Need help wiring timer for light switch

Helpmeplease7June 18, 2014


I hope the photo is clear as my knowledge is not.

Switch #1 is a 3-way switch that works the garage lights.
Switch #2 is a series of exterior light fixtures that I want to run off a timer.

I removed Switch #2, and connected the timer as follows:

Green to ground
White to the white indicated in Pic
Black to Second Black Wire in Pic
Red to the First Black Wire (the one connecting Switch #1 - #2 in Pic)

Switch #1 works fine.
The timer has power.
The Exterior lights do not.


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Not sure what kind of timer you have but normally red goes to the load, which in your picture is the second black wire. I think you need to swap the red and black.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 12:02AM
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It looks like the switch you removed had power coming from switch #1 and the other black wire to the removed switched passed on power to the exterior light fixtures. I don't understand why you didn't just hook the two black wires that were connected to switch #2 to the timer (and add a ground to the timer as well). Look at it this way: the switch you removed provided power when you manually turned it on; the timer will provide power when it is automatically turned on. They are both just switches and are functionally the same...they just get turned on differently. Why do you think you need to involve the red wire from the 3-way?

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 4:10AM
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If you read the OP carefully you will see that the 3 way was never messed with. The timer has a red wire too.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 9:28AM
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Ron Natalie

I agree, he probably has the red and black from the timer backwards.

The black wire that's connected to both switch has to be the incoming power (HOT). The second black wire on the exterior light switch is the switched hot to the light.

If he can look at the instructions that came with the timer (or post the manufacturer and model number here) we'd know better.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 10:42AM
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Hi, and thank you! I did try switching the two wires as Joe suggested, but there was no change. Garage lights still worked, power still to timer, timer switch still not turning exterior lights on/off.

The timer is Utilitech In wall timer #0141224 from Lowes, and yes, it does state that the red line (on timer) goes to Load, and the black to Line and white to neutral, green to ground.

Kudzu's suggestion seems impossible, as connecting the two black wires together leaves the timer's load connection with no wires to connect to.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 10:58AM
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Ron Natalie

Your most likely screwed. The Utilitech brand (which is really Lowe's own house brand) is the largest piece of crap across the board I have ever seen.

The first thing is to connect the original switch back and see if you can turn the light on and off (or just twist the two black wires that go to the switch together). If the light doesn't come on, something else got disconnected somewhere.

It's quite possible that you blew the timer hooking it up backwards. Does anything display on the face of the timer?

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 11:39AM
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Repeat again what you did with the white wire? You pointed it out specifically in the photo for some reason.

Did you undo it from that wirenut and hook it directly to the timer's white wire? (that would be the wrong way)

The white from the timer would go into the wire nut with all the rest of the white wires.

I still couldn't find that timer at the Lowes website. (Their website is horrible. I searched the other day for T12 tubes and it was under deck furniture)

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 12:18PM
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Ron Natalie

I found it...just skip the Lowes site and google the part number direclty. JReagan is right. All the whites should be connected together.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 12:41PM
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I didn't suggest connecting the two black wires together! I suggested putting one of the black wires from switch #2 on one terminal of the timer and the other one to another terminal. Now that we know what timer you are using, I still think that, but I also realize I misread your original post.

You've got 4 wires on the timer: green goes to grounds, white goes to whites. Looking at the instructions for the switch, it looks like the black wire on the timer is connected to the black from switch #1, and the red from the timer connects to the black going to your lights. Re-reading your original post, I would have connected it the way you did, but the instructions seem to suggest that you had the red and black wires on the timer reversed.

If that doesn't work, you may have a bad switch.

Here is a link that might be useful: Timer

This post was edited by kudzu9 on Thu, Jun 19, 14 at 13:50

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 1:38PM
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Ron Natalie

You've lost me now. The red and black wires are not INTERCHANGEABLE on that device. The timer part of the device is powered by the line, the black wire needs to go to black, the red to the load.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 1:48PM
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I think we are in agreement. The instructions for the timer say: "Connect black timer wire to the hot."

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 1:52PM
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