Installing Aeon Labs micro dimmer on 4-way circuit

autodimmer
wiring
wallswitch
switch

(Todd) #1

Requesting help installing Aeotec’s Aeon Labs micro illuminator G2 (model DSC27103-ZWUS).

I have four light switches in a hallway connected to four light fixtures. At a minimum, this is what might be called 4-way or x-way switching. I am most concerned about correctly installing existing wires into the DSC27103-ZWUS and keeping the existing switches. The four light switches include two 3-way switches and two 4-way switches. I don’t know which is the first in the circuit and which is the last: let me know if I need to test for this. According to the Aeotec website’s wiring diagram (http://aeotec.com/support/1219-micro-switch-wiring-schematics.html, look at diagram at bottom of page titled “4-Way Wiring Schematic with Live Wiring”) I understand the install is to take place at one of the 3-way switches.

I successfully installed this same device on a single switch location before, so I’m not afraid of turning off the circuit breaker and installing the device. It’s just in this case there’s an extra wire or two that I don’t want to screw up…for obvious reasons.

Attached is a wiring diagram of what my switch box looks like. I’ve labled each wire segment with a letter and each contact point on the device with a number. Also included are two extra wires in case you need me use them.

PIC 1

Switch Box Key:
A & B = White - Neutral
C & D = Black
E = Red - Traveller
F & G = Extra wires (not in box…just in case I need them)

Please instruct me to by stating something like “Connect A to 1; B to 2; C to 4…”

My guess is as follows, connect …
A TO 1
B TO 2
C TO 4
D TO 3
E TO 5
… OR …
D TO 5
E TO 3

P.S. I did read the other posts on this board. None really helped me that much.


(David) #2

I assume by your diagram that your “3 wires + ground” are running to your second switch?

Where are the wires leading to your lights?


(Dale C) #3

Excellent description of your problem Todd! Hopefully, it won’t be too hard to help you. Just a quick question; you need to make sure you have the incoming always on AC circuit power to the Aeon and from your diagram I can’t tell what you have on the 2wires+ground cable. The incoming AC power will connect to the 2 and 3 terminals. To verify if you have incoming power line use a volt meter across lines C and A by first tripping the breaker, remove line C from the 3-way switch Common terminal to isolate it, reapply breaker and measure for voltage. If it is “dead” that is the line that is probably going to the lights (load). If dead reconnect the C wire and then go to your other 3-way switch and do the voltage reading steps disconnecting the common terminal wire (usually a black screw) to verify you have successfully located the always on AC power. Once we verify which wire cable at the 3-way switch is your live AC power I like to label it with the breaker circuit number. Now we have to determine where your lights (load) wiring is. In your diagram I am assuming you are showing ALL connections in that gangbox, there are no other wire nuts (that could be the power passing through), yes?

If yes you could be wired like this below but in reality the incoming power could be feeding in at any light or switch gang box.

It is possible that the AC live power is going to one of your light fixtures first before going to one of the 3-way switches. Here is a diagram similar to your setup that might help you locate the power source from your breaker. The electrician typically will pull the live wire into whatever is easiest and least expensive which usually means the box nearest to your breaker panel which could be one of the light fixtures or even one of the 4-way switches. I found this diagrams that might help understand what we are looking for.

PS - The terminal blocks on the DSC27103 don’t connect real well to solid #14AWG wire that you typically find in your 15amp lighting circuits. I ended up making some stranded #14AWG pigtails and wirenut that into the solid #14AWG house wire.

We may need to use the extra wires. Are these spare wires not being used in the cable or they just loose? Are they running to each the 3-way light switches? I was curious if you knew why those got installed. The extra wires might be needed to get either the load or line wiring back to the Micro Switch. Aeotec shows two ways to connect into a 4-way system, one is with a live wire and one without so we just need to figure out what you have and what you want but more than likely it will be the w/Live version. I uploaded both the 4-Way w/Live and 4-Way No Live diagrams here for reference



(David) #4

This is an excellent, very detailed description @dalec… this should help anyone reading this understand why knowing the line & load locations are important. Nice job!


(Dale C) #5

Thank you… @JDRoberts is teaching me by his example. :grin:


(Todd) #6

@dalec, thanks for your kind reply and very descriptive nature of your response. However, it freaks me out! :open_mouth: …because there are so many things to check. My greatest fear is that the line from the electric box is going to one of the ceiling lights as you described. :worried:

It might take several days before I can collect all the information you mentioned (I have 4 switches and 4 light fixtures) and a wife who is already asking why I haven’t called an electrician, and I haven’t done anything yet! :zap:


(Dale C) #7

No worries! I can feel your anxiety but you as an owner of a SmartThings system can worry about other “things”. :laughing: LOL, a little ST pun just cracks me up! Seriously though, PM me and we can exchange phone numbers and talk it through before you get started or if you run into other issues. The detail and care you took in posting your request already reveals how meticulous and detailed oriented you are and that is exactly why I think you can do it. [quote=“Tab13tab13, post:6, topic:41489”]
My greatest fear is that the line from the electric box is going to one of the ceiling lights as you described. :worried:
[/quote]Honestly it really isn’t all that complicated once you get started. It is a little harder to try and help you not actually seeing the wiring but any seasoned electrician can figure this out in 30 minutes at your house. So worse case you hire one to come out and terminate everything for you. The problem is most electricians are not home automation savy. My guess is he’ll charge you his minimum rate for making a house call which you can expect to be a couple hours even though he’ll get done much sooner. So let’s save you some money :slight_smile:


(Todd) #8

@dalec: I found that the power from electrical box connects at the other 3-way switch. Yay! It doesn’t go to the ceiling fixtures first!!! :innocent:

This 3-way switch is in a double gang box with another switch used for another light altogether. The two switchees share the incoming power line using wire nuts on White, Black & Green. For simplicity, I do not show the White/Black wires for the second switch in the image below. Due to the second switch in the box, there is a black wire nut that is shared by both switches (again, for simplicity I am not showing the black wire going to the second switch).

Here is the newest illustration for my box:

I assume that because the switch illustrated in this post has the juice coming from the electrical panel it must be the left-most switch in the diagram you provided. And the switch I illustrated in my first post is the right-most switch.

You have a keen awareness of the wiring of my hallway. Congratulations! :star2: :stars: :star:

:question: What are my next steps? :confused:

P.S. I have a lower hall with this SAME EXACT set up to which I will apply another micro dimmer.

P.P.S. The “extra” wires I mentioned in the first post aren’t installed in that other box. I just assumed I might need extras to connect contacts #5/6 on the device to a new wire nut since the wire gauge is so small there so I added them to the illustration as placeholder wires. :blush:


(Dale C) #9

Based on this new info, Yes! But that isn’t the best news for us since you have the DSC27103. The ideal scenario would be to have BOTH the power AND the lights come into one of the 3-way boxes. Now for clarity this new diagram is for the OTHER 3-way switch whereas the first diagram from the original post is a different 3-way switch down the hallway, correct? So I will call this 3-Way #2 versus the original 3-Way diagram I will refer to as #1. The problem is we need one more wire between the switch boxes to make your DSC27103 work with all the switches. We can make it work with one 3-way #1 but the other switches will be inoperative. That is why I was hoping we could use what I thought were spares to the other boxes. For an electrician to run that extra cable it would be cost prohibitive.

If I am right then I would recommend something different for your situation since it isn’t looking good with your wiring for that particular Aeon product.

If you want to use all four of your existing switch locations as is consider instead using a product that is designed to work with existing 3-way, 4-way wiring. Something like the GE Z-Wave Smart Dimmer (In-Wall), 12724 and then three associated GE Add-On Switch that would replace your existing switchs. Leviton also has equivalent products as well for this application. Hopefully you have another single switch light you can use this DSC27103 at instead. Maybe if you still have it I can buy it off you because I will be getting another of these later this year.

Unless for some reason you have custom light switches and you want to keep them, I don’t know of a product equivalent by Aeon for the GE Add-On Switch functionality. Maybe someone reading this can chime in if they know of another solution.


(Todd) #10

@dalec, I have considered all the existing wiring configurations and none appear to work for the Aeotec device. I do want to use the existing wiring and switch placement. Therefore, I am leaning toward your suggestion of the GE GE 12723/GE 12724 devices. I don’t want to do any rewriting! Think I am doing the right thing?


(Dale C) #11

@Tab13tab13 I think that is the way to go to use all the existing switch locations. I personally use both the GE and Leviton products and they both have their pluses and minuses. Either product should work fine for your application and we can use your existing wiring. Here is a simple do it yourself video for installing the GE Zwave switches. It is almost exactly what you will be doing except we have to install 3 add-on switches and one primary switch for your application. The Primary will be located at the power in from the breaker panel. All the other locations get the Add-On Switches. The GE switches are located online or at Home Depot and Lowes in my area.

I like the GE if you plan on changing the dimming levels manually regularly. GE uses a rocker switch action so tapping the top of the switch increase level and tapping the bottom decreases level. The Leviton is more tricky to adjust the lighting level by pushing a very small button left and right for changing levels but you get little LED readout for local indication on roughly what percentage you are set at. Leviton you push the bottom of the light paddle for toggling the light on and off which I had to get use to. And the Leviton provides (soft fade) a ramped up and ramped down action when changing dimming levels which is a great effect. I don’t remember if my GE dimmer doing it that way? (I’m not at home right now to check) GE uses the more typical blue LED for indications and Leviton uses a green LED.


(Todd) #12

I thank you for your confident reply. I will save a bit more money to replace all FOUR switches :smile:. I will keep your contact info nearby…just in case!

I will look at those Leviton switches, too. WAF may grow with visible LEDs.

Now I’ve just got to find fun locations for my Aeotec/Aeon Labs dimmers. Shouldn’t be too hard :laughing:


(Dale C) #13

[quote=“Tab13tab13, post:12, topic:41489”]
I will look at those Leviton switches, too. WAF may grow with visible LEDs.
[/quote]WAF will increase as long as you don’t regularly make manual changes to the dimmer level (which I think in your hallway you will be safe) For mine I have a routine to adjust the hallways to a Night Light mode down to 10%. The Leviton VRMX1-1LZ also work on all versions of dimmable lights (incandescent, LED, CFL) and for now are actually slightly cheaper than GE. Leviton gives you several options for the add-on switch you will need. You can use the lesser expensive Leviton VP0SR-1LZ without LED or the fancier VP00R-1LZ When you get your project it would be great to see a photo of your 4-way installation. :slight_smile:

UPDATE:
There is a new alternative for you that I recommend considering that recently became available from HomeSeer HS-WD100+ with a non-RF wireless auxiliary switch for 3-way, 4-way, etc applications like yours. They have the LED dimming indicators plus the latest Z-wave + wireless. The user interface operation for dimming vs Leviton is more acceptable with the up and down paddle plus have scene control.
( http://homeseer.com/compare-z-wave-dimming-wall-switches.html )
You can read more about it on this article by fellow community member @Darwin