GE 12722 and 12723 Traveler voltage?

(Dario) #1

Hey all, I’m new to the forums and have done a search but even after all my reading, I still wasn’t able to get an answer to a quick question, so I figured I’d ask myself.

Having wired my GE/Jasco 12722 and 12723 (x2) switches, I turned on the breaker and everything seems to be working properly. However, the red traveler wires all read a constant 120v regardless of the lights actually being on or off.

The main (12722) switch traveler terminal is taped off with “No 120v” as we all know. So is it normal to be reading 120v after everything is wired (from what I can tell) properly?

(Pizzinini) #2

No this is not normal… are you sure they are wired properly and the auxiliary switches working properly?


I would check the GE wiring FAQ and make sure you have everything wired correctly. The differences from A non-networked setup are subtle but important.

(Ray) #4

OK, I think we misunderstood his question. You will get 120v coming out of the GE master switch traveler terminal. So that’s normal.
You should not have any voltage at all at the traveler terminal of your add on switch IF THERE IS NO WIRE from the master switch connecting to it. You will get constant 120 at all time once hooking the traveler from the master to the add on switch.

(Dario) #5

That’s correct, I guess I should have clarified that I am getting a constant 120v reading coming OUT of the red traveler wires AFTER all 5 of the terminals on the master switch is fully wired up and the breaker is turned on.

If it helps, I can further clarify my wiring as this:

The main box where the 12722 is located has the 2/wire LINE coming in. It also has two other 3/wire going out, one to the door and another to the stairs.

The wiring going to the door is by itself. And once I have everything hooked up, I capped off the black LINE wire. The only wires used for the 12723 is the ground, white neutral, and red traveler.

The wiring going to the stairs is hooked up similarly, except the black LINE wire is capped together with the black load wire going to the lights.


It’s been a little while since I wired these up in my house but I don’t think you should be seeing 120v on the traveler wire at all. I had something similar to this when I wired the switches in my stairwell and hallways upstairs. After quite some time testing everything and toning out wires I found out that my red traveler wire in the ceiling box was tied together with the neutral in one big clump. How they had it wired from 25 years ago worked but didn’t make sense to me so I pulled it all apart. After putting it back together with the traveler no longer tied to the neutrals everything worked perfectly.

Not saying this is your issue but worth checking. When in doubt disconnect the travelers on both ends and see if the switches operate at just plain ol simple on off switches. If they do, check for voltage on both ends of the loose travelers and see if you have voltage. If you do then you know something funky is going on with your traveler and likely in the light or in another box.

Good luck,

(Dario) #7

Thanks steve, I’ll check once I get home. Although, I did check a different regular (non-smart)3-way switch and the red travelers are all constantly live.

Another question I’d like clarified is: if the red traveler isn’t constantly live, how does the smart add-on (12723) switch cause the lights to turn on? I ask this because the only other wires connected are the ground and white neutral, neither of which have power.


The neutral does have power, and that’s what powers the radio inside the Switch.

Electrical power flows in the form of current, which must pass through the equipment and then return to the power source. Therefore, it is convenient to think of one wire to the load being the “source” wire and one being the “return” wire. This simple model is appropriate for DC systems but does not work for an AC system because the flow of the power is continually reversing direction with a frequency of 50 or 60 times per second. From the point of view of the equipment or the power source, the source and return wires are constantly being interchanged. In fact, no equipment can tell which wire is which! It is easily demonstrated that the two power wires to any piece of AC equipment can be interchanged without any affect on function. In fact, in Europe, unlike North America, the plug on a piece of equipment can be plugged in either way! (The asymmetrical offset ground pin on the North American 3-wire outlet makes it impossible to reverse the connection of the two power wires). This fact of symmetry seems to be at odds with the distinct labeling of the AC power wires as “hot” and “neutral”.
The reason that one of the power wires is named “neutral” is because it is connected directly to the building ground connection at the circuit breaker panel. Therefore it is connected directly to the grounding (third) wire. In essence, then, two of the three wires at the wall receptacle are actually grounded wires, one being used for power flow, and the other connected only to exposed metal parts on the equipment. The power wire that is grounded is called the “neutral” wire because it is not dangerous with respect to exposed metal parts or plumbing. The “hot” wire gets its name because it is dangerous.

(Dario) #9

Great to know! Never really thought about, just assumed and never checked either.

I clarified with Jasco and they confirmed that the traveler terminals should not have constant 120v.

Time to take everything apart and figure it out!

(Michael) #10

I have over 40 GE switches installed in my home and many 3/4 way setups. The traveler wire on all of mine has 120v when everything is hooked up correctly and all switches working. If your switches work, I wouldn’t worry about it. I have had hit or miss support techs at Jasco so I would say you had a miss with the answer to your question.

Are your switches working?


When you think of a traditional on off switch you have 2 wires (for simplicity ignore the ground wire). When you flip the switch on the switch is completing the path between the common (line) and the load to the light. The white neutral is not even tied into the traditional switch and is usually connected directly to the neutral going to the light fixture.

With a 3 way switch you have the same setup except the extra line for the traveler (technically both the red and the load wires called travelers in this case but thats another discussion). In the 3 way switch the common line gets flip flop to either the load or the traveler depending on the direction of the switch. When switch 1 is off the red traveler is energized going to switch 2. Since switch 2 is a flip flop too and is in the off position this isn’t completed the circuit to the light. Flipping either one on essentially bypasses the flip flop on the other switch. Check out these images to make a little more sense.

So the red traveler wire sitting in the box (not hooked up on either end) should have no voltage on it. IF it does like in my scenario it’s probably not hooked up properly in one of the light fixtures.

Good luck.

(Daniel Ionescu) #12

Europe has 2 phase 220V AC. That’s why you can reverse wires. Also both wires (phases) run through breakers.
US has 1 phase 110V AC. Neutral equates ground at the panel only.


I didn’t actually say that, I linked to an article that did. But good point. :wink:

(Dario) #14

Is this with regards to these smart switches only? Because on my regular dumb switches, the traveler wires read 120v when the lights are turned on.

Something that went over my head prior starting this thread is that I forgot to mention that before I began to wire these new switches in, the wiring at the main switch had the white neutral wrapped with black electrical tape and was actually wire-nut into the LINE. The white wire in the door receptacle also was covered with black tape and was actually 120v for that switch, the black load wire was reading something like 50v.

(Daniel Ionescu) #15

Electrician used white wire to carry power and he marked it with black tape identifying it as voltage carrying conductor.

If light was off when you measured those 50v and you measured in reference to the ground, I would worry that your neutral at the light is not properly connected through at the panel.

(Ray) #16

Or most likely a phantom voltage caused by a high impedance voltage meter.