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[FAQ] GE 3-Way Wiring


(Eric) #101

Thanks guys. Yeah, I plan on running the wire to switch #2 and making that the primary because that’s the one at the end of the dark hallway where the blue LED on the primary GE z-wave switch will be useful.

Again, can’t say thank you enough.


Great! If you run the wire to switch #2 you’ll be able to connect your GE switches like the first set of diagrams in the FAQ. Since you want the smart switch in box #2 use this wiring. Of course the line from breaker (in the diagram) is your new wire coming from your light box.

(Travis Schwenke) #103

Huge thumbs up to this thread. It took me a bit to figure it out what I had but it was a version of line-swtich-load-switch-1. Without this I would have been more confused than I was. The diff on mine was I had to keep the load line tied to the other box because he had the other two lights (4 outside lights in total) tied to the second box. So the blacks are all “stubbed” together in the add-on box.

(Eric) #104

So back with another basic question. Just realized this thread is for 3-way wiring, but wasn’t sure if there was a basic wiring thread.

So, I have found that even a lot of my single light switches are following the same problem as my previous 3-way switch issue. The power is coming in at the light itself so at the light switch all I have is a single 2-wire bundle going directly to the switch.

In this case, can I just jump off the neutral wire from the switch next to it?

Also, one other question…I’ve installed the first switch and I’ve noticed when the switch is turned on when you’re close to it there’s a very quiet but noticeable high pitch hissing sound. Is this normal? Like I said, if you’re a few feet away, you can’t hear it, but when you put your head near it, it’s pretty loud.


Yes and no. If the two devices are on the same breaker, then you can just use the neutral.

If they are not, you can’t use it to code. However, you can use the neutral and line in the box to power the load. What I mean by that is taking the light you are trying to wire to a smart switch and change it to the circuit the existing neutral is on. That will require changing wiring in the switch and light(s) boxes. Be warned that you would be changing the overall load on each of your circuits so make sure you are not overloading it. Of course if you choose to go that route, stick with LED bulbs and you likely shouldn’t have a problem.

I had the same situation. I changed the circuit to get access to a neutral for a 3-way switch with a single bulb that had power in the light box. It’s worked without issue.

Let me know if this is not clear.

This happens sometimes and can be annoying. Changing the load may fix or worsen the buzzing such as swapping bulb brands/types. It’s kind of trial by error.

(Eric) #106


Ah bummer, nothing with this project can go right for me lol. They’re on different circuits, so looks like more wire I have to run. Plus, the electrical box itself isn’t really secured at all, so I’m going need to replace that.

I ended up swapping out the one smart switch with another and the hiss/buzz became significantly less audible. I’m going to return this one to Lowes as with further testing I was able to hear it from 4-5ft away which would bother me quite a bit.

The only redeeming thing about all these issues that I’m in a split foyer so the basement lights/walls are easy to access with the drop ceilings and the main floor is somewhat easy to access via the attic.

Appreciate the help.

Also, just wanted to say that it was quite a pain getting all the wiring + giant smart switches into the two gang box, can’t imagine how rough it will be once I add the second switch.


You don’t need to run more wire if you are willing to change them to the same circuit, you just need to be aware of overall load of the circuit. You instead cover the line and neutral in the light box (from the one circuit) and not use them. Then use the line and neutral in your switch box from the other circuit.

(Eric) #108

Interesting. Sorry for the stupid question, does that apply to my case where the one light switch (switch #1) only has a line + load and the power and neutral are coming in at the light fixture itself?

My one light switch is wired like this:

And in the same one gang box is a normally wired light switch (switch #2) with a two-wire from the breaker and a two-wire to the light.

I’m probably missing something but every way I maul it over in my head, if I were to take switch #1 and only keep the load wire which goes to the light switch and jump on the other line/neutral from switch #2, then wouldn’t the end circuit be different because it ends at the light bulb, and thus still not up to code?


Unfortunately, you’re right. I don’t think I’ve seen that wiring configuration before but it’s almost like a 3-way setup. You’d somehow need to get line/neutral from one circuit and load/neutral from the other between the two bulbs to make my suggestion work. Of course there are only 3 wires so that can’t happen.

