Can't fit Z-wave switches in box - need ideas


(Brent Cameron) #1

So Z-wave switches are huge compared to regular switches. I have bought a bunch of Leviton switches and dimmers and started installing them around the house. The issue is that I have several double electrical boxes that have 4-5 wires coming in. There is no room for all those wires between the switch and back of the box.

I really don’t want to rip apart the wall to put in a deeper electrical box. Does anybody have any other solution for this? Is there some sort of spacer you can use so that you can install the switch further from the wall creating extra space? If not someone should come out with one since I can’t be the only one to have this issue.

I would like to hear from anybody who has dealt with this issue.


#2

I’m sure that’s very frustrating. :disappointed_relieved: Different brands and models are different sizes. The Leviton are among the deepest. Home Depot is pretty good about publishing the exact specs if you want to compare particular models before you buy them.

There are electrical box extenders that you can buy, but then the entire box will stick out of the wall a little bit so you need to also get a beveled switch plate to handle the extra rise. Your local Home Depot should have some of the box extenders for around two dollars each , or you can buy them online. They are frequently sold for use when people are installing tile in kitchens and they need to extend the electrical box so that it stays flush with the tile. But they also work fine to give you just a little extra depth. Get one that is UL rated and you won’t have to worry about fire safety

Then you’ll need a “deep” switch plate to cover the extending box. Kyle switches happens to have a particularly good selection online, but again your local Home Depot should have some of these.

https://www.kyleswitchplates.com/deep-switch-plate-outlet-covers/

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Kyle also sells some “switch plate extenders” which are just a square box cover plate that gives you the extra height that way. So that’s another option.

https://www.kyleswitchplates.com/deep-switch-plate-extender-for-shallow-wallboxes-leviton-6197/

45856F3A-D11B-405C-AD24-3D5FC7FBBB2F

So there are several choices, all quite inexpensive. :sunglasses:

Yet another option is to use a thin in wall micro like the Qubino or Aeotec Nano, but for multi gang boxes I think it’s easier to use an integrated switch and just use a box extender. But different people like different styles.


(Brent Cameron) #3

Thanks @JDRoberts. That third one, Switch plate extender, would be perfect but it only comes in 1-gang not 2, which really sucks. Would have been much more cost effective. Will probably have to go with an extender and deep switch-plate.

Thank again, it will solve the problem without tearing things down.


(James L) #4

Not sure about your switch but with GE switches there are two holes in the back for each wire. Meaning you can daisy chain the neutral wire, which save a lot of space.


(Ron Talley) #5

They will probably fit…I had this issue but like posted above, I had to make sure I daisy chained the neutrals and any other wire that I could. Get some longer 6x32 electrical screws and then push them in there as best as you can and allow the screws to snug them in the rest of the way.


(Shanepcs) #6

I got all mine to fit but it just takes a little more planning in how to “fold” the wiring. I found it a pain, but eventually you can usually get them to work. The 3 switch boxes were the worst. Several times I was tempted to trip the length but didn’t due to some fear of electrical codes being violated.


(Brent Cameron) #7

Daisy chaining wont help. Having 4-5 electrical cables going into the box is just way to much wiring no matter how I fold them. I have tried for hours to get them to fit. My 2-gang switch in the kitchen with 4 cables going in has almost a 1cm gap on one side because there was no way to get one of the switches flush. And my origami skills are usually pretty good.

Maybe some of you guys have the deeper electrical boxes.


(Michael) #9

You can change out the box without tearing up the wall. Get a handle hack saw and cut the nails on the side. I done it many times without messing up the paint.


(Brent Cameron) #10

I thought about something like that but how hard is it to get the cables through the channels on the box? The boxes we have, lets say the 1-gang box, have two channels on the bottom and two on the top that are fed from he bottom or the top respectively.


(Michael) #11

You would be replacing it with an “old-work” retrofit box so unlike the “new-work” boxes that just have open holes, the old-work boxes have a flange you tilt in and it holds the wires. Idea is with a retrofit install the wires are just pulled into the wall and the flanges hold the wires in place. Given you are replacing an existing box your wires are stapled to the stud so you can break the flanges completely and the holes are usually a little bigger than the new-work box.

What I do is first unbundle all the wires, marking them of course so I know which is which. Then I get a flat head screw driver and put it between the box and the stud and open it up a little so I can get the hack saw in between. Then I use this hacksaw I bought from Home Depot that is basically a handle that holds the saw blade:

Once both nails are loose, then you can start pulling it out while pushing your wires through the holes. Then you just install the new one.


Limited Space - Need Solution
#12

Great advice. I do exactly the same. I’ve done this about ten times now, usually to replace a single gang with a double gang box. The only advice I would add is IF you are moving to a double gang then you have the luxury of making the sheetrock cuts for the larger whole before you try and get the old box out as it gives you more wiggle room. Otherwise, it can still be a bit tricky to get that old box out.


#13

Tagging into this thread for some related advice. I had the exact issue as the OP, too many wires to fit multiple switches (3 gang) but was able to manage getting one installed. I decided I would settle for having one automated switch and the second using smart bulbs. Added the smart bulbs which is working well, but since it was a dimmer, I had to replace the dumb switch with an on/off. In the process I had to remove the smart switch I installed since it was blocking the dumb switch from coming out. In doing so I some how fried the smart switch (no clue how, but got covered under Jasco warranty) but more importantly the screw connection (not sure real name) on the box broke off while I was trying to put the smart switch back in. So for now I decided I would abandon the smart switch in that box which allowed me enough room to a dumb dimmer switch seated and in place well enough with only one screw at the bottom.

Here’s the question, does anyone have any advice on how I can get that top screw connection back (or some other solution) so I can put a smart switch back in without replacing the box? Reading this thread makes it sound not too hard, but when I look in that box I swear there are a thousand wires so am pretty wary of trying to tackle it for fear of screwing it up putting it back. I looked at these metal tabs that look like you can insert them on top, but they seem dependent on the screw connection still being present but stripped. My box is plastic and full out broke off.

On a side note right up until I threw the breaker and blew my smart switch, it had been the easiest install I had every done. Legitimately 15 min even with running up and down to kill power. I think I was being punished for my hubris. :slight_smile:


(David Carr) #14

Thank you for this suggestion – I’ve been holding off adding a second (and in some cases, a second and a third) switch to a box because of the headache in tying in additional neutral wires. This is a great idea and I hadn’t even thought of using the second hole on an existing smart switch to jump over to a newly installed one.


#15

You can daisy chain the hot too. Every little bit helps right.


#16

Ahhh. . .when people said daisy chain I had envisioned using caps to tie them together and create a Y. Just realized they were often talking about using the holes in the switch. That is a good idea.