Which wires which?

(Clyde A. Moeller) #21

Hi JR

  After looking closely at your pictures I think you may be

perfectly correct. I understand what you are saying about a
hobby project - been there, done that many times myself. Just be
very careful. That said, there are several things you can try.
The brown (looks brown in picture) wire is probably the hot wire.
If you have a meter or a non-contact indicator you can check
this. With the switch off, check for voltage between the white
wires (neutral) and the brown wire and no voltage on the other two
wires. A non-contact indicator is the safest since there is no
direct contact. However they are often so sensitive that it is
hard or impossible to tell which wires are hot and which are not.
If it indicates voltage on all wires try moving the tip away from
the switch along the wire and see if the indicator goes out. The
hot wire will always give an indication. The National Electrical
Code (NEC) will not allow two wires to be put under the same screw
or lug. This is probably why the contractor put one under the
screw and the other in the hole. You can try this also: Turn the
switch on, turn the breaker for this circuit OFF. Remove the
orange wire from the switch and tape it. Turn the breaker on and
check to see if some lights are not working. That will prove that
the orange wire is indeed a load wire going to the non-working
lights. The proper way to connect these wires would be as you
said, orange & yellow connected to a third wire going to the
switch. As to the colors, I suspect they were what the contractor
had on hand. The NEC allows any color to be hot except white,
gray, or green. Again, please be careful. Never use both hands
at the same time working on a live circuit. keep one in your
pocket. Rubber soled shoes, dry floor, etc.

  I do not know much about Zwave.  It may require a separate ground

for proper operation. There is a difference between neutral and
ground. The neutral is indeed tied to ground in most breaker
panels and always at the service entrance. The neutral (white)
wire is a current carrying conductor. It is the return path for
the current. The ground (green) wire is for safety and never
carries any current in normal use. In older houses it is common
practice (not good practice) to tie the neutral and ground
terminals together on switches and outlets. Most things will work
that way, however, some will not. Zwave should be able to answer
that.

I hope this is helpful.

Regards,

Clyde

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(Clyde A. Moeller) #22

Hi JR

After looking closely at your pictures I think you may be perfectly correct. I understand what you are saying about a hobby project - been there, done that many times myself. Just be very careful. That said, there are several things you can try. The brown (looks brown in picture) wire is probably the hot wire. If you have a meter or a non-contact indicator you can check this. With the switch off, check for voltage between the white wires (neutral) and the brown wire and no voltage on the other two wires. A non-contact indicator is the safest since there is no direct contact. However they are often so sensitive that it is hard or impossible to tell which wires are hot and which are not. If it indicates voltage on all wires try moving the tip away from the switch along the wire and see if the indicator goes out. The hot wire will always give an indication. The National Electrical Code (NEC) will not allow two wires to be put under the same screw or lug. This is probably why the contractor put one under the screw and the other in the hole. You can try this also: Turn the switch on, turn the breaker for this circuit OFF. Remove the orange wire from the switch and tape it. Turn the breaker on and check to see if some lights are not working. That will prove that the orange wire is indeed a load wire going to the non-working lights. The proper way to connect these wires would be as you said, orange & yellow connected to a third wire going to the switch. As to the colors, I suspect they were what the contractor had on hand. The NEC allows any color to be hot except white, gray, or green. Again, please be careful. Never use both hands at the same time working on a live circuit. keep one in your pocket. Rubber soled shoes, dry floor, etc.

I do not know much about Zwave. It may require a separate ground for proper operation. There is a difference between neutral and ground. The neutral is indeed tied to ground in most breaker panels and always at the service entrance. The neutral (white) wire is a current carrying conductor. It is the return path for the current. The ground (green) wire is for safety and never carries any current in normal use. In older houses it is common practice (not good practice) to tie the neutral and ground terminals together on switches and outlets. Most things will work that way, however, some will not. Zwave should be able to answer that.

I hope this is helpful.

Regards,

Clyde

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(John Riker) #23

Thanks all for the help, even after I decided to quit. :slight_smile:

Here’s what I have after all the input:

Ignore the colors of the text, just altered to try and make them readable on top of various things.

Oddly the coloring in the photo are way off vs real. Go iPhone X.

So the dark brown is HOT, there are two lines going off to a number of places to manage their lights.
There is a 20 amp circuit these are connected to. Why they ran so much thru this one circuit is beyond me but whatever.

Let me know if this sounds right:

  1. The dark brown hot wire needs to go to the appropriate screw on the new switch.
  2. The now orange and pinkish wires should be put together with the end of a third wire and capped.
  3. The third wire on 2 above connected to the load wire on the new switch.
  4. Remove the cap from the two white neutral wires and add the end of a third one to it and recap it.
  5. Connect the other end of the third neutral wire to the switch.
  6. No ground wire due to current setup of complete metal conduit.

Sounds about right?

EDIT: For reference using the following switch to replace it: https://store.leviton.com/collections/z-wave/products/decora-smart-600w-dimmer-with-z-wave-technology-dz6hd-1bz?variant=33943254083

Odd they could use this existing switch since the most power I have seen a switch handle is 1000 watts which is way less than the 9 cans in the family room and the 9 cans in the living room, plus the garage lights and also garage door opener. Would think the way it’s wired when all that is on all the power would be running thru the switch.

Thanks.

