Convert 4-way

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Old 04-27-07, 08:00 AM
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Convert 4-way

I am trying to install a vacancy sensor (designed for a 3-way switch installation) in my garage, which had two switches I assumed were both 3-way. When I opened the cover, here is what I found:
http://www.geocities.com/bll1968/storage/3190small.jpg

It looks like a 4-way to me. The top labelled wire is a traveller and the bottom labelled wire is a common. I don't know what the other green wires are.

Is it possible to install a 3-way switch (Wattstopper RH-200) in this box?

Let me know.


Thanks in advance.
-Brad
 
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Old 04-27-07, 08:15 AM
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This looks to me be a three way switch. Unfortunately your picture is taken from a bad angle to be certain. Why do you think it is a four way?

The bottom two black wires appear to be attached to one terminal, while the top two wires appear to be attached to separate terminals. To be sure, please confirm this. Also please tell us the other wires in the box. ALL of the other wires. What cables do all the wires come from and how are they connect to anything.

Green wires are ground wires.

Another comment. Some of those wires appear to be connect to the back stab connectors of the switch. Use of the back stabs, while legal, is ill advised. Back stabs tend to fail over time. When you connect up a receptacle or switch it is suggested that you always use the screw terminals and that you do not use the back stabs.
 
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Old 04-28-07, 03:45 PM
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more info

Bob,
You are correct. The top two wires are attached to different points (both stabs). The bottom outer wire is attached to a screw and the inner wire is attached to a stab labeled "common."

I assumed it was a 4-wire because it had 1 more wire than the 3-way diagram I was looking at.

More images are available here:
http://www.geocities.com/bll1968/storage/3188small.jpg
http://www.geocities.com/bll1968/storage/3189small.jpg
http://www.geocities.com/bll1968/storage/3191small.jpg

In the 3191 photo, there are three cables entering the box: one at the lower left, one in the upper right, and one in the lower right. I cannot figure out why a third is needed. As shown, the three neutrals are connected and the three grounds are, as well.

However, there IS a smoke alarm overhead that has a 120v feed.

I hope that's enough information to figure this out.
Do you still think this is a three-way switch?

Thanks,
Brad-
"I knew there was a good reason I chose to be a mechanical engineer instead of a electrical one!"
 
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Old 04-28-07, 04:29 PM
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From your photos it appears you two wires connected to the common screw. That is fine. You just can't put them both under the one screw.But you won't need to if I understand what you are wanting to do.
I am unclear as to what you are want to do. Are you wanting to add another switch to this already existing three way(two switches) setup. If that is the case this is very simple if you can run a three wire+grnd cable from either of the existing three ways to the new location.
Here is how to do it.
At all locations connect all ground wires together and to the green screw of the switch if it has one.

At the existing three way.
Remove the wires from the switch noting which one(s) are connected to the common screw. connect that wire to the black wire of your new cable.
Take the wire from one of the other screws and connect it one of the brass screws of your new four way.
Take the last wire and connect it to the other brass screw of the new switch.
Take the new white wire and connect it to the one of the silver screws.
Connect the new red wire tot he other silver screw.

At the new switch connect the black wire to the common screw and the red and white wires to the traveler screws.
 
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Old 04-28-07, 05:37 PM
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Okay, guys. There are no two wires attached to a single screw. The inside black wire is actually connected to a stab labeled "common."

Here's what I am trying to do... I have a vacancy sensor switch I am trying to install in place of the existing switch. The instructions say my (3-way) switch wiring should look like this:
http://www.geocities.com/bll1968/storage/switchdiagram.jpg

Since I have an extra wire connected to the switch, I assumed the existing switch was a 4-way. If it's not - great! Maybe I can still hook up this sensor.
Here's what the new switch wiring looks like:
http://www.geocities.com/bll1968/storage/RH200wiring.jpg

So what should I do with the extra wire?

Thanks again,
Brad
 
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Old 04-28-07, 06:55 PM
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The extra black wire on the common screw backstab is unswitched power going out to another part of the circuit. Treat the two wires connected to the common terminal(screw and backstab) as one wire.
We need to know the wiring at the fixture and the other switch to know if this is possible to connect.
Also post a link to this switch. It might not be possible to do it. It seems you need five wires at each switch according this diagram.
 
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Old 04-28-07, 08:36 PM
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Connect the two wires connected to the common to the common of the new switch.

Connect the two travelers to the two traveler wires of the new switch.

Done.
 
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Old 04-28-07, 10:27 PM
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But the new switch also requires a neutral (which is present at this switch)and a matching switch to go in the other switch box. The other switch box might not have a neutral. One of the travelers is actually hot wire not a switched traveler. We need more info.
 
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Old 04-29-07, 08:09 AM
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Who put the label which says "common" on that wire? Typically, no wire connected to a three way switch is a "common" wire. That black terminal on the lower left of your three way switch is a traveler, and two wires are connected to it...on under the screw, and the one labeled "common" is stabbed into the same terminal.

Your RH-200 requires a neutral wire, which you do not have at this point, so that is your basic problem.
 
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Old 04-29-07, 09:36 AM
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The above post is wrong in all accounts.
The black terminal is the common wire. Your's has two wires connected to it. ALL three way switches have one terminal that is the common.
You also do have a neutral wire in this box.
 
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Old 04-29-07, 01:57 PM
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Of course he has a neutral in the box. All of those white wires wire nutted together are neutral wires. He may not have a neutral at the other switch box, but he has one at the switch box he is discussing with us.
 
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Old 04-30-07, 07:01 AM
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Guys... I am going out of town this week. I will update you on this when I get back.

Thanks for the help.
Brad
 
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