GE12722 light switch install issues - turned into 3-way

I started trying to install a GE 12722 switch and ran into some issues.

Old existing switch (I’ll call this switch 1):

  • Red wire plugged into Common on switch.
  • Black wire on right?
  • Red wire left?
  • Not connected to this switch
    • White wires shoved into the back I hooked the white jumper into, assumed to be neutral.
    • Bare wires shoved in the back, assume is ground

Then I remembered there is another switch for this light. So after reading I guess I have a 3-way situation with a traveler and stuff.

Switch 2:

  • Black wire plugged into Common
  • Black wire right?
  • Red wire left?
  • Not connected to this switch
    • White wires shoved into the back
    • Bare wires shoved in the back assumed ground

After watching this video, seems like switch 1 is the Add-On.

Can I install 12722 as an add on without replacing the master? From the video, looks like I have to have both.

Wiring advice? If I had both parts I guess I’d just follow the video. My old switches don’t have a black screw, but one is a different color (dark brassy). Has word Common. I’m assuming this is Line on the master, Load on the add on.

Switch 1

Switch 2 (Tested as master)

Best advice is never assume. Wire colors are not mandated in the US, so people can and do use any color for anything, sometimes it’s just the last roll left in the box at the end of the day. So always begin by testing every segment so you know exactly what it is.

Then you can go on and start figuring out what you need to do to replace a switch.

Also note that if this is a three-way set up, you have to replace all the switches in the three-way. Networked switches are not wired the same way as non-networked switches and they won’t work correctly with nonnetworked auxiliaries. And you have to have auxiliaries that are designed to work with that particular master, as different brands and even different models may be wired differently.

So to begin with, you need to identify which of your switches is the master, and what all of the wires in that box do. (Again, don’t make any assumptions. Test the circuit segments so you know for sure.) disconnect any auxiliaries, then install the new master and get it working correctly. Then you can add the new auxiliaries.

If you don’t know how to test the circuit segments, many Home Depot’s have classes on how to install a light switch. They don’t usually cover network switches but at least you learn how to use the tools and identify the circuit pathways. Or of course you can just bring in an electrician if you don’t want to go to all that work.

Those are definitely 3-way switches based on picture. 3-way means there is another switch that controls the same light or outlet. You could have a 4-way if you have 2 more switches controlling the same light or outlet. You need to determine how many switches control the load and then you need to buy 1 master switch and the appropriate number of Aux switches of the same brand as the master.

From there you need to install the master in the box with the load, the wire going to the light or outlet. So you cannot assume anything with the wires, you need to get a multimeter and figure out each Romex wire coming into the box. From there we can help you here. Single pole switches are easy, 3/4-ways are more difficult.

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Thanks guys.

I ordered an add-on switch. Is the 12722 ok for the master or do I need the dimmer version (read about that somewhere)? The lights don’t dim, I don’t care if they ever do.

I used my multi meter to determine that switch 2 is the master according to the video. So I’ll do what the video says with the traveler wires.

-------> disconnect any auxiliaries, then install the new master and get it working correctly. Then you can add the new auxiliaries.

The way I’m reading this, I don’t need the Add-On to use the Master. Just remove the switch (non master) and leave the wires loose to test the master.

That bare wire that is not connected to anything. How might I tell if it is ground? Same with white wires and neutral?

I should also mention in the first pic, there is a switch next to the light switch that I have no idea what it controls. Can’t tell that it does anything. Only 2 wires going to it. Might be some outlet somewhere I never use. Don’t know if that is a factors into this at all.

GE makes on/off and dimmer versions. If you don’t need/want to dim the lights then the on/off is perfect. The video is correct you don’t need the aux switch to make the master work. This assumes the line, load, and neutral are all in the box you are installing the master. The US doesn’t require wire colors especially in 3 way situations so if you are unsure about wires, colors, etc you may want to seek help or take a free class at Home Depot or Lowes.

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