Need Help with 4-Way Switch Wiring and Neutral

jasco

(Robert Brinson) #1

I am replacing all of the traditional switches in my 8.5 year old home with GE In Wall Smart Switches (Z-Wave). I did my homework before purchasing the switches by checking a few of the switch boxes to make sure that they had neutral wire bundles, and those that I checked did have the required neutral bundles. I have completed replacing all of the switches downstairs, and I was starting on the first switch heading upstairs which is part of a 4-way setup. When I took off the wall plate of the first switch, I was frustrated to see only one line of romex wire coming into the box with no bundle of neutrals in the back; the other two boxes in the chain do have neutrals. Below are a description of the wires at each switch:

Switch 1 (3-Way Switch): White Wire (Taped Black) connected to Right Top of switch, Red Wire connected to Right Bottom of switch, Black Wire connected to Left Bottom of switch, and Ground connected to ground terminal.

Switch 2 (3-Way Switch): Black Wire connected to Right Top of switch, Red Wire connected to Right Bottom of switch, Black Wire connected to Left Bottom of switch, Ground connected to ground terminal, a bundle of two White wires capped in back.

Switch 3 (4-Way Switch): Red Wire connected to Right Top of switch, Red Wire connected to Right Bottom of switch, Black Wire connected to Left Top of switch, Black Wire connected to Left Bottom of switch, 2 Black wires capped in back (one is tapped black), and 2 white wires capped in back.

Can this be set up with the GE Smart Switch and two Add-On switches? I’m at a loss for the lack of a neutral bundle in the switch box at the bottom of the stairs (Switch 1). I’ve successfully completed three 3-Way switches and several single pole switches. Please tell me something can be done with this 4-Way switch.

Thank you for any help!


(JBrown) #2

Is it wired like this?

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(Robert Brinson) #3

Hi, @Jason_Brown. The last 3-Way Switch is exactly like mine. The other two are not quite the same, and I cannot say how things are wired at the light itself. In my second 3-Way switch, I only have a bundle of two white wires and no bundle of black wires. In my 4-Way switch, I have the bundle of two black wires, but I only have a bundle of two white wires, not three. Here are some pictures of the junction boxes that might provider some further information:

Switch 1:

I hope these pictures help you and/or others assess what my 4-Way wiring situation is. Thank you!


(Robert Brinson) #4

@Jason_Brown here’s Switch 2:

Switch 2:


(Robert Brinson) #5

@Jason_Brown here’s Switch 3:

Switch 3:


#6

Looks like the picture. Switch 1 is the far right, switch 2 is the far left, switch 3 is the middle.


(Robert Brinson) #7

@MANOWAR and @Jason_Brown, will the GE In Wall Z-Wave Smart Switch and two Add-On Switches work in this scenario? If so, what is the neutral in the last switch in the diagram (my Switch 1)?


(JBrown) #8

Yes you should be able to make it work, I’m trying to figure out how it is wired in order to tell you what changes in the wiring will be needed. Does this look like what you have? does your Switch 1 only have one romex cable going into the box?

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(Robert Brinson) #9

@Jason_Brown, no, I would say that the first diagram was more reflective of my wiring situation. Did you see the pictures that I uploaded? My picture labeled Switch 3 has the 4-Way switch, and it has the two black wires and two red wires physically connected to the switch, but then there are two bundles of wire. One is a bundle of two white wires, and the other is a bundle of two black wires. In my picture labeled Switch 2, there are the two black wires and one red wire physically connected to the switch, and there is one bundle of two white wires. In my picture labeled Switch 1, you will see that there is only a single romex with all wires connected to the switch, including the white wire, which has black tape on it. Does that help?


(JBrown) #10

This may be helpful https://youtu.be/0rRC_Mrlumc does your switch 3 have 3 romex cables I can not tell from the picture. Do you have something to check for power?


(Robert Brinson) #11

Hi, @Jason_Brown, yes, I have a voltage detector that will beep and go from green to red when it detects current. I actually watched that YouTube video earlier tonight. My Switch 1 has a single Romex coming into the box. My Switch 2 has two Romex cables coming into the box. My Switch 3 has three Romex cables coming into the box.


(Michael) #12

Please see this older post of mine that should get you going. Your switch 3 has the line coming from the breaker, you need first take a picture of the wires going to the switch for backup purposes, then disconnect the wires and figure out which one is the line and which is load. These will likely be 14-2 Romex, meaning only white, black, and ground.

Then follow what I outlined here. Box 1 would be your switch 3, box 2 is your switch 2, and box 3 is your switch 1.


(Robert Brinson) #13

@ritchierich and @Jason_Brown, I’m going to label each wire in each of the three boxes, and then I will disconnect every wire. I will then turn the power back on and use my voltage tester to determine which specific wire in which box is actually carrying the line voltage. @ritchierich, what you described makes some sense, but I want to verify that power is actually coming into the box with the 4-Way switch. I’ll report my findings.


