4-way switch with GE Dimmer

Got one that has me scratching my head and hoping someone can help, I’ve searched the forums and can’t quite figure it out. I’ve got a set of lights I’d like to be able to dim. It has the following setup:

2 switches in the hallway upstairs, and one at the bottom of the stairs. If I’m not mistaken the GE dimmer switches (that require neutral) I bought at Lowes should work.

Upstairs switch 1: (Master)

Two Black wires, one red wire, one of those black wires is coming off current switch and going to the set of hot (line) wires.

Upstairs switch 2: (Aux1)

Two Reds and Two Whites connect to the switch. I identified that the top wires (red/white) are going downstairs to switch 3 (Aux2 I’ll call it), the bottom wires (red/white) are going to the master switch.

Downstairs switch 3: (Aux2)

Single piece of romex coming in, black/red/white/ground. As mentioned above the red/white go up to the Aux1 switch upstairs.

So, I’m confused as I know the Aux switches need a neutral. Is there a chance that I don’t need actual Aux switches in there in a 4 way setup? Any thoughts would be helpful.

There is no black wire bundle hidden behind box aux 1? You can still provide neutral to all the boxes but that’s depend where your load is. If it’s in the same box as the line hot then you are good to go. If not then GE is not going to work since all the switches need neutral.

There is a black wire bundle in Aux1, I can take a picture when I get home.

How many cable bundles do you have in the box in the first picture? Are there 3: b/w, b/w, b/w/r?

I’ll have to look, but I thought there were 3 sets coming in there.

The master switch (I assume you are using GE 12729) needs

  • line (110V) (black)
  • load (the lamp you want to turn on) (black)
  • neutral (white)
  • traveler (for 3/4 way switching) (red)

Aux switches (I assume you are using GE 12728) need

  • traveler (red)
  • neutral (white)

So for your setup:

Switch 1 (Master Switch):

  • connect line to switch(one of the b/w cables)
  • connect load to switch (the other one of the b/w cables)
  • connect all neutrals together with a wire nut and and a jumper to connect to the switch
  • connect the traveler to the switch
  • shield off the black cable that is in the same bundle as the traveler (you dont need this one for your setup!)
    note: if you mix up line and load, you will notice that the little blue light on the switch does not turn on.

Switch 2 (Aux 1)

  • connect the two travelers to the aux switch
  • connect the two neutral to the aux switch
  • ignore the black cable

Switch 3 (Aux 2)

  • connect the traveler to the aux switch
  • connect the neutral to the aux switch
  • ignore the black cable
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Oh yes… and it is good practice to also connect all the grounds. Better be save!

Thank you for all of your time to respond. :smile:

Here’s what I found. (I put the orange/yellow wire nuts on for safety for now)

I tried the above, and no dice. I took the main switch out and tried to touch two wires together and that’s not even bringing on the fixtures, I’m wondering if there is something I’m missing

Got it figured out…at least somewhat. In the aux boxes there are no neutrals. :slight_smile: After all that…I think I will grab a neutral from a nearby doorbell downstairs.

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Check the instructions but I remember reading somewhere that the GE aux switches have to be on the same neutral as the master they’re associated to. You can’t pull from a different circuit and have things work as expected. But check that to be sure.

When installing the GE switches the white wire of the black/white/red wire bundle will bring the neutral to the aux boxes.

First step will be to figure out line and load though. If you have a multimeter you can look in your original setup which wire has 0V when the light is off and 110v when the light is on to find the load wire. The line wire always has 110 v


US codes generally do not mandate wire colors. Anybody can use anything, and sometimes people just grab the last piece of wire from the box.

A friend of mine who’s an electrician says “wire color just tells you which line to test first.” :sunglasses:

Interesting…are you sure on that Pizzinini? I tested the white with a meter with power off, tried to ohm it, and it should make some sort of sound if it’s neutral to ground, which it didn’t.

I’ve seen a lot of DIY people use white for travelers when they add an auxiliary switch. It happens. You just have to test every segment and see what you’ve got.

So, to confirm there is a true neutral, if power is off, and switch is disconnected, I should be able to put meter on it, ohm it out and read some sort of sound correct? That would determine true neutral

There are a lot of possibilities, particularly if somebody wired things incorrectly. (Which happens more often than you’d think. )

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Depend on how your 4 ways was wired. In your case. They used your white wire as one of the traveler. That is why you might not get a true neutral at the Aux boxes but we can fix this once you find out line and load. To save your self the headache. You need to find out your load and line hot first. The true neutral wire will be in the same bundle as your line hot. Your hookup is a little different since there are actually 3 bundles in the master box. I would check for load, line and neutral there.

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Thanks for all the help guys…

So not sure if I updated but, the main zwave switch is in. It works, but of course if you flip the other two switches you lose zwave control.

In my last picture:

The white wire is tied to the other neutrals.

One Black is wired to load.
One Black is wired to line.
Red is to traveler

That means you have not found your line hot yet. You are getting it through the switch right now. You have a meter why not find it first?