Making a 3-way light switch to single pole switch for smart switch

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Old 10-01-17, 11:18 PM
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Making a 3-way light switch to single pole switch for smart switch

I'm trying to set up some smart switches in my house and that requires only single pole switches. I have several 3-way switches where I really only need one switch to work so the other one can be non-functional. I believe the current system is set up like the diagram in picture 1.

I came across this helpful video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1DiaTCqg7UY , but have some questions about my particular setup as shown in the pictures below (example of one switch).
  • I was mainly wondering if someone with some experience could tell me if I identified my wires correctly? I will get a voltage detector to make sure I got the right one as the hot wire.
  • I am also curious if the 2 black wires with the wire nut on them in picture 2 are the neutral wires and what are the 3 wires coiled in the back for in picture 4?
  • Is it necessary to figure out the load and line wire on both switches prior to wiring this as in the video?
  • Lastly, for the switch that I will not be using, is it ok to keep the ground wire on the switch and put wire nuts on the rest as in the video? I am planning to leave the switches in place even if they are nonfunctional as I'll need to hook them back up later as they were when I move out since I am renting this apartment.
Thanks!
 
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Old 10-02-17, 12:26 AM
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Welcome to the forums.

Can we assume you have the owners OK to do rewiring in the apartment ?
Insurance companies aren't too forgiving when a tenant does wiring work.

When working with three way switches.....there is no left side wire or right side wire or top or bottom wire there is ONLY one constant..... there is one screw colored darker on the switch. That wire is the common wire. It must be marked and maintained.
 
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Old 10-02-17, 02:54 PM
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Yes, I have permission. In picture 2, it appears that the bottom screw is the colored one, so that must be the common wire? Is this the same as the hot wire? On my nonfunctional switch does this need to stay in place?
 
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Old 10-02-17, 05:05 PM
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The easiest way to eliminate the switch is to connect the common to one of the travelers. In your case your travelers are red and black. Use the red traveler because it stands out. So at this switch.... connect the common black wire to the red wire. Leave the black traveler on the switch. Use red nail polish to mark the red traveler location or keep these pictures for future reference.

You asked if that wirenut connection is neutral. If it's two white wires..... it probably is. If it's two black wires it definitely is not.
 
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Old 10-02-17, 05:10 PM
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I put this in a second reply to keep it separate.

When you have 2) three way switches.... one common is hot at one switch and one common is load at the other switch. That means you can have the load/light at one switch and the line/hot at the other. Or you can have the line and load in the same box. If you have a three way switch connected directly to a three wire cable...... that means you have white, black and red all on the switch.... that's called a dead end switch and everything is at the opposite end.
 
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Old 10-02-17, 10:42 PM
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Thank you so much for your help. That all makes sense except for the dead end switch part, but it does not seem to apply to me I think since I don't see any of my switches having white, black, and red wires all connected directly on the switch. Also I think you are right that the two black wires in the wire nut are not neutral, but the white wires actually have 3 wires coming together. Why might this be if this is the neutral wire?

I am attaching 2 different switches that are controlling the same 2 lights in my hallway. As you can see apart from the light switch in the first picture, there are 2 black wires coming together and 3 white wires coming together (neutral?). The other switch does not have the 2 black wires and has only 2 white wires. Does this change anything about the plan you proposed? I'm going to try this out tomorrow on this switch first before working on the others that I'm changing. I plan to change out the switch in the first picture to the smart switch in a single pole setup and keep the 2nd switch non-functional.

Attachment 85668Attachment 85669
 
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Old 10-03-17, 08:59 PM
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Success!

Just wanted to let those who were following know that I successfully converted a switch to single pole setup and installed the smart switch which is working appropriately

Here's what I found:
- the 3 white wires coiled together were neutral. I connected the smart switch as the instructions say and capped off one of the traveler wires. I marked the screw for the red wire with red nailpolish and the one for the common wire with black because the black wire that was in place on the black screw actually had no voltage when I used my voltage pen with the breaker on, but the other black wire did so that's how I identified it as the common wire
- on the opposite switch that I was making nonfunctional, I had to wire both black wires together for the light to work. I tried wiring the black and red wires together but the light was not turning on with all the wires in place. My detector detected voltage coming from both wires when the breaker was on momentarily. I left the ground wire on the switch, capped all the other wires, and placed the switch back, which I will reconnect whenever I have to move out.

Have to say its really nice to have it paired with Alexa for voice control
 
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Old 10-03-17, 09:05 PM
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Good job.

Buy an inexpensive meter for future work. A non contact pen is only good for telling you hazardous voltage is in the area. An inexpensive meter can give you the actual voltages and help to determine neutrals too.
 
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