3 Way dimming

Thank you Steve, I’ll give it a whirl.

The GE / Iris switches at Lowe’s work well and come in a package for 3 way. Around 45 for both switches. And I can confirm that they work well with SmartThings

Thanks guys, now it’s a matter of figuring out how to wire the thing. I heard the instructions aren’t that good.

3-way setups in Z-wave land are a bit of a different animal than normal three way setups.

A “standard” 3 way has wire coming form the breaker box (LINE) to the first switch. Then you get two traveler wires running from the first switch to the second switch. Then from the second switch you get one wire (LOAD) running to the light fixture. Finally from the light back to the breaker box (neutral). Usually looks something like this:

Note that the color of the wires may be different. These are the colors I usually had, but there’s no certainty that yours will be the same.

Now, in a z-wave setup, regardless of whether you are doing dimming or just on/off, you need a z-wave master switch. This will be connected from from the breaker box (line) to the light (load). The regular electricity does NOT flow through the second switch in a three-way setup. Instead the second switch (call in Aux Switch in Z-wave speak) is connected to the master switch by a traveler wire and when you press the aux switch a slight bit of power flow through the line telling the master that the aux is being pressed and to do something about it.

In most situations you can use one of the traveler wires to act as the load wire. In the second switch box you’ll bypass the switch and connect this traveler directly to the load line. Then use the other traveler to tie back to the primary/master switch. Like so:

The other important thing to note here is that the AUX switch in a z-wave setup will ALWAYS require a neutral. The Master may or may not. Usually it does, but there are some (GE/Jasco 45612, for example) that do not.

Depending on where you have neutrals or don’t have neutral, sometimes it’s better to have the primary switch second and the Aux first. This can be done with the same sort of wire swapping:

So, with any three-way in z-wave land you NEED to use z-wave aux switch. Aux switches typically are the same for dimming and for non-dimming setups. They are interchangeable usually.

Sorry for the long post… but one more important thing I need to say: This is all generally speaking. There are quite often exceptions to the rules in terms of how wiring was setup or your home or how z-wave switches work. I’ve typically used GE/Jasco, Evolve, and Intermatic. Other brands may be a little different. Please follow whatever instructions come with your switches and consult an electrician if you are unsure of anything. Okay, CYA disclaimer out of the way… have fun!

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Great work @chrisb. Do you mind if I use this to explain 3-way switches with my friends?

The GE/Jasco 45613 Z-Wave 3-way dimmer manual (this is the unit I’ve used) is online at:
45613 Z-Wave 3-way Dimmer Manual

It has a section on installation wiring if anyone in interested on what the manufacturer recommends.

Feel free to use it Ed… (Not that I could really stop you anyway if I didn’t want you to! :slight_smile: )

Here’s the tactic I’m having a run at.
One aeon dimmer/or switch module, works 3, 4 or n way.
Does require momentary action switches and a relay.

I found this bad boy for the relay:
120vac SSR

I did read somewhere that the aeon switch (and also the dimmer) were supposed to allow 120vac as a trigger input. Yea, well I toasted a dimmer trying that, hence the relay…

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@chrisb Your information helped a friend this weekend. So thank you very much.

Good! I’m glad I was able to help him/her.

I do enjoy the community here that does it darnest to help others when possible. None of this stupid: “I’ll google it for you” crap… Just everyone sharing what they know with others whenever they can.

@chrisb I have installed several single zwave switches (on/off/dim) no problem but am having a hell
of a time doing a 3 way. My basement stairs has a 3 way, top of stairs and bottom and controls 2 lights, top and bottom of stairs. I have neutral in both and I’m able to get power to the master (the blue led lights up). The switches do not work - looking at your diagram, am I understanding that you’ll nut together the traveler to the aux load? I’m so confused with this! I also have a 5-way controlling 2 lights - any idea how to do this?

Thanks so much!!

Okay, if the master LED is lighting up, then you’ve definitely got power to the switch and the neutral hooked up.

What wire do you have hooked up to the LOAD spot on the master?

It’s a black wire - in the master I have 2 blacks, a red and a neutral (and ground) - I just got the light on for a second without changing the second switch - light went on but shorted ( I just wanted to make sure the led lit before I moved on to the aux). In the aux box I only have one black, red and neutral (and ground). So I have a red as the traveler out from master into aux, neutral in both and single black capped in box. I’m not sure if the short ruined the master, still getting blue led.

Thank you by the way!

What wires were connected to the old switch were you are trying to put the AUX?

All three, black, red, neutral (and ground)

Okay…

I’m guessing a little bit here obviously because I’m not able to specifically look at everything, but my feeling is that the white wire that was attached to this old 3-way switch was not a neutral, but was instead a traveler wire. If you look at my first example drawling in post 10 above this would be the light grey wire.

Traditional 3-way switches used two traveler wires. (Power came down the black wire and the the first 3-way switch either pushed power down the red or white wire depending on which direction the switch was flipped. The second switch would either allow power to move from the red or the white wire to the light, depending on which direction it was flipped.) It’s very common for red and white wired to be used for traveler wires. I think all my 3-way setups have used these two colors.

Again, this is my best guess here. However, traditional ‘dumb’ switches never needed a neutral wire so if a white wire was connected to a 3-way I’d tend to think traveler rather than neutral. One easy way to disprove this would be if the white wire that went from the switch was tried to a bunch of other white wires in the back of the box. IF this is the case, this it’s almost certainly NOT a traveler wire.

I’m a bit confused on the “master switch” setup though. You said there were two black wires here, right? Do you remember how the old switch was wired up here? It’s possible that one black wire is line (ie, coming from the breaker box) and the other is a daisy chain to another switch somewhere.

Yeah - I am not so sure - this is a weird setup - I am thinking about getting one of the aeon micro switch - may work better for my needs.

Anyways - so we used to have a 2 switches leading to one light - now that are basement is finished we needed to add a second light at the top of the stairs per code so in the master box there are two wire bundles coming in - one is attached to the master switch which includes a black and red. It looks like the first wire bundle travels out to the light or the second switch - the two bundles white wires were nutted together and the second bundles black wire is coming off the master switch (perhaps the traveler?) - the second bundle only has a black and red. The second switch has one wire bundle and it has black, red and white - no wires bundled in the back, just a straight bundle coming through…Do I maybe have the master and aux in the wrong places? I had an electrician out and he had a hard time doing a different 3 way so I never asked him to attempt this one…

Thanks!

[quote=“Macadoodle, post:25, topic:4421, full:true”]
Yeah - I am not so sure - this is a weird setup - I am thinking about getting one of the aeon micro switch - may work better for my needs.

Anyways - so we used to have a 2 switches leading to one light - now that are basement is finished we needed to add a second light at the top of the stairs per code so in the master box there are two wire bundles coming in - one is attached to the master switch which includes a black and red. It looks like the first wire bundle travels out to the light or the second switch - the two bundles white wires were nutted together and the second bundles black wire is coming off the master switch (perhaps the traveler?) - the second bundle only has a black and red. The second switch has one wire bundle and it has black, red and white - no wires bundled in the back, just a straight bundle coming through…Do I maybe have the master and aux in the wrong places? I had an electrician out and he had a hard time doing a different 3 way so I never asked him to attempt this one…[/quote]

I think you may have it hit it there in the part I bolded… also the talk about the second light being added later helped.

Again, a guess here, but I THINK what you have is:

In the SECOND box (where you’re putting the AUX):

  • line (black wire) from the breaker
  • Travelers (red and white) going to the first box.

In the FIRST box (where you are putting the Master):

  • Travelers (red and white) from the second box. Loads (the two black
    wires) going from the switch to the two different light fixtures. (Typically multiple lights are just chained together, but because one
    was added later they were probably done in parallel.
  • A bundled of white wires nutted together, NOT connected to any switch
    (I think you’re saying this is in this box, correct?)

Now, if I’m right about all of this, AND if your master does NOT need a neutral wire, then this is how you should proceed with wiring:

In the SECOND box, put the Master switch. Wire it thusly:

  • Black wire (line from breaker) goes to LINE spot on switch.
  • Red wire (traveler in old setup) goes to TRAVELER spot on switch
  • White wire (traveler in old setup) goes to LOAD spot on switch.

In the FIRST box, put the AUX switch. Wire it thusly:

  • Red Wire (traveler in old setup) goes to TRAVELER spot on AUX switch
  • White Wire (traveler in old setup) gets nutted to the two black wires
    that were connected to your old switch.
  • Get a new piece of wire and connect to the NEUTRAL on the AUX switch,
    then connect that wire to the bundle of white wires connected in the
    back of the box.

It’s also probably a good idea to take some black electrical tape and wrap it around somewhere on both ends of that white traveler wire. This is just a note to future people looking at it that this is a hot line now, not a neutral.

Does all that make sense?

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This makes perfect sense! I am pretty sure the master needs a neutral though, at least from what I have read - or is that just the aux?

Thank you for all your help!!