You’d only be able to do it by switching everything else down the line to the other circuit, which probably would cause overload issues.

I’m afraid you’re stuck with needing an additional wire between the light box and switch to install GE switches. :pensive:

(Don) #110

This is how they used to wire houses. I have many lights wired in this manner where power comes into the light and just 2 wires to switch.

I’m sure it was legal and within codes at one time. My house was built around 86. You’ll have to rewire it or use a micro or nano or something like that. I have done a few of my lights by putting the micro behind the light.

This is just my opinion, I could be wrong.

(Eric) #111

Yeah, this house was built in 78 (though remodeled so a lot of this electrical work was done in the early 2000’s and even in 2013).

It’s going to be a pain in the ass but I plan on just adding the extra wire from the light to the switch.

Once again, can’t say thanks enough to everyone here though.

(Eric) #112

So, I ended up taking every light switch out to look at the wiring and all of my 3-way switches are wired like this:

And even my single light switches don’t have a neutral so it looks like I’m going to be running a lot of 14/2 wire to get a neutral at each light switch. I’ve learned quite a lot from you guys and this thread though so not as intimidated as I was before.

(Don) #113

Welcome to my nightmare. Still very doable, just more work. :slight_smile:

(Ken) #114

I have what I think is a very typical situation with a 3 way switch controlling wall outlets (with lamps), not going directly into an overhead light. I would like to use any zwave/zigbee wall switch to control the lamps. The line goes into one switch. The load (wall outlets) are on the second. In between is a 3 wire cable with two alternately hot wires from line line supply. I can’t really determine if there are any smart switches compatible with this situation. Doing a google search using what I think are reasonable terms hasn’t provided answers.

I know that I could use a smart wall outlet or a smart plug for the lamps. The problem is that it doesn’t get around the problem of no AC when the 3 way is off.

Any ideas?


Yes, you can use a master switch and an add-on switch to handle this.

The master and add-ons will require neutrals so bear that in mind. The master needs the line and load but you can still put it in either location. If you choose to put the master at the location that currently has the load you can wire nut the line at the other location to a wire that runs to the second location to ‘jump’ your line over. You can do the same with the load if you put the master where the line currently sits - just jump the load back to the other location over an existing wire.

Bottom line is your master needs line, load and neutral. Your add-on needs a neutral and traveler (that goes back to the master). If your wiring can support this you are good.

Meter all your wires to be sure which each one is. If any of this is confusing or you are unsure please hire an electrician.

(Marc Levine) #116

Hi i have 4 wires coming out of both boxes
the add on switch only has room for two wires
im confused


Hi Everyone,

I was hoping someone could help. I wired my main 3 way switch which worked no problem. On the main switched I used red wire as the traveler. When I installed the add on switch it wouldn’t work at all. Didn’t matter if the main switch was on or not. Basically no power running to it. After much searching I decided I would use the extra black wire that I had tied to other black wire left in the box. So i did this and then tied the left over black to the red and it works perfectly. Not sure how this is possible as the red is in the traveler position on the main switch and the black is in the traveler position on the add on switch. Am I asking for trouble or am I ok since it all works as expected now? Is it possible that they reversed the wires somewhere when they wired the two lights that are inbetween?

(Mike STRECKER) #118

I don’t normally like to post unless I have a something that helps the conversation but just wanted to say thanks to everyone for this awesome blog.
I spent several days trying to figure out how to connect smart switches to a 3-way and this one site solved my issue in just 30 minutes. Wish I would have found it sooner. thanks!!


Thanks for this excellent FAQ. It is truly a lifesaver for DIY’ers. The GE instructions only illustrate what they want the wirings to be to make the smart switch work. This FAQ helps to get from where you are to where you want to be.

Well done!


Hi all from other locations I swamped out most of my 3 ways and figured they are installed using the image on the FAQ “line-switch-load-switch-2”. I have a 3way location that would be impossible to access the fixture to change the wiring on at the fixture to make the white a simple neutral). I was wondering since only one traveler is required at the remote switch is it possible to use either the red/traveler or black load in the main switch box to tie into the the neutral bundle to make one a neutral at the remote box? I am just not sure if the main switch has to see both a load and traveler on the device

Any help would be great