Trying to setup 3 way switch GE Smart Switch Z Wave [SOLVED]

Great idea!

@langevinrox if you don’t want to mess with the wiring. Get another Zwave switch, there’s several types and styles to choose from and use it via programming to get your 3way back.
You can power that switch from a line and neutral of a different circuit in the same box. It’s just going to power the switch.

If you want recommendations there’s list here in the forum or other places people have asked the same question about a non load smart switch.

Usually @JDRoberts will pop in with great information and help. He is the man for technical information / suggestions.

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I had this EXACT same issue this week with GE toggle and add-on switches. I still have not got it to work. I had the normal black “hot” wire, black load and red traveller on the main. On the slave I have a black “ground???”, red and white all going into the switch. I’ve tried wiring tying black and white wires together, with the red as a traveller. No go. So I gave up. If I don’t care about the add-on switch is it correct to just cap the red and black together and white by itself?

Like above, you really need to try and figure out how your wiring is by visual observation, voltage, and continuity checks.

I am not an electrician and still don’t understand how or why the above situation works.

Hopefully @Navat604 (Ray) will pop in when he’s available and help us all figure it out and learn from him.

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Do not do this unless you know for sure what the wires are. You could have a hot and a neutral and that wiuld be bad. But I’m going to say that you are going to care about the slave switch as I believe your master is located where you would install your slave. There is no white wire where your master is?

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There’s a white wire with the master but not the slave. At least not on the same circuit. I checked the two in the add-on box with a volt pen and they both came up hot [Completion edit:Should have used a multimeter, lines weren’t hot unless I did some really dumb things] so I’m guessing it’s another one of those light almond wires and not neutral. I think my other problem was that in my master I was using the almond wire for neutral because I thought it was white [Completion edit:This was very accurate. It was not a neutral … yet][quote=“TN_Oldman, post:23, topic:72375, full:true”]
Like above, you really need to try and figure out how your wiring is by visual observation, voltage, and continuity checks.

I am not an electrician and still don’t understand how or why the above situation works.

Hopefully @Navat604 (Ray) will pop in when he’s available and help us all figure it out and learn from him.
[/quote]

It’s all good. I’m just happy that it’s working. I’ll go throw a dumb switch in the slave some other day. I don’t think I have a neutral wire in the slave box. If I had a neutral I’d still be trying to install the add-on. Now you get me thinking about it and I’m going to have to start looking for something that doesn’t require a neutral. I don’t have the skill to start pulling apart tongue and groove to throw a new wire in. But now I’m thinking about it, doesn’t there have to be a neutral? I don’t even know anymore. I’ll revisit it another day.

In my main I don’t have a red traveler wire [Completion edit:I did but in the previous configuration it was tied off]. You’d need to have a neutral wire at your main. In my picture it looks like I wired a neutral wire into the red and black but it’s some other wire that constantly has power. It sounds like what I have but reversed. I’m not an electrician but if it’s like mine you’d want to twist the red and black together and make sure that your neutral is neutral. My downfall seemed to be that a wire that looked white was just barely tinted a light almond color. I still don’t get how it works. but what’s seen in the picture (the one with the smart switch just to the right and the red and black twisted together with the “”"“white (light white almond)”"" is what works for me. OOh, and in my slave I don’t have the switch hooked up but the black and red wire down there are tied together.
[Completion edit:oh god, so much stupid]

There is a gang of white wires tied together in the master. No white wires going into the main switch though.

This is probably a white wire. Just cause a wire is white doesn’t mean it’s connected to neutral. Just like a black doesn’t mean it’s line, and red can be various things too.

This is why you should verify what is what with meters, non contact tester, continuity checks. Color doesn’t mean much.

I’m glad @langevinrox got his working. He could possibly still get a remote switch in if we understood the wiring a little better.

@Supreme537 if you can get into your lights wiring maybe we can get a better idea of what to do for you also.

Of course Ray may pop in here and clear it up for all of us.

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Well I’ll be.

Yeah, I’m going to need to get a volt meter, Might just get it tonight. The pen I have just tells me hot or not. Currently It’s
Slave:
(ground)
Red
Black
White
Last I checked the volt pen lit on on all of them except the ground. Just odd, maybe I switched the wrong circuit.

Are there other hot wires coming into the box? But to this as well I never trust wiring. Test for voltage between the white wire and ground with the breaker on. If there is no coktage test dor continuity between the white wire and and a ground with the circuit breaker off. You should have none. Test with it on and if you have continuity it’s the same circuit.

Test for voltage on the black wire with the circuit on . If you have voltage test with it off. If you have none. Label the wires. That will be the easy part. The hard part can be finding the route of the travelers.

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Don’t do that. The smart switch does not work the same way.

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This is “probably” neutrals. You really need to post a picture of what you have with a description of what you think the wires are.

Remember we can’t see what you can see. Details are the key. We can hopefully get you wired up right. Just trace out the wires like @Kato has suggested.
Possibly trace out as much as you can. The more you know what’s going where for sure the easier it is to wire it up.

