Problems getting GE Smart Switch and AUX switches to work properly

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(Tim Gunier) #1

I hope this is the right place to post this. I am trying to set up a GE Smart Switch and two add ons in a 4-way setup. I am able to get the main switch to work with one big caveat. It works as long as the switch next to it isn’t on.

The main switch is in a three gang box. Two of the switches in this box are on the same circuit breaker (I’m not sure if that’s pertinent, but I figured it can’t hurt to share). If the switch next to the GE Smart Switch is off, the smart switch works fine. When I turn on the other switch though, it turns off the smart switch. I have not been able to get the AUX switches to work at all though.

I’m not even close to an electrician but going into this, I figured it couldn’t be that hard. At this point, I’m thinking that my wiring is going to prevent me from using these switches. I’d appreciate any help though figuring out if that is the case or if I’m just missing something. I’ve attached a few pictures to try and make this a little easier to understand. Let me know if you need anymore information.

This is the box I have tried to install the GE Smart switch in.
I attached the line and neutral from the HIG cable.

This is the box that the 4 Way switch was originally in. I tried
installing the AUX switches here and I tried just about all
combinations of wiring. (As a new user, I’m only allowed one photo upload so the rest are links)
Picture of Box 2

Here is the third box that I tried to install the final AUX switch in
Picture of third box

I’m also limited to two links so if you need additional photos, let me know. If you read this, thank you so much. I hope what I wrote was at least almost coherent.


(Mike McLaughlin) #3

Did you ever solve this? I think I have a similar issue. I can install a GE on a 3 way split - the circuit controls 3 lot switches - and closest I can get is the switch when on allows me to use the other two dumb switch per usual, when off, none of the 3 work. The lights controlled by the switch I want to automate don’t work in this set-up


(Michael) #4

You cannot mix dumb and smart switches. You will have one master and one or many Aux switches. This FAQ should help clear up questions.


(Mike McLaughlin) #5

Thanks Michael - appreciate the call out. The issue I am having is that, in my 4-way setup, my Traveler wire is sending 120 and not the ~18-22 that that same part sends in another config in my house that is a 2-way. In this config, I cannot get power to the fixture UNLESS I jump Load and Traveller at the main switch. I am trying to wrap my head around how this works and cannot.

One aspect I am trying to solve, in my dumb 4 way setup that worked, there is Load out to the fixtures (it is actually 5 recessed bulbs covering my stairway and both landings) at each of the 3 switches. In the basic wiring guidance for the GE plus Add-on setup, there is only Load out to the fixture at the main switch, not the two add-ons. I currently have this “solved” by jumping the Load out wire to the fixture with the Traveler at each of the two add-ons.


#6

Thanks for the good info. Hopefully I can figure out my wiring as I’d like to have about 8-10 smart switches in my house (with 4 of those being 3 ways)…or maybe more someday.

Does GE make any dimmable smart switches or am I going to need to do go another route for those?


(Michael) #7

GE does but like all smart switches they do require a neutral. You can buy them online or Lowes carries then as well. And they also work in 3/4 ways installations too!


#8

Is a neutral an unusual thing? I was planning to open up my light switches this weekend and take some pictures to see if I can figure out how mine are wired. Especially the three way circuits.


(Don) #9

I’m not an electrician, but this doesn’t make sense.

I think you should have power coming in at the light or 1 switch. Then a load pair, line + neutral to your lights from 1 of the switches.

Something like this or at least similar.


(Michael) #10

Depends on the age of your home. Recent NEC code regulations now require a neutral at all switch locations. My home was built in 1988 and some had it while others didn’t.


#11

My house was built in the 70’s so I’m probably out of luck on the neutral. I still have some switches to look at but I happen to have one cover plate off because I’m painting. On that switch (one of two in a 3way setup) it only had red, black, white wires. Does that tell you anything? Is there an easy check\test for neutral? I’m not going to rewire my house to have smart switches if that’s how it ends up. Is there not another way to get this working?


