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Mike
Mike, Master Electrician
Category: Electrical
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Experience:  Licensed Master Electrician - OnQ Certified Data Voice Audio Video Installer
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I am trying to hook up a dimmer switch compatible with my

Customer Question

I am trying to hook up a dimmer switch compatible with my LED lights and trying to sort out the wires because they don't match the old one eye removed. The new one is a Lutron MACL 153M
JA: I'll do all I can to help. How long have you been dealing with this?
Customer: Just the past hour. I think I figured out which is the common wire, but there are three total switches in this box
JA: Do you plan on doing the work yourself?
Customer: I was planning on it. I did call my local electrician who has done some work for me too, but I haven't heard from him yet
JA: Anything else we should know to help you best?
Customer: No
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Electrical
Expert:  ProGrade replied 9 months ago.

Welcome to www.justanswer.com

Give me a minute or rwo to look up the dimmer

Thanks

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
I think I've confused things by not keeping track of all the wires in the box. I don't know if you can accept pictures but I can send you one.
Expert:  ProGrade replied 9 months ago.

Pictures may help but first how many locations is the light switched from?

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
OK. It's two locations and there are three switches in this box that I'm working on. It's an old house but these switches are not original. There is a regular rocker type switch (on off) on the left side of the switch I'm trying to replace. It's still working.
Expert:  ProGrade replied 9 months ago.

10-4, thanks. Is the switch that you want to replace still installed or already removed? If still installed, a picture of rhe wiring on it would be good. Thanks

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
I know I should've done this before I removed it. I'm not exactly sure of how the original was wired but I can take a picture of the original switch. All four wires were attached.
Expert:  ProGrade replied 9 months ago.

Thanks, ***** ***** rhem...

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
here is the mess I've gotten into.
Expert:  ProGrade replied 9 months ago.

OK, couldn't see what I actually needed. What color wires do you have loose at the box?

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
It doesn't look like I can send a video from my iPhone
Expert:  ProGrade replied 9 months ago.

No but picture should suffice, picture of wiees that are disconnected

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
There would be three more loose wires, but I attach them to the dimmer. I'm pretty sure the "common" wire is right, but not absolutely. In the present configuration, I'm not getting any light
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
The reason I think I got the common wire correct is that it's attached with that yellow wire into a connector that has wires going to the other switches
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
The yellow doesn't have any significance. It was a jumper wire from the new dimmer. I had to remove the wire going into the old switch. In retrospect I should've just cut it off at the switch
Expert:  ProGrade replied 9 months ago.

I still can see all of the wires that came off of the old switch. I have a couple of questions on what I can see there is a yellow wire that appears to be connected to two black wires. Can you tell me where thise two black wires go? 2) so, does that leave a red and two blacks to connect to the new dimmer?

FYI - the white wire will not be used for this dimmer.

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
I don't know if you got my last message, but the yellow wire, I attached myself. I'm going to take a picture of the first connector it goes to and then describe where the wires lead from there
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
The red connector sends Black wire to the neighboring switches. You can't see it, but one has come off that I have to reattach to the switch on the right side – that goes to a receptacle that isn't being used.
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Besides the three black wires that go to each switch, One goes into a white "cable" (I'm not sure what the proper name is) that is traveling down. I suspect this is where the power is coming from because I'm upstairs. Does that make sense?
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Then I think there are just two more going out besides that one and the three to the switches to 2 similar cables traveling upward
Expert:  ProGrade replied 9 months ago.

All makes sense except the two black wires connected to the yellow wire. I understand that the yellow is only a jumper, clear on that. For a 3-way setup which is the common name when a light is switched from two locations, you would nirmally only have three conductors on the switch. 1-a hot or return to the light fixture (in your case it is a hot from the black bundke) 2-a red 3-another black or a white (in your case it would be black BUT not two blacks connected together, that's a problrm) Without getting this issue resolved, the dimmer will not work. Then...after getting the wiring correct this particular dimmer has to be programmed.

Lets try this - a black and a red should be in the same cable/sheath. It should be one of the two blacks connected to the yellow. Find that black, isolate it, and we can proceed from there.

Thanks

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Ok. This is the sheath with a red going to new switch and a black into the White connector that has the two black wires and yellow in it.
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Do I need to substitute that black with the white wire that I presently have in the switch ?
Expert:  ProGrade replied 9 months ago.

Your last picture brings up another question, the cable with red & black also has a gray (instead of usual white). Where does the gray connect?

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
I'm glad you asked that. It's just terminated.
Expert:  ProGrade replied 9 months ago.

I am at a loss now. Very little of what I have seen looks standard. The gray that is terminatied should be connected to the whites to give the fixture a neutral.

Do you know where the other 3-way switch is and can you remove it from the wall and send a picture of it & the wiring in the box please. Thank you

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
When you say the other three way switch you mean the one that operates in conjunction with this dimmer?
Expert:  ProGrade replied 9 months ago.

Do not disconnect any wiring at the other switch

Expert:  ProGrade replied 9 months ago.

Yes, the other switch that operates this light

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
No way. I've learned my lesson.
Expert:  ProGrade replied 9 months ago.

Glad, thanks

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Sorry. Was having trouble sending.
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
One more. Same thing.
Expert:  ProGrade replied 9 months ago.

The dimmer, nor any other regular dimmer will work on your existing system because this second switch is actually a remote control, not a 3-way switch. Additionally, you can only use one dimmer on a set of lights. The only thing that will work with it is the old dimner/switch that you removed if it still works or one identical to it. Else, reconfiguring the connections will be required.

