4-way help

I have a 4-way that I want to smarten with a dimmer and 2 AUX. I’ve done 3-ways but the wiring and coloring is confusing me here. if anyone can suggest a starting point that would be great. I looked at the other posts, but I can’t find one thats close to what I have…

thanks in advance!!!

Ok, I figured out the a little more with the wiring. Switch 1 (red wire is hot 120). So the yellow is actually my load? So where do I go from here? I think switch #1 should be replaced by the master switch, and switch #2 and #3 are AUX.

But which of the other wires do I tie together. can some help a dummy out and really notate it down…

thanks in advance!!!

In most places in the United States, wire color is not mandated for most things, which means you can never go by just the wire color. Sometimes the color you see is just because it was getting towards the end of the day and the electrician only had one spool of wire left in the box. It happens.

You have to map each circuit branch so you know exactly what goes where and why. There are tools to do that. But if you don’t know how to do that yourself, you should bring in somebody who does, even if you just pay them to create a circuit map for you and then you wire the switches in yourself.

If you live near a Home Depot, many have free classes on how to install a light switch or a three-way. Those aren’t smart switches, but you will learn how to use the tools and how to map your own circuits. :sunglasses:

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Thanks JDRoberts. yeah, I understand that color doesn’t mean squat. my house seems to have been wired by monkeys. sigh. in my drawing, red is the line coming in (tested with everything unwired from switches - 120 was at the red switch #1). and I assume that the yellow (as it is at the end of the switches and the start of the lamps) is the load. and all the brown are basically load/travellers.

in my drawing above, which browns should be tied together, assuming in starting with the master at switch 1?

I guess I have option 2 right? I just don’t have a neutral starting at box1…

Don’t assume. Anything. Map the circuit so you know.


Ok. I just need to do continuity tests on all the brown wires, but I think I can also do that by unwiring all the switches and start connecting the line to a brown load all the way thru the boxes to the yellow load. By doing that, I can see that the lights work without any switches. Then I can wire in switches into each box with the travelers and neutrals (master gets line/load). Am I correct so far?

So if my revised existing diagram is correct, are my two options correct?


I see you have two posts are these for the same switches? I don’t want to have to reply to both and create confusion.

Your diagram is confusing and pictures would be more helpful because I need to see all wires. Example, you mention black wires but I don’t see them on the diagram other than you mentioning they are there. Just because a wire isn’t hooked up to the switch doesn’t mean it’s not being used to make the switch operate the lights.

Believe you mentioned you have experience with 3ways so 4 ways really are no different. Main thing to be mindful of is to ignore the 4way switch, one with 4 wires and focus on the 3 way switches. Each 3way will have a screw labeled “common” that is either black or bronze. One 3way will have line from breaker and the other will have load to light fixtures. Now this doesn’t mean line and load are in separate boxes as sometimes one of them is “sent” to the other location via wire bundles in the back (hence why I mentioned I need to see pictures). My house has tons of 3ways and a few 4ways and every one of them has line and load in the same box.

Sounds like switch 1 may have power from breaker. Now you need to figure out where the common wire in switch 3 is going or came from.

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thanks @ritchierich. same area, was questioning the actual smart devices in other post. here are the photos…

I believe my drawings are accurate, just not up to standard notation.

Pictures definitely help. Where do the brown wires from Switch 2 labeled to Light 1 go? It’s hard to tell but I don’t see any brown wires in Light 1. We need to understand this so we can get neutral to your two switches. Also given both travelers are brown we will need to figure out which one is which. I’ve used a 9V battery before to do this where you use a multimeter to determine polarity.

You will be able to put your master smart switch in switch box 3. Possibly 2 if you find that white wire is neutral on same circuit as the lights.

Thanks @ritchierich
Here is light 1 box. The browns from Switch Box 2 go through light 1 and light 2 boxes and into Switch Box 3.

I’ve simplified the wires from endpoint labels to wire labels:

I was thinking of putting the master in Switch Box 2 using option 1 in my diagram above. Here’s my thinking:

• Switch Box 1 - tie red line (0L) to a brown traveller from Switch 2 (1L).

  • at Switch box 2 test which brown line is now hot:
    • Switch Box 2 - tie now hot line brown (1L) from Switch Box 1 into line master switch.
    • Line (2L) from Switch Box 2 continues through light 1 and light 2 boxes to switch box three and tie into yellow load (3L).

