SmartThings Community

[FAQ] GE 3-Way Wiring


(RyanM) #121

I had an electrician wire a smart dimmer into a 3-way setup before I realized I needed the add-on switch for the second location. He hooked up the dimmer and the dumb switch, and flipped the breaker back on. The dimmer now only turned the lights on and off, no dim function, so I researched and had him come back to install the add on switch. The dimmer still only turns the lights on and off, and his suggestion is that the setup without the add-on switch sent too much power to the dimmer, and “fried” the dimmer functionality. Does anyone know if this is possible? Or should I just have him come back and refer him to the various diagrams included above?


That seems unlikely. If the dimmer circuitry was fried I don’t think it would work at all.

Unlike dimmers, smart switches use relays (you hear a click when you turn them on and off).

What is more likely is that you may have a problem with the load. Are you controlling an LED fixture? Some of them do not dim well and will require the dimmer to be all the way up before coming on and in this case you may not see any dimming.

The other possibility is that he has in fact wired it incorrectly. One important point about add ons is usually they do not require a line (if it’s in the box you cap it off).

I could be off base. Others will chime in.

(Chris Rollison) #123

I’m at a loss, have spent quite a while scratching my head trying to figure out my wiring situation.

In my main box, I have the load lines coming from the bottom, but then 3 sets of romex going up. Far right goes to an outdoor light, Far left is the 12/3. In the middle is another 12/2 with the black coming from the outdoor light switch black and white off of the twisted set of white wires in the box.

What I suspect, is it is wired like a power at the light, but I have access to neutral wires at the main box. Is it still possible to wire this? Thanks.

(Jack Loken) #124

I believe what I have most closely resembles the last diagram shown. If I was going to re-wire this setup to work, what would be the easiest way to do it? Run the power feed back to the light switch box and then connect it from there?


You are correct. You would need to run an additional wire from the light box to either switch box. You’d place the master switch in the switch box with the new wire.


I had a similar scenario but was fortunate to have an outlet on the same circuit in the room behind one of the 3-way switches between the same two studs. So I just dropped Romex into it and made that the source. The original power source in the fixture was just capped off.

Had that power source been on a different circuit, I would have removed the original power source to the fixture altogether, and of course evaluated whether the new load could safely go on the other circuit (not likely an issue with 7w bulbs).

(Jonathan Tipton) #127

Few questions about about the GE Z wave light switches…
I have 3 separate switches that all control under cabinet lights. Currently, there are no in wall wires that connect the 3 switches so each switch controls a separate set of lights…

Here’s the questions…can I get 1 of the main Z wave on/off switch and 2 of the add on switches or would I have to have 3 of the main ones since they are not currently wired together? Second, in the first set up of 1 main and 2 add on, would all 3 lights turn all of the lights on? Ideally I would like to turn on any one of the 3 switches and all 3 come on (with out wiring them together in the wall), if that’s possible.

Thanks in advance!!

(Michael) #128

You will need 3 separate smart switches. Aux are only used in 3+ way setups. Since all of your switches operate independently they need their own smart switch. Once installed you can use smart lighting to sync them.

(Vince) #129

@jhamstead (or anyone else who is knowledgeable), could you please let me know if my situation falls into the “3 way Switch (Multiple Lights between switches #1)” scenario? I’ve posted my situation here: GE 3 Way Switch Help and am really hoping that I can address this at the switches instead of having to open up the recessed lights. Thanks.

(Johann Lopez) #130

Can you look at my photos of my switch boxes? I can’t tell if the white bundled wires are neutral? I think they might just be connected to 3 way switch.

17 new photos · Album by Johann Lopez

(Bryan) #131

Can you post a picture of the whole box and the device?

Also, put a meter between the white and the ground. Try the switches in multiple positions to see if you get voltage.

(Johann Lopez) #133

For some reason it only uploaded one picture and not the link to the album.
Here’s the link to the album

(Bryan) #134

I looked at your album. I can see why you asked the question.

In the first and third pictures, it appears to me that both a black and a neutral are wired to the same screw on the switch, so if that black is hot, that white isn’t a neutral.

In the second and fourth pictures, it’s clear that a white and a black are wire nutted together, so if that black is hot, that white isn’t a neutral.

Also, judging by the first six pictures, it looks to me as if you have aluminum wiring. Or at least some aluminum wiring, as the remainder of the pictures look to be copper. Aluminum wiring is considered to be hazardous.

The copper wiring pics look to be more professionally done. The ones that I believe are aluminum wiring are wired sloppily with more conductor exposed than needed.

I know you just wanted the neutral question answered, but if you weren’t aware of the aluminum wiring, you should probably know, since it’s considered a fire hazard. Hopefully someone else will chime in here and either confirm my thoughts or correct me.

As to why you have whites connected to blacks, I have no idea. There is a legitimate way to wire a switch where only the hot is passed to the switch and the white returns to the device via the white. It’s not required, typically, but an accepted practice is to mark the white as hot by putting a piece of black electrician’s tape on it. The practice was somewhat common some time ago. You’ll often see posts in this forum from people seeking to wire a smart switch in a box that doesn’t have a neutral. I don’t think that’s the case here, though.


I’m not sure I’d concur on that. Some of the wires (e.g. ground wires in photo 12) are wrapped around the screws in the wrong direction. Nothing necessarily to freak out about, but a professional wouldn’t have done that.

(Bryan) #136

True, but I was referring to the comparison generally speaking of the two boxes. The grounds are in the wrong direction, but the bights have been crimped. I was suggesting that they were done by two different people.


Understood. I also agree the important thing here is that aluminum wiring. If I were to encounter that when helping a friend install new switches, I’d say it was time for a professional who knows specifically how to make those connections safe (assuming rewiring is out of the question).


I installed GE Smart switches in a 3-way circuit this past weekend. It took a bit of work to sort out which existing wires went where, but I got it working.

(David Beiser) #139

I purchased the 14291 and 12723 Add-on for a 3-way location, however after reviewing this FAQ I think I’m dead in the water.

I have what looks like the configuration listed as “3-Way Switch (Power into Light)” option #1 above with the power starting from the electrical box, routing through 3 lights and entering the first 3-way switch box. From there a 12-3 with ground continues to the 2nd 3-way switch. The only thing they did different was at the first switch instead of twisting the black from the lights to the black on the 12-3 and passing it through, they connected it to the common on the switch and connected the white to the black on the 12-3, passing it via the black to the common on the remote switch. White and Red on the 12-3 are then left to act as the travelers.

I assume it’s the same result either way, I can’t use this switches?

You mentioned the Zooz but listed it below the 2nd picture, will it work for my configuration? The only reason I didn’t go with them in the first place, and paid extra, was the fact that I wanted to go with only one manufacture AND Zooz only comes with a white flipper.



(Michael) #140

Both GE and Zooz require a neutral wire. Since you ha e power at the light neither of these will work since you don’t have enough wires to get both neutral, load, power, and a traveler to your switch.

(David Beiser) #141

Just spotted dawgonking’s post, that is exactly what I have.

Can you use the Zooz switch here?