GE Add On Switch not working

I have Z-Wave Dimmer Switch and a GE Add On Switch to control one light from 2 switches (either switch can turn it on). I wired it following this video.

The Dimmer Switch works (both manual and z-wave), but turning on/off the Add On switch does not do anything. I tried changing the wiring in the Add On switch a few times, but then the Dimmer Switch no longer works. I also tried changing the wiring in the Dimmer Switch, but then it no longer works either. Not sure I tried all possible combinations, but got ones I thought would be safe to try.

I think in order for anyone to help we will need to know which wires you have in which boxes, and what they do. For example, which box is the load wiring in, which is the line wiring in, and how many travelers do you have between the boxes?

I find the add-on switches a pain, but once figured out, they’re not too bad. They do not swap out like a normal 3-way would. Basically a loop from the master is created with the add-on. Keep in mind that this is not line voltage (otherwise it is likely fried).


These DO NOT wire up like a standard dumb switch. You really need to read the directions. If you had the main working without the remote in. You were almost done. Now you need the traveler from the main, and a neutral. The traveler from the main goes from the connection that’s has the tape over it and says no 120 vac. To the remote switch. Then grab the neutral in remote box. Or bring it over from main switch on a second wire. So possibly 2 wires from main. The traveler and a lead connected to neutral.

Clear as mud? You could use a multimeter to verify your 2 wires going from the main to remote switch.

If you wired it wrong you possibly cooked your remote switch.

Hope that helps.

Downstairs Main Switch

Main Switch Downstairs:
White Line: Always hot (this was connected to black line screw of old standard switch)
Black Load: Hot when on
Red Traveler: always hot when plugged into switch, 13v when unplugged from main switch and switch is off (even if unplugged from both), and 27v when switch is on and wire is unplugged from main or both
White Neutral: always cold
I’m able to control light from this switch even without red traveler wire plugged in.

Upstairs Add On Switch:

Add on switch upstairs:
White neutral bundle - always hot
Red Traveler - always hot when plugged into main switch, 13v when not plugged into main switch
Black bundle - hot when on
Black Traveler (part of black bundle)- always hot when plugged into main switch, 13v when not plugged into main switch
Black load (black wire with tape on it part of black bundle)- always cold, always grounded

Switching the traveler to the black traveler wire on both units acts same as when the red traveler wire is connected to both units. Swapping traveler wire on one unit makes the light not work.

Swapping from a dimmer to an on/off switch makes no difference. Swapping out add on switch with new add on switch makes no difference.

Flipping add on switch momentarily changes red Traveler voltage when wire is not plugged into main switch. However when traveler is plugged into main switch it doesn’t read a change, just steady at 120v.

If the Black Load wire in the upstairs box is not connected to the Traveler wire that is plugged into the Load of the Main Switch downstairs, the light will not go on.

Is it normal for there to be some voltage on the traveler wires when they are not connected to either switch? And for the voltage to change from 13v when switch is off to 27v when switch is on, even if traveler wire is unplugged from both switches?

Also seems weird that the white neutral bundle of the main switch is always cold. Yet the switch still works both manually and via Z-Wave that way. I would have thought that if the neutral wasn’t right the Z-Wave wouldn’t work or something. Also the other 2 switches in that gang box downstairs share the white bundle still work. Note, there are 2 different circuit breaker switches for this 3 gang box. 1 Breaker controls the light upstairs that I am trying to get working. The other breaker controls the 2 lights downstairs.

1 Like

You need a white neutral that’s always cold upstairs. The red looks correct. Although I don’t get why you have 13v on a disconnected wire.

The traveler should not have any voltage on it. Something’s not right. When you say the white wires are always hot, how are you testing them? I’m fairly skeptical that you have one white hot wire and another white neutral wire in the same box. Also, if you are seeing 120v on the traveler one or both of the switches are possibly fried.

You can see he added the white because it looks brand new and doesn’t match the old wires. There’s def something wrong in those wires though. I have seen in older houses where what most think for black and white are backwards but never voltage on a line that is disconnected. The Reds don’t exactly look the same either. I only commented on the fact that a traveler needs a common (cold as he said) and a traveler from main GE.

Here’s what I’m seeing just based on his pictures, without being there to verify of course.

Based on my interpretation of your picture, here’s what I’m thinking it should look like when it’s finished. Please don’t go and just blindly hook this up, definitely use your multimeter to find your hot/line voltage wire, load wire, and if you have to, get a cheap spool of wire from Autozone or wherever to help test continuity of your traveler wire(s) between the two switch boxes.

I can’t stress enough, this picture is just based on my assumptions (I’m just some nobody on an internet forum, not an electrician :slight_smile: ), so please use it as a guide only and test everything enough to be sure of what you’re doing before connecting any of the wires.

