Electrical Repair Questions? Ask an Electrician for Answers ASAP
Hello Sam.........my name is XXXXX XXXXX I will be happy to assist you with your electrical question. My goal is to exceed your expectations on Just Answer!
1) Can you provide me with the manufacturer and model number of the Z-Wave switches?
2) Your application is only for (2) two 3-way switches only and no 4-way switches then, correct?
3) What is the wiring scheme for the existing wall switch boxes, ie... do you have Romex cable (white or yellow insulated cable) or EMT metal conduit?
4) Do either of the existing wall switch boxes have neutral wires in them? If so, they will be white wires and will be spliced together via a wire nut.
Thanks for helping me with this. Below please find answers to your questions. Please let me know if you need anything else.
Make: GE 45614 z-wave 3 way light switch kit
Model: zw4001 (relay switch) and zw 2002 aux switch
Not 4 way switches. 2 way switches only. I have one at the bottom of the stairs and one at the top of the stairs, controlling 3 ceiling lights.
There are no yellow cables. I have black white and bare copper insulated in a white or light gray jacket, which is stapled directly to the studs, I think.
Yes they do. The boxes have white wires spliced together AND one white wire in each of the switches. Same thing with the black wires. Please see diagram.
Thanks Kevin. Please let me know if you need anything else.
1) Hello Sam......thank you for your replies as well as the drawings.
2) Just as an FYI, there is no such thing as a 2-way switch.
2A) Single Pole switches control a light from 1 location only.
2B) 3-way switches - the name is XXXXX XXXXX when used in a pair, they only control a light from 2 locations
2C) 4-way switches - these are used in conjunction with (2) two 3-ways. A 4-way switching arrangement controls a light from 3 or more locations.
3) The insulated white cable that you have connected to each of the existing 3-ways is 14-3 Romex. In order for the Z-Waves to work, both of your existing 3-way wall boxes require a white neutral wire originating from the branch circuit.
Refer to the picture below. Note the back side of each switch showing a neutral connection?
It appears that the upstairs wall box has the required white neutral (the 3 whites that are spliced together). However the downstairs wall box does not have the required white neutral. The white wires that are currently connected to each of the existing 3-ways are not neutral wires, those are traveler wires which inter-connect each switch.
4) The Z-Wave's only require (1) one traveler wire, unlike your existing 3-ways which require 2 travelers. You will need to remove the existing white traveler wire from each switch and splice into the 3 whites that are currently spliced together. This will now provide you with the required white neutral at the downstairs wall box.
The red wire will be used as your Z-Wave traveler connecting to each of the Z-Waves.
Refer to page 6 on the instruction sheet for your existing 3-way arrangement and directly below that is another diagram for wiring the new Z-Waves.
Hope this helps.........If you have any additional questions, let me know and I'll be glad to answer them for you.
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The next time you have an electrical question, you can also request for me at:http://www.justanswer.com/home-improvement/expert-your-electrician ..........Thanks..............Kevin!
Good morning Kevin,
I am a little unsure about something. You said:
You will need to remove the existing white traveler wire from each switch and splice into the 3 whites that are currently spliced together. This will now provide you with the required white neutral at the downstairs wall box.
I can remove the white traveler wire from the switch upstairs and splice it into the rest of the white wires. But, what do I do with the white wire downstairs? There is nothing to splice it into.
I am assuming that upstairs switch will be the primary. Correct?
1) Sam..... the upstairs switch box has 3 white neutrals that are wire nutted together. The existing 3-way's will have 2 brass screws and 1 black screw. I'm guessing that the 2 brass screws have a red and a white, as the brass screws are used for the travelers. Please confirm. If so, then the new Z-Wave only requires 1 traveler and not 2. Therefore, if the white wire is used as a traveler connecting both existing 3-ways, you need the white wire to now become a neutral wire. Thus it will need to be spliced into the upstairs white bundle that has 3 whites spliced together. Once the white wire in the downstairs switch becomes a true neutral, it needs to be connected to the Z-Wave.
