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Old 08-02-2012, 01:50 PM   #1
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Installing first Dimmer


I'm sure this is a basic question but I decided I wanted to try and install my first dimmer light switches. My bedroom is a 3-way application (four control switches) so I picked up a Lutorn Maestro dimmer and 3 companion dimmers.

I was all planning to follow the instructions step by step but as soon as I removed the old switch I hit my first hiccup. There didn't seem to be a ground wire connected to the old switch. I did see a note on the front that talks about when no grounding means exist. It says it is allowed when using non metallic plates and screws or if the circuit is protected by GFCI. I'm pretty sure my house has GFCI circuit breakers (I know my outlets are GFCI) so I'm guessing that is why the existing switch doesn't have the ground wire connected but I figured it would be better to check before installing the new dimmer without a ground. My house was built 4 years ago.

One other thing to mention is that there are 4 switches in the plate where the master dimmer would be installed. One for the can lights, one for fan control, one for rope accent lighting and one for an outlet. I'm not sure if that has any impact to why there is no ground wire connected to the can light switch.

If somebody can give me advice as to if I can move forward with the installation and just remove the ground wire I'd appreciate it. Thanks for the help.

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Old 08-02-2012, 02:01 PM   #2
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Installing first Dimmer


Since you are in Chicago you probably have metallic conduit that provides the grounding. You can attach a green or bare wire with a 10-32 screw into the back of the box and attach it to your dimmer.

Pay attention to the wire on the odd colored screw when you change to the dimmer.

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Old 08-02-2012, 02:28 PM   #3
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Installing first Dimmer


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Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post

Pay attention to the wire on the odd colored screw when you change to the dimmer.
Just making sure I understand what you are telling me to pay attention to. On the instructions it says to tag the wire connected to the odd color screw of the existing switch and to connect the tagged wire to the black screw on the dimmer.

You are just telling me to ensure that I don't mess up this step, correct?
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Old 08-02-2012, 02:55 PM   #4
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Installing first Dimmer


That is what he is saying.
Mess that step up we will have a 50 post thread on how to fix it.
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Old 08-02-2012, 08:39 PM   #5
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Installing first Dimmer


So I pulled off all the current switches and wanted to make sure exactly what I should connect to where. Here is how things are currently set:

Master Switch: 3 wires, Orange wire to black screw (right bottom), 2 yellow wires to 2 brass screws (left bottom and right top)
Companion 1: 3 wires, Red wire to black screw (right bottom), 2 yellow wires to 2 brass screws (left bottom and right top)
Companion 2: 4 wires, 2 yellow wires to 2 black screws (right side - top and bottom), 2 yellow wires to 2 brass screws (left side - top and bottom)
Companion 3: 4 wires, 2 yellow wires to 2 black screws (right side - top and bottom), 2 yellow wires to 2 brass screws (left side - top and bottom)

Here are the instructions for the companion dimmer I got (Lutron Maestro)
Identify the circuit type
a) Two switches controlling a light fixture. Both switches will be 3-way. Each switch will have insulated wires connected to three screws plus a green ground screw. One of these wires is connected to a screw of a different color (not green) or labeled COMMON. TAG this wire on both switches to identify when wiring
b) Three switches controlling a light fixture. Two switches will be 3-way and one will be a 4-way. TAG the two 3-way switches as in the TwoLocation diagram above. The 4-way switch will have insulated wires connected to four screws plus a green ground screw. TAG the two same color insulated wires which are connected to opposite colored screws.

Replace the 4-way switch(es)
Note: 4-way switches may be replaced with either a Dimmer or a Companion Dimmer.
• Connect the green ground wire on the Dimmer or Companion Dimmer to the bare copper or green ground wire in the wallbox. (See important note 5.)
• Connect both of the tagged wires (noting their color) removed from the 4-way switch to the blue screw terminal on the Dimmer or Companion Dimmer (one wire to the screw and the other to the push-in terminal).
• Connect one of the remaining wires removed from the switch to the black screw terminal on the Dimmer or Companion Dimmer.
• Connect the remaining wire removed from the switch to the brass screw terminal on the Dimmer or Companion Dimmer

Replace the 3-way switches
• Connect the green ground wire on the Dimmer or Companion Dimmer to the bare copper or green ground wire in the wallbox. (See important note 5.)
• Connect the tagged wire removed from the switch to the black screw terminal on the Dimmer or Companion Dimmer.
• Connect the same color wire connected to the blue screw terminal on the Dimmer or Companion Dimmer that replaced a 4-way switch (wire color noted above) to the blue screw terminal on the Dimmer or Companion Dimmer.
• Connect the remaining wire removed from the switch to the brass screw terminal on the Dimmer or Companion Dimmer.

So......the problem I seem to be having is that it talks about noting the color of the two tagged wires on the 4-way switch but my 4 way switches have all yellow wires and I can't seem to tell them apart. I'm not sure if I can use locations of the current switch to determine like wires. I really want to do all of this myself but I'm starting to wonder if I'm in over my head and should just hire an electrician or handyman to install of this.

Am I making all of this too complicated or am I better off leaving this to somebody else? Thanks.
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Old 08-02-2012, 08:50 PM   #6
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Installing first Dimmer


As I read this over the issue seems to be with this line in the instructions for identifying the wires on the 4 way switch, " TAG the two same color insulated wires which are connected to opposite colored screws."

My issue is that on the 4way switch all wires are yellow with two connected to black screws on the right side and two connected to brass screws on the left side. So I'm not sure which wires I should tag (top left and right or bottom left and right). And from there I don't really know how to trace the tagged wire to the 3way switch for the new dimmer in this instruction, "Connect the same color wire connected to the blue screw terminal on the Dimmer or Companion Dimmer that replaced a 4-way switch (wire color noted above) to the blue screw terminal on the Dimmer or Companion Dimmer."
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Old 08-02-2012, 09:18 PM   #7
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Installing first Dimmer


If you only have two "sets" of wires coming into each 4-way location, this is easy.
Basically To hook up a 4-way both insulated wire from the first pair goes to each black screw, 2nd pair of insulated wires go on brass.

It doesnt matter which goes where, except each pair go on same color screws.
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Old 08-02-2012, 09:38 PM   #8
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Installing first Dimmer


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Originally Posted by MisterZ View Post
If you only have two "sets" of wires coming into each 4-way location, this is easy.
Basically To hook up a 4-way both insulated wire from the first pair goes to each black screw, 2nd pair of insulated wires go on brass.

It doesnt matter which goes where, except each pair go on same color screws.
That is the way it currently is but I'm trying to understand how they would work with the new dimmers. In the new application are you essentially saying it doesn't matter which two wires I connect to the blue screw of the dimmer in the 4way as long as they are from an opposite pair?

What about the fact that it says "Connect the same color wire connected to the blue screw terminal on the Dimmer or Companion Dimmer that replaced a 4-way switch (wire color noted above) to the blue screw terminal on the Dimmer or Companion Dimmer." Isn't this saying that I have to make sure that the same wire that is going into the blue screw of the 4way goes into the blue screw of the 3way? How can I make sure that happens?

Sorry that I'm probably sounding so dense, I just don't really know if this is the kind of thing I can take my best guess and hook it up or if I have to make sure I get everything right.
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Old 08-02-2012, 11:47 PM   #9
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Installing first Dimmer


Sorry, i did not read the post with Dimmer instructions. lets take a look

"TAG the two same color insulated wires which are connected to opposite colored screws"
Here they are referring to the "travellers" between switches #1(master 3-way) and #2(other 3-way)
Typically each traveller pair would be #1 Black and Red, #2 Black and Red.
Basically, as i understand this statement, tape one wire from each pair.


"Connect both of the tagged wires (noting their color) removed from the 4-way switch to the blue screw terminal on the Dimmer or Companion Dimmer (one wire to the screw and the other to the push-in terminal)"
Here they're saying connect one wire from each pair (taped wires) to the Blue terminals(one being a screw, the other a push-in)


"Connect one of the remaining wires removed from the switch to the black screw terminal on the Dimmer or Companion Dimmer"
"Connect the remaining wire removed from the switch to the brass screw terminal on the Dimmer or Companion Dimmer"
It's hard to say without seeing the companion switch you are installing, but on standard 4-ways one pair of wires go on the bottom (one left, one right)
and the other pair go on top (one left, one right)

EDIT:
ok, after looking over the specs for this device it looks as tho the Blue screw and the Brass screw
are paired with one set of two wires. And the Push-In is paired with the Black screw for the other set.

so this would mean, take one pair of wires, put one on the Blue screw and the other on the Brass screw.
take the other pair of wires and put on in the Pus-In and the other on the Black screw.

Really hope this works for you. Let us know
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Last edited by MisterZ; 08-03-2012 at 12:10 AM.
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Old 08-03-2012, 12:10 AM   #10
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Installing first Dimmer


Thanks for the response and I've been looking over the instructions and think I see where the problem is. Also as a note it seems that in my 4way switch one pair goes on the left and one on the right (rather than top and bottom like virtually all online documents show). On my existing 4way the black screws are both on the right and the brass screws are both on the left.

But looking at the instruction manual, Maestro Companion, what they show in Section 5c is two light colored wires going into the blue screw and two black wires going into the black and brass screw. I can accomplish this by inferring wire pairs. The problem becomes on the three way switch just below it where they have the light wire going to the blue screw and the black wire going to the brass screw. Clearly the wire that is in the blue screw of the 4way also needs to go to the blue screw of the 3way (I think blue is used for communication between the dimmers). In my application though since both wires going to the 3way switch are yellow, I can't know which is connected to the blue and which to the brass/black of the neighboring 4way. I'm sure this is why they say note the color of the wire connected to the blue screw of the 4way switch.

I guess the way in my scenario would be to test for continuity in the wires. I don't currently have any means for doing that though. While I was excited at the idea of installing my own dimmers after seeing that it shouldn't be hard, I'm starting to think that this might be better left to a professional.
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Old 08-03-2012, 12:15 AM   #11
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Installing first Dimmer


Dont miss my EDIT. re-read the bottom of my post to see if this agrees with your instructions.
Also, as for travellers, it really shouldnt matter if the same wire is on the Blacks of all switches.

testing continuity is relatively easy if you have a volt meter with Ohms.
otherwise there is a handy wireless tester you could get at Lowes for around $20

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Last edited by MisterZ; 08-03-2012 at 12:21 AM.
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Old 08-03-2012, 12:19 AM   #12
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Installing first Dimmer


I will post a quick tip with Chicago colour format which I know pretty good percentage of electrician in that area used this.,,


White-Neutral
Grey-Dedicated neutral for GFCI
red-black -blue--Power
Brown--travelers for three way
purple--GFCI protected power
yellow-orange---switch legs

Those are pretty typical set up but it may change along the way so you will have to be aware with AFCI circuit if so there will a change in there.

Merci,
Marc
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Old 08-03-2012, 12:29 AM   #13
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Installing first Dimmer


The other thing what will give you a pretty good tip due in Chicago everything will be in conduit so you should able find the correct pairs without much effort otherwise you can tone it out or use the tracer as Monsieur Z mention above moi.

It not super hard to do once you figure out which pairs but make sure the power is off 100 % before you do this route.

Merci,
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Old 08-03-2012, 12:32 AM   #14
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Installing first Dimmer


Quote:
Originally Posted by MisterZ View Post

EDIT:
ok, after looking over the specs for this device it looks as tho the Blue screw and the Brass screw
are paired with one set of two wires. And the Push-In is paired with the Black screw for the other set.

so this would mean, take one pair of wires, put one on the Blue screw and the other on the Brass screw.
take the other pair of wires and put on in the Pus-In and the other on the Black screw.

Really hope this works for you. Let us know
Quote:
Originally Posted by MisterZ View Post
Dont miss my EDIT. re-read the bottom of my post to see if this agrees with your instructions.
The thing is that still is talking about the 4way switch. My issue is with the 3way switch. The 3way switch has three wires, one red wire (which is the oddball that goes to the black screw and two yellow wires. One of the yellow wire needs to go to the brass screw and the other yellow wire needs to go to the blue screw. The issue is that I need the yellow wire that goes to the blue screw of the 3way to be the same wire that goes to the yellow of the 4way. I have no way currently of knowing which of the two yellow wires at the 3way switch should go to the blue screw.

I really do appreciate all of your help with this.
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Old 08-03-2012, 09:07 AM   #15
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Installing first Dimmer


I read the instructions to say at both 3-way switches you must put wire from black screw on old switch to black on new.
In your case the red of one 3 way goes to black screw, and the orange from the other 3 way goes to black screw.

They are not specific as to which wire goes from 3 way brass to 4 way blue.
Each 3 way has two travellers (yours are yellow) It doesnt matter which traveller goes to what screw.
The only exception is at 4 way switches. You may have noticed one pair of wires went to the blacks
On the old switch(two on right) as you described before. And the other pair both went to brass on old switch.

It typically doesnt matter the order so long as each pair go on companion screws (ie: both black or both brass)
In your case they colored two locations blue on the new switch. Ignore these for now.
To simplify, follow the original exception. One wire from one pair goes on black, one wire from the other pair
Go on brass. Now just determine which blue is paired with either black or brass screw.
I mentioned this above. Check the pic in you instructions.

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