It’s also possible that your main power feed goes straight into your light fixture, which would change the nature of the black and white wires that go out the right side of my diagram, so keep that in mind too. If this is the case, then the first diagram I made would actually fit how you are describing the behavior you are experiencing…that would also mean that your aux switch is hooked up to a hot wire instead of neutral, which might explain why it doesn’t work. That would look more like this…


I agree with all the above replies. Something is not right. I would guess your situation is like mine was. The “line (hot)” comes in at the light then down to the switches. You need to get a non contact tester. Unwire everthing (light included) and label it. Make sure nothing is touching, then power up and find your HOT. Then power off and continuity test your wires. Figure out what’s going where? Label it again. Then wire it like one of the drawlings above.

Or call someone professional or friend who can help you figure it out. It can easily get confusing. Took a couple calls to my electrician son’s for me to wrap my head around it. Also doesn’t help that the smart switches are not wired the same as a standard switch.

You can get voltage leaking through inductance I believe, on some of my disconnected wires in the boxes I have ~43Vac on them but there’s no current.

@Scott_Barton where are your ground/green wires, why are they not connected on either switch?

The green/ground wires are bundled together and connected to the metal gang box. Screwing the switch into the metal box grounds it. All of the metal boxes in my house were wired this way. The plastic boxes have the ground wires connected to the switch.

1 Like

I believe @TN_Oldman is correct and your line (power) is going to the fixture first and then to your switches. I believe your “upstairs” switch is the one to focus on to verify this since it has two wires where your downstairs only has the one 3 conductor romex - at least I can tell from the picture. You can easily verify this by:

  1. Turning off the power via breaker
  2. Go to the upstairs box and disconnect the 2 wire bundles and then turn power back on.
  3. You have two wires coming into that box, focus on the 2 conductor wire that has only white and black, not the one with the red wire since that is the one going to your downstairs switch.
  4. Then use a multimeter to see if there is power on either the black or white wire - use the ground wire as your neutral and then see if power is on either the white or black.

If so then you definitely how power coming from the fixture and your options are very limited.

Now… I am not an electrician or licensed to speak on these details. As Chris says above, I am just a guy on the internet providing ideas so I take no responsibility here. @Navat604 may be able to chime in with a more concrete answer to help.

Mixing neutral wires is not recommended because the positive wires could be on a separate phase in your panel. Now this said, you could (again I am not an electrician) leverage the neutral wire from the other switch in your downstairs box to make this work. But you need to verify that power is indeed coming to the upstairs box first.

1 Like

Good catch, I missed that. I believe your all over it. You can use the 3 wire lead going to other switch to bring the neutral from the main switch. Or vice versa. I had to do this. Used red as traveler, white as returning neutral. Left black unconnected. Everything rang out well. Working as we speak on 2 switches this way. My lights had a hot coming down through the lights to the main switch with the neutral connected to the other neutrals in the box.

Like @destructure00 second picture. Colors might have been different but same in theory.

(I think?) I’m old and forget stuff after I’ve slept, or walked away!!

I did separate the 2 black wires in the upstairs switch and test them. Both are cold when disconnected from both switches. I did not individually test the white wires in the upstairs bundle though.

As @JDRoberts has frequently said. You can’t trust wire colors to distinguish what their doing in your circuit.

White could be Hot or neutral. You HAVE to figure out the layout with what you have. No 2 houses or switches could be wired the same. Who knows what some rookie (like me) wired up after codes inspection passed.


Hi scobar! Fancy seeing you here.

The traveler should have some voltage on it when plugged into the main switch, as I have been zapped by it myself on my functional circuits.

Something smells funny with the red traveler having 13v on it when nothing else is connected.

Also, it looks weird that on the downstairs switch that both your hot/line and load are coming from the same bundle. At the same time, the upstairs box looks like you have one bundle that goes down stairs and one to the light. This makes me think that your power source/line/hot might be at the light rather than in the switch boxes. If that’s the case, your wiring is no bueno for that.

Please test the white wires too. If power is at the fixture, power could come from either color.

After looking at the pictures more, and everyone comments. The light bulb of understanding came on for me.

In the upstairs switch (which is the main) the leads on right. White is probably line and black is probably load. The 3 wires on left are running to downstairs switch. Reason for hot (power) on white line downstairs wire is because it’s connected to the line in upstairs box. Reason hot on downstairs box (black wire) when switch on is because it’s hooked to upstairs load wire. Red traveler is just lost not sure what it’s doing?

Here is my suggestion. Please verify everything before you try it. I AM NOT a licensed electrician. Take master switch upstairs. Put white wire from right set to line connection. Put black wire for right set to load. Take white wire on left set hook to master neutral. Take red hook to traveler. Leave black disconnected.
Take second switch downstairs. Hook red lead to traveler connection. Hook white lead to neutral. Also hook neutral jumper to the neutral in that box. This will allow both switches to have power since you carried this neutral to other switch via white wire. Leave black wire disconnected.
Disclaimer number 2. I am doing this from my phone and from what I remember of your pictures. Verify everything again. Power it up. And test it.
If you wanted to do it in steps. Leave traveler disconnected and see if main switch functions. Then hook up traveler and see if remote switch works.
Disclaimer # 3. Draw it out test your leads. Verify your comfortable with what you just did. Before you power it up.

I believe this should work. If ANYONE see’s something wrong please speak up. My fingers are crossed that this will get you working.

1 Like