Replacing switch with a timer switch... red, white & black confusion!

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Old 01-10-14, 07:53 PM
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Replacing switch with a timer switch... red, white & black confusion!

I have a 100 year old house... obviously, it has all kinds of work done on it over the century. I've been living in it for two weeks.

There is a switch on the wall that operates some exterior driveway lights. It works perfectly fine. But I want to change it to an electronic timer light to automate it. I've located the circuit on the panel that operates this switch, so I can safely work on it.

Normally, this kind of task is fast an easy for me, but I cannot figure this one out!

The OLD switch has BLACK on the left at the top, and WHITE on the left at bottom, and RED on the right side. There was nothing attached to the ground on the switch. Three screws with wires connected as described.

Now comes the fancy new timer switch. It has WHITE, BLACK and BLUE wires. This is a Honeywell programmable wall switch, fyi.

I tried connecting WHITE to WHITE, BLACK to BLACK and RED to BLUE... no luck. I tried one or two other combinations... one of which made the light switch turn on (I could access it to program it), however, the lights don't actually work. When I use the switch to operate the light manually, they don't turn on.

Any ideas of how I should wire this configuration? It is completely possible this switch is part of a 3-way switch (and I have no idea where the other switch might be... big house, lots of switches). Look forward to hearing back on how to approach this. I figured the best approach was NOT to keep trying combinations until something bad happens.
 
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Old 01-10-14, 08:45 PM
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Someone feel free to disagree with me but I would say:

3 terminal screws = 3 way switch.

If you want to possibly avoid a long hunt and figuring out process, try picking up a 3 way timer* and see if it works.

EDIT: *if whatever you picked up has a 3 way model
 
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Old 01-11-14, 01:35 AM
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If it is one cable with white, black and red insulated conductors then I would agree with Mr.Awesome. It would also mean that somewhere there is a companion switch that also controls this circuit OR that there WAS such a switch and it has been disabled.

Is there any switch in the house or garage that either doesn't work or you don't know what it does? Perhaps a multi-gang switch location that has a blank in one position?

Most time switches (not all) will require a neutral connection which you do not have in this location assuming that you listed ALL the wires in the box.
 
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Old 01-11-14, 01:54 PM
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Easy way to find the other switch might be to turn the lights on from the present location and go to every switch you can find and operate it until the lights go off,just a thought.
Geo
 
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Old 01-11-14, 06:47 PM
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Smile Problem solved... Mostly.

Thanks for the advice. I bought a 3-pole version of the timer and wired it in there... Worked perfectly the first time. Not sure (yet) where the other light switch is, but I suspect it is an older intermatic timer in the basement.
 
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Old 01-11-14, 10:30 PM
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Nice job.
At least you know for sure it is a 3-way.
 
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