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Well shit. I went out and bought a volt meter. I might give this a shot later today. I’m convinced I have no neutral but haven’t taken a volt meter to it yet, just the no contact pen and that thing can be kind of tricky at times… Just to clarify, I’ll know a wire is a traveler when it only gets power when the switch is on right?

Thanks again to everyone for the ongoing support. I really wasn’t expecting anyone to continue checking up.

No. In a 3 way situation, power alternates between the “load” and traveler wires when the switch is toggled.

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When you go to do your checks, Mark which wire is going where right now.

Disconnect everything. Find your line (should measure 120 to ground or neutral) find your neutral (should measure 0 to ground) or pen should light up on line and not on neutral.

Try to see if you have power anyplace else on any of the other wires. Try to test and draw it out the best you can. BE CAREFUL AROUND HOT CIRCUITS

You possibly know your load since you got it to light up.

With power off (verify ALL THE WIRES your going to touch, are dead with pen and then meter to ground) when dead you could short 2 wires together (like red and black) that are in same cable (romex). Then go to remote switch and touch meter (on continuity) to the red and black (same romex) you think you shorted together. If reads zero you know that’s the cable you twisted together and now possibly know where it runs.

If can’t short 2 together could use a long piece of small wire (speaker type) and twist it on one wire you think goes between boxes, then take other end to other box hook one meter lead up to it and touch wires with other meter lead until meter shows continuity. Now you know where that wire runs.
Will be hard to draw / test it out without being able to get into the lights.

Look back in this thread I believe someone else gave you checks to perform to help figure out your wiring too.

Draw out what you find, visual is easier to figure out.

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You will know you have the traveler/s when you have continuity. Power off check them all. If you can’t get access to the box the lights are wired to, I think you’re not going to get the the slave switch to work. (Well you can but the wires will be backwards and you’ll have reverse polarity. )

This is how I see your wiring. Line from breaker to main switch. (Common Black Neutral White) Neutral pigtailed to the light with two travelers black and red. In the light box I believe you’ll find the black pigtailed to the white going to the slave switch and the red pigtailed to red. The black will be connected to the load (light). You’ll be able to tell this if you have continuity between the red in the slave and the red at the main and between the white at the slave and the black (3wire bundle) at the main.

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After testing everything I think there is a configuration that will work normally.
Alright, I got my voltmeter out and learned some surprising things.

  1. The “almond” wire is like 12v.

Under normal conditions i.e. the lights are working but not turned on this is the configuration
Add-on box:
White - neutral
Black - Hot ::stays hot when untied::
red - hot (tied to black) ::This line is not hot when untied::

Main box:
twisted white - neutral
almond - 12v?
black 1 - hot but only when red and black at add-on are tied
black 2 hot but only when the switch is flicked on

This might be one of those things I just have to think on for a while.

I’m going to include my most recent diagram. I think it might help.

[Completion edit: Ignore diagram]

Ok now you have me a little confused.

Step one. Turn the breaker off. Disconnect all the wires from each other. Move them apart as not to touch each other.

Step two. Find the wires coming from the breaker. Turn the breaker back on. Next carefully place the black probe on ground(bare copper wire) red probe to each of the wires. The one that shows 110v is the hot, line, live wire. Check all of them, you should only have 1 that shows voltage. There should be a white wire with it, this will be neutral, check for continuity with the ground. Label these two wires and leave them disconnected.

Step three. Check for continuity between each of the wires at the slave location and each of the remaining wires at the main switch.

(This is what you will probably find out
Red at slave is red at main
White at slave is black at main
Black at slave is white at main)

Once this is done you can move to figuring out how to wire it up.

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Not going to lie, some of the terminology used here I’m not completely clear on. “Testing continuity” being one of them so I googled it. I flipped the circuit, disconnected all the wires (tested resistance) and they all came up with 0. Felt like I was doing something wrong so I flipped them back on and got 0 again out of everything except the whites which were .3 ohms.
[Completion edit: taping the same wire with the black and red probe on a multimeter and looking for resistance, is not testing resistance.]

I have these two identified and labelled. Everything is still disconnected. When they’re all separated none of the others are hot.

Wait, I think I get it. [Completion edit:I didn’t get it, in fact, I had it as backwards as it could be] When I set the multimeter to resistance and I tap the (now hot) wire with the red and the other stuff with the black, It goes nuts when I get the hot black wire and the white wire together and the hot black wire to what I would identify as the load wire. At the add-on box there is no voltage.

Zero from where to where? Where we’re the leads connected?

Are you saying you took resistance readings with the power back on? If so don’t do that again!!!

Sorry don’t mean to be rude or mean. I am starting to think your a little over your head in this.

You might want to call an electrician and have him help you get it wired with the smart switches or putting your dumb switches back in.

I really want to try and help you but I think we’re going in circles.

So where are these 2 wires? Main box or remote.