Wiring help

Howdy all, I’ve run into a problem that I hope somebody can give me an idea or two to try.

I’m trying to install a GE z-wave switch and add on switch. The attached file is as close to how I understand it works (before trying to install the z-wave switch) as I can get.

Attaching 1 to “line” on the switch, 2 (and/or 6) to the neutral and 7 to the load, then hooking up the add-on switch sort of works: when I try to turn the lights on and off (with either switch), it clicks, turns the little blue light on the switch on or off but doesn’t do anything with the lights.

I’ve tried all sorts of different combinations between the wires with no luck – does anybody with some electrical experience have any idea what is going on here or know what needs to happen to make my switch work?

Thanks in advance.

While the artwork in your drawing is great, it is not accurate electrically.

You’ll need to accurately map out the circuit, identifying the location and function of every wire, before anyone can offer any valuable assistance.

Also, unless you have failed to depict another cable, I don’t think you have enough wires to use a GE switch combo. But, I can’t be sure until I have an accurate depiction of the circuit.

Edit: It’s possible/probable that you have a circuit like this one. If so, you cannot use the GE switches without running an additional wire.

In your case, connect the GE switch on the left. On the right side, connect the “Add-On Switch”. Connect the Red wire to the Traveller. the White to the Netural terminal and a wire nut to the Black wire. If it doesn’t work, swap the red and Black wires.

Hi jbresee,

Z-Waver is correct. Looking at your diagram, I think you need to recheck the wire locations Or at least tell us the make of the switch in the first box (left). This is assuming you are in the US.

I’m assuming the orange line is “equipment ground” the bare wire in the cable. That being so, 3 way switches are simple single poll double throw (google SPDT switch). Most (all I’ve seen) the “common” (the connection being switched) is on one end of the switch, alternately being connected to one of the other two contacts.

In your sketch, the wire “2” from the elctrical box would be connected to wire 1 (and blow a breaker) or wire 5 and provide no power to the circuit.

I expect when you get it all sorted out you will need to put the GE switch on in the box shown at the left, but you should recheck the wiring before proceeding.

Good luck


Thanks all for your responses. I have to admit, the wiring diagram doesn’t make any sense to me too–probably one of the reasons I need help.

I really don’t need the second switch, if I could just get the one to work, I’d be happy. So if that makes it easier to troubleshoot, lets not worry about it.

Attached are a couple more pictures of the real deal. I tried to wire up the original switch like I remember it originally installed and completely removed the second switch with the wires capped.

In picture 1, pay no attention to the existing z-wave switch, it’s on a different circuit and I’m pretty sure none of the wires it uses interact with the switch I’m trying to wire. In fact, I have a bunch of these switches already installed in the house with this being the first that’s giving me trouble if that helps in any way. Hooking up my simple little wire tester to wires 1 and 2 gives power, and between the white and black wires from each cable, that’s the only combo that gives me power, which tells me it’s the cable coming from the electrical box, but maybe that’s not correct. The pictured setup turns the lights on and off like it’s supposed to.

Climbing up into the attic and trying to follow the wires is where I get the rest of the data that I tried to draw on to picture 2. I went back up and it looks like the power could possibly be going to light 1 first, instead of into the switch first, so I don’t know if that changes anything.

Is there anything in here I can take apart and get pictures of to help get an accurate description of what’s going on here?

Hi jbrehm2,

We need a little more information I think.

It would be most helpful if you could definitely define the power input. From the photo, If I had to guess I would say the toggle switch is a 3-way. The upper left cable is not the power from the breaker because in one position of the toggle, wires 1 and 2 are connected.

A few things bother me about what I see.

  1. there seems to be a bare wire (equipment ground) missing from the 3-4 wire nut. Not good.
  2. In all normal 3-way switches, the “travelers” are black and red. In your case they are White(#2) and Red(#5)

With the GE known to work, it must be getting power from somewhere. Would think it is the same source needed for the control you to be added switch. Because (at least in Connecticut) we cannot / should not have two different circuits in the same wall box.

My suggestion is to go back to the diagram you started, add in the information on the toggle switch in the photo. And add the GE wiring info. The fact that it is working is good.

You may have to looked at the capped switch location and see what is going on there.

Most important you need to define which wires bring power into the box.

BTW the toggle switch appears to be a standard 3-way. The common is the black screw (also the black wire #1).
In one position the black wire is connected to the white and the other position the black is connected to the Red.

Good Luck