Duplex Switch Help (Leviton VRCS2-MRZ)


(Joshua Thompson) #1

Hello! I have a duplex switch that has two switches in one box. I am trying to replace with a Leviton Vizia VRCS2-MRZ. There are two wires going to each switch, a black and a white for each. When all 4 wires are disconnected I can detect juice on each with my non contact voltage meter. Each switch controls a completely different type of light. Both are on the same circuit. Any ideas how I can wire this?

Here’s some pictures: https://goo.gl/photos/a5UpgbHbCc9GEMEK9


4 way switch help
(Paul Haskins) #2

Should just wire in the same - but I bet it needs neutrals and I don’t see any.

That looks like just a switch leg.


#3

Joshua,

Someone is going to come along here with a lot more knowledge than me (thank goodness for you).

However, I’m perplexed that you see voltage on all 4 wires. Two of those (probably black) should be line, and the other 2 (probably white) should be load. The bare copper should be ground. Worried that I don’t see anything I think is a neutral. I think one is required for this switch.


(Dale C) #4

OK, just a couple questions to help you out because your solution isn’t going to be as simple as it looks all because of neutrals.

  • The bad news is @Paul_Haskins and @PhilB are correct. You do not have a neutral for either of the duplex switches. However you have an outlet and another switch next to the duplex. Is either one of those on the same circuit breaker as the duplex light? My thinking is to jump the neutral from there and you are good to go. :relaxed:

Even if not, for sure the power receptacle will have a neutral. You have the possibility to make your z-wave switch work by pulling that neutral across to the duplex gang box. This should work fine because all neutrals terminate together at the bus bar in the breaker panel however this might be a code violation? If we can get the neutral over to the box THEN:

  • What exactly are the lights you are controlling? Incandescent, CFL, LED, etc? And how many and what wattage of each per switch? Just asking to make sure we keep within the switch ratings.

  • Just curious why you chose the VRCs2-MRZ device? It is a great device but if you are looking to do your typical On-Off switching you might consider saving a ton of cash and look at a something like the Enerwave ZWN-RSM2 or the Monoprice Dual Relay equivalent Of course we need a neutral at the switch box to make these work.

FYI: Are you using Klein Tools NCVT-2 Dual Range Non-Contact Voltage Tester? I love this guy! My guess is you really are getting voltage on all four wires because you didn’t flip the switch. Try flipping the switch and the white should go dead, the black should remain hot with voltage. Or if you are accidentally too close to the black wires in the box it will trigger a voltage reading. Just touch the NCVT-2 sensor tip to the screw terminals on the switch to keep away from the stray voltages in the box wiring.

The typical wiring is your line voltage from the circuit breaker is going to come in on the romex via the black wire to your switch. The white wire from the switch will return to the load (your light bulb(s)) You probably have the typical wiring you find on all islands where the power was run to the light fixture gangbox first before going out to the wall switch. It saves on wiring costs.


(Joshua Thompson) #5

Hello! The two boxes next to this switch are live when the breaker for the duplex switch is off so it must be another circuit :frowning:

I am using a similar Klein tools tester :slight_smile:

When I test the lines, the two white wires show very high and the two black wires show very low voltage. I am testing with all four wires disconnected from the switch.

I chose this particular z-wave switch because I don’t want to have to keep the switches on, this gives me the option to use the button or use z-wave.

There are 3 hanging bar lights with very small LED bulbs on one switch, and one 70w LED flood light on the other switch.

I am not sure where I can pull neutral from as this is a kitchen island and there is no other outlet or switch on the same circuit. Would this be difficult to do?

Here is a picture of the island, hanging lights, and flood light (the one at the top that is off)
https://goo.gl/photos/6wLLP237xgzcHdGE6


(Dale C) #6

First of all, I love that kitchen layout!

So the switches I recommended also do this. I think you are confusing smart switches with smart bulbs. Smart bulbs need to have the switches stay on. These are smart switches that control the lights and then they ALSO have inputs to sense your existing switches so they can also control the lights locally. You get both Z-wave control and local switch control using your existing switches. I use both in my house.
But use those in the future for where you have two switches together and a neutral because we want to do something different for your use here. We are going to use the single not dual relay version. See below[quote=“jt114881, post:5, topic:50935”]
I am not sure where I can pull neutral from as this is a kitchen island and there is no other outlet or switch on the same circuit. Would this be difficult to do?
[/quote]

Yes it very difficult on the island but the good news is you don’t need to. :grinning: Leave your switches as is in the island because you have no neutrals. Instead use the EnerWave ZWN-RSM1S or Monoprice In-Wall On/Off Module and you are going to mount them in the ceiling light fixture box that has the incoming power with neutral. One of your three pendants will have the incoming power and neutral that comes directly from your breaker and that is where you mount the device to control all three hanging lights. The existing wall switch will be rewired to the z-wave device to give you the local control light I mentioned above.

You do this for the recessed light as well. Mount the Z-wave device up in the ceiling fixture box and wire the existing switch to the switch input wires and you have your local switch and Z-wave control working together.

By the way you might consider the option for just a few dollars more to go ahead and get the Aeon Labs DSC27103-ZWUS dimmer versions of these switches as an upgrade so you have the options of converting both of these circuits to dimmers. The difference on using the dimmer device is the local switch is only On-Off to the last dimmed setting. Dimming levels are set from Z-wave.

Or one step up from that is the fancy dandy one that dims and monitors the energy use on the switch as well Aeon Labs AEDSC19103ZWUS I use this model in my ceiling fan lights because I can tell if a bulb is out but more importantly it tells me for sure if my lights are on since ST isn’t always accurate on its status feedback.

