Wiring a timer for lights - 3 wires?

whaas_5aNovember 10, 2012


I think I know what to do here. Referencing the switch on the right

1) Take the TOP black wire from switch and wire it to the BLACK on the timer.

2) Take the BOTTOM black wire from switch and wire it to the RED on the timer.

3) Take the WHITE from the tie off and wire it to the WHITE on the timer.

4) Tie into the ground.

Do I have that right based on the images below?

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Ron Natalie

You need to tell us what timer model you are using. But if you are dealing with one of the Intermatic timer, the black wire is the wire to the power feed, what you desribe as "black hub." The red wire goes to the load/fixture. That is the black wire from the "2-wire". White wire of the timer goes to the "white hub."
Ground goes to grounds.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2012 at 9:24AM
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Its a Woods 59018. I hooked it up the way I thought and had no power to this timer.

What you explain makes sense as the intructions says if you have now power to switch the Red and black.

In this case I thought the black from the right side wire was the power and the black from the black hub was the load.

You're saying its the other way around correct?

    Bookmark   November 10, 2012 at 9:38AM
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I switch it and still no power to the timer.

Could you clarify one more time if you wouldn't mind? More specifically the 2 wire on the left vs. the ride side 2 wire.

I'm assuming the fixture is the middle 3 wire?

Thanks for your patience.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2012 at 9:49AM
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Should have clarify that the switch to the left is for the inside garage lights and the switch to the right is for the outside garage lights. That right switch is the one I'm converting to a timer.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2012 at 9:52AM
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You may have switches on a switch loop and do not have a neutral to run the timer.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2012 at 1:20PM
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I believe Ron's advice on the wiring is correct.

It took a bit to understand your diagram - "hubs" are wire nuts and "2 wire/3 wire" is the NM cables entering the box.

It appears the left 2/wire NM cable is the line coming in, the middle 3/wire NM cable feeds the light inside the garage with the red switched for the light and the black maybe for an outlet in the ceiling for a garage door opener? The right 2/wire NM cable feeds the outside lights.

Connect the wiring as Ron described, turn the breaker back on, make sure the switch under the little door at the bottom is in the "timer" position and not "off". Then using a straightened paper clip, press the reset button momentarily. Let us know.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2012 at 1:46PM
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The GFI outlet and garage door outlets are on a different circuit breaker.

I did what I suggested in the beggining and then did what Ron suggested and did not get power to the timer in either case.

I left baffled and gave up. Brickeyee might be on to something as its strange that power wouldn't go to the timer. I re-read the intructions several times for troubleshooting and searched the timer for any type of reset. It was a digital timer.

Appreciate all the advice. If you guys have any other suggetions I'd be interested. I might go to the photocells with a timer that screw into the socket base but they "might" not work.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2012 at 4:19PM
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Do you own AC/DC multimeter for measuring voltages?

If you reconnect the switch, do the lights turn on?

    Bookmark   November 10, 2012 at 5:29PM
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You bet!...to the second question.

Is it possible I just had a bad timer?

    Bookmark   November 10, 2012 at 8:11PM
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Yes, it is possible you had a bad timer - or maybe the initial hook-up damaged something... but let's not tell anybody and just return it for a new one... :)

By the way, I looked up the info again on your timer and found THREE different revisions with the exact same model number. While all three are wired the same, the operation and setup all appear different. Maybe try another brand?

    Bookmark   November 10, 2012 at 8:29PM
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Without tracing out what the individual conductors are hooked to on their other end there is no way to tel just from the switch box how the wiring is installed.

You could get some clues by seeing if you have an actual neutral in the box, or some hashed together setup.

Just because the wire is white does not mean it is a neutral.
Many switch loops are not marked as required.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2012 at 5:42AM
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I would have figured the white is neutral because the white wire from each of the tree wires coming into the junction box are all tied off into one wire nut. Is that not correct?

Right now I'm testing photocells with a timer on it. Would be nice to still figure this out to have the hardwire timer in my back pocket.

Thanks again for taking the time to troubleshoot!

    Bookmark   November 11, 2012 at 8:23AM
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While I never assume anything, I think it's safe to say that three white conductors from three separate NM cables tied together are neutrals and not part of a switch loop.

What you are trying to do is really pretty basic and I think the problem is probably is rather simple. Did you strip back the white lead on the timer longer than it normally comes so it could wrap around the neutral wires before replacing the wire nut?

Did you remove the photocells from the fixtures and just install regular incandescent light bulbs to test it?

Get another timer switch and try it again.

I think you're just getting a little frustrated here.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2012 at 8:39PM
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I connected the white wire from the right side direct to the timer. I didn't tie the white from the timer to all three white wires. Should I have done that?

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 10:08PM
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I think you found the problem!

Yes, you need to tie the white neutral wire from the timer to the three white neutral wires that are tied together under the wire nut - don't separate them. Just take the wire nut off, add the neutral from the timer, and put the wire nut back on.

The timer requires power from the line side hot and the neutral in order to operate. It then also switches the hot, from the line side to the load side, to power your lights.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 9:16PM
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