GE Z-Wave 3 Way wiring help please


#1

Hi, I bought a GE z-wave dimmer and add on switch but I’m having trouble working out the way to wire them in correctly.

Per the website below, my current 3 way switch is wired as per OPTION #9

Can you please help with some directions as to how the wiring to the GE switches should be installed?

I can get the primary switch working in one of the outlets but can’t seem to get it all to go together. Also, when I get the primary switch installed, the lights wont go fully bright, the remain about 50% dim at max (3 LED bulbs)

Any help would be greatly appreciated


(Ron) #2

My switch was wired like option #5 and I was unable to get the GE switch to work with the add on as well. From what I have read the add on switch was designed for option #1 and none of the 3-ways in my home are wired this way it seems.

Some one suggested a way I could rewire for the switch but it required that I change the wiring quite a bit and I didn’t trust that it would work. So I just used the one switch and I wired so that it doesn’t matter which position the other switch is in it still works. I don’t understand why they didn’t make these switches work like standard 3 way switches so we could use it in all options.


(James) #3

Hi fellas,
I am going to chime in with a couple thoughts as I had much difficulty with the exact same scenario. My first and biggest mistake was wrongfully assuming how my switches were wired. Per the link… http://www.easy-do-it-yourself-home-improvements.com/3-way-switch-wiring-diagram.html
It was not until I actually climbed into the attic and saw that my line power from the box actually originated in the light fixture itself. In other words, option #8. I would have swore it originated in the box that housed two switches and a gazillion wires coming from all directions. Come to find out, that box did not have a hot line from the switch box. I had to put the main switch where I thought the add-on switch would go. I also had to drop a neutral wire down from the light fixture to the switch on the left in option #8.

My suggestion to both @Ron and @chef_32, watch this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2vguVa58PGI
use a voltage meter to verify your hot lead from the switch box and to make sure your installing the master in the correct place. I can’t stress that last point enough.

Some of this requires having the power on while bare wires are out. Please, please use extreme caution. If you have never done this stuff before, get an electrician to help. At the very least, get a buddy that has some experience dealing with house wiring. As you can see from that first link, there are many different ways things can be wired. Without experience, it is difficult to know exactly which way things are really wired.


(Ron) #4

Thanks @expose I agree it is very difficult to identify which type of wiring you have which is why I find it strange that the GE switches assume you have option #1 and that is the only diagram they provide on how to wire the switch. As I mentioned I don’t hink any of the 3way switches in my home use option #1 so I think my add-on switch may be useless.

I also don’t have attic access to my wiring. So although I say I have option #5 I am not sure. I have been trying to find ways to identify which of the option you have using a multi-meter but I have not found good instruction on how to do this. If anyone knows of a site with good details on how to identify you wiring that would be very interesting. I had seen the video you provided but his video is for option #1, I have yet to see any good instructions on how to use the GE switches with other wiring options. I suspect the switch doesn’t work with many of the options.


#5

ok guys,

I worked it out with the help of the wiring diagram for Jasco 45609 that Jasco emailed me after I asked them for help.

I basically had to rewire the Option 9 layout I had to match the 3-way wiring in the Jasco 45609 manual. To do this I had to disconnect the line wire nut and run the line directly into the primary switch, wire nut a new neutral (included with the switch) into the primary from the neutrals going from breaker to lights, in that same neutral wire nut i included the add on switch neutral (so a total of 4 wires in the wire nut for neutral), and then chose an arbitrary traveler wire from those connecting the primary to the add on switch.

Worked out great, good learning experience, now to order the rest of my switches and hope it gets easier from here.

Just to confirm, the switches do work with Option 9 wiring config you just need to leverage the wiring diagram in the jasco 45609 manual.


Hi, I'm new.....and scared
#6

The fundamental problem is that three-way switching works differently with smart switches than with dumb ones. With dumb switches, both switches pass either line power or the return path, and the position of the two determine whether the circuit is completed to power the load. With smart switches, both switches need line power and return (neutral), but only one of them controls the flow of power to the load. The travelers that were used to cary two lines of switched power in the conventional three-way circuit are repurposed to carry non-switched operating power to the slave switch and slave on/off state back to the master (unless the slave is wireless). Only some of the many three-way topologies support repurposing the travelers in that way, hence GE only providing directions for one scenario.

If the existing wiring doesn’t work for you, there may be other options – wireless relays located at the fixture, smart switches that aren’t connected to any load but just report state and use automation to turn the light on, motion sensors instead of switches, etc. My advice is take a step back, and ask how you really use the light, and what the best way to automate that is. You may find that you don’t actually need a three-way switch setup.


(James) #7

The best way to do this is open up all three boxes/light fixture. Expose all the wires. First, identify the box that has 110v when the light is off. This is the box where the master will go. To verify the light fixture is where the line from your switch box is going into, you will need to disconnect all the wires in the light fixure. This will remove power from both switch boxes. Test both boxes and see there is no 110v. Then you know that one set of the (hopefully colored correctly) black and white wires in the light fixture are from the switch box. Now, test those wires and see which is which. (quick suggestion, take a photo of before so you have an easy way to rewire things and see where you originally came from. Also, good to have when asking around here).

The directions for wiring from GE are not super helpful unless you have #1. However, it is doable in other situations. The main reason GE can’t make the switch the way you suggest is because its not a typical analog switch. The neutral is needed to supply the switch with a small amount of power used to keep the switch active. If the switch is not active, its useless as a smart switch since it would never know its being asked to turn on. I am going to assume @chef_32’s problem is he has it wired without the use of a neutral wire. It may be a white wire, but probably not neutral. @ron, I have read of people who use these switches (actually, the older models) without a neutral, but you must have a standard incandescent bulb to draw the power. They do sell switches that don’t need the neutral, but again, you have to use incandescent bulbs.