As I mentioned in my previous reply, both wall boxes require a neutral connection. Right now, you have the upstairs as a neutral connection and not the downstairs.
2) I would also assume that the upstairs will be the primary. but not 100% certain. Only one of the existing 3-ways will have the hot circuit feed originating from the panel. This should be a black wire. On your existing 3-ways, each switch has a black wire. Only one of these switches is the black wire hot circuit feed, the other black wire is the switched loop wire going to the light.
Refer to the diagram on page 6 of the instruction sheet. Your existing 3-ways should be identical with the exception that your travelers are probably red and white.
Let me know how the wire colors correspond to the screw colors.
1) The primary wall box will need the hot circuit feed (LINE) and the switched loop wire going to the ceiling light (LOAD). These markings are located on the ZW4001 switch. Depending upon how the original electrician routed the hot circuit feed, you may not have both of the LINE and LOAD wires within the same wall box. You will need to confirm where the wires originate from and go to.
2) The hot circuit feed (LINE) may have initially been brought into only 1 wall box and the switched loop going to the light (LOAD) may have been routed to the other wall box. This is the most common method when installing 3-way switches. The diagram in the instruction manual also shows an example of this.
Refer to the diagram on page 6 and you will see what I'm referencing.
3) A 2-prong AC voltage tester or better yet an AC voltmeter that has continuity capabilities will help you determine which wire are which and where they originate from and go to.
So I did what you suggested. I spliced the upstairs white wire with the other white wires in the box. Put one black wire in the load and the other black in the line.
The downstairs switch now has a white wire in the neutral and the red wire in the traveler, as indicated in the user guide.
Still doesn't work. Two outstanding items:
1) I still need a neutral wire for the upstairs switch. Where do I get it from?
2) Because the downstairs switch is the auxiliary switch, it only has 2 terminal. One for neutral and one for traveler, what do I do with the black wire left over in the downstairs box?
1) You have 3 white neutrals spliced together in the upstairs box. Make a pigtail and splice into that group of whites. Also splice the white traveler into the same group.
2) What is the purpose of the black wire in the downstairs box? Does this wire go to the light or does it originate from the hot feed on the circuit? You need to confirm if the LINE and LOAD wires reside both within the same wall box. If they do not reside in the same wall box, this will not work. Since you have the house wired with Romex, I doubt that both of these wires are located in the same wall box. See my comments below and check out the wiring diagram on page 6.
2A) The primary wall box will need the hot circuit feed (LINE) and the switched loop wire going to the ceiling light (LOAD). These markings are located on the ZW4001 switch. Depending upon how the original electrician routed the hot circuit feed, you may not have both of the LINE and LOAD wires within the same wall box. You will need to confirm where the wires originate from and go to.
2B) The hot circuit feed (LINE) may have initially been brought into only 1 wall box and the switched loop going to the light (LOAD) may have been routed to the other wall box. This is the most common method when installing 3-way switches. The diagram in the instruction manual also shows an example of this.
1) Sam...... the requirements for these switches combined with Romex installs always make this a difficult or many times an impossible installation (especially on existing applications).
The issues here are that switch boxes typically don't have a white neutral wire, since a neutral wire is never switched. The reason the Z-waves require a neutral is that the switch actually becomes a LOAD. The white neutral is still not switched, but it requires the neutral to complete the circuit path or loop.
2nd issue is that with Romex, you are limited to the quantity of conductors. Most likely your walls are covered with drywall, so pulling new cable is not likely. If the 2 boxes and light fixture were piped in conduit, this becomes much easier. Unfortunately, with Romex cable, you do not have the luxury to pull in new conductors and/or re-route them.
The 3rd issue is that most likely the Black LINE and LOAD wires do not reside within the same box. My guess is that they are separated from each box.
Alright Kevin, so here is what we have now,
1) Box has 3 LOAD black wires spliced together, 3 NEUTRAL white wires spliced together, one other (assuming TRAVELER # XXXXX) white wire, one TRAVELER red wire and one LINE black wire.
2) I spliced one more black wire with the 3 LOAD wires and connected that to the LOAD terminal on the z-wave switch.
