Belkin WeMo light switch to replace existing switch

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  #1  
Old 08-04-15, 07:54 AM
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Belkin WeMo light switch to replace existing switch

Hi there,

I am looking to install one of the Belkin WeMo wifi light switches to control an already existing power outlet that works on a switch. The power outlet has lamps connected to it, so I am looking to use the WeMo switch to turn on the lights through the power outlet.

I have a 2-gang box that contains (1) the switch to the power outlet (the switch is not in the picture; I have removed it), and (2) the switch to a ventilation fan.

The wires running to number (1) are only black and black, while there are two wires, black and white, running to number (2).

Also, separately in the box are three bundles of wires: black, white, and green.

The WeMo switch has the four wires on the back of it: black, black, white, and green.

I tried the following:
Connected the two black WeMo wires into the two wires that came off of the old switch being replaced.
Connected the WeMo white wire into the white bundle in the box.
Connected the WeMo green wire into the green bundle in the box.
The WeMo switch then had power to it, and was able to connect to the wifi. As soon as I turned the lights on though, the Arc Fault breaker for the condo would trip.

Question:
Although the white neutral wire was not tied into the switch I am replacing, is there a way to use it?

The WeMo requires a neutral wire to keep power to the unit, so only connecting the black, black, and green was not an option.

Thank you!
Shaun
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
 
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Old 08-04-15, 09:42 AM
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  #3  
Old 08-04-15, 10:29 AM
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Thank you for your reply, Ray.

I had the white neutral wire tied into that bundle, along with the green ground wire tied separately into the green bundle.

At that point I was able to get power to the new switch, and it worked perfectly, but as soon as I turned on the lights with this new switch, the breaker for the Arc Fault in my panel would flip off.

The lights on the new switch still work fine off and on with no problem, no matter what position the Arc Fault breaker is in. The problem is that with the Arc Fault off, I have no power to many of the other outlets throughout my condo.

Any ideas as to how to get around this issue with tying the neutral white wire into the bundle you suggested?

Thanks again!
 
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Old 08-04-15, 10:37 AM
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The lights on the new switch still work fine off and on with no problem, no matter what position the Arc Fault breaker is in.
They should not work with the AFCI off. If they do then that is not the breaker for the lights. Note the second switch in the box is a switch loop and may be on a different breaker. Can you explain more fully what you meant?
 
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Old 08-04-15, 10:54 AM
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My apologies, Ray. I will attempt to clarify.

The white wire bundle there must run throughout the condo because when the AFCI breaker flips, I lose power to many other outlets.

You are correct in that the power to the black wires for the switch is in a different breaker. I turn that one back on, and the new switch works fine, but as soon as I turn that new switch to the on position, the AFCI breaker flips. I can only assume that means he white bundle is tied into the particular breaker. Is that a valid assumption? I'm not sure how to work around that, and get myself a white neutral wire for this new switch.

Thanks in advance.
 
  #6  
Old 08-04-15, 12:22 PM
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Some AFCIs have a GFCI function also. If a ground is touching a neutral that can cause a trip. Try with all the switches pulled out and wires not touching. If it now works correctly you know the problem.

If that doesn't help read on:

Please post another picture of the wiring in the switch box but with the wires pulled out more so we can see them more clearly. Maybe better lighting too.

You are correct in that the power to the black wires for the switch is in a different breaker.
You appear to have three cables in the box. Is that correct? If cables not conduit cables are important to understanding not just wires. My guess is you have
  • A power in (hot) cable.
  • A power out cable to the light you want the Wemo on.
  • A switch loop cable for the other switch.
. Can you confirm?
 
  #7  
Old 08-04-15, 02:34 PM
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Here are some more pictures. Hopefully they are clearer.

In the picture of the wiring:
- the two black wires on the left were the ones that were connected to the old switch
- above that is a bundle of 3 green and copper wires
- to the right is a bundle of 2 black wires
- below that is a bundle of 2 white wires
- the 1 black and 1 white wires in the bottom right are connected to another switch that connects to a ventilation fan

Additional info:
- the 2 black wires in the bundle, and the 2 white wires in the bundle come into the box together from above, and go out at the bottom together as well; they seem to just be "passing through" this box. I believe these are the wires connected to the Arc Fault breaker in the electrical panel (the lowest right breaker with the yellow).
- the two black wires on the left of the picture, not bundled and separately capped, are the two that I have been working with for the new switch. These are connected to 7b in the electrical panel, down the left hand side of the panel.