Of course your LED lights bulbs need to be dimmable because not all are. AND you still get to save lots of money not using the VRCS2-MRZ.

FYI: I am assuming you are getting back voltage from your LED lights somehow? If you use a voltmeter my guess is its low voltage on the white not the same 120V on the black. But since everything was working as is I wouldn’t worry about it. We are rewiring it differently anyway with the new z-wave device.


(Joshua Thompson) #7

So there is no way to do this with the existing switch I have? I bought this switch a few months ago and I doubt I can return it now :(. Is there any way to rewire a neutral into the island without tearing everything up?


(Dale C) #8

Sorry for the bad news bro :neutral_face: But the manual says your switch (like most that want to control LED, CFL energy efficient bulbs) require a neutral.

I can’t see any way for you to have an electrician do it for less than getting those other switches. I just got a quote from an electrician that charges $75 an hour labor plus materials and he has a two hour minimum. Just chalk this one up as a learning experience. You could always try to craiglist it but the problem is you won’t get much. People know of so many other alternatives for so much less.

Of course you can always try my suggestion in my first post to you because that is cheap. Run a jumper wire from the neutral in the outlet receptacle box.


(Joshua Thompson) #9

Can I jump the neutral from the nearby box even if it’s on a different circuit?


(Dale C) #10

Of course you “can”. Reread my post. Just test it first with a simple jumper wire that is run outside the box (before you install the jumper wire behind the wall.


(Joshua Thompson) #11

Ok Cool I will do that. In my setup, which is the “Load” wires and which are the “Line” wires? The white wires appear to have more voltage than the black wires.

I sure wish they would have wired all the switches in the house the same. I only have this box and one more box upstairs and the entire house will be Smart switches. So so close.


(Paul Haskins) #12

No way to tell without using a meter which is which. Your proximity meter can, but I’d not trust it.

FWIW - without knowing your entire setup I’d be reluctant to pull a neutral from the receptacle.

Options
pull new hot & neutral from the receptacle and kill the hot (and neutral) going to the lights. Need to know just where the lights get their hot, but probably in the ceiling/attic.

Pull new run from main box.


(Dale C) #13

Load is the lights and the Line is the power from the breaker at the panel. You only have a switch leg at the island so either the black or the white would be your Line if it was wired correctly. You will need a voltmeter to determine actual voltages on the line. And to be certain you would need to get up and take a look at the light fixture gangbox and take a picture.for me. Unfortunately, recessed lighting tends to use a gangbox that isn’t very easy to get at and see.

This is also a possibility I like


(Joshua Thompson) #14

Would the gang box for the recessed lighting be under the light itself? I can’t think of any other place it could be unless it is hidden behind a wall. The white wire for sure has more voltage than the black wire as the white wires register as very hot and the black wires are kind of lukewarm. I did join both white wires together and turned on the breaker (while my wife stood in the kitchen with a fire extinguisher) and the breaker seemed to be happy with it. I did this while both black wires were capped individually.

With this info is it safe to use the white wires as load? If not Ill try to take down the light and get pictures when I get home in 6 hours.


(Dale C) #15

Give me the exact model number of your non-contact detector. I’ll look at the manual. [quote=“jt114881, post:14, topic:50935”]
Would the gang box for the recessed lighting be under the light itself? I can’t think of any other place it could be unless it is hidden behind a wall.
[/quote]
It is up in the light itself. If you do a search on recessed can you’ll see what I mean or take a look at one at your local HomeDepot or Lowes.

If it were me, I would take down the hanging lights to see how they wired up my lights there first because those are standard boxes you can easily get to and photograph. Then you could take off wire nuts to isolate and confirm everything from where is the hot coming from, etc. and what did they pass down to the switch. By doing this we could see how you are getting this weird voltage. on both lines from.

Not sure what you were trying to find out by joining the whites together? The romex (black, white, ground) is your switch leg to one light circuit. You inadvertently connected to separate lighting circuits together. Since they both are fed by the same circuit and that both are switch legs only it wasn’t a safety issue but if you were trying to manually trigger your LED lights you need to join the black and white of the same romex.

It shouldn’t hurt a thing but I am assuming that your electrician used a typical installation. Disconnect the wires off the switch. When you get your volt-ohm-meter you can measure the AC volts from the black to the neutral(from adjoining box) and you should see the 110V. Measure again from the same romex but the white wire back to the neutral and you should see 0V.


(Joshua Thompson) #16

This is it here:

Model # NCVT-3R
Non-Contact Voltage Tester with Flashlight


(Paul Haskins) #17

There is also a possibility that they go to a junction box in the ceiling - then to the individual pot lights. Though I thought I heard there is no other box.

If more than one light, and no j-box,they probably use the attached box on 1 light, then daisy chain to the others.

Again - get a VOM - even the Harbor Freight free one :slight_smile: will work for this. Or a simple test light (just not a neon bulb one) .


(Dale C) #18

According to this video review this model isn’t suited well for what we want. See at 4:15 time mark In a different review where he compares several models he prefers the Klein Tools NCVT-1 for what we are doing. That being said we need a volt-ohm-meter with readout so a cheap model will do from your local Harbor Freight as @Paul_Haskins suggested.


( I hate Mondays) #19

When testing for voltage, you measure each wire with respect to? Ground?

Neutral is (usually) not run through breakers, you should be fine using neutral from the adjacent receptacle, plus you’ll be using it solely to power a z-wave switch, not the lights themselves.


(Joshua Thompson) #20

Sounds good I will pick up a voltage tester today. Like ady said, do I just touch one side of the tester to the black or white wire and the other side to ground? What voltage am I looking for on each line that will allow me to differentiate?

I will also be pulling the first light of the ceiling to see what is behind it when I get home.