[FAQ] GE 3-Way Wiring

Thank you David and Dissonance.

I am not at home, but plan to take a look in the morning and see what I can do.

Only difference from what you said david is that the main switch at the top of the stairs only has one black wiring coming to the switch. The other black wire is pigtailed in the box and runs out the bottom of the box. I can only assume this black wire either runs to the light or runs to the switch at the bottom of the stairs.

With both of your posts, I’ll get it figured out.

This is a typical setup that I have discussed several times above. You have line and load in this box. Confirm my assumptions/edits of your picture by using a multimeter:

  • with light turned off, go to downstairs switch and place one probe on the black/bronze common screw of the switch and the other probe on the bare copper ground wire. I believe you will read 120v
  • If this is correct my sloppy edits are correct highlighting which wires are which.

    The reason the downstairs is reading 120v is because it is being “sent” via the two black wires bundled together that you have an arrow point to at the bottom of the box. The setup is just like this post above:
    [FAQ] GE 3-Way Wiring

I apologize if I missed your explanation above my post. I really appreciate your personal time and write up.

I’m still currently on duty and won’t get off till 12am. So I’ll be able to check this in the AM.

Will report back.

I wonder if anyone here could help me with wiring a non-standard 4-WAY switch…? Or at least just to figure out if I have all the wires I need for it to even be possible.

I’m trying to install HoneyWell Z-wave switches in a pre-existing 3-switch system, but I suspect the color coding of the wiring isn’t standard, and in any case many of the wires were just painted beige by the previous owner. Also, the wiring doesn’t match up with any of the configurations I’ve found directions to online. My guess is that it’s a “light between 3 switches” configuration, but I’d appreciate some more knowledgable opinions and any recommendations as to how to deal with it…

Boxes 2 and 3 are pretty basic, each with a single 14-3 romex going into the box with black, red, white and bare/green wires. There’s no second romex exiting the box, as in the included wiring instructions.

Box 1 is a doozy. It’s on the 2nd floor. From below, there’s one 14-2 romex. From above, there’s one 14-2 and two 14-3. And it’s all crammed into a tiny 1-gang box that I can barely see the back of. The original switch in this box had 2 “In” and 2 “Out” and 1 ground with no neutral.

I’ve attached some pictures, in case that clarifies. With this attempted wiring configuration, the lights just stay perpetually on… This is not my proudest moment…

UPDATE: Bought a multimeter and identified a black wire bringing in the current to Box 1 from the circuit breaker. It also appears to directly feed the adjacent room off a second black wire connected to the first.

You mentioned pictures but I don’t see any. Based on Romex count, I would say Box 1 has line from breaker, load to fixture, and both wires to your other two 3 way switches all crammed in this box. See my picture above, are you sure a deep switch will fit? That is my worry:

Without a multimeter it will be hard to figure this out. If you have a harbor freight near you, they give them away with any purchase with a coupon all the time or Lowes and HD have them for cheap too. We have to determine if this box does indeed have power.

Thanks Michael. I added pictures and made some edits. I just copied that post from another spot where no one was answering, and forgot to update it. The switches DO fit, but just barely.

Wow that box is a mess. Do you have Before pictures with your old switches? If not you should always take them in case something fails or you need to refer back to. I ask because we really need to identify line and load and looking at the 3way switches, ones with 3 wires, is the best way.

This is going to take some back and forth to figure out…

  • Are the lights these switches control upstairs above box 1? Or are some down too?
  • If above, I have to assume that the 14-2 Romex coming in from the bottom of your box is the line from breaker. Then the 14-2 going out of the top of the box is the load to fixture.
  • you can test this theory with an old dumb switch, single pole would be best but 3 way could work, not the 4 way you have a picture of. Find the 2 black wires from each of these 14-2 Romex and unbundle them from any other wires and insert them into the dumb switch. If the switch controls the lights then you have the answer.

I realized I should have taken a picture after the fact… The other switches, even the 3-ways, were so easy. And this one didn’t look too bad until I popped off the switch and got a look at the madness hiding behind it.