• Switch Box 1 - use other brown traveller (1T) and use as traveller to master Switch Box 2.
• Switch Box 2 - use brown traveller (2T) through Light 1 and Light 2 boxes to Switch Box 3.

• Switch 1 - Run a new white neutral (1N) from Switch box 2 (cut in from bypassing white neutral in that box). 45’ length between boxes.
• Switch 2 - Tie in new new white neutral (2N) from cut in previous step from this box.
• Switch 3 - Tie in new white neutral (3N) from this box.

Neutral question… do they have to be on the same circuit? They don’t have separate circuits as they are all tied into together in one giant bar in the breaker box? But does that slow down the communication?

I could always run new neutrals from light 1 to stitch 2 then switch 1. I know the neutrals in switch box 3 and light 2 are the same.

Thanks again! Have a great week.

You don’t need to do this, you can “send”
Neutral via one of the brown wires. Remember GE Aux switches only need traveler and neutral.

The red hot wire going to switch 1 is there in switch 2 so no need to send it back since I see it in the picture. Now what is that white wire in switch 2 that you say is going elsewhere. Can you determine where it is going? Maybe an outlet down below? Is that on the same circuit?

Yes you need to tie to a neutral on same circuit, can get dangerous and against code otherwise.

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The red hot wire going to switch 1 is there in switch 2 so no need to send it back since I see it in the picture.

ok. I get that!

…But, that live red wire in Switch Box 2 is coming from light box 2 heading to Switch Box 1. There’s not enough wire (it’s tight) for me to cut into that red in switch box 2, unless I pull the length out from switch box 1. It’s no longer needed there, so it can be pulled. (would make unwiring the smart switches in the future a problem) I could run a new live red wire from Light Box 1 to Switch Box 2.

Now what is that white wire in switch 2 that you say is going elsewhere. Can you determine where it is going? Maybe an outlet down below? Is that on the same circuit?

No, the hot line (black in Switch Box 2) is another circuit to an outlet (switched on/off by a switch by the door). I installed that neutral white from the outlet so I could smarten the switch.

so… I’ll run down a new neutral from Light 1 to Switch Box 2, and then use one of the brown wires (1L) and mark it as neutral in Switch Box 1.

All that work? Everything else seem ok? thank you!

You could pull red wire from both boxes so you aren’t shorting one more than the other. If it were me this is the path I would take since it’s easier and you will just need to pull them enough to cut, bundle, add a pigtail and cap it and then you can pull slack back. Make sure the wire nut is super tight. Otherwise running a neutral as you mentioned would be required.

Otherwise your wiring notes look accurate. Happy to help once you start this process.

Thanks, I was just looking at pulling enough red last night! I should have enough, but we’ll see. Yeah, haven’t done anything yet; still waiting on the shipment.

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so, it was working and then it stopped. the master 4 way I think is dead now somehow.

all 3 switches were working correctly. then I put everything in the boxes and it stopped. removed everything from the boxes and everything is still tight. I removed the line and load from the master and put them together and the light turns on. (these are all new plus switches)
I swiped in an older non plus switch, and the the light goes on and off at the master, but the 2 AUX don’t work. are plus AUS, compatible with the older masters?

I don’t know what to do. will post pictures shortly.

undid one faceplate and all aux and the old non plus stitch work. wtf. do I still have to use the old very short faceplate screws with the aux. that is the only thing I change

ok. it was the 1/2" screws that can with the faceplates that stopped everything from working. I installed some older short screws and everything is no working correctly.

WTF if short screws are need in the AUX, they should ship with them!

Are you installing toggle switches? The screw issue is a known problem.

Here is the wiring diagram I went with. Hope this helps someone in the future.

• I cut the line (0L) as it was coming through Switch Box 2 and used that for line.
• Nutted both ends the remaining Line (0L) at Switch Box 1 and 2 as it’s not needed.
• I pig-tailed in a new neutral from Light 1 to Switch Box 2.
• I used the brown lines from Switch 1 to Switch 2 as Neutral (1L) and Traveller (1T).
• I used the brown lines from Switch 2 to Switch 3 as Traveller (2T) and Line to Light (2L > 3L).
• The neutral for Switch 3 came from within that box.