GE 3 way dimming kit issues


#1

Hi everyone, my GE dimming kit doesn’t work(electricity wise) and I’ve spent 2 days trying to figure out why.

Typically I wouldn’t post for help but I’ve wiried lots of outlets in my life and never had as many issues as I do with this. I have also ruled out the fact that maybe the unit was just a lemon by putting in a different unit. This I can say is the only smart product I’ve had any issues with as far as electricity is concerned. I’ll start off by saying that the original 3 way dimming switch & light setup worked before trying to install this GE wifi kit. Anyways… Here goes.

I have a 3 way GE Dimmer Kit. The setup that it will be going into is as follows:

Switch1>Light>Switch2

If you want to get technical about it here we go:

Breaker>Switch1>Light>Switch2

From the Breaker comes a thick white wire into Switch1. This thick white wire from the Breaker to Switch1 has a black and a white wire. (Fairly standard setup)

From Switch one there is a thick black wire going to Light. This thick black wire has a black a white and a red wire inside. (Also fairly common)

The light has a black and white wire. (again, fairly common)

The same style thick black wire is going from Light to Switch 2.

Hopefully you’re still with me. If not, here’s another style of diagram that you might be able to understand me with.

Breaker(black/white)

Switch1(black/white[from Breaker], black/white/red[to Light])

Light(black/white/red[from Switch1],black/white[from the actual light], black/white/red[to Switch2])

Switch2(black/white/red[from Light)

Now that you have some confusing diagrams in writing to try and understand… PLEASE HELP!!!

I’ve been racking my brain trying to figure out why it won’t work.

Thanks!


Trouble with 3-way switch
#2

Which model numbers? Are these regular GE non networked switches of the zwave switched? They are wired differently, which is where a lot of people get confused, especially if they’re replacing dumb switches with smart ones.

The key is that the smart aux still has to always have power, even when off, or it can’t be switched back on with a network command. So the traveler wires are run differently.


#3

Thanks for the quick response and here are the models exactly:

Dimmer Switch Model: ZW3003

Auxiliary Switch Model: ZW2002


#4

OK, this GE guide on the ZW3003 has a particularly good set of wiring diagrams. Study them closely until you understand how they’re saying the wiring has to be different for smart aux switches.

http://www.zwaveproducts.com/layout/manuals/GE-45612_User-Manual.pdf


#5

Right. That’s the exact diagram I studied but unfortunately my setup isn’t their version of “easiest” since mine is switch>light>switch. This is why I’ve come to the forums.


#6

I would contact GE support. My understanding is that these switches can’t be wired the way you’re suggesting, the zwave aux is not intended to be connected to the hot wire. Just via traveler to the master.

I do understand the configuration you’ve described as it would work with dumb switches, but the aux in the zwave models, while powered, is not load bearing, it’s just not how they work. Instead the aux tells the master to turn on the light.

But maybe there’s a way to do it, GE should know.


#7

I contacted them 2 days ago and still have not had a response. Do you or anyone here have a good contact # or email for them where I might get faster service?


#8

That model is on the official “works with SmartThings” list, so you can try support@smartthings.com and see if they have any ideas. Since it’s a wiring issue, though, they may just refer you back to GE. Sorry not to be more help.


#9

Thanks.

Honestly I’m actually a bit surprised there isn’t more info somewhere about this. The wiring setup I have isn’t uncommon by any means.


#10

It’s not uncommon for dumb switches, it’s just not the way smart switches usually work. Partly to keep the cost down and mostly because it’s not necessary, the aux typically does not control a load. It just sends messages, usually to the master switch, but sometimes directly to the hub.

This is what allows you to have multiple switches around the home that aren’t even on the same circuit as the light that you’re going to have to go on and off.

For example I use a battery powered toggle switch which I can place much lower on the wall. I’m in a wheelchair, and I either work the switch with my elbow, or my service dog works it.

Someone else might want to add a switch at the top of the kitchen stairs that controls the light in the basement, for example. Very easy to do if there’s a smart master switch in the basement and you’re just adding a battery operated auxiliary in the kitchen. Or you could add a wired switch, but one that was on a completely different circuit than the basement light fixture.

A master and auxiliary Zwave switch can usually be “directly associated” which lets them send messages somewhat more quickly than going through the hub, but still doesn’t require that the aux be controlling the load to the light fixture.

Just a different way of solving the same problem, using newer technology. It also means the actual wiring is less important when it comes to placing auxiliary switches. Of course the master still has to control the actual light fixture.

It takes some getting used to, but it actually gives you a lot more options.


(Patrick Stuart [@pstuart]) #11

Do you have a line tester?

If you are positive the configuration is this:

power -> switch -> light -> switch

then what you will need is a traveler to the 2nd switch and a shared common (white) and ground (green or bare wire)

The key is getting that traveler to send power only to the 2nd switch which is now just a keypad.

So, what has to happen is this to start:

power -> to keypad
power -> dimmer -> control load to light

So, if you can’t get power to the 2nd switch, you can’t get it to work.

The keypad can’t control the load, but you might be able to reroute the wires above the light to make the traveler happen.

It isn’t easy, and what’s worse, is when the hub is down, the keypad can’t control the load, unless these can? My understanding is only one dimmer / keypad combo can do this, and that is the v2 Control4 zigbee dimmers and keypads.

Anyway, hope that helps.


#12

Thanks for the info.

