I’m trying to install a GE Aux Switch and when I opened up my existing switch, I see two red wires and a black wire. The directions on the ge switch say I need a ground (green), neutral (white) and traveler (colored). Any ideas on which wire goes where?
How are the wires coming in the gang box? What do the wires look like at the other end of the 3-way?
I’ve seen red used as a traveler, and I’ve also seen red used as a load. Usually, the bundle going between two 3-ways is “black/white/red.”
What other wires are in each box. It’s hard to do 3-way when you are actually looking at the wires. Tracing it out over the internet can be challenging.
Thank you both for the quick replies. They are coming in through a single hole in the bottom of the box. On the other box, I have two reds, a black and a white. The existing switch in the other box is just using the two reds and a black.
What photos could I take that would make it helpful to debug this?
Depending on your wiring, your electrical box may supply the ground to the switch through its mounting screws. In this case, there is no need to add a separate ground wire to the switch.
One of your two red wires is connected to the load, and one is the traveler. You’ll need to do some digging to figure out which is which.
You may not have a neutral in that box, but you can probably repurpose whichever red wire is the Load to be a neutral. Assuming there is a neutral in the box at the other end of the load wire, wire-nut those together and tape BOTH ends with white electrical tape.
A photo showing the inside of the two boxes (to see the wires coming in) might be helpful.
As another had said, it’s really hard to figure this out across the internet, and you should be warned that ANYTHING we might suggest is, at best, an educated guess. There are MANY different ways that 3-ways can be wired, and while there are guidelines for wire colors, it doesn’t mean that the proper colors are being used for the proper thing.
The first thing I’d do in your situation is to get a voltage probe and figure out which wire is the line/hot wire. (disconnect all the wires and the one that still has voltage is hot.)
From there, you can reattach the wires and manipulate the switches in various patterns to determine which one is the actual load, and which ones are travelers.
First, you should google around to see various ways that 3-way switches can be wired to get a better idea what you are looking for.
One of the red’s is likely a load wire on one end (probably the end with the white neutral.)