Trouble installing vacancy sensing wall switch

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Old 08-22-12, 08:13 AM
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Trouble installing vacancy sensing wall switch



I live in Saginaw county, Michigan and my home was built in 1977/78.
I purchased several vacancy sensing switches to replace my existing wall switches to save $$. The switches operate the ceiling room light. I purchased a Pass & Seymour, 0-600 watt, 120VAC, 1/6 HP switch at Menard's. The new switch has 3 wires, black, red and green.

I shut off the breaker at the box, removed the plate from the wall switch and took off the existing wall switch and observed there were 2 black wires to the top terminal of the switch and one red wire to the bottom terminal of the switch. There are no green wires going to the switch. There are white wires in the box but they are capped at the back of the box and do not go to the switch. I cannot see any bare copper wires (ground) in the box, but it is dark in there.

As the wiring colors and number of the existing switch do not match the new switch I am in a quandry. How should I install the new switch (or do I have the wrong one).

I have attached several photos of the new switch information and wiring configuration as well as a photo of the wiring in the box.

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Thank you!
 
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Old 08-22-12, 08:29 AM
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Welcome to the forums!

How should I install the new switch...?
What appears to be two black wires attached to the switch is actually one wire with a short piece of insulation removed for the termination.

Remove the wires from the switch. Undo the black wire splice. Cut off the end of the black wire that was going to the switch just beyond the mid-wire strip. Redo the black wire splice and add the black wire from the new switch. Splice red to red. Terminate the green wire to the metal box using an approved ground screw.
 
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Old 08-22-12, 08:30 AM
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I have been starring at that picture and I can't tell if the wire is looped over the screw or if the screw is black or brass. If the screw is brass colored and there are no black screws on the switch follow Nash's instructions.

Just a observation, in those switch boxes with a neutral it would be better to go with an occupancy switch that has a neutral, That way the occupancy switch can be used with CFL bulbs and fluorescent light fixtures. Of course there is no reason to assume all your switches are wired the same way so each switch must be evaluated separately for the correct switch to use.
 
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Old 08-22-12, 08:46 AM
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New information on vacancy sensing switch install

I rechecked the box and took another photo. there are definitely 2 black wires coming into the box. The copper wire at the back of the box appears to the ground. this may have originally been a 4 way switch that connected the light to a switch at the top of the stairs and one in the hall but was not hooked up correctly? This 2nd photo of the box may show the incoming black wires better.
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Old 08-22-12, 08:50 AM
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So is this now hooked up as a single location switch or a 3-way switch with two switches that operate the same light? In other words is this a single pole single throw switch or a 3-way single pole double throw switch?
 
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Old 08-22-12, 08:52 AM
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The switch presently is a single location switch. I would like to install the vacancy sensor switch as a 3-way switch with two switches that operate the same light but not sure I can do this.


 
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Old 08-22-12, 09:05 AM
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The vacancy switch won't accommodate a 3-way that is why I asked. You need to determine which incoming wire is hot using a multimeter or test light but not a non-contact tester by measuring each wire to the white bundle. That wire goes to the black of the VSw. It is probably the black on the switch. If so then the red on the existing switch goes to the VSw. red.
 
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Old 08-22-12, 12:28 PM
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The switch presently is a single location switch.
Yes. Ray also asked
Originally Posted by ray2047
In other words is this a single pole single throw switch or a 3-way single pole double throw switch?
That is, does it have two terminal screws or three? If it has a toggle, does that have ON and OFF molded into it, or is it smooth?
 
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Old 08-22-12, 12:53 PM
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Not the first time I've been wrong.

The copper wire at the back of the box appears to the ground.
The bare copper wires spliced together with a copper crimp connector in the back of the box are the ground wires from the two cables. I can't tell whether the box is bonded to ground or not. If it isn't, it needs to be.

this may have originally been a 4 way switch that connected the light to a switch at the top of the stairs and one in the hall but was not hooked up correctly?
Unless the cable on the right actually has a red wire in it that has been cut short, this cannot be a 4-way switch location. However, it can be a 3-way switch location, and may have been originally. Would you prefer to see whether you can have multiple switch locations with your existing wiring, or just install your VSw to control the light that the switch in this box has been controlling?

