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Trying to wire a 5 way GE Z wave switch. Can you help?

Customer Question

Trying to wire a 5 way GE Z wave switch. Can you help?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Electrical
Expert:  AssuredElectrical replied 1 year ago.

Welcome. My name is ***** ***** would be glad to assist.

With Z wave switches in numerous locations, it takes some back and forth question and answers to resolve, but we will get there in the end.

In order to understand how the original wiring was installed, if you can please provide the following:

1. How many switches originally controlled the light or lights?

2. At each switch, what color wires were connected to the switches at each location.

With 3 way switches, one specific wire color was on the Black screw, so be sure and designate the screws as one black and 2 brass.

3. If a 4 way switch was involved, which wires were on the 4 way switch and which wires were joined together in the box

4. How many Z waves are involved? One master and how many companions?

That will give me an idea of the original configuration and then we can move to the Z wave switches.

Let me know and we can continue,

Thanks

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
1) 4 switches controlled originally.
2) Box 1 (Kitchen) had two black (line and load) to the switch and a red. White wires were twisted in the box.
Box 2 (Garage) had two black and two red to a 4 way switch. White wires were twisted in the box.
Box 3 (Garage) had two black and two red to a 4 way switch. White wires were twisted in the box.
Box 4 (Bedroom) had one white, one black and one red to a 3 way switch.4) One master and three slaves.Currently the master is in the kitchen and everything works. The slave at the 1st garage outlet works. The slave at the 2nd garage outlet turns on, but not off (confirmed it is not the switch). The bedroom slave works. Here is how I am currently wired.Kitchen (master) the line (measured) is in the line input. The load is the 2nd black wire. The red is the transfer. White neutral wire has been added to the twisted neutral in the box.1st garage outlet has the two black wires twisted in the box. The red wires are now twisted in the box and a red wire has been added to the twisted pair in the box. The red jumper is installed in my transfer. White neutral wire has been added to the twisted neutral in the box and is in the neutral on the slave.2nd garage outlet has the two black wires twisted in the box. The red wires are now twisted in the box and a red wire has been added to the twisted pair in the box. The red jumper is installed in my transfer. White neutral wire has been added to the twisted neutral in the box and is in the neutral on the slave.Bedroom has the black and white twisted in the box. The red is in the transfer and a white neutral wire has been added to the twisted neutrals for what I believe is my bedrrom fan and light wiring in the box and is in the neutral on the slave.
Expert:  AssuredElectrical replied 1 year ago.

Ok, thanks for the details.

Have a couple questions first:

1. The original whites in Box 1 in the kitchen were tied together

What change was performed at the light box?

Particularly where the one cable with black and white goes down to this #1 box in the kitchen?

2. You state several times, this:

White neutral wire has been added to the twisted neutral in the box

Please provide the details of where you acquired the neutral and ran to all these boxes?

This is the big concern here, so please elaborate.

Thanks

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
1) The original whites were twisted. I removed the wire nut and added the small white jumper that is provided with the GE switches. This allows you to connect the neutral to the new switch. Then I just verified with a meter my line and installed it to the line, the other black to the load and the red to the transfer no other changes to that box.2) I removed the wire nut on the twisted neutrals in the box and added the small white jumper that is provided with the GE switches. This allows you to connect the neutral to the new switch.I am pretty certain it has to do with the bedroom wiring to the 2nd garage box that will not turn off. The bedroom wiring is what has me confused since it seems to be past the light. I measured 120 volts at the red wire in the bedroom box as the line, which had me confused.
Expert:  AssuredElectrical replied 1 year ago.

Ok, thanks for the added information.

Let me first explain the original wiring and then you will understand this statement.

The white wires in the Kitchen switch box are NOT neutral, that is the main hot from the light.

This is how it was originally, if you have provided the count of all wires in all of the 4 boxes correctly. Nothing missing.

They ran a 14/2 cable down form the light to the kitchen switch.

In that cable the white is power and the black is the load, the wire the light is connected to in the ceiling box.

That white wire then joined the next white in the 3 wire cable to the 2nd switch

Then form the 2nd switch to the 3rd

And the 3rd to the 4th

The 4th switch was originally one of the 3 way switches, so that white wire was on the black screw on that switch.

So, you had power to the 4th switch and the light on the #1 switch.

That is standard 3 way wiring, as only one gets the power and the other gets the wire to the light, or the load.

The 4 way switches, only switch the traveler wires between the 3 way switches.

And why the 2- 3 way switches had a red and black on the brass screws.

What have now is the last switch has the white connected tot he black wire now.

That loops the power all the way back to the #1 switch.

You have no neutral in any of the boxes except maybe the bedroom where you have a fan on a circuit (is it the same circuit? if not, it is very dangerous).

If you disconnect all the wires in the Kitchen switch box, you will measure with a tester, one lead to the white in the 2 wire cable and one to ground and you will find it to be power.

I am surprised the Z waves have not blown as yet, they are very susceptible to mis wiring and fail all the time. 33% fail out of the box new.

If you can confirm the bedroom switch box with the fan switch, if it is on the same circuit breaker as this light on the Z waves, we can back feed the neutral all the way to take of the situation.

Use the tester and see what I have explained. Be sure there are no other wires not listed as that would change the entire situation, but as it is now, the switches are not wired properly and will burn out shortly.

See the diagram below to see how 3 ways are wired to the light with power originating at the light and not the switch.

This is how yours was wired except you have the 2 - 4 ways between the switches.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Maybe I should be more detailed about the kitchen box. This is a 3 gang box with two additional single way lights on the same circuit. Each single light has their white sharing with the white twisted group in the box (the group the Z wave switch is on). Both of those switches have black in and black out. With your thoughts wouldn't that make them switching neutral?Also when I originally started I had every switch fully disconnected and when the breaker was switched on one of the two black wires at the kitchen outlet measured 120 volts which I believed was telling me that black was my line.If I remove the shared neutral in the bedroom will everything else be safe?
Expert:  AssuredElectrical replied 1 year ago.

OK.

That is why I asked for the wiring on each switch.

One switch cannot have the power and the load on it in a 3 way setup. It doesnt work that way.

One switch has power only, the other switch has the load to the light.

Neutrals are NEVER on switches.

It sounds like the original post did not have the information correctly, so everything I have worked on this end is now unusable until we can clear up the situation.

So, the wires on the kitchen Z waver, follow them to see what cables the wires come out of, that can help explain some of the situation.

There was either power or the load to the light on that last 3 way with only 3 wires in the box, so we have to figure out what has been changed.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
it took quite some time but I was able to trace out what I could and make a diagram. During the digging I found the white coming from the kitchen got twisted with a black that I believe maybe the load. It is in the diagram that is attached.

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