Trouble with 3-way switches

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  #1  
Old 11-12-13, 07:27 AM
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Trouble with 3-way switches

HI,

New member here.

I can't make it work!

I moved into an older home recently and am trying to replace some switches to a more modern look. I have a 3-way circuit controlling a ceiling light fixture. One switch is a 3-way toggle type, and the other is a 3-way dimmer (Lutron C.L digital dimmer).

The electrical box where the dimmer is going to be, has a 3-wire cable (red, white, & black). The black is hot.

The electrical box where the non-dimmer 3-way is, has a red & white coming from a 3-wire cable (red white and black, not sure where the black is going), and a black wire coming from a 2-wire Romex. I'm assuming for the moment that the black from the Romex cable is going to the light fixture, but not sure. None of the wires from this electrical box are hot.

Thanks for the help.

Bill




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Old 11-12-13, 08:19 AM
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Did you mark the common wire when you changed out the switch. You can't go by the location of the screw on the old switch. It can vary with manufacturer. You must go by screw color. The common being the odd coloured screw, usually dark gray.
 
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Old 11-12-13, 08:54 AM
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Unfortunately I didn't mark the common.

Here is some additional info I just found.

I ran a wire on the floor between each box and utilized an ohm meter.

Non-dimmer red >>>>>>>>>>>>>>Dimmer White

Non-dimmer White>>>>>>>>>>>>>Dimmer Red

None-dimmer Black>>>>>>>>>>>> Dimmer Black>>>>>>>>Light Fixture

None Dimmer Black>>>>>>>>HOT
 
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Old 11-12-13, 09:35 AM
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The hot should go to one common. The black to the light should go to the common of the other switch.

Red and black of the 3-conductor cable between the switches are probably travelers and need to go to the traveler screws on the switches.

White of the 2-conductor power in cable and white of 2-conductor cable to light goes to white of the 3-conductor cable between the switches.

One switch is a 3-way toggle type, and the other is a 3-way dimmer (Lutron C.L digital dimmer).
If the above doesn't work substitute a regular 3-way switch for the dimmer. Once it is working and we know the wiring is correct we can try to get the dimmer to work.
 
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Old 11-12-13, 10:01 AM
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Wired with non-dimmer switch and it worked

I wired the black to the black screw on the dimmer switch (it's not marked common). I wired the black wire in the none-dimmer switch black screw (which is marked common). The white and red wires were wired on the remaining 2 screws since I thought they were travelers. Again, the light works only if the non-dimmer switch I switched in one position. In the other position, nothing works. I reversed the red and white wires, and got the same results.

As you suggested, I swapped out the dimmer with a non-dimmer and it works now.

The 1st photo shows the permanent 3-way the black wire from the 2-conductor cable is wired to the common. The other two wires (red and white) are to the travelers.

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The 2nd photo shows the swapped out 3-way (non-dimmer). From the 3-conductor cable, the black (HOT) is wired to the common. The red and white are wired to the travelers.

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The 3rd photo is the dimmer I want to swap out with the 2nd photo

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Last edited by onthegulf; 11-12-13 at 12:35 PM.
  #6  
Old 11-12-13, 12:07 PM
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The white and red wires were wired on the remaining 2 screws since I thought they were travelers.
Originally Posted by ray2047
White of the 2-conductor power in cable and white of 2-conductor cable to light goes to white of the 3-conductor cable between the switches.
The puzzling thing is that you said that
The electrical box where the dimmer is going to be, has a 3-wire cable (red, white, & black). The black is hot.

and that the

None Dimmer Black>>>>>>>>HOT
Which of the two black wires is hot from the panel?
 
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Old 11-12-13, 12:08 PM
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The white and red wires were wired on the remaining 2 screws since I thought they were travelers.
Wrong. Please reread my instructions. White of the three conductor is neutral and not wired to the switches. Red and Black of the 3-conductor cable are the travelers. Neither common is connected to the 3-conductor cable.
  • The hot should go to one common.
  • The black to the light should go to the common of the other switch.
  • Red and black of the 3-conductor cable between the switches are probably travelers and need to go to the traveler screws on the switches.
  • White of the 2-conductor power in cable and white of 2-conductor cable to light goes to white of the 3-conductor cable between the switches.
Nash pondered:
The puzzling thing is that you said that
The electrical box where the dimmer is going to be, has a 3-wire cable (red, white, & black). The black is hot.
I'm assuming he used a non contact tester and that is wrong. Onthegulf, if a multimeter was used stop and post back before proceeding. One box, probably the box with three switches should have a black from a single 2-conductor cable connected to all three switches. That is your "hot".
 
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Old 11-12-13, 01:00 PM
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Hi Nash,

I used both non-contact & multi-meter.

To answer your questions.

Neither boxes have a black HOT going to several different switches. The box with the 3 switches clearly has a 2-conductor Romex cable. Only the black wire was used on the previous switch. A red and white wire coming from a 3-conductor cable were used on the remaining terminals.

The 2 switch box has a 3-conductor cable feeding the old switch. The black is HOT. This is also very clear to see.

I just sent Ray an update with photos, please check it out.
 
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Old 11-12-13, 01:18 PM
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I just sent Ray an update with photos, please check it out.
As soon as it is posted here, I will.

The 2 switch box has a 3-conductor cable feeding the old switch. The black is HOT. This is also very clear to see.
How so? More importantly, where is the other end of that cable? Where is that wire connected to unswitched power? Is that in the 3-gang box?
 
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Old 11-12-13, 01:26 PM
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It's posted, I revised post #5 below
 
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Old 11-12-13, 02:15 PM
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The 3rd photo is the dimmer I want to swap out with the 2nd photo
That doesn't look like a 3-way control. I only see three terminals, total, and the green screw looks like a ground connection. What is the model number of that dimmer?
 
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Old 11-12-13, 02:29 PM
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Ray.........see revised post #5
 
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Old 11-12-13, 02:34 PM
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Lutron AMCL-153MH-WH

The package says: "Works with companion dimmers or a standard 3-way switch, single pole, 3-way, or multi-location.
 
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Old 11-12-13, 02:37 PM
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Lutron AMCL-153MH-WH
I don't see that model #. Is it a Lutron MACL-153MH-WH?

The package says: "Works with companion dimmers or a standard 3-way switch, single pole, 3-way, or multi-location.
Interesting. I'm seeing "Can be used in single-pole, multi-location (using MA-R), or 3-way mechanical switch applications" for the MACL-153MH.

What do the instructions say? Can you post a link to those?

Using a multimeter to determine the common terminal might be possible, and might help.
 
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Old 11-12-13, 02:43 PM
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The box with the 3 switches clearly has a 2-conductor Romex cable. Only the black wire was used on the previous switch. A red and white wire coming from a 3-conductor cable were used on the remaining terminals.
So where is the white of the 2-conductor cable connected?
 
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Old 11-12-13, 02:45 PM
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Ray, he's got it working with 2 switches and I'm leaving for work. Can you do a bit more?
 
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Old 11-12-13, 02:57 PM
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Ray, he's got it working with 2 switches
Which post is that? I missed it.
 
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Old 11-12-13, 03:01 PM
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Yes, sorry, it is a MACL

http://www.lutron.com/TechnicalDocum...ry/369613a.pdf

http://www.lutron.com/TechnicalDocum...y/0301629b.pdf

I'll need some instructions / help on how to determine the common on this switch using a multi-meter.

Thanks
 
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Old 11-12-13, 03:10 PM
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The photos are in post # 5 where the circuit is working with two non-dimmer 3-way switches.
 
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Old 11-12-13, 04:32 PM
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The instructions you linked to for the MACL-153M don't match your device. They're for a dimmer that has four wires to connect, not three screws.

Double-check the model # of the control you have. It should be stamped into the yoke or faceplate.

I'll need some instructions / help on how to determine the common on this switch using a multi-meter.
A control that only has three terminals, with one of those marked as ground, won't be a 3-way control and won't have a common terminal.
 
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Old 11-12-13, 08:14 PM
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Look at page 2, 5b Two-Locations. Those are the same instructions that came in the package that the switch was in. The part number was confirmed on the switch which has 3-screws + the ground.

(I've always used a 3-connector switch with no problems on new construction. The switches I'm replacing on this project both had 3-connector switches. One switch was a dimmer, one was a none-dimmer). The two 3-way none-dimmmers currently working are both 3-connector switches.


Lutron MACL-153MH-WH

The package says: "Works with companion dimmers or a standard 3-way switch, single pole, 3-way, or multi-location.
 
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Old 11-12-13, 08:17 PM
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It's connected to all of the other neutral wired in that box.
 
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Old 11-12-13, 08:29 PM
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Just a quick question..... that dimmer works in conjunction with a standard three way switch BUT the wiring of the standard three way switch is not standard. At the standard switch end..... two of the wires get connected together to one terminal and the third wire goes to the odd colored screw.

After wiring it this way.....which is in the instructions..... you may have to program the dimmer which is also on the instructions.

I just went thru this with a tech at Lutron. Great techs working there.
 
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Old 11-12-13, 08:40 PM
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Look at page 2, 5b Two-Locations.
Of course. Here's what it says there:
5b - Two-Location
Wiring the Dimmer:
  • Connect the green ground wire on the Dimmer to the bare copper or green ground wire in the wallbox. (See Important Note 3 on reverse side)
  • Connect the tagged wire removed from the switch to the black screw terminal on the Dimmer.
  • Connect one of the remaining wires removed from the switch to the brass screw terminal on the Dimmer.
  • Connect the remaining wire removed from the switch (note wire color) to the blue screw terminal on the Dimmer.
Hm. OK, I don't think I read it carefully enough. I see that they've marked one of the terminals "blur" and they ro go on to talk about screws.

"Important Note 3" tells you to tag the wire connected to the common terminal on the old switch. So did you tag that black wire and follow these instructions? Didn't that work?
 
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Old 11-12-13, 08:42 PM
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I think PJ caught the last step. Thanks, PJ, saved me that piece of work.
 
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Old 11-12-13, 08:43 PM
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Connect the remaining wire removed from the switch (note wire color) to the blue screw terminal on the Dimmer
Correct.....this noted wire color is used a certain way at the standard switch end.


I had to wire some of these in a customers house. Did you ever try to read the Lutron instructions.
And then the programming step which is not listed as "for proper three way operation" but is required. I talked to a great tech at Lutron who is also a member here.
 
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Old 11-12-13, 08:47 PM
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this noted wire color is used a certain way at the standard switch end
Yep. That's Lutron using blue to mark the "talking point," or communicating terminal, on one of their switches - again.
 
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Old 11-13-13, 08:27 AM
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Thanks so much PJ...........everything is working now.
 
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