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How to Wire 4-Way w/Insteon Switchlinc's


KHouse

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I've got a set of 3 track lights in my home in an open area. All three turn on/off together. There are 3 toggle switches throughout the open area to control these lights. When I turn one toggle on, all 3 track lights turn on. Obviously I can turn on/off the track lights from any of the 3 toggles.

 

So, looks like I've got a 4-way setup.

 

How would I accurately wire these with the Switchlinc #2477S? (moving my home to Decora vs. toggles).

 

Any help is much appreciated!

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The basic idea is that each insteon device requires a neutral and a hot. Only one of the insteon devices connects to the actual load. Identifying and configuring the wiring is the trick. One cannot assume white is neutral, or black is hot. A voltmeter is, as far as I am concerned, a mandatory tool for people interested in engaging in these types of activities. Google is your friend for learning of the various wiring configurations for multi-way switches, matching to yours.

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Thanks folks.

 

I've got several SwitchLinc's installed, but none on a 4-way.

 

I'm ok with the electrical, once I know where everything should go...but might need to get an electrician buddy of mine in here for the 4 way. He talked me through a 3 way setup of the SwitchLinc's over the phone, but I'm thinking the 4 way is going to be just a bit trickier.

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First of all, forget 4-way. Second, remove all four switches and find where the HOT wire that feeds the lights. Start there and make sure you can use that hot wire to feed the lights. Once that is done, you can wire in the Insteon SwitchLinc to control the lights. When that is working you can add as many remote SwitcheLincs to act as controllers for the first switch.

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There is one general problem situation with switches: switch loops, where the supply cable enters at the fixture box and they send only a hot-and-return to the switch box. In this case, there is no neutral and one has to get a little more creative with the wiring and devices. If you can determine where the supply cable enters the circuit, and if it is in one of the switch boxes, your are golden.

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I just ran into this same problem two weeks ago (early Feb) Had a 4-way switch for the main entry I was trying to convert to Insteon. Wired everything as I thought is was suppose to be, powered up, no lights. Multiple test, no lights. Spent seven hours over two days during the weekend and finally gave up. Called a friend that was a Journeyman electrician to help. He laughed, "no problem" and then spent 2-1/2 hours mumbling about why and how and a few explicates. Still no go. Tried an experiment and ran a replacement cord (power cord, male end only, no female) and used it to jump the neutral wire from another circuit to the 4-way. Plugged the cord into another outlet, capped the hot, connected the white neutral to the 4-way and tested. Worked as it should! Late '80s house and all the power runs originated in the ceiling boxes, dropped a loop to the switches, no neutrals. For those that have this set-up, it is possible to jump a neutral from another circuit. All neutrals go to the same bar in the load center so it doesn't matter where the circuit gets its neutral. I had to cut a hole in the wall and add a line in multiple locations, sucks but it does work.

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"it is possible to jump a neutral from another circuit. All neutrals go to the same bar in the load center so it doesn't matter"

 

That can over load the Neutral and cause a fire. It is against code as well. That arrangement can cause much current to flow over the Neutral then the size of the wire is rated for.

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"it is possible to jump a neutral from another circuit. All neutrals go to the same bar in the load center so it doesn't matter"

 

That can over load the Neutral and cause a fire. It is against code as well. That arrangement can cause much current to flow over the Neutral then the size of the wire is rated for.

 

Of course this is correct. However, it can be safely done if you only have hard wired loads on the neutral and thus can measure the total amps. However future modifications might be done without knowledge of your extra use of the neutral, which could pose an unsafe overcurrent situation.

 

It is not hard to figure out if you have a switchloop. Turn off the breaker. Remove all of the switches and un-splice your wires at the light fixture's box. Cap all your wires. Turn your breaker back on and test your wires for the hot. If the hot is at the fixture's box, then you may be looking at a switch loop.

 

If you have a swtich loop, then your neutral probably only exists at the fixture. If it is possible to pull a new wire between your fixture and any of your switch boxes, or if you can pull a hot/neutral from a different circuit into any of your switches boxes, this situation can be corrected. With a 4-way, you have plenty of conductors going switch-box to switch-box, so once you get a hot/neutral into any of the boxes, you can re-purpose the wires that go from box to box as hot/neutral.

 

You can also put an in-line linc at the fixture itself, then re-purpose the two switchloop conductors from the fixtures box to the first switch box as hot/neutral. Then re-purpose your traveler wires that go from switch box to switch box as hot/neutral.

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Thanks folks.

 

I've got several SwitchLinc's installed, but none on a 4-way.

 

I'm ok with the electrical, once I know where everything should go...but might need to get an electrician buddy of mine in here for the 4 way. He talked me through a 3 way setup of the SwitchLinc's over the phone, but I'm thinking the 4 way is going to be just a bit trickier.

 

 

A 4 (or more) way is identical to the 3 way in wiring. You are simply linking additional controllers.

 

-Xathros

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While apostolakisl is correct technically, it is still likely a violation of code. This may be enough to sway someone against it (but probably not me). Consider, too, the possibility that this could have an affect on your insurance coverage should you have an electrical fire. While the fault may lie elsewhere, there is a chance this could get noticed and make collecting your claim a bit more difficult. After you sell the house, are you liable for what happens afterwards?

 

It is up to you whether there is any risk involved, what is the risk, and whether it is worth it in order to avoid spending $50 on a micromodule (or inlinelinc if you can still find them).

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If it were me, the first thing I would do is look for an easy way to get hot/neutral into one of my switchboxes. If any of your switch boxes shares the same stud cavity as a wall outlet then it is pretty easy business. Or if you have unfinished basement/attic/crawlspace above/below then you can get quick easy access to it. Otherwise, inlinelinc/micromodule.

 

Of course you may not need any of this since you haven't confirmed a switch loop.

 

It also used to be code to have a neutral shared by 2 circuits if they were on opposite phase. To the best of my knowledge nobody still accepts this, but it is safe. Again, the trouble is if someone in the future doesn't know the wiring and makes changes. Doing this does as also require that you use a bonded breaker which controls both hots together and forces them to be on opposite phase.

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I've been switching all the switches in my home (some to Insteon, some to new "dumb" switches). Seems that I have a neutral capped in each box.

 

Thanks for the info folks. I'll be sure to have my electrician buddy read through this before we attack the 4 ways. I'm taking things just a few pieces at a time. Will try to have this 4 way deal switched out sometime in March/April, so will report back with how we did it for future reference.

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