New switch connection:
- I connect the new switch's two black wires to the two black wires (separately capped) on the left.
- I connect the new switch's white wire into the white bundle.
- I connect the new switch's green wire into the green/copper bundle.

What happens:
- the switch shows power on the indicator on the front of the switch, and it will turn the lights on that are plugged into the outlet on the other side of the room.
- as soon as I turn the switch on, the Arc Fault breaker flips (in the bottom right of the electrical panel).
- the other breaker (7b) connected to those two separately capped black wires stays on, only the Arc Fault breaker flips.
- I can turn the new switch off and on many times successfully.
- if I reset the Arc Fault breaker, it will stay on until I press the new switch again.
- alternatively, if I plug something into another power outlet in the condo that seems to be connected to the same Arc Fault breaker, the Arc Fault breaker will flip again as long as the new switch is connected.
- as soon as I remove the new switch's white wire from the bundle, everything in the condo is fine, and the Arc Fault breaker doesn't flip any longer. The new switch does not work, however, because it requires the white neutral wire.

Hopefully that helps! Thanks again, Ray!
Shaun
 
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Old 08-04-15, 03:03 PM
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But you haven't described it in terms of cable or conduit. It almost looks like a mixture of both. Please see the last paragraph of my post #6.

Did you try the test I posted in post $6? What was the result. Here is another test: If you have another AFCI of the same amp ratings try swamping the wires with it and see if you still have a problem.
 
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Old 08-04-15, 03:20 PM
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Hi Ray,

I did try the test that you had described. Even with the switches out, and definitely no wires touching, I had the same issues.

Could you please elaborate for me in laymans terms what you mean by "cable or conduit"?

I appreciate the help, so I will describe or take pictures of whatever I can, bearing in mind that I'm not in tune with much of he electrical terms.

Thanks!
Shaun
 
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Old 08-04-15, 03:50 PM
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In this context cable refers to two or more conductors in a non metallic sheath. For example Romex.

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Conduit in this context refers to a metal pipe with wires in it. You will see the end of the pipe with a nut on it in the box.

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Old 08-04-15, 05:18 PM
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I'm working on it. Can you shoot another picture for me.... close as possible. Move the grounds to the left. I just need to see IN the box.

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In the center I see conduit. On the right I see MC or MC/lite. Can't tell on the left side.
 
  #12  
Old 08-05-15, 07:40 AM
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Hi PJ,

I have posted some higher resolution photos here:

Electrical Wiring - Album on Imgur

Thanks for your help!
Shaun
 
  #13  
Old 08-06-15, 07:11 AM
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Hi Pete and Ray,

Were you guys able to view the pictures? Any clues as to why the switch won't cooperate?

Thank you,
Shaun
 
  #14  
Old 08-06-15, 08:38 AM
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Some things are hard to diagnose from a distance. I'm stumped on this one. You may need to get an electrician. Did you try a different AFCI breaker as suggested?
 
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Old 08-06-15, 08:40 AM
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Thank you for taking the time, Ray. I appreciate it.

Pete, is there anything you can possibly think of?
 
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Old 08-06-15, 12:09 PM
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Ray, to answer your question in #14: no, I did not try and swap the AFCI breaker, as I don't have another one to test with, unfortunately.

If Pete doesn't have any additional thoughts, I may just have to go back to the original switch, as hiring an electrician for the cost isn't really a great option. Thank you though.
 
  #17  
Old 08-06-15, 12:14 PM
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I'd probably buy a new AFCI. Some older ones could be affected by radio signals IIRC.
 
  #18  
Old 08-06-15, 12:28 PM
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My condo was built just five years ago. Would that be considered an old AFCI?
 
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Old 08-06-15, 03:25 PM
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My condo was built just five years ago. Would that be considered an old AFCI?
Who knows when it was manufactured.
 
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