Exactly how I posted the setup is exactly how it’s configured. I manually used some electrical equipment to make sure double check and triple check that the lines were run exactly as they are. The only thing I’m now having trouble with is trying to figure out how I am supposed to plug everything in the way that my setup is now. I have all the wires open right now and have tested a few different configurations and nothing seems to work.

Once all the electricity is back on after everything is plugged in, I should be able to just press the switch just like its a normal power switch I thought. No? If not, that seems kind of like a waste of time to even install this product and I might as well just put the old 3 way back and put in a GE light bulb…(which is where I’m about to go with this, as well as send back all 7 of the 3 way kits I purchased).


(Patrick Stuart [@pstuart]) #13

It won’t work, at least the non load carrying keypad until they are configured. Only the dimmer that controls the load will work until its configured.


#14

Highly disappointed.

Thanks for the info guys. Looks like next week I’ll be pulling some new cable through the walls to make the “easily replaceable” GE Smart Switch Kit work.

In the ideology of wireless technology this should work. Wiring diagrams and reds and blacks and whites and greens and drills and snakes and endless electrical equipment should be a thing of the past with this new progression.

The way it should work:

Power to switch1
Power to switch2
Power to the light

Power=anything that can power the equipment.

Switch1 is pressed for an ON command.
Switch 1 sends on command signal to light and once it’s on, it’s broadcasts a signal back to switch 1 and 2 that it’s now on.

The point I’m trying to make is why are we still trying to send controls to equipment through the use of electricity vs just using a private network controlled by a HUB of some sort? I read someone else’s post earlier this week about what ST would like for us to tell them what they want to see in the next version of theit HUB. Someone said why not have 2 or 3 models and that they would gladly buy the more expensive $200 or $400 models. I’d like to take that one step further and add my 2 cents. If this technology is really going to go anywhere than someone needs to develop a much better “standard” peice of equipment. Don’t get me wrong here ok, the stuff that we can all do now is pretty cool but it’s all very far away from its potential. We don’t need $200 or $400 models. We need a dedicated team of people to come up with real Smart Technology standards similar to how there are best practices and the sort for the original PC world. A $100 hub is great for home but why not create something that’s worthy of the playing field. There’s no reason a device that can do everything that’s been an idea on this forum and anywhere can’t do 10x the amount of things suggested. A device that could cost $10,000 or $50,000 or more. Something with real processing power and memory and localized hard drive space for private data. I for one would buy one.

/endrant


(Patrick Stuart [@pstuart]) #15

This limitation has nothing to do with ST.

If you really want to get around it, look at panelized lighting solutions from Control4 or Crestron.

It is already here, just not at a DIY level or cheap price point.

New home installs can be set up for panelized lighting very easy by home running all power from lights to a central panel. The HA controls the panel and everything works very well.


#16

Right. I never said it was a ST limitation. I was really going off more on a rant about the Smart technology that doesn’t seem to be quite smart.

It was more of one of those “why don’t we have flying cars yet” kinda things.

Thanks both for the info today. You’ve been greatly helpful.

----and for the record I’m very happy with my inexpensive ST Hub purchase. A great little piece of equipment for someone like me to constantly be puzzled as well as have wife aggro while playing Destiny all day.


(Patrick Stuart [@pstuart]) #17

Yeah, unfortunately, you have to blame a lazy electrician / builder. 3 way lighting without a traveler is just lazy and cheap.

At least you have a common and ground :smile:


#18

If you really want to spend $40,000 or so there are already a number of existing environmental control systems that can do amazing things.

The open marketspace is in the under $5,000, and nobody, including SmartThings, has a fully baked plug and play system available for that yet. But a lot of companies are working to create one.

i personally don’t care whether Samsung wants to build a high end system or not, that’s up to them. But it wouldn’t fit my budget. :blush:

BTW, Nortek is typical of the future for home security I think. They now have four brands: Élan, which is very high end; 2Gig, for professionally monitored systems, Nortek (formerly Linear) for professional installers; and their newest, Go! control, for the plug and play low end residential market.

Whether we’ll see the same kind of segmentation for home automation (substituting professionally installed and maintained for professionally monitored), I’m not sure, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

edited to add crossposted with PStuart, but, yeah Control4 and Crestron were the ones I was thinking of in the first paragraph. Plus some high end boutique firms.


#19

What I did to begin my smart home venture was I came home and made a list in my #moleskin of things that I don’t ever want to do again. IE: turn light on. Open garage. Turn light off. Unlock door. Lock door. Etc. etc. etc.

Next I decided that ST would be my brain of choice as it’s open source.

Here I am as future self wrapping up a few light switches and a considerable chunk of $ later and wondering where I should’ve gone instead. I guess that’s the price you pay with new technogy and things that are easy though. I mean, let’s be realistic here… Only consumers would gladly pay $50+ for a wireless door contact. China pays less than $1 for that stuff and when they buy the parts out the way that most unimaginally wealthy people do, they pay for it in pennies.

Maybe the next step is to make my own devices for private use, not retail?


(NotoiousBDG) #20

@Player1, I completely understand your frustration. I have the same setup on several of my 3-way switches. My first GE 3-way install didn’t get off to a good start either. FWIW, I’m not an electrician… In the end, I ended up having 2 issues. The first was that one box didn’t have a neutral wire. Your switch 2 box is in the same predicament. I had to use a GE 45612 in that box because it does not require a neutral wire. This also means that whatever light you use in the circuit needs to be dimmable.

The second issue was that I was leaving the 2 seemingly unused wires in the aux box unconnected when they need to be connected to each other. The 2 resources that set me on track were the 2 YouTube videos below.