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[FAQ] GE 3-Way Wiring



@ritchierich Woohooo!!! that worked. You’re a genius. I seriously and truly appreciate your guidance. Can’t thank you enough.

For the record that little white pigtail hanging off of the red bundle was there because I tried jumping the red to traveler during one of my renditions of this.

I think I will make my switch fan smarter very soon so I will definitely remember that the black in Romex 1 is load.


Ok, I have another one that I want to get some guidance on. I haven’t disconnected anything yet as I wanted guidance. I suspect I need to rewire this to get it to work with the GE in wall smart switches and the add-on switch.

I have a switch at the front door and another in the garage that controls 3 lights at the front on my house (1 on the porch and the 2 outside of the garage).

The first pic is a gang box that has 2 switches and a total of 5 Romexes. The second pic is that of switch in the garage that also controls the front lights on my porch and garage.

  • #1 is a 3 wire with RBW wires - red is in a wire nut with a black wire from Romex#2 (hard to see in the pic). The black and white wire from #1 connect to switch on the left
  • #2 is a 2 wire - black connects to the red from #1 in wire nut. White connects to a bundle of 4 whites in a wire nut.
  • #3 is a 2 wire - black connects to the switch on the left and white connects to the bundle of 4 whites in a wire nut
  • #4 is a 2 wire - this is line and neutral - black connects to the switch on the right and notice that there is a jumper from that one to the switch on the left. White connects to the bundle of 4 whites in a wire nut
  • #5 is a 2 wire - I believe this connects to the light in my foyer. Black connects to the switch on the right and white connects to the bundle of 4 whites

(J.) #205


I’ve determined that capped Neutral is in fact hot…the image attached is my current wiring with the panel going to the fixture first. Am I able to rewire the light and switches to have the neutral in both light switches?

(Michael) #206

Sorry for delay, traveling internationally at the moment. So looking at Picture 2 you will see there is a red wire hooked up to the common screw (black color). Again 3ways have load to fixture on one 3way common screw and line from breaker on the other 3way switch. I believe Romex 1 is going from Switch 1 to Switch 2 because black and white are both hooked up to this other switch and the red wire is hooked up to another wire within the switch 1 gang box.

I believe Romex 2 is your line from breaker, please verify this by using a multimeter where you remove the wire nut and put one probe on this bundle of wires and the other on the ground wires or the white wire bundle. If this indeed has 120v proceed…

Look at Switch 1 and find the black screw, that wire is your load to your fixtures - black wire from Romex 3.

So hook up the following

Switch 1 needs the master switch:

  • Romex 3 black wire is your load on master switch
  • Put a white pigtail wire into the neutral bundle of wires and hook up it up to the neutral terminal on the master. Also get the white wire from Romex 1 and put it into the second hole on the neutral terminal
  • Disconnect the wire nut that has the red wire from Romex 1 and black wire from Romex 2
  • Black wire from Romex 2 is your line
  • Red wire from Romex 1 is your traveler
  • put a wire nut on the black wire of Romex 1 as its no longer needed
  • you can optionally turn on the breaker to verify the switch works.

Switch 2 is your aux:

  • put a wire nut on the black wire as its no longer needed
  • red to traveler terminal on aux switch
  • white wire to neutral on the aux switch

Thats it, just like the other switch. Again just to teach you how to fish

  • pay attention to the black/bronze/different color screws on the 3ways, one will have line and the other will have load
  • line and load are usually 14-2 wires with just black and white, exception is fans where a 14-3 wire is often used so you can have separate switches for the light and fan.
  • just because one of your 3way’s common screw is “hot” with 120v doesn’t mean the line is in that box. It is often “sent” to that switch from the other gang box just like with this situation of the Romex 1 red wire being connected to the black wire of Romex 2

(Michael) #207

Unfortunately you have power going to the fixture first and this limits your ability to “smarten” your switches. Most smart switches require line, load, and neutral (3 wires) and in your situation you don’t have enough wires to make this work - there is no neutral going from the fixture to your switches. If you can fish a new Romex wire to your switch that could solve it. Or read the top post of this thread for other options like micro relays that you install in the fixture box. Lutron Caseta has dimmers that don’t require a neutral but that also requires a Lutron hub.

(J.) #208

Thanks Michael. Frustrating, but will return these. I have ordered QTY 1 of these, Lutron Switch - No Neutral I would replace QTY 1 of the switches, per Page 5 3-way install. It seems like I MUST install that with the Neutral (hot) switch wired to the load side since it’s the constant-hot load side from the fixture?


@ritchierich, So I tested Romex 2 and I don’t get 120. I think that’s because I actually get 120 from Romex 4. If you notice the black from Romex 4 connects to the switch on the right (pic 1) and there is a jumper from that switch over to the black screw on the switch on the left. This is kind of tough to see in the pic but there are two wire connected to the black screw on the switch on the left.

Correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t think this changes anything, I just will have 2 wires plugged into line on my master. Right? Meaning the black from Romex 2 is still my line, but it get’s it’s power from the jumper wire that will plug into the second hole?

(Michael) #210

Correct, it is common to have a jumper for the line wire between multiple switches.


It worked exactly as you explained. Line was going to the other switch and jumped over to the switch on the left.