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Need help understanding how to modify a 3-way setup to work w/ new switch

Need help understanding how to modify a 3-way setup to work w/ new switch

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  #1  
Old 01-29-18, 05:37 PM
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Need help understanding how to modify a 3-way setup to work w/ new switch

Folks:

I have exterior lights to my home (5 lights with 3 bulbs each). All are run via a 3-way switch. One in my entrance way and one in the garage. I bought a timer switch to automate on and off. I purchased (As noted in photo) Honeywell switch that will work with a 2-way or 3-way setup. I've taken photos of both of my switches and the installation page.

My question is what do I do if my current configuration doesn't have a "RED" wire, as noted in the diagram? I see only 3 wires (2 black and 1 white) for each switch.

My home is a 2001, wired with copper wires. Replacement switch configuration is looking for a red line between them. Could one of the black wires be serving as the red? I do have an ohm meter to test various lines. Please advise what I should do to make this switch work for my currently wired home. I've wired various configurations before and understand the role of ground/neutral/hot but don't comprehend what the "RED" intention is.
Thanks!
 
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  #2  
Old 01-29-18, 05:48 PM
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Are you sure that is a 3 way switch? It looks like a single pole.

Do you have a picture of the other side of the switch?
 
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Old 01-29-18, 06:02 PM
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Yeah.... they look like 3w switches.

Can we see the wiring in both boxes ?
is there a red wire in either box ?
 
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Old 01-29-18, 07:06 PM
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Pjmax: Attached are two pictures. One I colored so you could see what the 2 black and 1 white from the switch are doing. Colors chosen don't mean anything other than to show you where they go.

Neither box has red wires. Both boxes have 2 3-way switches in them, by the way, and the other 3-way connections don't use red either. So I suppose the electricians who wired the house were not required to do it that way.
 
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Old 01-29-18, 07:28 PM
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Do you want to put the timer at the first picture ?
It looks like there are 2) two wire cables used for the switching.

The dark color screw on the switch is the common terminal. The other two are the travelers. The white and black from the left cable go to the traveler terminals. The black from the right cable goes to the common terminal. What is the white one doing ?
 
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Old 01-29-18, 07:46 PM
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Pjmax:

Try these 3 photos. This is the box where I want the switch. Please keep in mind the switch calls for a RED wire, or 4 wires so I'm confused how to make 3 into 4. Again, take a look at these color coded photos
 
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Old 01-29-18, 07:56 PM
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You didn't have to color them but ok. I need to know what the white wire of the right cable is connected to. It would be the match to the blue wire.
 
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Old 01-29-18, 08:06 PM
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The white cable from the right most cable bundle in this box (top right bundle in the picture) is running to a center grouping of all other white cables from all 3 switches in this single box. All combined with green wire nut, as seen in photo. This box has 3 switches. Left most is a 3-way inside the home; middle is a single switch that I just put on a timer; right most is the exterior 3-way switch.
 
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Old 01-29-18, 08:13 PM
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This is going to be tough. That wiring was not done by a licensed electrician. Certainly not using a green wire nut on a neutral splice..... and using 2) two wire cables instead of a three wire cable is mickey mouse.

Now the problem is they are picking up neutral in the box we're working on and picking up hot.... maybe...., at the other switch. That timer is not a direct drop-in device. There needs to be changes made at both ends to make it work right.

Can you pull the other switch and splices out so I can see that.


For my reference....
Cable A is travelers - Cable B is common and neutral source
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Old 01-29-18, 08:32 PM
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Pete: Attached is a photo of the other end of the connection. Note the switch on the left is my outside lights; switch on the right is my garage that is also on a 3-way.

Also, please forgive me for the green wire nut. I did that, not the original electrician. I put it there only temporarily. I had to clean up this box a bit, meaning reduce some of the extra wire as I'm installing 2 timers in a 3 switch box and the room was limited. That combined white bundle was secured with a proper nut, I just used a larger green one till I could get everything arranged. I have cut down some of the excess lengths of the ground and the white that was clearly too much for this space. I do understand that a green nut has an open top and is used for ground only. I probably should replace with original nut before I forget.
 
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Old 01-29-18, 08:43 PM
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Pete: I just found and watched this clip.

https://youtu.be/Xp4FWJRzHdo

I can easily perform this test and mark my wires accordingly. What I could use your help with is this. Let's assume I do the test noted in that youtube video. I can find my hot wire, travelers and load but I do NOT yet understand how to attach the 4-wired switch to these wires, once I've been able to identify what is what.

See the photo of the wire diagram and tell me what you think. It has a "Load" "Neutral", "Line (black) and a 3-way, or 4 wires.
 
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Old 01-29-18, 08:51 PM
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Looking at the left hand cable. Black goes to common on switch.... correct ?
Where does the white wire connect ?

That video is based on conventional wiring. Yours is not.
If you want.... remove just the wires on the common screws and find out which end hot is at.

I have a feeling your three way wiring is spiced somewhere because I don't see a hot wire to either switch.
 
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Old 01-29-18, 08:59 PM
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Ok... the wiring just came to me. At the main box.... the left cable is the load to the light.
That means the black at the remote box on the common terminal will be hot.
Can you remove that black and confirm it's hot ?
 
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Old 01-29-18, 09:02 PM
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Take look. I mapped the switch to the box wires.
 
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Old 01-29-18, 09:04 PM
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Ok... good. Can you confirm the green marked wire is hot ?
Remove it from the switch and check it to ground.

Once that is confirmed...I'll give you the wiring.
 
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Old 01-29-18, 09:12 PM
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I will grab my ohm meter; however, can you tell me if using my voltage tester is sufficient? I just filmed this on the very switch. If is still need to test to ground, I can. Trying to learn as I go whether or not this method is proper or if I missed something.

https://youtu.be/arDFSrULhDg
 
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Old 01-29-18, 09:15 PM
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You have to space the wires further apart. When switch is one way....common and one traveler are live. When the switch is the other way....common and the other traveler are live.

All three are never live at the same time.
 
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Old 01-29-18, 09:24 PM
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Ok. Hit the breaker and removed all 3 wires and kept them in position. Power back on and measured with voltage device and confirmed the green wire (as marked below) is hot; other two are NOT.
 
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Old 01-29-18, 09:28 PM
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Ok.... here's the diagram. Look it over. I'll type up some text for you. Right click on the diagram and select "view picture" and it'll be much larger.

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Old 01-29-18, 09:38 PM
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Blue from timer to B-black wire
White from timer to white neutral splice. Same as B-white wire.
Black from timer to A-black wire.
Yellow from timer to A-white wire.

At three way switch. (remote box)
D-white wire goes to a traveler screw.
D-black goes to the common screw, the other traveler screw and C-black wire.
C-white wire is not touched.

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Old 01-29-18, 10:12 PM
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Excellent. I'm finished with the timer, but I wanted to ensure I understood two quick concepts, if you don't mind:

1) Take a look at the picture of my switch in the garage. I want to ensure I'm 100% sure which are the traveler screws. Tell me if I'm correct. A is where the white originally was connected. That is one of the "traveler screws". C is the second traveler screw and B is the common or hot lead. So D-White goes to "A"; D-Black goes to B; C-Black goes to C. Correct?

2) In the instructions, they tell you to connect a jumper (which came with the switch). It is designed for the second switch. Has your configuration removed the need for it? See the last sentence to the first paragraph in the diagram. Just before "NOTE:
 
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Old 01-29-18, 10:17 PM
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B is the common screw since it's the dark one. The jumper is still required.

D-black goes to the common screw, the other traveler screw and C-black wire.
 
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Old 01-29-18, 10:22 PM
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Lightbulb just came on, I think. The jumper is what allows the D-black at the common screw and at the other traveler screw, or the C-black wire, to be connected. So in my switch, I'm going to place the jumper between B and C, leaving A alone. Correct?
 
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Old 01-29-18, 10:27 PM
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Yes.... just the white goes to A.
 
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Old 01-29-18, 10:31 PM
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Thanks, Pete. You are gifted at what you do. You took some bad pictures and descriptions to solve this sticky issue. Tested and it is all in working order. Thanks again.
 
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Old 01-30-18, 12:03 AM
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You're welcome..... good job.
 
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