If you want to continue down this path you will need to purchase a standard 3-way switch for the second location. Get it, then I can share how to wire it then we can go from there. If you do, be sure to get a few (4-6) wire nuts, preferably Tan Twisters or some red wire nuts.

Thsnks

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Can you recommend a three-way switch. Basically, Just a three-way switch that's not a dimmer?
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
I can run down the block to the hardware store. How do I get in touch with you again? This is the first time I've used this.
Expert:  ProGrade replied 9 months ago.

Yes, just a plain 3-way switch from Lowe's/Home Depot/ or local hardware store. Should not cost more that $2- $3

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
that other switch is just some kind of remote and that's why the original dimmer had so many wires?
Expert:  ProGrade replied 9 months ago.

Yes, that's correct

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
OK I picked up a three-way switch
Expert:  ProGrade replied 9 months ago.

OK, over at the other location is where the new 3-way will go. There is a black screw on the new switch, the gray wire goes there, the other two go on the other terminals, doesn't matter which one on which terminal

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
It says it's a three-way switch but there are two extra brass terminals and a blue one. Do I put the non-gray wires on the brass ones?
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Sorry, it's green. It must be for the ground. I don't think there's a real ground up here. The house is from 1906.
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
OK the three-way is wired in
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
I'm not sure if you wanted me to do this but I took the other gray wire at the original box and put it at the terminal on the dimmer switch where the white wire had been.
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
the yellow wire coming out of the back is on the black terminal and the gray and red wires that go up the same sheath are on the other terminals and there's a loose ground
Expert:  ProGrade replied 9 months ago.

No, the gray wire should be placed under the wire nut with the hot wires coming in to the othere switch. When adding it there, remove the loose black pigtail that went to the othere switch. When complete this will leave the red & black that are in the cable with the gray wire and an additional black. Get to that point and let me know. Thanks

Expert:  ProGrade replied 9 months ago.

The loose ground should be connected to the other grounds in the box

Expert:  ProGrade replied 9 months ago.

A 3-way switch can only have three terminals plus a ground tetminal. If there are any additional terminals, it is not a 3-way switch.

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
I might need a little more clarification. So there's a tan and wire nut that has the yellow wire from the dimmer switch, hey black wire that travels with the gray and red wire and a black wire that goes to the red wire not with what I think are the "hot" wires?
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Yeah that three-way switch where I said there was a blue terminal, that was a green terminal for the ground. It wasn't Blue. Regarding the grounds, is that the bare copper wires all joined with green wire nut? See pic.
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
I put the GRAY wire (traveling to the three way switch thru the sheath) in with the other black wires with the RED wire nut?
Expert:  ProGrade replied 9 months ago.

Yes, ok, so we have a 3-way switch. Let me know when it is wirwd per above, thanks

Expert:  ProGrade replied 9 months ago.

Yes under red wire nut and remove loose jumper

Expert:  ProGrade replied 9 months ago.

You said -I might need a little more clarification. So there's a tan and wire nut that has the yellow wire from the dimmer switch, hey black wire that travels with the gray and red wire and a black wire that goes to the red wire not with what I think are the "hot" wires?

I do not understand all of this.

I do understand that the black and red wire that are in the cable with the gray wire should not be connected to anything at this point

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
OK. Here's what is left: a loose WHITE wire, the BLACK wire that travels with the red and gray wire to the other switch, a loose black wire, loose white wire, and a ground wire that's loose from the dimmer switch.
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Forget the white wire. I removed it. It was a jumper.
Expert:  ProGrade replied 9 months ago.

There should be a red wire and two black wires. Cap off the white, it will not be used

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
I'm not sure what you mean regarding the red and two black wires. I removed the white wire. It was just a connection to a group of other white wires.
Expert:  ProGrade replied 9 months ago.

A while ago there were two blacks connected to the yellow wire. You should have both of those blacks and one red with a new dimmer and no connections on it. One of the blacks and the red are together in the same cable as the gray.

Expert:  ProGrade replied 9 months ago.

If you connected rhe other black wire that I am speaking of to the bundle of blacks and turn on the breaker, the light woyld probably be on without a means of turning it off except with the breaker.

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
I took the yellow from the new switch along with the gray from the sheath to the other switch and put them into the red wire nut with the other black wires. The black wire and the red wire ( from the same sheath as gray) I attached to the new switch.
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
The black and red wire in this photo go to the new switch. The gray wire in that photo, along with the yellow wire are now with the black wires in the large red wire nut
Expert:  ProGrade replied 9 months ago.

The yellow wire (which is still connected to a black wire to lengthen it) should not be connected to anything. Please disconnect it and get to a point where you have 3 loose wires, one black and one black that has a yellow jumper connected, and one red

Expert:  ProGrade replied 9 months ago.

If you look above the only instructions about connecting to the red wire nut was the gray wire, not an additional black wire. I also asked at that time that the short black pigtail under the red wire nut be removed

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
There is one yellow wire. It goes directly into the switch. I have removed it now from the red nut where I placed it without your instruction.
Expert:  ProGrade replied 9 months ago.

Last chance, in one of rhe pictures there were two black wires connected to the yellow wire. Did you turn the breaker on to see if the light comes on?

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
It's all disconnected at the moment, but when it was like that, I did turn the breaker on and there was no light.
Expert:  ProGrade replied 9 months ago.

So...what happened to the second black wire. I believe you got it mixed into the bundle with all of the black hots.

I hope the very best for you, good luck

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