Hope that helps some. It might just confirm what you already know. No neutral, no go. Sucks, but I think its kind of a physics thing.


#8

So with my original setup, this was actually flowing through to where I ended up having to put the Add-On switch. Yes, I checked with a multimeter. The thing that actually helped me here was that the live wire was red instead of black, so I was able to trace this back to the wire nut where it connects to the original black wire from the breaker box, then I understood which sets of wires were which. I.E which was going to the lights, the breaker, and between switches.


(James) #9

nice job. I found it helpful to try and forget what color the wires are. Especially when your wiring does not match #1. Your just going to change the use of the wires and have to relabel them.
I will have to remember what you did in case I come across that when I do my hall switch. If I do my hall switch.


(DavidK) #10

Yes, my original 3-ways also had the case where the power came in to the switch box opposite where I thought the primary and Aux switch would go.

But I was able to determine this before taking anything apart.

You use a contact voltage tester: like one of these:

So with the original dumb switches in place, without having to disconnect the actual light switch or anything else.

Have the lights off. And touch this to the wires. Only the live wire will activate.

The toggle the dumb switches and touch this to the wires.

This can tell you what you need to know to then wire the new smart switches.

I never bothered to completely figure out how my wiring was originally done, the wiring to the light fixtures and all that are a “Black Box” as far as I am concerned.

All I needed to know is where the live/line and neutral are for the new smart switches.


(Erik Olsen) #11

My wiring is the same as #2 here: http://www.easy-do-it-yourself-home-improvements.com/3-way-switch-wiring-diagram.html

This is essentially the same as #1, but with a second load on it, correct? I wired the primary switch where the line came in from the breaker, I used the red wire as the traveler and I wire-nutted the black wire at the add-on switch to the load. I am using the neutral jumpers at both switches. The primary switch powers up and is on the controller, but I am not getting the lights to turn on. I am seriously wondering if these crazy halogen bulbs happened to blow. I think I will use the no contact voltage tester to see if there is juice going to the light even though the lights aren’t on.

Am I wrong about configuration #2?


(Erik Olsen) #12

Ok. I used the non-contact voltage tester and sure enough… When the switch was on, there was voltage at the load but no light. After 7 years, maybe more, it was time for the light to blow. One light had already blown before I changed the switches and the other one coincidently went after the switch switch. I bought two new halogens and, voila! Success!


(Ray) #13

Good troubleshooting and glad you got it working.


#14

This is my first post so I hope it helpful. Anyway…
If you have option 9, you CAN wire the switches! There is some minor rewiring needed in the line wall box though. I did this today and my switches are working wonderfully!
You will need to determine which box has the hot line. Note: it’s probably the box with the bundled wires in the back!
Be Carefully we are literally working with killer voltage! I’m posting this to share what has worked for me. Your situation may be different.

I used a meter and tested the bundled black wires and the bundled white wires. Red probe to the black wires and black probe to the white wires. It read 120V AC. So that box is where my primary switch went. I’ll call that box 1. So the add-on switch will go in the other box. Call it box 2. Looking in box 2 there is a red, black, white and ground wire and they all go to box 1! You will need to look around in box 1 to locate the wires coming from box 2. Trace the red and white wires on the switch in box 1 and you will find them. The initial wiring in box 2 was done with 2 traveler wires white and red tied to the switch in box 1 and black being tied to black (hot) in box 1. So, there is no neutral wire in box 2. This is the main issue with wiring these switches. This is what I did to solve the problem…
Note the GE add on switch only needs one traveler wire. So I used red as my only traveler wire. In box 1 I tied the white wire coming from box 2 to the bundle of white wires (neutral). You now have a neutral wire in box 2! I then tapped into the black wire bundle in box 1 for a line wire to the primary switch. I then connected all wires to the appropriate connectors on the switches and BOOYAH!!

I hope this helps someone. Please be careful and switch off the breaker when you are working on this project and after you have tested the voltage in the boxes. Just be careful and good luck!!


#15

Hey everyone,

Per this discussion I just ran into the same issue and didn’t realize I had to have an add-on switch for 3 way to work. I purchased the 12725 that didn’t need the neutral and it is working as long as I keep the second switch in the 3-way circuit on. I would like to use what JoeCbaby describes as box 2 as the main box and keep the 12725 in that box and put the add on in the box with the power. I have the below setup right now and want to do the setup I redrew in the lower picture. Does anyone see an issue with this? Thanks!


#16

Just FYI…I wired the switches like this and it works great! So if you want to put the main switch in the non powered box this wiring works great!


#17

Unfortunately that won’t work. If your line and load are in the same box, the smart switch must be installed there. In fact, with that configuration you will only use 2 wires (neutral/traveler) to connect the add-on switch (black not used).

Only when the line and load are in different boxes or you are wiring 4+ way can you selectively choose which box to install the smart switch.


#18

The Neutral switch only needs two wires… the Neutral and Travelers wire (and ground). And the GE 12725 only needs a hot and traveler wire, no neutral required which is why it works. If you were using a GE switch that required a neutral then it would have to go in the box with the line and load. It is wired like this right now and it is working fine. Been like that for a couple of days now.


#19

Ah yes. Sorry missed that was the version without a neutral. As long as you don’t use that switch with LEDs you should be fine wiring it that way.


#20

That is true. It is the one downside to this switch, no leds.