Please help :-( :-( New GE zwave switch replacing 2 gang for master ceiling fan


(Jake) #1

I’ve been trying to wire a new zwave switch for over 4 hours. I’ve installed 3 others within 15 min but this one is giving me a lot of trouble. Can someone please help?

Wire situation:

2 switches.

-4 black wires
-1 red and 1 grey wires that are coming from same area (maybe to ceiling fan fixture???)
-3 white neutral wires
-Bunch of bare ground wire

Goal: To have new GE zwave switch turn on/off ceiling fan. Set up smart apps to also trigger GE zwave dimmer module.

Like I said, there are two outlets in my master bedroom and I was told they are both for the ceiling fan. I had a ceiling fan put in with a remote so the second switch in my room never worked. The one switch could turn the fan on or off.

I started by removing the switch that worked and plugged the same wires into my new zwave switch. Everything worked but my ceiling fan wouldn’t turn on. I’ve now tried over 36 different wire configurations with no luck. I also have tried to revert back to my original setup but now nothing works.

Does anybody have any ideas? I’ve definitely never felt this defeated and like I said, I’ve installed a few of these in the past with no problems.

Any advice is greatly appreciated!

-Jake


#2

I’m sure that’s very frustrating. Unfortunately, You can’t go by wire color in the US as it is not mandated by code. People can and do use any color, especially when it’s at the end of the day and they just grab whatever is left in the toolbox.

So the first thing that you have to do is test every segment on every circuit to make sure that you know exactly what it does. You can’t just guess which one to go to the fan or to which receptacle. You have to have a complete map of your circuits before you replace any switches.

Also, take before pictures of the existing wiring including the backs so that you can see exactly which wires go to which screws and label the wires so that you can put them back if you need to.

So until you do the circuit map, there really isn’t any way for anybody to guess at what your current wiring might be, and what you need to do to get it networked.


#3

Also, what are the exact models of your GE switches? If you have a ceiling fan you probably have to have the GE fan switch, not the regular GE light switch. That’s the 12730.

Also, what’s the brand and model of your fan? And what type of remote is it? Is it an IR remote? 433 MHz? Something else?


(Michael) #4

Agree with @JDRoberts, please take pictures and label the picture with each Romex # so we know which wires go to into which wire sleeves.

I have never seen a grey wire so not sure what that is about. I’d like to know which Romex wire it is going to and the other colors in that wire sleeve. Given you have 4 black wires, it may be a neutral. I suspect you have a line from circuit breaker coming in, then another wire going out to another plug near your switch. Then the other 2 black wires may be load wires to lights, fan, or even a half hot outlet in your room. Most time I hear people say they have a light switch that they don’t know what it controls, it is controlling 1 or many outlets in the room for lamps. You can make an outlet “half hot” by breaking the tab on the side.

Post the pictures with labels and we will try to help.


#5

I wanted to say one more thing about ceiling fans…whether it is operated from a pull chain or a wall switch, it is really important to note that two fans which look identical may be wired very differently.

A three speed fan might be a single pole double throw switch with 3 positions (counting off), a single pole double throw switch with a both option, a single pole triple throw switch, a double pole switch with any of several throw options, etc. Seriously, there are at least eight different ways to wire a three-way light switch – – and more ways than that to wire a fan control.

(If that paragraph doesn’t make sense to you, bring in an electrician. The Last thing you want to do is burn out your fan motor because you didn’t understand the wiring.)

This is why you see strange wire colors like purple, orange, and gray – – but then again, somebody might use all white wires or all black wires for multiple connections. Or as I saw at one house, all orange wires. :scream:

http://www.ceiling-fans-n-more.com/ceiling-fan-pullchain-replacement-and-repair.php

You just need to identify every segment and label and photograph everything before you start.

Ceiling fan wiring is often weird. So at least you know feeling frustrated is normal! :sunglasses:


(Jake) #6

Michael and JD, thank you for your replies! I’m about 90% sure this was my current setup before I messed things up. I don’t think the switch on the right is represented correctly…The white wires and copper wires are in my electrical box behind this switch. I also didn’t display an additional 2 or 3 black wires that are available.

I actually ended up breaking my old switches when I removed the existing wiring with a tiny flat head. I guess I pushed too hard because the wires won’t stay put. I’m planning on buy additional ones. This added to my frustration because everything I was trying probably wasn’t going to work because the wires weren’t connected properly.

I also made a mistake because the zwave switch I ordered was: GE 12722 Z-Wave. I had no clue it was for lights only. I’ve ordered the GE 12730 Z-Wave Smart Fan Control which will be here tomorrow.

At this point, I just want to use my new 12730 switch to turn my fan on and off from the first switch. I really don’t care about the second switch so any advice for both would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!

-Jake


(Jake) #7

Alright. After being frustrated multiple times over the span of 10 days, I’ve finally figured it out on my own! Very proud but wanted to share if someone in the future has frustrations like me. Before I list my steps, know that I’m a computer nerd and definitely not an electrician. Don’t set your house on fire.

  1. First, make sure you are using a GE 12730 Z-Wave Smart Fan Control switch. I accidentally bought the 12722 because I didn’t realize there was a fan specific one.

  2. Take a picture of your current wiring setup. I can’t stress this enough because it took me 10 days to figure out since I didn’t take a picture and forgot what everything looked like.

  3. If your current switch(es) are set up for an existing ceiling fan, there are two wires that look like they are coming from the top of the electrical box behind your switches. Colors vary everywhere but I had 1 red and 1 grey wire. One of those two wires will be your load (coming from ceiling fan).

  4. In the wall you will also see some black wire that is grouped together. That black wire is your Line (Hot) - connected to power.

  5. There’s some white wires capped together in there as well. One of those is your Neutral. From what I’ve read, you must have a Neutral wire for this to work.

  6. Finally, there is bare wire. The bare wire is your Ground.

The z-wave switch displays a blue light when it is off and no indicator light when it is on.

As you can see above, I have a second switch in my master bedroom but I really don’t care about it. I put the switch back in my wall and the wires are capped. I now use a smart app to turn on my nightstand lamps whenever I turn my ceiling fan on.

I hope this helps someone in the future and keeps them from banging their heads against the wall for over a week.

-Jake


#8

I’m glad you got it working. Fans can definitely be tricky. :sunglasses:

One very important note: US code does not mandate wire colors. For anything. People can and do use any color for any purpose. Sometimes it’s just the last roll they have in the toolbox at the end of the day. So you cannot follow any instructions based just on wire color and be safe. There’s no guarantee that a black wire is the hot. It might be. But it might not. :dizzy_face:

Whenever you are replacing a switch with a different kind of switch, such as a non-networked switch with a networked switch, you have to test every segment of every circuit to make sure that you know what it does. Not what it probably does. What it actually does. This is even more important for fans as there are many different ways fans can be wired. Not just one way.

Which is one reason your advice about taking “before pictures” is so important. And make sure that those pictures include the back of the switch where the wires connect to the screws so you can see which screws they went to. Label every wire before disconnecting it, and make sure that the label shows in the pictures.

If you’re not sure how to test the circuit segments, bring in an electrician. Wiring a fan incorrectly is one of those things that can definitely burn down the house and you may not see any problem when you initially install it.