Identifying two wires in kitchen light switch

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Old 03-09-17, 05:44 AM
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Identifying two wires in kitchen light switch

Hello all,

I am wanting to update two light switches in my kitchen to the TP-Link Smart Wi-Fi Light Switch (HS200). The two light switches are right next to each other. When I removed the plate and switch, I noticed the one on the left has three wires (black, red, and cream) while the one on the right only has two wires (black).

From some "Google" searching I've done, the black wire is hot, the red is a 3 way switch wire (guessing it goes to the switch on the other end of the kitchen that controls the same light), and the cream color should be neutral. However, I cannot identify the two black wires on the right switch. See picture below.

If anyone could provide some expertise on these wires and any advice on how to setup up two TP-Link Smart Wi-Fi Light Switches I would appreciate it.

Thanks!

For some reason I cannot upload the image from my phone or insert the picture with the Imgur link. I will try it when I get home.

Edit: I got the picture to upload.

 

Last edited by Curlyp; 03-09-17 at 06:04 AM.
  #2  
Old 03-09-17, 06:59 AM
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Several issues here.

The HS200 is single pole only, so it cannot replace your three-way switch.

The white wire going to the three way switch is not a neutral, it is a current carrying conductor used for the three way switch. It should have been marked with paint or tape to show it is not a neutral, but that step is often skipped.

A neutral is required to use the HS200; you may or may not have a neutral in the box. If you have a set of white wires wire-nutted together in the box (I think that's what you have marked with a ?) then those are probably neutrals.


One of the black wires going to the single pole switch is a hot, the other is the switched hot to whatever that switch controls.

If you carefully pull all the wires out of the box (power off!) and take another photo we can advise further.
 
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Old 03-09-17, 09:27 AM
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Thanks for the reply CarbideTipped! Please don't say I can't use the HS200!!! What smart switch could I use that is compatible with Alexa? I've taken more photos for you. I am leaving the switch plate off in case there is anything else you may need.






 
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Old 03-09-17, 11:09 AM
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The pictures are good. There is no problem with the right hand switch. You do have a usable neutral there.

The left hand switch is the dead end of a three way switch.
I didn't see any wifi switches in that series that will work for three way circuits.
You can convert that three way circuit to single switch operation and use the HS200 as long as you don't need both switches for the room light.

Otherwise you'll need to look further for a compatible three way switch.
 
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Old 03-09-17, 11:36 AM
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PJmax, thanks for the reply. I was afraid you were going to say that

How do I convert it to a single switch? More importanly, could I remove the 3 way option from the other end of the kitchen so this switch is the only one that controls the light?

Also, you mentioned there is no problem with the right hand switch. Just to confrim, I can pleace it with the HS200? If so, do I leave one of the black wires off and cap it?
 
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Old 03-09-17, 12:14 PM
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Here is a link to a discussion of how others handle 3 way switching with Echo:

https://www.reddit.com/r/amazonecho/...3way_switches/

Or, you could eliminate the other 3 way switch and convert the circuit to single location switching; then the HS200 could work. If you give us similar pictures of the other 3 way switch, we should be able to advise you what connections to make to convert this to a single location switch.

To connect the HS200 to the other switch, connect the two black wires from the HS200 to the two black wires that went to the old switch. Doesn't matter which goes to which. Connect the green wire to the bare ground wires. Connect the white wire to white wires that are wire-nutted together.
Then follow the setup instructions.
 
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Old 03-09-17, 12:25 PM
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Thanks for that link Paul.

Here's a further link taken from the one Paul posted. You can use the Lutron Caseta wireless. It's a single pole type control so it goes at one end of the three way circuit and the that little wireless control goes at the other end. With this setup.... the actual remote switch is bypassed and the wireless takes its place.

Lutron-P-PKG1W-WH-Wireless-600-watt-Multi-Location
 
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Old 03-10-17, 07:21 AM
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Thanks Pjmax and CarbideTipped! I will take a look at those links.

