirely.

For you, the trick is identifying those wires.

Quote:
On the switch farthest from the garage (where my breaker is), I have two sets of wires:
- Black, White, Ground
- Red, Black, Ground
Are you sure that this is not one wire with red, black, white and ground?

Quote:
The grounds are capped together.
The white is capped.
The red attaches to the top left of the switch.
One of the black goes to the top right (black screw).
The other black goes to the bottom right.
Please make a note of the black attached to the black screw. This is your common and most likely either unswitched power or the feed to your light. Based on your description of your other switch, I believe this to be the feed to your light fixture. Don't loose track of that one. If I am correct, this would attach to the red wire of your Z-wave switch. Furthermore, if I am correct, then you have no unswitched power at this location.

Quote:
Prior to me messing with things, they were hooked up like this:
- The two blacks (part of the Black/White/Ground sets) were joined together with a Red cap, and another black wire came out of the cap that went to the switch.
- The other black wire, which was part of the Red/Black/Ground set, ran to the switch
- Whites were both joined together - they didnt run anywhere.
- Grounds were joined together - they didnt run anywhere
- The red wire from the Red/Black/Ground set, ran to the Top Left of the switch
My guess is that the blacks tied together here with the third "pigtail" is your supply. The red/black/ground set goes to your first switch. You will have to tie one (I suggest black) to the group of blacks already tied together to feed power to the first switch. Add the red wire to the group of white wires (put white tape over the red wire at both ends to indicate neutral). At the first switch location tie black from this wire to black and red (taped white) to both whites in this box. Cap off the red wire from the Z-wave switch. All grounds should be tied together.

Of course, I would feel much more confident in this if you were able to probe some wires to confirm. Do you have a Volt/Ohm meter. If not, given your expressed interest in learning something, I suggest spending the twenty dollars or so to get one. (I would not touch electric without one.) Once you have one, I would confirm where you have power and confirm the red/black/ground wires in both switches are the same wire. Hopefully, you have identified the circuit that controls the power to this location. Of course, you should remove power before working on this stuff.

After confirmation of my theories from the smart folks here, and from your probing, I would be happy to draw up a diagram if necessary.
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Old 11-23-2010, 03:10 PM   #4
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Help with Two Switches & Two Lights


Quote:
Originally Posted by jamiedolan View Post
Do I understand correctly; Are these all the fixtures / switches that are involved or have others been effected by attempting to replace the switch.

Do you have a 3 way z wave switch or is it a regular switch?
It is a 3 way Z-Wave switch.

"Wireless Lighting Control"
"3-Way On/Off Light Switch Kit"
"Controls CFL, LED,Xenon, Halogen, Fluorescent and Incandescent Lighting"
"Includes both a primary switch and auxiliary switch for control of one light from two locations"
GE part 45614
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Old 11-23-2010, 03:18 PM   #5
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Help with Two Switches & Two Lights


Quote:
Originally Posted by oberkc View Post
...
oberkc, thanks for the post, I'm attach some pictures because I do indeed have 3 sets of wire in the one closest to the garage, and 2 sets of wires in the other one.

First 6 pictures, 2 more of the switch farthest from the garage coming up.
Attached Thumbnails
Help with Two Switches & Two Lights-imag0340.jpg   Help with Two Switches & Two Lights-imag0341.jpg   Help with Two Switches & Two Lights-imag0342.jpg   Help with Two Switches & Two Lights-imag0343.jpg   Help with Two Switches & Two Lights-imag0344.jpg  

Help with Two Switches & Two Lights-imag0345.jpg  
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Old 11-23-2010, 03:19 PM   #6
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Help with Two Switches & Two Lights


Here's the two pictures of the farthest switch. Note the two sets of wires.
Attached Thumbnails
Help with Two Switches & Two Lights-imag0346.jpg   Help with Two Switches & Two Lights-imag0347.jpg  
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Old 11-23-2010, 03:55 PM   #7
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Help with Two Switches & Two Lights


Quote:
Originally Posted by simplyphp View Post
oberkc, thanks for the post, I'm attach some pictures because I do indeed have 3 sets of wire in the one closest to the garage, and 2 sets of wires in the other one.

First 6 pictures, 2 more of the switch farthest from the garage coming up.
So are you trying to replace the 2 existing 3-way switches with these Z-wave switches?

Is the second switch you showed with no line / load for a third location or are you attempting to replace one of the 3-way switches with that.

Jamie
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Old 11-23-2010, 04:00 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jamiedolan View Post
So are you trying to replace the 2 existing 3-way switches with these Z-wave switches?

Is the second switch you showed with no line / load for a third location or are you attempting to replace one of the 3-way switches with that.

Jamie
If possible, I would like to replace one of the 3-way switches with the auxiliary switch. Otherwise, I'm not opposed to reusing the old switch, I'd like to use both of these though.
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Old 11-23-2010, 04:16 PM   #9
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Help with Two Switches & Two Lights


Quote:
Originally Posted by simplyphp View Post
If possible, I would like to replace one of the 3-way switches with the auxiliary switch. Otherwise, I'm not opposed to reusing the old switch, I'd like to use both of these though.
Are these the directions that you got with it?

http://www.jascoproducts.com/support...Manual-Eng.pdf
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Old 11-23-2010, 04:20 PM   #10
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Help with Two Switches & Two Lights


Quote:
Originally Posted by simplyphp View Post
Here's the two pictures of the farthest switch. Note the two sets of wires.
If the power is on, is the black wire on the right in this photo energized?

