Modifying a 3-way switch for use with Wink Relay

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  #1  
Old 01-08-15, 06:46 AM
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Modifying a 3-way switch for use with Wink Relay

Hi,

First time poster here, so please forgive me if I commit any minor faux pas

So for Christmas I received a Wink Relay Touchscreen Controller (wink.com/relay). This device will allow me to control my smart bulbs and garage doors from the screen mounted on the wall. Currently I can do that from my smartphone, but I don't always have my phone on my when I'm walking around the house in shorts or having to launch an app to operate lights. So that's why I want this.

One of the limitations of this device is, that it is not compatible with 3-way switches. Well, that kind of sucks for me since my entire main floor is practically all 3-way and 4-way switches. This doesn't seem to stop people from installing devices only intended for single pole operation like certain motion sensors. So, the most ideal place for me to install it, would be on a wall near my front door and entrance from the garage.

This location has a double gangbox with a 3-way and 4-way switch. From what I've read from several posts already, removing the 4-way switch would be simple as just nutting together the like colored wires. So now I'm left with the 3-way switch... try to follow along.

I want to install the Wink Relay as a master switch (in essence a single pole switch in the ON position), keeping the remote 3-way switch operational. If I set the switch on the Wink Relay to the OFF position, then power would to cut to switch and light lights regardless of the position of the 3-way switch.

OR, can I just place the Wink Relay in parallel with a single pole switch? So install 2 single pole switches in parallel, having the first switch be a master switch.

It's funny because what I'm describing is what some people are experiencing when a 3-way switch is wired incorrectly...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think this may or may not be possible to accomplish depending on which end the 3-way switches are hot.

I can provide photos if that can shed some more light. Sounds like a bunch of bright people here, so hoping for some answers. Enjoy my puns
 
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  #2  
Old 01-08-15, 07:04 AM
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To use the Wink Relay as a force-off switch togehter with an ordinary switched light you connect the relay in series with the existing switch. (Connect power wire to relay; connect relay to original switch with a piece of wire; connect original switch to wire going to light.)

You can install your Wink Relay as a force-off switch in any 3 way switch box that has the circuit neutral, space permitting. You cannot install it in a 4 way switch box or in any switch box that does not have a neutral.

Unhook the wire from the common terminal of the 3 way switch and connect it to one switch terminal of the relay. Connect a short length (pigtail) from the other switch terminal of the relay to the 3 way switch common terminal. Caution: Be sure to remove any neutral jumper from these two relay terminals. (Neutral connects to a third terminal of the relay unit.)

It may also be possible to install the relay in a light fixture box if there is more space there. Let us know what you have (what wires come into what box) so we can give you the solution for that situation.

(To install the relay as a force-on switch, you need to find a box where you have all three (1) raw power, (2) neutral, and (3) light fixture hot terminal or switched power conductor going to same. This could be at a light fixture.)
 

Last edited by AllanJ; 01-08-15 at 07:55 AM.
  #3  
Old 01-08-15, 08:26 AM
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Hi AllanJ, thanks for your response. The Wink Relay has a touch screen and smart buttons and is intended to be installed in place of a single or double gang wall switch. As I've mentioned the gang box I want to use has a 3-way and a 4-way in it. I'm going to eliminate the 4-way switch by nutting the red with red and black with black together. So basically, I'm left with a 3-way switch in a double gang box.

The 3-way switch I'm left with consists of a black, red and white wire. Inside the back of the box are another set of white wires nutted together, which I'm pretty sure is neutral. It's weird because I thought the white wire on the 3-way switch was neutral.

So on the other leg of the 3-way switch next to the garage door entrance, in another double gang box. That switch has a black, red and another black with white paint on it.

So the Wink Relay has 3 connections, Line, Load and Neutral. How do I install that as the force-off switch and what do I need to do with the remote 3-way switch, does it need to be replaced with another single pole switch?

Thanks for your feedback, I hope the additional information I provided makes things clearer.
 
  #4  
Old 01-09-15, 05:03 AM
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First you need to identify the "common" terminal of the 3 way switch. This terminal is usually stained a darker color or has "C" engraved on the switch body near it. The words "left" or "middle" cannot be used as a rule to identify it.

Before unhooking anything from any circuit, label things so you could put it back the way it was. For this purpose you may use wds such as "left" but do not discard any parts.

Unhook the wire from the c ommon terminal. Using a meter find out whether it is the common wire or the common terminal that is hot relative to neutral (exactly one should be).

Connect the line terminal or wire of the WInk relay to the live (wire or tminal). COnnect the load terminal or wire of the relay to the other (terminal or wire). Connect the neutral terminal or wire of the relay to the cluster of white wires at the back of the box/.

The "other" 3 way switch needs no treatment or alteration.

A wire attached to a switch terminal (other than a green or framework screw) or to a cluster of colored wires is hot. Ergo a white wire attached to a switch terminal or a bundle of black wires is not neutral. The most modern code requiresthat such a white wire also have a band of colored (not green) tape or stain at both ends.

Black wires of size 4 or greater may be marked with white or green paint to indicate neutral or ground. Thinner wires may not be so marked although in your case the black wire with the white paint (might have been accidentally hit by the wall painter during house construction) is to be assumed hot since it was connected to the switch.

Measuring voltage between two switch terminals does not give useful information except to an electrical guru. Always measure between a terminal or wire of interest and neutral. Those with some electrical know how can determine "hotness" by measuring between the terminal of interest and ground.
 

Last edited by AllanJ; 01-09-15 at 05:29 AM.
  #5  
Old 01-09-15, 06:44 AM
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Hi AllanJ,

Thanks for your useful input. So good news is, the switch is installed and works! Just one thing, as it turns out, the other 3-way switch is working as the force-off switch now. I was hoping it would be the other way around. Because if someone flips that switch, it kills power to the Wink Relay Controller. Ideally it would've been great if it were the OTHER WAY around, that way if someone plays with the switch, it would just turn the lights on or off.

I assume that isn't possible because the location I chose to install the Wink Relay was at the end-run(?) of the 3-way circuit?
 
  #6  
Old 01-09-15, 05:09 PM
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Does the Wink relay come to life when you flip the 3 way switch next to it?

(You still have to use the touch screen to turn the light on.)
 
  #7  
Old 01-09-15, 05:55 PM
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Yes the Relay has power to the screen when the remote 3way switch is in the on position. When the 3way is switched off, the Relay completely loses power and goes dead. When the Relay is on, the load can be toggled on and off with one of the smart buttons. Ideally I would want the Relay to constantly have power so when the remote switch is flipped it would only control the light.
 
  #8  
Old 01-10-15, 05:14 AM
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Does the Wink relay remember its last position or setting when powered back on after being off overnight?

At least, if the Wink relay, as a master force-off, were set to Off at any time, it would be necessary to go to the touch screen to turn it on before any of the 3 way (or 4 way) switches for that light can be used.
 
  #9  
Old 01-10-15, 09:42 AM
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The Relay has the ability to leave the switch permanently on for use with smart bulbs, or to work as a regular light switch. This is just a matter of programming. I'm just wondering if it's possible to configure the Relay as the force off switch if power enters the circuit through the other switch.
 
  #10  
Old 01-11-15, 09:05 AM
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The hot source, whether from the other switch or arriving directly, should have been connected to the "line" terminal or wire of the Wink relay.

Configuring must be done while the light is actually on. Thereafter, if the Wink relay remembers its configuration and its last setting should its power source go dead then almost all of the functionality, force-off in your case, should work okay.

The pre-existing 3 way switch must be flipped for the light to be on also, in order for the light to actually go on. This is true regardless of where the Wink relay was installed.
 
  #11  
Old 01-11-15, 09:25 AM
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The hot source, whether from the other switch or arriving directly, should have been connected to the "line" terminal or wire of the Wink relay.

Configuring must be done while the light is actually on. Thereafter, if the Wink relay remembers its configuration and its last setting should its power source go dead then almost all of the functionality, force-off in your case, should work okay.

The pre-existing 3 way switch must be flipped for the light to be on also, in order for the light to actually go on. This is true regardless of where the Wink relay was installed.
 
  #12  
Old 01-13-15, 12:37 PM
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Hi Again,

I definitely appreciate the feedback here, and I know it's easy to go off track and forget what the original question is. Well, I kind of understand what you're saying, but that sounds like the traditional way of setting up a 3-way switch.

What I'm trying to do is convert the 2 3-way switches to 2 single-pole switches. In this case, wouldn't the first switch to get power be the master off? I'm a logical thinking, except I'm not an electrician. Keep the suggestions and advice coming. Until then, I may still move the switch.
 
  #13  
Old 01-13-15, 05:03 PM
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When the Wink relay is installed as a force-off and put in the off position, the light is unconditionally off. The two 3 way switches as a single entity can also turn the light unconditionally off even if the Wink relay were positioned to not go dead.

In other words, in order for the light to be on, both the Wink relay and the 3 way array have to be in their respective "on" positions.

The other wiring method is force-on for the Wink relay. This way, if the Wink relay were in the
on" position the light will be unconditionally on. Also, if the 3 way array were in an "on" position the light will be unconditionally on regardless of what you do tot he touch screen.
 
  #14  
Old 01-13-15, 05:23 PM
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It doesn't answer my question though. Can I have the Relay operate as a force off switch when it is on the end leg of the 3way switch. Right now I know if I move the Relay to the other switch I will definitely work as a force off switch. But I prefer the current location. My question remains, can I somehow make the Relay the force off switch even though it's at the opposite end of the switches where power enters the circuit.

It's hard to grasp without actually having the unit in front of you. The touch screen needs continuous power which I assume comes from the neutral, but the Relay has 2 physical buttons on it that will turn on or off the switch(es) that are removed from the gangbox. Go to wink.com/relay to see a picture.
 
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