(Don) #12

It really depends on ALL of the wiring.
Does line from breaker come in on your light fixture in overhead or the other switch?

Just because your house is older or wiring is not the current standard. Does not mean you can’t use some type of smart device connected to your hub. You will have to rearrange the wiring, or think outside the box , but it can be done.

When asking for help. You will need to do some self education. Remember we are not there and can’t see what you see. So take pictures before unhooking anything. Get a meter or non contact voltage checker. Learn the basics of using it and try to draw out where your wiring is going so you can share it.

Go to the GE 3way faq listed in post 3. Read through that. Hopefully it will help you see the difference between standard 3 way wiring versus smart switch 3 way wiring. Remembering that those descriptions only apply to the GE switch. There are other options besides the GE

Alot if people have gotten help here with wiring stuff up, me included. That’s one of the best parts about this forum. Everyone just wants to help as much as they can. There is alot of very smart people here. They have helped me many times.

Just my 2 cents worth of sharing.


#13

Thanks. I do plan to do more research and take pictures. I was focused on GE because Lowe’s had them for $28 and I bought 10 of them. Also, I thought I read that all smart switches require neutrals? Once I get more information lined up I’ll start my own post.


#14

Almost all smart switches require neutrals. There are a few exceptions. Several early Z-Wave devices did not require neutrals but they also do not support LEDs. As far as I know, the only two that do support LEDs are Lutron Caseta (which requires a second hub) and a new switch by Leviton (which seems extremely difficult to find).

Otherwise you need a neutral. As stated above, I highly recommend this FAQ for 3-way switch wiring.


(Mike McLaughlin) #15

Put another way, I have line in (hot), load out AND a traveler (or 2) at each of the 3 switches. Currently, my master switch will operate the light as the should, but the add-on switches are not responsive and do not switch the lights on or off. The cause seems to be that 120 is being sent out the traveler at the master switch, which is inconsistent with the bulk of info here. Appreciate the time and thought!


(Don) #16

Mike, I don’t mean to sound repetitive , but you NEED to trace your wires. I hear what your describing but it still makes no sense that every switch has a load wire on it. Just because a wire is black doesn’t make it a line or load. You can not trust that the wire color will always be the same thing.

Again I’m not an electrician. But I would think the light or lights would have ONE load wire carrying power to the switches. Like the drawing above. The switches are cycling power around each other, but In the end there is only 2 wires to the actual lights. One being your load and the other being a neutral to complete the circuit.

There is another thread on 4 way lighting in the forum. Maybe we can rustle up some help there?


(Don) #17

Mike you might also want to see if Ray, @Navat604 would be willing to help you with your wiring. He’s VERY helpful and an electrician.

He is going to want pictures of your current wiring or what it was before you changed it. At least a basic drawing of what you think you have for wiring.

He has educated me alot on here and has ALWAYS helped me.


(Ray) #18

Smart switches don’t work the same way as dumb switches. With dumb switches you will get 0V or 120V at the traveler wires depending on the position of the switches.
The 120V will always be there at the Traveler of a smart switches. The add-on doesn’t cut power of the traveler to control the master. It sends signal out on the 120V traveler wire to the master.
There is a high chance you will damage your master switch by using dumb switches with it. There’s actually a warning on the master switch traveler terminal about having external 120V to it so be aware of this.
The reason you get the master switch to work only with certain position of the dumb switches is because the load or line is not at the master switch box and the dumb switches are providing that path to the master.
you can have a quick check by going to the dumb 3 ways switch and disconnect the wire at the COMMON TERMINAL of the switch. You can measure the voltage of that disconnected wire or try operating your master switch. If you still see the switch LED light then the wire you disconnected is your Load wire. If the master switch is not operating at all then the disconnected wire is your Line.
Neutral is a little more tricky to check and can only be done with a meter and only after you find the Line wire. Use the ground wire to check for Line if you are unsure of the neutral wire.


(Don) #19

Thanks for jumping in to help Ray. :smile: