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Jason
Jason, Service Technician
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 4272
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience in all types of installations, troubleshooting, and repairs.
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Im having a problem converting what I thought was a two way

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I'm having a problem converting what I thought was a two way switch controlling 2 ceiling lights to an in-wall timer. The switch had a common black wire connected to the only terminal marked common on the old switch, on the same side, another black wire was connected and on the opposite, a red one (plus ground barecopper wire). My timer has a white, black, red, green wires. I also have located the white wire in the back of the junction box and spliced the white timer wire to the white one in the box and then tried every combination for the remaining two black and one red from the box to the single black and red from the timer with no positive results.

Jason :

Hello. Welcome to Just Answer.

Jason :

Just to make sure I understand, are you saying the switch has one black terminal, two gold or brass colored terminals, and a green terminal?

Jason :

Also, is there a second switch that controls the same 2 ceiling lights?

Customer:

There is only one switch controlling the two ceiling lights. The old switch has a black screw terminal labled common, and two gold colored screws on two other terminals on either side

Customer:

sorry for the delay, I was having trouble navigating the site

Jason :

No problem. I saw a previous reply (briefly) about only one switch, but I lost it.

Customer:

one of the gold terminals had a black wire connected to it the other one a red wire

Jason :

I switched browsers, and I can see the entire conversation now. That sounds like a 3 way switch. There is usually a second switch for the same lights in that setup.

Customer:

hmmmm, I'm not sure where that would be, if thats the case is there a way ti negated the second switch to use the timer?

Customer:

to negate

Jason :

Unfortunately, the timer you have is for single pole installations only. It's not intended to replace or act as a 3 way switch.

Jason :

However, if you are able to return it, there are 3 way models available.

Customer:

any suggestions as to makes and models?

Jason :

Yes, here's one...

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000E3FCLA

Customer:

Thanks, XXXXX XXXXX find the other switch, is there a way to remove the switch from the line and turn it into a one switch circuit

Jason :

Yes. Would you like instructions now on how to do that?

Jason :

It's pretty easy.

Customer:

sure

Jason :

You would need to disconnect the 3 wires, and the ground wire. Cap the ground wire off or push it to the back of the box. If it's a short tail coming out of a bundle of ground wires, you can take it out.

Customer:

got it

Jason :

Then, splice the wire that is on the black screw to either one of the wires from one of the gold screws. Cap the remaining wire, from the other gold screw, in a wire nut by itself.

Jason :

A note about doing that though...

Jason :

The two wires on the gold screws are known as travelers. Depending on which traveler you connect the wire from the black screw to, the remaining switch may turn the lights on in the down position, and off in the up position. Since this would be undesirable to most people, you have a couple of options for correcting it.

Jason :

You can take the remaining switch out of the box and turn it 180 degrees. Or, you can go to the box where the second switch was removed, and take the new splice apart. Then, splice the other traveler to the wire that had been on the black screw. Cap the extra traveler in a wire nut by itself.

Customer:

I would convert the remaining switch to the timer hopefully, I plan to cap the other black one to hopefully make the installation of the time straight forward

Customer:

timer

Jason :

Sure. That makes sense.

Jason :

If you are going to take the second switch out, you could use the timer you have. That is, if there is a splice of at least two white wires that was already present in the box, behind the switch.

Jason :

Do you have a volt meter with two leads and a digital display?

Customer:

there are two white wires that I already splice into with the white timer wire but now I understand why it still wont work.

Jason :

It does get complicated trying to use a timer intended for single pole use in a box with 3 way wiring.

Customer:

No, I have the device with two leads you can stick into a wall socket to see if it's live

Customer:

I'll get the one you recommended

Customer:

Timer that is

Jason :

One reason for this is with 3 way switches, there is only a constantly hot wire in one of the switch boxes. All single pole timers require a constantly hot wire. So, even trying to make it work (which we could, with a bit of rewiring) requires modifications at the second box, if you happen to be putting it in the box that doesn't have the constantly hot wire.

Customer:

You've been a tremendous help, Thanks

Jason :

I appreciate that. That's what we're here for. It's nice to be told "mission accomplished".

Customer:

Saved me alot of time and frustration

Jason :

Glad to hear that. I've been there too.

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