3) I connected the black LINE wire to the corresponding terminal on the z-wave switch.
4) I spliced the assumed white TRAVELER # XXXXX with the 3 NEUTRAL wires and I spliced one more white wire to that and then connected it to the NEUTRAL terminal on the z-wave switch.
4) I connected the TRAVELER red wire to the corresponding terminal on the z-wave switch.
1) Box has one black LOAD or LINE wire. (I don't know what it is), one white wire assumed to be TRAVELER # XXXXX and one red TRAVELER wire.
2) Z-wave auxiliary switch has only 2 terminals, NEUTRAL and TRAVELER.
3) I connected the white, assumed to be previously TRAVELER # XXXXX to the NEUTRAL terminal on the z-wave switch.
4) I connected the red TRAVELER wire to the corresponding terminal on the z-wave switch.
5) I have the black wire left over.
Nothing is working... Should I give up?
1) No not to give up yet.
2) You originally had 1 black wire that terminated on each of the existing 3-ways. One of the black wires at one wall box is a hot feed or LINE. The other box that had the black wire connected to the original 3-way is the wire going to the light (LOAD). This is what I have mentioned. both of these black wires need to be co-located within the same wall switch box. Doesn't matter which one, but both must be at one switch box. I don't think you have that?
3) Here is how you can tell. At the upstairs box, measure from the black wire that was connected to the original 3-way. Measure this black to a white neutral or to a ground. If you always measure voltage on this black with the switch ON or OFF, this means that this black is hot circuit feed or LINE.
4) Do the same thing at the other box. Measure from the black that was originally on the 3-way and measure it to ground. If the voltage goes ON and OFF, this black wire is the LOAD. I cannot determine which box is the LINE or LOAD, only you can with the use of a voltage tester or meter. Once you find the box that contains the LOAD black wire or switched loop wire, then this same box also needs a hot circuit feed black wire (LINE)
5) If the upstairs black wire which was on the original switch is the LOAD wire, then this will work. If the downstairs black wire is the LOAD wire, then this will not work since the downstairs box does not have any hot black wires.
6) Were the black wires originally terminated on the brass or black screws of the original 3-ways? I'm guessing the black screws. I need confirmation.
1) I measured the downstairs box and read the only back wire there and received a 110 read.
2) I measured the upstairs box and measured the single black wire that was connected to the original switch and had no reading.
I measured the 3 spliced wires in the upstairs box that were capped and never connected to the original switch and received a 110 reading
What does that mean?
1) OK, since measuring voltage on the only black wire in the downstairs box, this means that this back wire is the hot circuit feed or LINE side.
2) Since no voltage measurement on the single black in the upstairs box, this means that his black wire is your LOAD side.
3) The 3 black capped wires in the upstairs box is just a splice point for either the same circuit or another circuit.
4) With your meter or tester, turn the circuit breaker to OFF (the breaker that originally controlled the 3-ways) and see if the 3 black capped wires in the upstairs box are still live. It is possible that the 3 blacks in the upstairs are tied into and on the same circuit as the single black in the downstairs box?
5) The master switch should have 5 wire terminations.
6) The 2nd switch should have 3 wire terminations
You are correct on items 5 and 6 on the terminations.
Before I turned breaker off as you asked, and now that I know which black is LOAD and which is LINE upstairs, I connected them to the appropriate terminals on the z-wave switch and now the switch is working and turns on and off the light. But the switch downstairs is still not working. and I still have that extra black wire there too.
After turning off the breaker and measuring the upstairs black wire there was no reading.
1) So the switch downstairs, you have the neutral, a ground and a red for the traveler, correct? We'll get back to the extra black wire.
2) So the downstairs black and the upstairs 3 blacks are all on the same circuit breaker then, correct? If so, did you connect a pigtail from the 3 upstairs blacks and the pigtail will be terminated as the LINE? The original single black in that box is terminated as the LAOD, correct?
On item 1, that is correct.
Item 2 is a 2 part question.