I just took off the switch panel and switch on the other end of my kitchen. The switch on the right, controls the kitchen light, while the switch on the left controls the laundry room light.

Let me know what I need to do to convert the original light switch to a single pole in order to use the HS200.

Thanks!





 

Last edited by Curlyp; 03-10-17 at 07:22 AM. Reason: spelling
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Old 03-10-17, 10:27 AM
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I'm looking at the pictures and thinking about the wiring. I'm seeing some "different" connections that we need to work around.

In this pic.... is that top screw darker/different than the other two ?
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In this picture..... the arrow is the three wire cable between switches. Please carefully look and tell me where the white connects. If my guess is correct.... it goes to the black splice.
Name:  second box.jpg
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Old 03-10-17, 12:13 PM
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Pjmax, yes the top wire nut is darker (it looks to be copper?). I took more pictures with additional light.




In the picture with your arrow, that white wire is actually capped off with a nut, and the black wire goes to the laundry switch (see below picture and what I circled in red).



I turned off the power and took out all the wires so I could capture better pictures for you. Does this help?


 
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Old 03-10-17, 12:53 PM
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Ok... I asked you to check the wrong cable but your pictures cleared up my questions.

This is a marked picture of the location you are eliminating. The cable is marked with a 3.
Move the black traveler wire to the H splice.
Move the white wire to the N splice.
Connect the red traveler and the red light wire together.
This side is done.

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At the other end....
Connect the two switch wires to red and black.
Connect the white to white.
Ground the switch.
This side is done.
 
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Old 03-10-17, 01:01 PM
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You should always install a box extender like the Arlington BE-2. Boxes cannot be set back in combustible surfaces.
 
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Old 03-10-17, 02:03 PM
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Pjmax, on the end where the HS200 switch is going, do I use the white wire connected to the current switch or do I use one of the two connected to the yellow nut? If so, what do I do with the one connected to the old switch, just tape it off?

CarbideTipped said earlier, "The white wire going to the three way switch is not a neutral, it is a current carrying conductor used for the three way switch. It should have been marked with paint or tape to show it is not a neutral, but that step is often skipped. "



What does pcboss mean by, "You should always install a box extender like the Arlington BE-2. Boxes cannot be set back in combustible surfaces."
 
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Old 03-10-17, 02:22 PM
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At the new switch end.... you will only use the three wires that come out of the one cable.
We've converted that white to the correct neutral.

Electrical boxes, by code, are supposed to be flush with the surface or just slightly set back.
They make single and double extension rings.

The cool thing about the rings is they give your devices a flat place to sit so that they don't push into the wall.

Name:  e_ring.jpg
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Old 03-10-17, 02:40 PM
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Thank you Pjmax and CarbideTipped for your help! I have no idea how you knew what wires to move around without being here in person. Everything is working properly. You guys are amazing!



https://youtu.be/keGrj0aZtos
 
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Old 03-10-17, 03:25 PM
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Pjmax, I have a small issue. I hooked up the second switch to control the light over my table, but it does not turn on.

I removed the two black wires from the old switch and connected it to the two black wires on the new switch. I connected the netural wire to one of the white wires in the nut, and connected the green with the other grounds. What could be the issue? Could it be the netural wire? Should I hook up the new switch netrual wire to the other switches netural wire?




EDIT: I jsut noticed there is no power to the right smart switch. Should I try swapping the black wires?

 
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Old 03-10-17, 04:54 PM
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I connected the netural wire to one of the white wires in the nut
There should have been two white wires already connected. Those need to stay connected and your switch neutral will make three wires in the neutral splice.
 
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Old 03-10-17, 05:43 PM
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Oh...I didn't realize I had to keep all three together. Thanks for the infomation. All my light switches work now. Thank you very much!
 
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Old 03-10-17, 05:45 PM
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Good job................ well done.
 
 

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