(Robert Brinson) #14

OK, @ritchierich, you get the cigar for pointing out that line voltage was in my box 3 with the 4-Way switch. The wire that is line voltage from power is the black wire (no tape) in the bundle of black wires. This bundle is not connected to the 4-Way switch at all. If I reconnect that black bundle, then the wire connected to Right Bottom of the 4-Way switch goes hot. Also, in box 1, the black taped white goes hot, which would be connected to Right Top of switch, and the red wire, which would be connected to the Right Bottom of the switch.


(Michael) #15

@rbrinson, thanks for checking, so my earlier post with directions isn’t going to work for you after thinking about it. With your line from breaker being in Switch 3, that means that your Switch 2 has the load to the fixture, which will be the 14-2, black and white Romex.

So you have 2 options, you can put your master switch in either Switch 2 or Switch 3. I will have that to you since it is the one that has the z-wave radio so maybe one location is better than another for your mesh.

========= Master at Switch 3 =========

Switch 1 Aux Switch:

  1. Cap black wire, you don’t need it.
  2. Hook up single white wire to your Aux neutral. You can remove tape if you want to since it’s no longer a positive wire.
  3. Hook up single red wire to your Aux traveler

Switch 2 Aux Switch:

  1. Bundle the two black wires, 1 from the 14-2 Romex (which is your load) and 1 from the 14-3 Romex that has the red wire. Then put a wire nut on it.
  2. Hook up both white wires to Aux neutral
  3. Hook up single red wire to Aux traveler

Switch 3 Master Switch:
You need to determine which of the 14-3 Romex wires is going to switch 2. You can do this by looking at your wire wire bundle that has 2 white wires (not the taped one). 1 of them should be in a 14-2 Romex which is coming from the breaker and the other white wire should be in a 14-3 Romex. The black wire in this 14-3 Romex will be your Load on your master switch.

  1. Remove the white taped wire that is connected to the black wire, this will become your neutral for the Aux switch in switch 1. You can remove tape if you want to since it’s no longer a positive wire.
  2. Hook up this wire wire to the two white wires that are already connected.
  3. Get a small white wire and add that to your neutral bundle, this becomes your neutral for your master switch and put a wire nut on it.
  4. Hook up the small white wire to the Master neutral.
  5. Hook up the black wire identified by my instructions above to the Master Load.
  6. Hook up the 14-2 Black wire to your line
  7. Hook up both red wires to the Master traveler
  8. Put a wire nut on the remaining black wire that is in the other 14-3 Romex since you don’t need it.

========= Master at Switch 2 =========

Switch 1 Aux Switch:

  1. Cap black wire, you don’t need it.
  2. Hook up single white wire to your Aux neutral. You can remove tape if you want to since it’s no longer a positive wire.
  3. Hook up single red wire to your Aux traveler

Switch 2 Master Switch:

  1. Hook up black wire from the 14-2 Romex to your master load
  2. Hook up black wire from the 14-3 Romex that has the red wire to your master line.
  3. Hook up both white wires to master neutral
  4. Hook up single red wire to master traveler

Switch 3 Aux Switch:
You need to determine which of the 14-3 Romex wires is going to switch 2. You can do this by looking at your wire wire bundle that has 2 white wires (not the taped one). 1 of them should be in a 14-2 Romex which is coming from the breaker and the other white wire should be in a 14-3 Romex. The black wire in this 14-3 Romex will need to be connected to the black line wire that is currently connected to the taped white wire.

  1. Remove the white taped wire that is connected to the black wire, this will become your neutral for the Aux switch in switch 1. You can remove tape if you want to since it’s no longer a positive wire.
  2. Hook up this wire wire to the two white wires that are already connected.
  3. Get a small white wire and add that to your neutral bundle, this becomes your neutral for your master switch and put a wire nut on it.
  4. Hook up the black wire identified by my instructions above to the black wire that was previously hooked to the white taped wire and put a wire nut on it.
  5. Hook up both red wires to the Aux traveler
  6. Hook up the small white wire to the Aux neutral.

(Robert Brinson) #16

@ritchierich, thank you for following up. I did figure out that your older post was slightly different from my situation, but it did help me immensely in getting it to finally work. I set the Master Smart Switch at Box 3, since that is where the Line Voltage was coming in. I realized that the white wire that was taped black in Box 3 and Box 1 were related and should become part of my neutral bundle in their respective boxes. I then used the red wires in each box as the traveler wires. It took some thought to realize that the two black wires left in Box 3 needed to be tied together and have a pigtail added to connect the load to the Master Smart Switch. Box 2 was straight forward, as it was like the other 3-Way switches I have previously wired. In Box 1, I capped off the extra black wire. Following this setup, I had a successful 4-Way switch. Following are pictures with the smart switch wiring.

Switch 3, Master Smart Switch:


(Robert Brinson) #17

Switch 2, Add-On:


I’ll have to post the picture of Switch 1 later, as the forums won’t allow new users to post multiple pictures in one post, and as a new user, I have reached the maximum number of posts that I can make in one day! :wink:


(Robert Brinson) #18

Switch 1, Add-On: