Replacing 3-way light switches with Zwave


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Old 03-15-15, 11:25 AM
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Replacing 3-way light switches with Zwave

Hello experts. I have a 3-way light switch (top & bottom of stairs) controlling an overhead light using regular toggle switches now.
I purchased GE 3-way dimmer switch replacements that also connect to ZWave and would like to swap the switches. I did this for regular light switches but the 3-way switch setup is not clear to me.
Below 2 pics are of my current switches & their wiring; the black wire with electrical tape indicates the switch at the bottom of the stairs. Following that are the 2 pics of the GE replacement switches, showing the connector options. The GE switches don't have the same qty of connectors (one has 4, the other 3), but the qty of wires in each switch outlet are the same (4) so they don't match up and I'm not sure how to wire it up.
I'd appreciate it if someone can point me in the right direction with clear steps; I'm a relative beginner with electrical wiring.
Thanks so much!

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Old 03-15-15, 11:50 AM
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Welcome to the forums.

Not really the ideal project to start with. You will be required to rewire your three way circuit.It needs to match the wiring in the diagram. This will require you to have a meter or voltage tester for testing.

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You will need to disconnect the wire off the dark/black screw at each switch and determine by measuring between that wire and ground..... at which end the always live is located at.

Ultimately you'll need to end up with a hot (black), a red (traveler) and a white (neutral) between the two switches. Currently you have two travelers.
 
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Old 03-15-15, 12:11 PM
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Thanks for the helpful diagram!
It looks like the GE switches use only 1 traveller and not the 2 that I have; that's what was throwing me off. Couldn't I just use one of the travellers and wire it up (e.g., the red one), assuming the black wire with the electrical tape marking meant it is the live one coming from electrical panel, and wire it that way?
 
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Old 03-15-15, 12:14 PM
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The primary gets it's neutral thru the load. The aux switch needs actual neutral to work.

Most three ways circuits have the power at one end and the light/load at the other end.
 
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Old 03-15-15, 12:34 PM
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This is a redraw of the GE diagram showing actual wiring.

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BUT.... you need to confirm that the light is at one end and the power is at the other.
It is confusing but you must understand it before you start changing wires around.
 
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Old 03-15-15, 02:07 PM
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thanks for the additional diagram. the tricky part for me is not knowibg where the light is in relation to the switches, as you commented.
I'll dig further before messing around.
 
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Old 03-15-15, 02:14 PM
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Based on your pictures of the two switches that both use black on the common screws and red and black as travelers..... your light connection is at the opposite switch to the one that is powered.

The wiring at the hot end will pretty much stay the same.

At the aux end..... the white that's in the three wire cable with the two travelers is neutral. There should currently be two white wires in a wirenut there. The aux switch neutral will also go there. The black traveler and the black common wire will be taken off the switch and combined with a wirenut. This will leave you with a red to go to the switch with the neutral.
 
 

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