If so, then the blacks should be able to be connected to pass the power to the other box, then this box can be the remote unit and you can wire it up per the diagram in the manual.

Jamie
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Old 11-23-2010, 05:14 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jamiedolan View Post
If the power is on, is the black wire on the right in this photo energized?

If so, then the blacks should be able to be connected to pass the power to the other box, then this box can be the remote unit and you can wire it up per the diagram in the manual.

Jamie
Jamie - that looks like a more up to date one than what I received, but yes seems the same thing.

Also, I've marked the black one that's the line (from the breaker I guess).

Following those instructions got me "nothing":
Red on traveler, the line black on the Line, the load black on the load, and the pigtailed white neutral on the neutral, ground on the ground.

If I attach the BLACK from the Red/Black/Ground, to the "Line" screw, I can now turn on/off the lights in the bathroom and closet (opposite of what I'm wanting... the closet and bathroom have their own switches). The other switch (farthest from the garage with 2 sets of wires) does nothing. I have the Red on the traveler, a pigtail white on the neutral, and the ground hooked up on that one.


I feel so close.. yet so far away haha

-Thomas
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Old 11-23-2010, 05:22 PM   #12
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Ok, HUGE progress I think...

NOW I have it where...

The switch farthest from the garage (2 sets of wires) still does NOTHING. On that one, the two black wires are now capped together.

The switch closest to the garage (with the 3 sets of wires) now controls both the hallway, the closet, and the bathroom

If the switch is OFF, then power is killed to all 3.
If the switch is ON, power is supplied to all 3 (all the lights come on).
The kicker is... once the switch is ON, I can turn the closet light OFF with its switch, and back ON with its switch, and same goes for the bathroom.

So what I need to have happen now is:
1) The hallway switch with 2 sets of wires should be able to turn the lights on/off
2) The bathroom and closet should not require the hall light to be ON to receive power.


Any suggestions?
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Old 11-23-2010, 09:53 PM   #13
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Help with Two Switches & Two Lights


Quote:
Originally Posted by simplyphp View Post
The switch farthest from the garage (2 sets of wires) still does NOTHING. On that one, the two black wires are now capped together.
That is the second switch that wants the Traveler (red) and the Neutral (white), is that what is connected to that switch?

Quote:
Originally Posted by simplyphp View Post
The switch closest to the garage (with the 3 sets of wires) now controls both the hallway, the closet, and the bathroom
Okay, there is a hot (black) that you have connected to the switch that should be tied directly to the hot so it is always on. Without any more advanced testing tools, the best thing you can do is trial and error. Power off, Disconnect one of the black wires, power back on, see if it was the connection to the bath / closet. Once you find that, then you need to have that tied directly to the black that is always hot (the one that is being fed from the other box where you have the 2 black wires tied together.

So I think it is this box we are talking about? If so, then the black on the right should be the one that is hot, (should be the one that is wire nutted in the other box) That should connect directly with one of the other black wires, i.e. 2 back wires on the line terminals, which of the 2 left back wires, I can't tell you, you just have to try it. But one of the 2 left black wires needs to be on the Line terminal with the black on the far right (the one that is in the same cable as the red wire). Once you know which one is the bath, then; The other remaining black will need to be on the load, as that is what is feeding the lights in the room that you watch switched. The whites need to all be tied together, and it needs to make a connection to the Neutral position on the switch, so you will need to wire nut the whites and put in a short extension (pigtail) pieces that goes to the switch, since the switch only has 2 contacts on it, you can't put all three whites on the switch, likely these were just wire nutted in the past, as the prior switch didn't require a neutral, but this one does, that is why you need to wire nut it and run the pig tail to the switch.





Quote:
Originally Posted by simplyphp View Post
If the switch is OFF, then power is killed to all 3.
If the switch is ON, power is supplied to all 3 (all the lights come on).
The kicker is... once the switch is ON, I can turn the closet light OFF with its switch, and back ON with its switch, and same goes for the bathroom.

So what I need to have happen now is:
1) The hallway switch with 2 sets of wires should be able to turn the lights on/off
2) The bathroom and closet should not require the hall light to be ON to receive power.
Any suggestions?
Makes sense, if your able to figure out which black wire is witch and connect as described above, you should have it working, *I say should*, because it is always possible there is something wired differently in your walls than what I am expecting, but it would be a "normal" setup for it to work the way I gave you the instructions to hook it up.

It this is still confusing, let me know and I will sketch up a drawing to help make sure we are on the same page.

Jamie
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Old 11-23-2010, 10:07 PM   #14
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Help with Two Switches & Two Lights


Note: in the top right when I say "One of these should be going to the light fixture..." I am referring to one of the black wires from one of the 2 cables on the left.
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Last edited by jamiedolan; 11-23-2010 at 10:08 PM. Reason: clarification
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Old 11-23-2010, 11:34 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jamiedolan View Post
Note: in the top right when I say "One of these should be going to the light fixture..." I am referring to one of the black wires from one of the 2 cables on the left.
The way you described sounds like how I have it right now, one of the black wires is on the Line, as well as the black wire on the right (part of the Red/Black/Ground set).

So instead of having both of those on the line, do I need to pigtail those 2 together, and then run a wire from the pigtail to the line?

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