Adding Light Timer to Daisychained Light Circuits

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  #1  
Old 09-09-11, 07:48 AM
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Adding Light Timer to Daisychained Light Circuits

I'm not even sure the title of this message makes sense!

But, I have a house with a driveway light, porch lights, and a foyer light controlled from three separate switches at my front door.

I would like to control the driveway lights and porch lights with a timer, so they're on at night and off during the day. The foyer light should remain under control of the switch (I might later upgrade this to a motion switch, just for an added level of complexity).

So I thought there would be nothing but a hot, a cold, and a ground for each light in the fixture, but it seems that this was wired in a more complex (probably very legitimate, just in a way that blows my limited circuitry experience...no particular pun intended.

There are four sets of wires in the box: one for each fixture, and what seems to be a "main" or "supply" line. I say this because there is a half bathroom and an outlet in my den that seem to also feed off of this -- I had the timer working at one point but realized that it was actually switching the bathroom and den on and off also when this was connected.

If I had 2 hours of uninterrupted free time, I might be able to sit down and work this out with my verrrrrry limited experience...but that's a big maybe and at the risk of blowing my house up. So, I did what it's so difficult for me to do, especially with my wife reading over my shoulder: asking for help, admitting that I ... don't know what I'm doing.

I'm including four images (just different angles) showing what things sort of look like. Ignore the screw and the alligator clips, that's the only way I was able to figure out which set of wires did what. I thought I knew what to do when I started removing wires from the switches but it didn't work as expected.







 
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  #2  
Old 09-09-11, 08:30 AM
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Ok, what it sounds like is you have 3 SPST switches and each one controls a separate light. You want the foyer light to remain controlled by a switch. With four sets of wires you have one set that will be the power source, this should have a black (hot), White (neutral), and green/bare (ground). Each of the light circuits are then connected in parallel from the power source. It looks like all the neutrals are connected together and they should stay that way. Each of the switches will have one side of the switch connected to the incoming hot wire and the other side of the switch will run out to each light.

To add the timer you will want to combine the two hots from the two lights you want to control from the timer to a short peace of wire (pigtail) and connect the pigtail to the switched terminal of the timer. You will then need to take one of the hots that went to one of the switches being replaced by the time to the input side of the timer. You will also need run a neutral to the timer so take a short peace of white wire and splice it into the other white wires.

Not sure how you were turning on/off the bathroom/den with only 4 sets of wires.

Are there any black wires that appear to run into and back out of the box without being connected to one of the switches?
 
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Old 09-09-11, 08:51 AM
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To add to Belgarid's instructions some timers will not have a neutral. If there is no neutral it can't be used with CFL lights.
 
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Old 09-09-11, 09:02 AM
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The white box at the bottom of the pictures is the timer, with a red, black, white, and green. I believe the packaging explicitly said it'd work with CFLs.

As to wires running through the box without being connected, I don't think there are any because I remember looking for such a thing...but there is a red wire running around that came from the foyer light (red, white, black, neutral).
 
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Old 09-09-11, 09:21 AM
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The white box at the bottom of the pictures is the timer, with a red, black, white, and green. I believe the packaging explicitly said it'd work with CFLs.
Correct. The white is your neutral. Your pictures are too small for me to see but if there is a neutral bundle of white wires that is where it goes.
 
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Old 09-09-11, 09:24 AM
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Click on it and a larger version should open (unless that's too small too).
 
  #7  
Old 09-09-11, 09:27 AM
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Okay nevermind that.

Here are the pics on Picasa. https://picasaweb.google.com/triscun...eat=directlink
 
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Old 09-09-11, 11:11 AM
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In looking at the pictures I see that you have both the red lead from the timer and a black connected to the screw on the switch. This is not allowed. A question about the 4 wires from the foyer light, is it controlled from more than one location? If not, then I see two options. Option 1 is that the power is being feed into the box from either the red or black on the line that comes from the foyer light and one of the other black lines feeds the bathroom and den or the power comes into the box from one of the other leads and one of the two lines(red/black) feed the light and the other feeds the bathroom/den.

We need to know what line is the always hot line and what line fees the bathroom/den so we can provide more information. Once you find the always hot line and the line that feeds the bathroom den you will want to connect the always hot line to the switch, timer and the line that feeds the bathroom/den. You will then connect the lines from the two lights that will connect to the timer and connect them together along with a pigtail and connect the pigtail to the load side of the timer.
 
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Old 09-09-11, 11:18 AM
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Originally Posted by tecsbrain View Post
Click on it and a larger version should open (unless that's too small too).
Didn't work for me but you included new links so all is good.
 
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Old 09-09-11, 01:43 PM
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One more thing, do you have any pictures of what the wiring looked like before you removed the switches?
 
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Old 09-09-11, 01:49 PM
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That would have been smart. Lack of "smart" is why I'm here :-D
 
  #12  
Old 09-10-11, 06:57 AM
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If you look at any of the pictures, let's start at the top left and go clockwise:

1) Foyer Light - *red*, white, black, bare (this is the only set coming in with a red wire, and the light is only controlled by this one SPST switch...so that red has something to do with the bathroom and den, I'm guessing)

2) Main? - black, white, bare - when this wire is removed, everything goes, so I'm guessing this is the main.

3) Porch - black, white, bare

4) Driveway - black, white, bare

3 and 4 are to be controlled by the timer.
 
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Old 09-10-11, 07:35 AM
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1) Foyer Light - *red*, white, black, bare (this is the only set coming in with a red wire, and the light is only controlled by this one SPST switch...so that red has something to do with the bathroom and den, I'm guessing)
Are both of those lights only or are there receptacles also. Does one of those lights have a red wire?
 
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Old 09-10-11, 07:47 AM
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Seems to go to two receptacles (one in den, one in bath) and a switched light in said bathroom.
 
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Old 09-10-11, 07:59 AM
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Ok, lets try this. Connect the black from #2 to the red from #1, does the den and bathroom work? Of so, do the following:

Connect black from #2 to switch for Foyer light, Red from #1 and supply side of timer.

Connect all whites together.

Connect all grounds together and run a ground to the switch.

Connect black from #3 and #4 with load side of timer.

Connect black from #1 to other screw on switch.
 
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Old 09-10-11, 08:58 AM
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In regards to your question, the B2 connected to R1 turns the foyer light on; B2 connected to B1 turns the bathroom on. So in your instructions I'm just swapping R1 with B1 (B2 to switch, B1, and supply of timer, also black; B3 and B4 to red on timer, and R1 to other screw on switch). Sound like that would work?
 
  #17  
Old 09-10-11, 09:55 AM
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Friends, I think we've got it. Thanks belgarid and ray2047 for your help; if either of you have gift registries or Amazon wishlists or anything of the sort, PM me!
 
  #18  
Old 09-10-11, 11:22 AM
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Sounds like you've got it. Glad we could help.
 
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