5-way switch - the easy way?


(Matt Fink) #1

Hey all - I have a 5-way switch that I have never been able to get to work properly. I originally tried a GE switch and some add on switches and never worked (an electrician couldn’t get it to work) - I next used an aeon micro switch behind one of the switches - that worked…sort of. I could control the lights from smartthings but the other switches in the circuit only worked IF the switch with the micro switch was on - if and only if it was on I could toggle on/off from other switches.

I see GE released some new switches - are these easier to wire? Could I pick up one main switch and 3 add ons and make it work or is the wiring exactly the same as the last version? Any other thoughts? Ultimately I want to mount some tablets which would solve this but who knows when I will have time (or money) to do that.

Thanks!


(Ron S) #2

Totally no clue about zwave wall switches but ordered several of those today with the Amazon deal (GE zwave dimmers already on sale and 15% off). Will get it on Friday and get the electrician to check out and install these. Hope it works! Hope experts in the community will chime in.

I ordered the new ones and of course they all need neutrals and 3 ways will need add-ones (auxilaries).


(sidjohn1) #3

I have the old and new versions, the wiring is identical… sorry :frowning:


(Scott Windmiller) #4

@smart, did you get the dimmers for $35 plus the 15% off? I just now ordered one of those for my daughters room. I have 3 of the regular GE switches but none of the dimmers yet.


(Scott Windmiller) #5

Maybe @JDRoberts has some insight? :smile:


#6

Since you have one master switch working, one option is to use aux switches in the other positions that are not actually on the same circuit at all. In fact they can be battery-operated if you like.

They work by sending the request to the smart things hub, and then the hub will send the request to the master.

The tablet idea is good too, or you can use a $20 Wi-Fi phone which is a little cheaper.

So it just depends on aesthetically what you want to use and how you want to work it. And whether you’re OK if the auxes don’t work when the ST cloud is unavailable.

We’re all waiting to see whether the new Phillips switches will work as a button controller for smartthings, if they do that will be another option. But it’s early days on that one, they just came out.

A lot of people like the look of the Cooper RF 9500. So that’s one option for a battery powered switch.


(Ron S) #7

The dimmer ones were I think 40 something… On sale and I got 15% on top of it. Dimmer and regulars have different price… Paid 146 including taxes for the 3 latest dimmers and 2 add-ons latest… BTW Home Depot online has it the same price (near… Dollar or two difference) but the the wait is much longer… Amazon is this Friday. Made identical order for another set. My old home requires all new switches :frowning: and with the sale and couple of dollars more, went the zwave way as my electrician “thinks” it will work.


(Scott Windmiller) #8

Sorry, that’s what I meant. I paid $36 including tax for one. Friday is fine with me too.


#9

It’s all about understanding the wiring. The only difference with the old and new models could be the addtion of a neutral for LED lights along with a smaller led indicator light.


(Bobby) #10

I am getting ready to replace my 5 way switch with GE plus four add ons. I’ll report on success.


(Bobby) #11

Same here ordered on Amazon (a mix of GE switches) and was surprised to see the 15% discount on check out. Was a nice bonus.


(Ray) #12

@Macadoodle, the only way to get this working is by asking your electrician to draw out the wiring you have. Without doing that. You guys will go crazy. There are quite a few wiring configurations with a 5 ways. You will then know if an Aeon micro or GE switches will work.


(Matt Fink) #13

Thanks all! I may just move the aeon switch to the top of the stairs where we use the switch the most… I don’t understand why a simple switch isn’t invented so you have one master (hell even the single GE switches with no traveler config are simple to install) and then you can just install add on switches that only need power and ground and essentially just act as a remote to trigger that main switch - that way not only is it easy for bigger circuits, you could also turn any switch into a 3/4/5 way if linked right.


(Bobby) #14

Have currently Lutron Caseta. One master wired switch and four wireless remotes. Works great, No delay, no wires, no mess, but is not compatible with ST.


(Matt Fink) #15

funny you wrote that - was just about the pull the trigger on these then… saw that it wasn’t compatible. Definitely want everything to work under one device.


(Bobby) #16

Precisely the reason I am attempting to replace them with GE. But I can see having the same problems as you described so I am second guessing myself. Why replace something that works. Ah, I know, tired of having multiple hubs and using IFTTT.


