# GE 4 Way Switch Integration Question

Hello,
I am trying to wire up a 4-way switch and I’m a bit stumped. I’ve read a few posts online regarding this question but doesn’t seem to make sense to me. I have determined the switch downstairs is where my primary switch needs to go. My issue comes that my 4-way switch doesn’t seem to have a neutral wire. I don’t think it does at least. I’ve made this table to indicate which lines have power when the light is on and was able to figure out which is line and what controls the light but I’m stumped on the 4 way box. It seems like when the light is on either the blacks or the whites have power.

Box 1:
Right Side: Black (top), Black (bottom)
Left side: White (bottom)
Bundle of white wires for neutral

Box Two (4-way switch)
Right Side: Black (Top), Black (Bottom)
Left side: White (top), white(bottom)
No additional wires coming into the box except for ground

Box Three
Right side: Black (top), Black (bottom)
Left Side: White (bottom)
Bundle of white wires for neutral

Any suggestions?

The four way switch does not and should not have a neutral wire for normal operation. It will connect poles straight across in one position and connect poles diagonally in another (I believe). Power passes through the switch no matter what position it is in. It is just a matter of, if the power happens to be connected by the other two switches to the light. You can almost think of each switch as a train track switch and you set the three switches to get to the destination you want, other destinations are a dead end.
Power come in at one pole on switch 1. It is then connected to either of the other two poles. Then with the four way switch you can switch from straight through or crisscross the path. Then the last switch can determine which wire is connected to the light. If the switch is set to connect the hot wire to the light it is on. If not it is off.
If the position of any one switch is changed. Power ends up at the last switch on the other wire and the light goes off.

The neutral wire may(newer houses) or may not (older houses) be connected through the boxes. It does not meet modern code but functionally all that needs to be in the switch boxes is the power.

What are you trying to accomplish?

I am trying to put an add-on switch where the 4 way switch resides. The problem is that when I wired it up the add-on switch doesn’t actually control the light and I am not sure which wire I should be putting into the neutral slot. The other two switches are able to control the light without issues but the 4 way switch doesn’t do anything.

Rolled it over a couple of times in my head. I believe from your chart (you will have to verify this) that power is coming in at box 1 and going out to the light at box 3. If that is the case I think you are stuck and will need pull a new wire. You need the Black wires for your load wire. You will need to use the white wires for travelers. That leaves you short one wire for the neutral in the middle box.

(If you don’t care you could use the ground for neutral but it is against code. Functionally they are both tied together in your main box.)

I would recommend you pull a new wire with a red white black and ground from box one or box three to box two, whichever is easiest.

Redraw this diagram with the light at one end and the 45609 on the other end, with the 45610s in between. I think that is what you are dealing with.

Sorry for the late reply. I’m not an electrician by any means so apologize in advance for the dumb questions. What the harm of using the ground for neutral? So that means I’d have that same wire hooked up on the ground for add on and the neutral?

I’m not sure how I would even go about pulling a new wire with red, white, black and ground from box three. Box two and three would be my most feasible at that point but it’s on the opposite side of the hallway from box two.

Could you please take pictures of each box with the switches pulled out so we can see the wires in each box? The important switches in a 3+ way switch are the 3 way switches, ones with 3 wires. The 4 ways can be ignored. On the 3 way switches one screw terminal will be a different color, usually black or bronze, called “common” and that is the one to pay attention to. On one 3 way the common will be your line from breaker and the other will be load to your lights/fixture.

Also this FAQ has good information: