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Author Topic: Do I really NEED companion switches?  (Read 25643 times)

dave w

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Re: Do I really NEED companion switches?
« Reply #15 on: October 02, 2007, 12:10:54 PM »

steven r
As an retired technical instructor for a "Fortune 20" company, and now a technical procedure writer on a governenment WMD destruction program,  I feel qualified to say this is an EXCELLENT step-by-step instruction, and (hint to a CO) should go in some archive for newbie reference.

Thanks for taking the time.
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Tuicemen

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Re: Do I really NEED companion switches?
« Reply #16 on: October 02, 2007, 01:47:49 PM »

steven r
As an retired technical instructor for a "Fortune 20" company, and now a technical procedure writer on a governenment WMD destruction program,  I feel qualified to say this is an EXCELLENT step-by-step instruction, and (hint to a CO) should go in some archive for newbie reference.

Thanks for taking the time.
dave w:
Contrary to popular belief:
One doesn't need to be a CO to Create a Newbie Reference Or any helpful links posts!
Give it a try I or any other CO will be more then happy to give you a hand and sticky or lock it if you desire! ;)
Cheers
« Last Edit: October 02, 2007, 10:38:09 PM by Tuicemen »
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steven r

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Re: Do I really NEED companion switches?
« Reply #17 on: October 02, 2007, 02:22:34 PM »

...Thanks for taking the time.
Thanks for your thanks.

I just edited it to include a new politically correct term I came up with to go along with WAF. I just couldn't resist poking a little fun at how PC everything has become.  ;)
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Puck

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Re: Do I really NEED companion switches?
« Reply #18 on: October 02, 2007, 02:30:49 PM »

I just edited it to include a new politically correct term I came up with to go along with WAF.

Are you referring to the "Seal Of Approval Process" or "Snakes On A Plane"?  ;D
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steven r

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Re: Do I really NEED companion switches?
« Reply #19 on: October 02, 2007, 04:00:22 PM »

I just edited it to include a new politically correct term I came up with to go along with WAF.

Are you referring to the "Seal Of Approval Process" or "Snakes On A Plane"?  ;D

No but they might work, also.  :)

I was trying to give folks a little surprise with the description that popped up when they rolled over my anachronism acronym SOAP with their cursor before they took to reading the description that followed. I think the mind absorbs facts easier after it's had a laugh. Also the kid in me likes to see the popups.


« Last Edit: October 06, 2007, 01:48:10 AM by steven r »
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firelizard5

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Re: Do I really NEED companion switches?
« Reply #20 on: October 05, 2007, 06:29:30 PM »

I was trying to give folks a little surprise with the description that popped up when they rolled over my anachronism SOAP with their cursor before they took to reading the description that followed. I think the mind absorbs facts easier after it's had a laugh. Also the kid in me likes to see the popups.

Anachronism? Is SOAP a very old abbreviation then?

As someone who shares a house with an X10 nut, I'll take this moment to agree with steven r on the timing of this project. Do it when everyone else is out of the house, or you may find that they become upset with you when all their lights go out. Also, if you are cutting off the power to the TV, check and make sure you have nothing recording on your DVR (or even VCR, if you use anachronistic technology), lest you accidentally interrupt their favorite shows. It makes us members of  SOAP very angry.
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steven r

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Re: Do I really NEED companion switches?
« Reply #21 on: October 06, 2007, 01:46:49 AM »

...Anachronism? Is SOAP a very old abbreviation then?...
Ok I meant "acronym". It passed the spell checker but not the brain filter.
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tlemons

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Re: Do I really NEED companion switches?
« Reply #22 on: October 07, 2007, 05:59:35 PM »

Thank you very much for taking the time to write all of this!  I really appreciate it.

Quote from: steven r on October 01, 2007, 01:22:20 pm
Quote
TURN OFF THE POWER.
Remove both switches and position the wires so you can access them with your tester without physically touching them.
Make sure no exposed wires are touching anything and turn on the power.
Use your tester to figure out which of the 6 wires is live. i.e. Ground one lead of the tester and touch each wire till you find the live one. For peace of mind, check them all. Only one wire should be live.

That part in italics is where things went strange.  With the circuit breaker on, I have TWO wires that are live.  By live I mean that, when I connect one end of my bulb tester to the bare ground wire, and then touch the other end of the bulb tester to each of the other three wires, two of the three wires are live.

