Another light switch install question

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Old 01-22-16, 10:31 PM
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Another light switch install question

Hello all,

I've been reading the forum and have found a lot of helpful info. I am still struggling with my install and was hoping that someone might be able to help point out the obvious.

I am in the process of installing a GE in wall smart switch (Z wave), i have two switch together. see photo attached. the one on the left is a 3 way (controls hall way light with anther two switches in the house) switch, and the one on the right as far as I can tell is a simple 2 way toggle switch (???). Problem is there are two wires at the bottom (see the side shot photo), both are hot measuring 120v, i think this is a poor job and i should be using a wire nut and tie them together with another wire to go into the the new switch LINE input. Is that right? why would they put two hot wires into this switch? is it just a pass through?

anyways, assuming i got the above right, my next challenge is to find the neutrals. I only see a single bundle of three wires coming into the box tied together with a wire nut. But the wires are all painted over and they don't look like they are white. How would I know if i have neutral to connect the new switch to? Any help is greatly appreciated.

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Old 01-22-16, 10:56 PM
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as far as I can tell is a simple 2 way toggle switch (???)
No such thing in North America. (That is what they call a 3-way in the UK.) Do you mean a switch that operates a light from only one location?
both are hot measuring 120v
If they weren't disconnected or you used a non contact tester you haven't measured them correctly yet. Is the picture below the one you refer to. I adjusted the gamma a bit to make it easier to see but I'm not sure what you are referring to.

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Is it really two separate wires or a single wire with a bit of insulation removed?
my next challenge is to find the neutrals.
If they are connected only to each other and are white they are the neutrals. You can verify by using your multimeter to measure to the hot. There will only be one hot.
 
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Old 01-22-16, 11:50 PM
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thanks for the reply. Yes, i meant this is the only switch that controls the light. Sorry the pictures were taken poorly. I will try to retake them in the daylight tomorrow. If you look at my last picture attachment. there are four wires going into that switch. three black ones and one bare copper. the bare copper is obviously ground, and is hooked up so. there is one black going to the top of the switch, and two going to the bottom. i used my multimeter and measured between ground the the other three black non disconnected. the one at top shows no voltage, and the two at bottom showed 120v. The two at the bottom, one is tie to the screw, the other seems to be going into the back of the screw. I will label them and disconnect them in the morning to do a proper testing :-)
If after disconnecting, one shows voltage and the other not, would I assume that other one is neutral?

thanks very much
 
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Old 01-23-16, 12:30 AM
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If after disconnecting, one shows voltage and the other not, would I assume that other one is neutral?
A neutral is never switched. Neutrals are white or gray only. So no is the answer. The neutrals will be a group of white wires connected only to each other.

Just to be clear sometimes white wires are used as hot wires and are supposed to be recolored usually red or black but that often isn't done.
 
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Old 01-23-16, 06:22 AM
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why would they put two hot wires into this switch? is it just a pass through?
It's not 2 hot wires, it's 1 hot wire and 1 wire providing unswitched power downstream.

If after disconnecting, one shows voltage and the other not, would I assume that other one is neutral?
No. It looks like your neutral bundle is at the bottom of the picture, circled.

- Remove the 2 blacks from the bottom. Connect them together with a single black pigtail for the new switch (as you were going to do)

- Measure between this black pigtail and the "white" bundle I circled at bottom of picture. Should = 120V, and this is where you connect the new neutral.

- The other black that was at the top of switch goes to light, new switch terminal.
 
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Old 01-23-16, 09:09 AM
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Super helpful. That was what I was suspecting. I will give it a try today. A related question. How would you go about finding a wire to twist together with the two black wires and go into my new switch LINE input. I figure I have so many unused household power cords around, maybe I can just cut and strip one? Since it's a light switch, I can't image I need to find something that is rated for much higher amps. thoughts?
thanks again for the help :-)
 
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Old 01-23-16, 09:18 AM
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I figure I have so many unused household power cords around, maybe I can just cut and strip one?
You are figuring wrong, way wrong

Go to the hardware store and see if they have scraps or sell 14-2 with ground by the foot.
The smallest roll is 25 feet.
 
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Old 01-23-16, 09:24 AM
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whew... glad I asked :-) But why would I need ground? I only need to connect the LINE input. What would I use ground for?
thanks
 
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Old 01-23-16, 09:40 AM
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You need to purchase cable to use the individual wires, black and white. The ground if not needed goes in the trash or saved for future use.
 
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Old 01-23-16, 10:09 AM
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That makes total sense :-) thanks very much for the help. Will report back on how it worked out...
 
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Old 01-23-16, 10:50 AM
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Or buy a couple of feet of #14 THHN/THWN in the appropriate color instead of cable.
 
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Old 01-23-16, 10:19 PM
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Everything worked. Got my smart things set up to control the switch. Thanks for all the help!!!
 
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Old 01-23-16, 10:48 PM
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Thanks for letting us know the outcome.
 
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