2a) Is the downstairs black and the upstairs 3 blacks are all on the same circuit breaker? I don't know that for sure.
2b) Did I connect a pigtail from the 3 upstairs blacks and connected the pigtail to the LINE terminal? And the original single black in that box is terminated as the LAOD? Yes. That is exactly what I did and got the switch to work by itself.
1) OK very good.
2) Measure the downstairs black and the upstairs LINE while turning the breaker ON/OFF. This will determine if the 3 upstairs and the 1 downstairs are on the same circuit.
3) Is the downstairs switch working?
With the breaker on, the only black wire downstairs had a 110 read and the LINE single black wire also had a 110 read.
With breaker off, there was no reading from either switch.
The downstair switch is not working. There is still a single black wire with no destination in the downstairs box.
1) OK ,very good.. this confirms that the downstairs black and the 3 upstairs black were on the same circuit. Therefore, your LINE up stairs is the same as downstairs.
2) For now, lets make sure the downstairs neutral is properly spliced. Turn the breaker back to OFF. Temporarily remove the white neutral at the downstairs switch. Spread the white neutral and the single black in the downstairs box and measure across the black and white. You should measure 120 volts here. This will prove that the neutral wire is properly spliced in the upstairs box. If this is good, then turn the breaker back to OFF and re-install the downstairs white neutral.
3) The only other connection then is the red traveler wire on both switches. The aux switch traveler only sends a momentary voltage signal to the primary switch upstairs. With the breaker turned ON, see if you can measure any voltage at the downstairs switch from the red traveler to the ground while simultaneously turning the downstairs switch ON/OFF.
Downstairs measurements for NEUTRAL with single black is a reading of 110 with the breaker on.
Yes there is voltage between the red TRAVELER and the ground wire downstairs in either switch position. But the switch still doesn't turn the light on. And I still have a black wire downstairs without a home
1) Ok, Very good... the neutral that you spliced upstairs is working OK downstairs.
2) The downstairs black wire is no longer needed. It is possible that the downstairs black wire originates from the upstairs original 3 black wires. If you have a continuity tester, you can turn the breaker to OFF and check for continuity between the downstairs black and one of the original 3 blacks. You will need to un-do the upstairs original 3 black wire splice. My guess is that one of the 3 upstairs black is the same black wire as downstairs. If you don't have a continuity meter you will need to un-do each of the 3 black wire upstairs one at a time and measure voltage on the downstairs.
3) It appears that you have all of the wires connected correctly. I am unable to determine from the backside of the new switches if the wire connections are back-stabbed into a slot or not? Since the downstairs switch is not working, double check the downstairs connections as well as the upstairs red traveler.
1) Sam......I found that these switches have both side screws and back-stab terminals. Suggest using the side screws since the back-stab terminals are subject to coming loose and not making proper contact with the wires.
I copied this diagram from the question that you initially referenced. This is how your switches should now be wired. The left side switch is your downstairs and the right side switch is the upstairs, correct?
Yes, That's exactly how my switches are wired. Except that I have an extra black wire downstairs just hanging there.
I don't have a continuity tester. I can un-splice and test each of the black wire upstairs to see if any of them is a continuation of the single black wire downstairs as you previously suggested, but what's the point. That black single wire downstairs isn't going anywhere.
I double checked the connections. All good, but I'll try the side screws instead.
1) OK, then your wiring configuration is correct.
2) Even though the single black wire downstairs is no longer used, it is still a hot live wire. Always a good idea to locate the origin of a standalone hot wire and remove it from a splice point as opposed to just capping it off with a wire nut. Thus the reason I suggested that.
It is working. You were correct. I redid the connection with the exact same wiring scheme, but this time i connected all the wires to the outside screws and it worked.
Thank you Kevin. Thank you so much. You've been great.
You have yourself a wonderful evening.
Sam..... you are DA MAN......... Great job dude! You are now certified on Z-Wave switches.
Sam..... thanks for the excellent service rating and the generous bonus...........much appreciated!
If you have any other questions, just let me know.
Take care and have a great evening...........Thanks.................Kevin!