Simple Switch Replacement wasn't so simple...

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Old 04-18-15, 07:39 AM
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Simple Switch Replacement wasn't so simple...

I have replaced light switches several times in the past and never had a problem, however this time I found a setup that didn't make much sense to me.

Generally the line switch comes from your power source, the load heads off to your fixture, and the neutral returns from your fixture, right? And in the case of a dual-switch you add in a traveler wire. There is also generally a ground that screws on to the outside of the switch.

I am replacing a stock switch that came with the house in 91' with a smart switch that hooks into my iris system. Regardless of functionality, they both use a line in, load, and neutral wire. These slots are clearly marked on the new switch... not so much on the old one.

What really confused me was the switch box behind the old switch. Three lines come into it, each with a black,white, and copper wire. All of the coppers are capped together and all of the whites are capped together. My old switch, as can be seen in this picture:

http://i.imgur.com/uNnZSaL.jpg

Had 2 wires going into release holes and one going to a screw on the outside that appears to bridge the bottom release hole.

Here is the new switch for reference:

http://i.imgur.com/3Y3wE1A.jpg

The switch does not have a second switch that controls the same lights, so there should be no traveler wire. The switch does however control 4 pot lights in my kitchen.

Can anyone help me make heads or tails of this? Thank you!
 
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Old 04-18-15, 08:36 AM
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This is an incorrect way to wire a switch. The wires should have been combined in a splice and one tail connected to the screw or the back stab. What you have is a homeowner connection there.

I would start by connecting those two black wires together and add a small piece of black wire as a tail. This is your line connection.

The single black wire on your old switch is your load connection.

You'll probably need to add a short tail to the white splice in the box to bring neutral out to the switch.
 
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Old 04-18-15, 10:44 AM
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You had power in and power out on the one end of the old switch.

Neutrals are not normally connected to switches.
 
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Old 04-18-15, 12:07 PM
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At one point I tried hooking up both of the black wires (that should be capped with a tail) to the two line holes in the new switch with the other black wire going to the load switch.

That didn't work.

Maybe it needs the neutral.

I'm a bit confused by the comment that neutrals aren't generally hooked to switches. All my wiring diagrams and the switch itself call for it. Maybe it's needed for the air gap switch or the wireless functions it uses?

The switch doors need power since it is a zwave device, so maybe that is why it needs neutral?
 
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Old 04-18-15, 12:25 PM
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Yes. Your switch requires a neutral. Switches normally have no neutral, the switch is only to interrupt the hot wire to fixture.

Most or some switch boxes do not have a neutral, but it sounds like you do. Pigtail off your bundle of neutrals, and run single pigtail neutral to switch neutral.

Edit and Note:

I read PJ's post and he already stated what needs to be done.
 
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Old 04-18-15, 12:27 PM
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Did you read my wiring directions above ?

Yes... your new switch requires a ground to operate.
It has a communication device in it that requires continuous power

pcBoss's reply was in reference to standard toggle switches.... not electronic type.
 

Last edited by PJmax; 04-18-15 at 12:43 PM.
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Old 04-18-15, 01:11 PM
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Yes, I saw your post PJ, however I was simply rectifying it with the post afterwards which stated I didn't need neutral.

I was also stating that I had already tried hooking it up as you described, only instead of a tail from the two lead wires, I used the two available holes in the switch. The catch is I didn't know to tail the neutral over to the switch.

I'll try it as you guys describe it tonight. Thank you.
 
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Old 04-18-15, 01:21 PM
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You can, by code, use both line holes in the new switch however it's recommended to use the tail method.
 
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Old 04-19-15, 04:26 AM
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deleted ..................................
 

Last edited by AllanJ; 04-19-15 at 05:19 AM.
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Old 04-19-15, 05:28 AM
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It is okay to use holes in the back where a nearby screw is needed to tighten the wire in the hole. Avoid the use of holes with a push release or where the wire simply sticks in place when inserted.

The old switch has one screw and one hole at the bottom that connect to the same place inside for the line in (raw power). When you have two wires that need to be connected together and also connected to the switch, it is industry standard to put one in the hole and attach the other to the screw making use of the internal interconnection.

Screw terminals are preferred. When two wires want to go under one screw, cut a short length (pigtail) of the same color and connect that to the screw. Connect the other end of the tail to the two wire ends in question using a wire nut (marrette).

Non-smart non-electronic switches do not have neutral connections. Your original installation was correct where there was no connection was made from the capped (wire nutted; marretted) white wires to the switch. You will need to add such a jumper (pigtail) for your new switch. For interconnected neutrals, even if there were only two, it is preferable to have/keep an external interconnection with pigtail to the receptacle or switch instead of using two screws or holes on the latter.
 

Last edited by AllanJ; 04-19-15 at 05:44 AM.
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