As to your other question, switch 1 is on the 2nd floor, as is one other switch. The last switch is on the 1st floor. I’ll try the test with the switch after work and get back to you.

This is additionally complicated by another circuit going through Box 1 to feed a separate room.

I figured it out! Had a eureka moment when I realized I could just cap off and ignore the unnecessary black wire in the add-on switches in this configuration and then did some educated guessing about which Romex went where… and discovered a FIFTH Romex (14-2) crammed out of sight in the back of Box 1 in the process. Your tip about the 14-3’s going to the switches definitely helped. Thanks again.

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I’ve spent hours reading these forums and tinkering with my switch boxes to come up empty handed and a very aggravated wife :)… I am trying to see exactly what my setup is but will post pictures.
The switch on the left is what Tim trying to make a smart switch with GE Zwave, the right two switches are hooked up line with a bundled white that goes to the second switch in the 3 way as common.

Good news is you can make her happy soon because you have a very standard setup with line and load in this same switch box. Wire colors are up to the electrician so that is usually where frustration comes into play from folks new to wiring. I have marked up your picture to highligh what you need to do.

We will call the 3 gang box switch 1 and the single gang switch 2.

Switch 1 - Master GE Switch:

  • Disconnect the white wire from the bundle of wires I call out and insert into one of the neutral terminals on the master switch. this will “send” neutral from this location to your Aux switch
  • Add a short pigtail sire into the neutral bundle and insert into the other hole in the neutral terminal on your master switch
  • Red wire to traveler
  • Black wire to load
  • Put a wire nut on the highlighted black wire as you no longer need it
  • At this point you can turn back on power to confirm that the master switch works before proceeding if you desire

Switch 2 - Aux Switch:

  • Put a wire nut on the black wire as you no longer need it
  • Put white wire into neutral terminal on the aux switch
  • Put the red wire into the traveler terminal on the aux switch

Enjoy!

That was an amazing explanation, but it’s still not working, is it possible that since it is 4 can lights there is something else going on? Or that I fried my switch?

Luckily I had another he zwave switch I was using in a non 3 way and moved it over here and it WORKED!! looks like maybe a bad switch

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line-switch-load-switch-1 looks super close to my setup but I have weird black tied to white going on.

2 & 5 are pigtailed together but 2 is black and 5 is white.
4 was going into screw labeled Common at the top of switch.
6 & 7 were going into silver screws on bottom, opposite sides of switch from each other.

Any suggestions on what’s going on here?

Might be as in the diagram here labeled “3 way switch wiring with light first”?

https://www.do-it-yourself-help.com/3-way-switch-wiring-diagrams.html

Couldn’t figure out what the black & white are doing being tied together but I followed line-switch-load-switch-1 and it all worked. Pulled 2&5 apart and ignored that confusing aspect.

I believe I figured out that:
Line2 was line/breaker and line4 is load/light and it all worked fine

Tied line5/8 into the other neutrals (1/3), tied off line6/9 as being unused and all worked just fine.

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I hate dealing with 3-way switches.

But I’m really glad I deleted all the 4-ways our architect had laid out!

Hello,

I have multi-light 3 way that looks most similar to “light switch switch load.” (Looks most like the 2nd wiring in the thread)

When I connect my Zooz Zen 26, light comes on but my fuse box quickly shuts it off.

What could be my issue here???

Thanks

Greetings all. Just installed a GE switch in a 4-way config.

I saw a couple other questions in this thread, and while not wanting to hijack the thread, this video includes a good explanation for folks doing both 3-way and 4-way installs: most notably, remember that when you are replacing traditional switches (and even more critically for 4-way configs) these switches don’t work the same way that regular switches do: only one switch is actually, well, a switch. The add-ons are really just remotes and don’t go in the actual circuit to open and close the flow of electricity.

Check out the video for diagrams and additional info on where to put your switches. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0rRC_Mrlumc

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