My dimmer needs 4 wires to work 3-way... I don't got em!

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Old 11-23-13, 04:45 PM
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My dimmer needs 4 wires to work 3-way... I don't got em!

Hey guys, I just signed up because after searching lots of sites, this forum seemed to have the best replies (So don't let me down, eh?)

Situation:
A switch at the bottom and top of stairs. When we moved in, I replaced the 1975 brass plates with Decora rockers. Easily matched up the old 3-way setup on the new switches. Now we have a fancy new light in the stairway/foyer and SHE wants a dimmer for it.

I Got a little show-off-ey and went with these Legrand Adorne switches. One dimmer (mainflr) and one switch (upstairs).

Problem:
The instructions think that I should have 4 wires to connect this in a 3-way setup. I only have 3 - blk (hot), wht, and red. I tried it with the hot and neutral connected, then the remaining red wire in the "3-way" slot, and then in the "1-pole" slot but either way, the built-in LED and the chandelier started blinking and having a fit.

IS there any way to make this work? Jump the red into both 1 and 3 way slots? Not sure I want to experiment without sound advice.

Any ideas guys?

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  #2  
Old 11-23-13, 05:06 PM
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Welcome to the forums! You may have black and white but your white May not be a neutral. Where does your power enter? At one switch or at the lights? If you have a 3 way switch set up and only have black, red,and white, you don't have a neutral. The dimmer won't work. Let us know all the wiring in both switch boxes.
 
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Old 11-23-13, 07:12 PM
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Problem:
The instructions think that I should have 4 wires to connect this in a 3-way setup. I only have 3 - blk (hot), wht, and red. I tried it with the hot and neutral connected, then the remaining red wire in the "3-way" slot, and then in the "1-pole" slot but either way, the built-in LED and the chandelier started blinking and having a fit
I think you're assuming the existing white wire is a * neutral* which it probably isn't. That white wire in your existing 14/3 cable is more likely being used to connect to the other 3 way switch.
 
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Old 11-24-13, 06:10 AM
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A 3 way dimmer kit with two pieces (dimmer unit and remote unit) can be used with 3 wires between switches, provided that the power feed comes to a switch rather than the light. There will be at least 4 wires in that box although not all necessarily coming out of the same cable. The 4 connections to the back of the dimmer unit consist of power, neutral, control line, and light feed.

power ==== S1 ==== S2 ==== light

power ==== S1 ==== light
S2 =======//

The 3 wires between switches originally purposed as traveler-traveler-common are repurposed as hot-neutral-control. The dimmer unit goes where the connection to the light is located. The remote unit goes in the other location.

A 3 way dimmer kit with one piece (uses one existing dimmer switch) may well require 4 wires between switches and you would need to restring the wires or cable if you don't have 4 wires.

Neither kind works when power comes to the light fixture with only two wires between light and first switch.

power ==== light ==== S1 ==== S2

One brand of 3 way dimmer works like this:
Connect what was the common wire of the old 3 way switch to the common/hot terminal of the dimmer. Connect what were the two travelers to the "1" and "3" terminals of the dimmer. If you have used the white and last wire (excluding ground) then stop; you may not complete the installation at this point. Otherwise connect the neutral (required) to the neutral terminal of the dimmer. The change in electrical path caused by the flipping of the other switch causes the dimmer to make the 3 way operation.
 

Last edited by AllanJ; 11-24-13 at 07:52 AM.
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Old 11-24-13, 11:51 AM
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It sounds like the white is a traveler and not a neutral. If you can answer some of the questions already asked you might be able to use that switch. Other 3 way dimmers will work with your setup.
 
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Old 11-24-13, 12:34 PM
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Just thought to throw this in the mix since it's related.......

As you folks know the NEC now has the requirement for a * neutral* conductor available to switch locations.

For the most part of the reasons that modern lights , light and fan controls are becoming more common and will be in the near future. I believe there are also some places there is some sort of energy code standard which includes occupant sensors for lighting control.

As the old standard incandescent bulb eventually becomes obsolete the newer types of lighting , like CFL and LED all have electronic circuitry , with their own circuitry designs , which basically is used to drive those lamps on the 120 volt supply.
The common old method of employing a control --- series wired dimmer for example --- doesn't always fit the bill for these newer types of lamps.
Also, taking a light control designed for optimum use on a proper supply incorporating a neutral and trying to series configure doesn't fit the bill.

Ergo, manufacturers have go into the new era of electronic circuitry. The earlier versions that required a *neutral* for the circuit has been commonly wired to the *grounding* conductor. As it turns out by doing this a *questionable* amount of leakage current is introduced to the safety grounding circuit ( EGC ).

So , as you see the controlling manufacturers want a safe reliable power source and the code wants a safe house wiring.


Here's an article I came across a while back -- it's on the higher level of technical knowledge and a bit dry ( for some ) but it discusses complexites and challenges with controlling LED lighting.
Solid-State Lighting: Text-Alternative Version: Dimming LEDs Webcast
 
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