JR

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(CM6.5 H102) #24

Yep, that will work.:+1:

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(Udo Hartmann) #25

Please be aware that the switch itself must be capable to switch the 20 amp; if not, you have to change the circuit breaker to a smaller one.

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(John Riker) #26

Dang, well aren’t we the bringer of bad news. :slight_smile: Leviton doesn’t even have 20 amp switches that are smart switches. Who knows about anyone else but trying to stay with major manufacturers and those that either support Z-Wave or W-Fi (with API access).

Thanks.

JR

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(CM6.5 H102) #27

Can you change out a few bulbs to reduce the current? If so, take a look at the Shelly 1 devices, they will work with wi-fi or mqtt and rated for 16 amps. Nice thing is you can use them with your existing switch.

Also a topic for how to wire it up to something other than a wall switch.

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(John Riker) #28

Technically nothing goes over 15 amps. My basement is 9, 65 watt bulbs, same with the family room. Garage who knows what that is right now but from what I read a single opener shouldn’t need more than 15 amps. The individual switches never go over 15 amps. However not sure if true but people say that doesn’t matter, 20 amp circuit you should have a 20 amp switch else it could burn out and the circuit breaker wouldn’t trigger.

Thanks.

JR

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(John Riker) #29

May have to switch to Zigbee which is OK since I just started with the whole Z-Wave/Zigbee thing. Is this more what we are talking about?

https://www.lowes.com/pd/GE-Zigbee-15-20-Amp-3-Way-4-Way-White-Rocker-Light-Switch/1000097962

Thanks.

JR

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(Waituntilthebeep) #30

Getting into this late but I do have some suggestions. Let me first start with a disclaimer… Though I have rewired every home I have owned, under the appropriate cover of permits and inspections, and that I come from a long line of electricians, AND I once stayed at a Holiday Inn… I am not a certified electrician. But I have seen a LOT of janky wiring. Your contractors took you for a ride.

It is NOT legal to use off colored wiring from code standard without putting the proper tape colors at the end of the wires. They did not mark them properly. It is also NOT legal to use 20 amp circuits for lighting when not using 20 amp switching components. That switch is not rated for 20 amps. It also looks like they used a 3 way switch and fed outbound power to another room? Doesn’t sound right because those rooms would only get power when the can lights were off. No0t to mention that steel conduit does NOT equal no ground required. It actually means that you have to have EXTRA grounding because everywhere that conduit goes will be hot as an Arizona roof if you have a short or bonding failure. You do not have any kind of grounding. At all. None. But I digress. I am obviously all for automation but I am also all for not burning down the hacienda while doing so. I would highly suggest that before you go to committing to any kind of products that you call in an electrician for a couple hours and have them take a look at the wiring and make sure everything is skookum and safe. You have the benefit of having the common wire in the box which allows you to put inline devices in where the switches go and that is excellent and rare but you need to know how this stuff is set up so you can DIY it safely. Please, please, please… address this before you create any additional headaches. It may cost you a few bucks initially but it will make your automation efforts way better in the end.

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(Andrew Rowe) #31

yeah we’re all kind of reading this thread and waiting for the other foot to drop. Dude… call an electrician, ask friends for a referral, you are clearly over your head

this is seriously non-openHAB discussion
close thread

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(John Riker) #32

Thank you waituntilthebeep, nicely said. No thank you Andrew always one in the bunch. I’ll have someone come out and take a look at it.

JR

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(Waituntilthebeep) #33

It’s not a matter of over his head as wiring like this is really simple, especially in basic component replacement but the contractor that did the wiring did him dirty by using odd colored wire and no marker tape and not grounding anything. Fix the unknowns and with a small amount of sparky assistance this will be a piece of cake. Nothing wrong with learning it but he has both hands tied behind his back. And any sparky worth his salt won’t try to do electrical with his feet;0)

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(Andrew Rowe) #34

In the grand scheme of things, how long is a piece of tape on the end of a wire going to last? Compared to the wiring in a house? Again… clearly off topic… close thread mods please

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(Waituntilthebeep) #35

A lifetime actually. Lots of this kind of stuff is done in the industrial world and they use marker tape. But you are right… totally not about OpenHab. So instead of yelling close topic, just stop commenting. I plan to.

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(Adam Saunders) #36

Just my two cents worth: I have been switching over some old outlets and switches in my home, circa 1960s in Canada. The wiring in my home is fabric wrapped 12/2 wire with ground. All of the grounds in the house are cut off short and the ground attached to the box itself. Worth another look in the box itself for a ground. If it’s there, pull more wire and trim everything to length.

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(Branden Smale) #37

I disagree. There are no standards for the coloring of wiring. There are colors we use, but only 3, green, white and grey that are set to mean anything. The hot wires could be anything. The National Electrical Code does not set a standard to what marking the hot wires shall have.

There are colors we tend to use, and it does tend to be the same, but there is no standard, at least in the US.

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(Clyde A. Moeller) #38

Sorry it has taken me so long to reply, I have been sick.
I think you have it figured out now, and by now, you probably have it working.
The old switch was probably overloaded and make sure the new switch is rated for the load. The use of florescent or led bulbs will significantly lower the load.
I am sorry to see that many of the responses to this post seem to be from people that have no idea what they are talking about.
I hope all has worked out well for you.

Clyde

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