This 2nd photo of the box may show the incoming black wires better.
It does and, while this is not the first time I've been wrong, it is one of those times. I see now that the two black wires are not spliced together inside the yellow wire nut, as I thought they were from your first photo. That is the neutral splice.

So now I'm guessing that the two black wires are joined by being connected to the same terminal on the existing switch. Is that correct?

If so, and if you want to install your VSw to do what the old switch was doing, remove the two black wires from the switch and splice them together with the black from the VSw. Then connect red-to-red and green-to-ground. You should use a jumper from the new ground-and-green splice to bond the box to ground, unless it already is.
 
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Old 08-22-12, 05:12 PM
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I can't tell whether the box is bonded to ground or not. If it isn't, it needs to be.
I think I see a ground clip at the top left of the box.
 
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Old 08-22-12, 05:27 PM
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I think I see a ground clip at the top left of the box.
Yes. I think you've got it. Nice sighting, CJ.

Robbie, that answers that question. Now the challenge is finding a way to connect the green wire from your VSw. that might be most easily done by connecting it to the bonded metal box with a ground screw
 
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Old 08-22-12, 05:47 PM
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Yes, the two black wires are joined on the same terminal of the existing switch.

Let me see if I have your instructions correct: The two black wires on the same switch terminal, made a 3 way switch into a single pole switch. To keep this single pole configuration I should
a. splice the two black wires from the box to the black wire of the new vacancy switch and
b. connect the red wire from the box to the red wire of the vacancy switch.
c. connect the green to the ground
The instructions for handling the ground wire have me confused. The bare ground wires at the back of the box have no "ends" for me to splice the green wire. What do you mean "use a jumper?" There is no screw hole at the back of the box to put in a screw to attach the ground wire. Still a bit confused.
Thanks so much





 
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Old 08-22-12, 05:59 PM
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The two blacks on the same screw are improper, one wire per screw. They are using the screw to act as a splice between the two blacks. You need to add a pigtail to fix this.

You can add a piece of bare to allow you to ground the new switch.
 
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Old 08-22-12, 08:00 PM
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The two black wires on the same switch terminal, made a 3 way switch into a single pole switch.
No. Your existing switch is a single pole switch. The question is whether it's an ON/OFF switch, which is a single pole single throw switch, or a 3-way switch, which is a single pole double throw switch. But that doesn't really matter if you're going to replace it anyway. Then the question becomes
Originally Posted by Nashkat1
Would you prefer to see whether you can have multiple switch locations with your existing wiring, or just install your VSw to control the light that the switch in this box has been controlling?
It looks from the rest of this post that you've decided to just install the VSw and not worry about whether a multiple switch circuit might be possible. No worries.

So:
a. splice the two black wires from the box to the black wire of the new vacancy switch
Yes - all three black wires spliced together.
b. connect the red wire from the box to the red wire of the vacancy switch.
Yes.
c. connect the green to the ground
To ground. Not to the ground.

The bare ground wires at the back of the box have no "ends" for me to splice the green wire.
I know. That's why I suggested that you use a ground screw to bond the switch to the bonded metal box.

What do you mean "use a jumper?"
That was to bond the box. Don't worry about that, it's already done, as CasualJoe noted:
Originally Posted by CasualJoe
I think I see a ground clip at the top left of the box.
There is no screw hole at the back of the box to put in a screw to attach the ground wire.
I think I see two, but I can't be sure. It doesn't matter, so long as there are no cables entering the bottom of the box and the bottom two knockouts are still in place. If so, remove and discard the bottom cable clamp and the screw securing it. The hole for that screw should be threaded to accept a ground screw. Screw it in there.
 
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