(Someday my dog will be automated) #17

Sorry to press on the Lutron Caseta, but yes, ut would be your easiest choice. You just install one and then attach all the wires of the other switches with a wire nut, hence closing the circuit and then the Lutron switch controls it. The remotes you install with a bracket o ñn the wall, and they look exactly like the switch, except the remotes have a center button for a “favorite setting”. It is a bummer they don’t work with SmartThings. I currently own a Wink hub and they work perfectly. Plus, because of the aesthetics they are a GO from the wife’s perspective.

I also have 2 GE switches and 4 of their dimmers, some with Add-ons. Wiring is very straightforward IF you have a neutral in the gang box (I’m assuming that your place has ground wires). For the Add-on, that’s where it gets complicated, but not that much, really. You need to install the Dimmer/Switch in the main box, which is the one that has the wiring coming from the electrical box. The switch itself comes pretty well labeled for where every wire should go, so IF you know which one is the hot, load and traveler, it is straightforward. On the remaining switches, you need to connect the traveler, neutral and ground to the switch, and then you hook up the load and hot. This way, the Add-on switch gets power through the traveler and it connects sends a signal to your main switch. So, if you know which is the main switch in your configuration, determine which are the hot, load and travelers, it shouldn’t be much of a problem. As always, if tou don’t know about it, play it safe and call an electrician. Ideally, find one that has some experience with smart switches because most electricians just stick to the usual $5 switch feom ACE.

A few notes on the switches:

  1. As with all the smart switches, they are bigger than standard switches, so if you have a multiple gang box, it may be tough to get the in place (it all depends on the wiring mess the previous electrician left behind)
  2. I can’t say for ST, but they tend to take longer for me than Zigbee switches (my opinion, not to be generalized or taken as an axiom)
  3. The LED light for nighttime finding has been found to annoy some people. There is a way of turning it off.
  4. The dimmer is kind of picky to which light bulbs it can work. I had CREE 4-flow LEDs in the fixtures when I installed them and they buzzed, even though the CREE bulbs are a good brand and they were the best for my previous incandescent dimmers. I switched to Philips 40w and 60w dimmable LED replacement and the buzzing disappeared.

Hope this helps, budddy. :smiley:


(The fish is still dead.) #18

You can do this, but I’m not sure if it meets code.

Install a normal GE switch at each location. The master gets a full line/load/neutral/ground connection and the others just get enough to power the switch. Then find “The Big Switch” SmartApp. (You may be able to do this with the new lighting rules wizard, but my ST account is currently in some weird state, so I can’t log in to verify.)


(Pizzinini) #19

Here is how I have wired my GE 4-way switches (5 way should work the same). The main switch is connected to line/load/neutral/traveler/ground and the auxiliary switches are connected to neutral/traveler/ground (all via jumper cables). The auxiliary switches sends a signal to the master switch when turned on or off. You basically connect the two (usually red) traveler wires in the box with a bridge cable to the switch (same for the neutral).

I found this picture online that explains it:


#20

I already suggested that the aux switch is not loadbearing in post six above. It should be to code anywhere, the aux is just acting as a remote for the Master.

(one exception to the code issue is the attic light thing… Some codes in the US, but not all, actually require a loadbearing switch control as you enter an attic. Others will allow that to be a remote.)

Anyway, there are several brands where the network switches act work as remotes, And don’t have to be on the same circuit as the master. (Lutron is a good brand, but as others have said, not directly integratable with smartthings.) The Cooper I already mentioned works as a remote. Leviton also has one.

In fact, the GE’s, which are cheaper, are one of the only brands that require the aux to be on the same neutral as the master. That’s probably why they didn’t work in the OP’s set up, although as Ray said, you really need to diagram the whole set up to see how the current is flowing before you could know which switches will work where if you want them all to be loadbearing.

But once you decide only the master needs to be loadbearing, you have a lot of options. Then it’s really no different then turning the switch on and off from your phone. Your phone is just another aux in that context. The other auxes can be anything that’s powered by either the mains or a battery. Because they will talk to the hub, and It will talk to the master.

Again, the GE’s are actually the trickiest to work into this kind of set up because of that neutral wire requirement. Plus a physical traveler wire requirement. They basically add a radio to a typical nonnetworked switch set up. Many of the other brands start instead with the radio and think about how they want to make the light go on and off given that they have a radio.