And here's another tidbit that may make the bulb go on (ar ar) for some of you, but didn't help me.  Again, I'm trying to wire in a companion switch on a three way circuit that worked just fine when I had regular, non-X10 switches in place.  I replaced one of the regular switches with a PLWO2 Wall Dimmer Module, and it works just fine.  If I leave the power on to the circuit, and slide the cutoff switch on the PLW02 to the off position, one of the two wires that was live is now dead. So, I have:


ground wire
red - live when circuit is on, live when cutoff switch is off
white - live when circuit is on, dead when cutoff switch is off
black - dead when circuit is on, dead when cutoff switch is off

What should I do (other than call an electrician)?

Thanks!
tl
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steven r

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Re: Do I really NEED companion switches?
« Reply #23 on: October 07, 2007, 07:22:13 PM »

...That part in italics is where things went strange.  With the circuit breaker on, I have TWO wires that are live.  By live I mean that, when I connect one end of my bulb tester to the bare ground wire, and then touch the other end of the bulb tester to each of the other three wires, two of the three wires are live....
First note I've added this following line of caution to my list of instructions and modified the next one.
  • CHECK ALL WIRES AND MAKE SURE THERE IS NO POWER. I learned the hard way that there can be more than one circuit in the box.
  • Physically remove the wires from both switches and position the wires so you can access them with your tester without physically touching them.

I made not of made it clear that all 6 wires must be disconnected from the switches and the switches set aside. If the switches are still connected when you are testing, you will find more than one live wire in each box.

Do you have more than just the switches for this circuit in the same box? Are there only two switches that control the light?
Not that I would expect it to cause two wires to be live but try removing the bulb that you're trying to control. This should result in no wire being live should you be wired as "power to load first".

...What should I do (other than call an electrician)?...
If you go back and look at how a a properly wired three-way switch is installed, you'll see that there is no way that more than one wire should be live. That said, if more than 1 of the original 6 wires from the switches is live, you could have a wiring problem.

I don't know at what point you call for help but if it helps to keep you motivated, Mr Sparky will charge you $200 to $300 to figure it out.

« Last Edit: October 07, 2007, 07:30:03 PM by steven r »
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KDR

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Re: Do I really NEED companion switches?
« Reply #24 on: October 07, 2007, 09:07:06 PM »

tlemons the test write-up by steven r was a great job for testing. Here is a picture that can go along with it. I also gave an explanation of the screws on a 3-way as far as colors and what they are.

In your original switch wiring, was there a white wire connected to one of the screw connections? If so then we need to figure out how the switches were wired since the white neutral would only be used as a hot if power is coming from some other source such as the light itself. When the white wire is used like this it should of been taped black but people don't always do this.

Hope the print helps. At this point I think you need to put back the origanal switches and get the system working like it was before trying to install the X10 switches. Then from that point we can ask a few questions and then get the X10 switches hooked up.

What color are the wires on the X10 companion switch? How many wires are in the work box in each switch box?


NOTE:Bare ground wires not shown in above picture.

----------------KDR
« Last Edit: October 07, 2007, 09:21:56 PM by KDR »
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steven r

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Re: Do I really NEED companion switches?
« Reply #25 on: October 07, 2007, 09:33:34 PM »

...Here is a picture that can go along with it. I also gave an explanation of the screws on a 3-way as far as colors and what they are....
Thanks KDR for the picture as well as any other thoughts you may have as to why he has more than 1 live wire showing up.

tlemons: If you haven't taken the wires off the switch yet, KDR's explanation should help you identify the wires. Keep in mind that while the picture shows a neutral wire it is not attached to the switch unless you have a "power to load first" situation, and may not even be present in the box for older wiring.
« Last Edit: October 07, 2007, 09:38:43 PM by steven r »
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Re: Do I really NEED companion switches?
« Reply #26 on: October 07, 2007, 10:37:28 PM »

Here is a picture of the wiring if power goes to the light first. This is drawn based on what tlemons said about what wires where hot and what was not. This still may not be accurate or exactly what he has. He needs to tell us what wires are in each switch box and what they are hooked to and what wires are in the light box and how and what they are hooked to. The one thing we don't know is if there are other wires in any of the boxes just there for the purpose of picking up power to go somewhere else.



----------------KDR
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Yanni

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Wiring 3-way
« Reply #27 on: February 25, 2011, 04:31:06 PM »

 
> Steven R,


Wow awesome explanation.  :)% I've gone through all the labeling as per your description  and now I have the following for my 3-way:

Box 1 (Live) - 3 wires: Hot, A, B
Box 2 (Load) - 3 wires labelled :Load, A, B

In my entrance hallway, I have my Main Dimmer WS12A and the Slave Switch XPSS (same as WS14A Companion) the light will be only controllable from the slave switch. It dims and lights properly, the dimmer responds to non local commands as well, but the physical switch on the actual dimmer box can only turn the light off if it's been turned on already by the slave. If the light is off this button does nothing. 

I think I must have spent the better part of yesterday pouring through forums and tutorials all over the net only to come up empty handed...  B:( B:( B:(
Through re-reading and re wiring today, I've managed to get this entrance 3 way functional from the slave switch only. Not bad for 2 days work... I guess I'm 1/2 way there...

Here are my questions:

1) Box 1 / Box 2 -  According to the installation manual that the WS12A comes with the main dimmer goes in the Live box and the Slave switch in the box with the load.  Does reversing these fix/break anything in my scenario?
 
The x-10 diagram does not make sense with what I see on the dimmer itself - color code is wrong on at least one of them
ftp://ftp.x10.com/pub/manuals/ws12a-14a-is.pdf

The pdf above states (on the main Dimmer):
Blue - Common to Line (presume HOT)
Red - traveler to switch on Slave
Black - Goes to Live on Companion

On the Dimmer itself i see the following:

Line - Black (!)
Load - Blue (!)
Switch - Red

I should mention of the 5 3-ways I've wired so far, 3 work flawlessly  -:),  and 2 work on one end only for on/off/dimming. The other end has some/no local control.


Thanks so much !

 
 
...How do I find the live wire?  I have a simple bulb tester....
This is truly a case where a picture would be worth at least 1000 words but I'll do my best.

This first step is to get a clear understanding of how the mechanical switches work. If how it works isn't crystal clear in your mind, study the drawing or make a mock up on paper and play with it till it is second nature. Trust me. You'll feel a lot more comfortable when you're looking a 6 different wire ends.

Let's start buy assuming you have the "power to switch first" option. Keep in mind that unlike the drawing implies, a neutral wire will not be connected to the mechanical switch and in the case of an older home may not even be present in the box.

In addition to your tester, you'll need a wire nut or two, some masking tape and a pen to mark the wires. Again it's better not to trust this to memory. You'll be making a half dozen or so trips to the breaker box to turn power on and off so pick a time when you're least likely to lower the WAF or otherwise alarm the SOAP.

Keep in mind at times you'll be working with live current. Ok here we go...

  • TURN OFF THE POWER.
  • CHECK ALL WIRES AND MAKE SURE THERE IS NO POWER. I learned the hard way that there can be more than one circuit in the box.
  • Physically remove the wires from both switches and position the wires so you can access them with your tester without physically touching them.
  • Make sure no exposed wires are touching anything and turn on the power.
  • Use your tester to figure out which of the 6 wires is live. i.e. Ground one lead of the tester and touch each wire till you find the live one. For peace of mind, check them all. Only one wire should be live.
  • TURN OFF THE POWER.
  • Use your tape and label that wire Hot.
  • Pick one of the remaining 2 wires at the switch and label it A
  • Wire nut the Hot wire to the A wire.
  • Label the remaining wire B.
  • Make sure no exposed wires are touching anything and turn on the power.
  • Go to the 2nd switch location and find the wire that is live. Again only 1 wire should be live.
  • TURN OFF THE POWER.
  • Label the wire you just found A.
  • Go back to the 1st switch location and connect the Hot wire to the B wire.
  • Make sure no exposed wires are touching anything and turn on the power.
  • Return to the 2nd switch location and find the wire that is live. Again only 1 of the 2 remaining wires should be live.
  • TURN OFF THE POWER.
  • Label the wire you just found B.
  • Label the remaining wire Load.

It's been awhile since I had my install adventure but I'm sure if you have the "power to switch first" option and follow the above to the letter, remembering to be careful around the wires when they are live, you'll have your wiring figured out.


« Last Edit: February 25, 2011, 07:32:34 PM by Yanni »
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