4-way wiring with dimmer

dean_0December 4, 2007

Hello,

Sorry if this question has been asked before, but I couldn't find the answer

I have what I think is a 4-way set up. One switch that I will call a master (a regular pole switch that is always on) another pole switch that is used to control the lights that I will call a slave, and my problem switch that is a dimmer switch that has a toggle button on the bottom of the switch. The dimmer is my problem, because it recently failed. I bought a new dimmer switch and the wires are not the same color as the old switch. I have a tester that I used on the the 4 wires coming out of the dimmer box and no matter what position the other two switches are in, one black and one red wire coming out of the box are always hot. The other black wire is always not hot or has no power to it. I am trying to determine which is my Hot wire and which two wires are the travelers.

Thanks

Dean0

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joed

Stop using your digital meter. You are probably getting a phantom voltage reading.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2007 at 8:21AM
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dean_0

My tester is a Greenlee Non-contact voltage tester.

It seems to be working ok.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2007 at 8:55AM
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normel

You can't do the kind of diagnosis you need with a noncontact tester... it gives too many false readings. You need a meter or test light.

4-way switch configurations do not use a "master/slave" switch arrangement. They use two three ways and any number of 4-ways. A 4-way switch requires 4 wires, not three.

My opinion is you do not have a true 4-way switch arrangement but some kind of jury-rigged arrangement that "works" with more than one switch.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2007 at 9:50AM
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heimert

Or a bizarre 4-way alignment.

I didn't think 4-way dimmers were easy to find. I've usually used 3-way dimmers at one "end" or the other of the run, and then 4-way pole switches as needed.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2007 at 10:26AM
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dean_0

The dimmer I have is a three-way. I believe the two other pole switches are 4-way but I am not sure and I am not home to check. How do I know if I have 4-way swithces?

I do know that on one of the pole switches there are only 3 wires coming off of it. I am not sure of the other swithces.

Thanks for your help!

    Bookmark   December 4, 2007 at 12:01PM
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heimert

A 3-way switch has 3 wires (not including ground). A 4-way switch has 4 wires (not including ground).

Here is a link that might be useful: 4 way switch diagram

    Bookmark   December 4, 2007 at 12:09PM
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dean_0

Thanks for the diagram.

Is is possible that my dimmer is set up as a 4-way and the two pole switches are 3-ways?
Thanks

    Bookmark   December 4, 2007 at 12:32PM
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brickeyee

I have yet to find a 4-way dimmer.
It is far more likely that you have a 3 way dimmer, a 3 way switch, and a 4 way switch.
Count the number of screws on the switches.
A 3 way switch has 3 screws (a common and two travelers)
A 4 way switch has 4 screws (all travelers).
A 4 way switch is NOT the same as a double pole switch.
The internal connections on the switch are NOT the same.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2007 at 8:37PM
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dean_0

Thanks, I will take a look at it tonight.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2007 at 7:35AM
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dean_0

Ok here is my wiring

One 4-way switch
Top lft Black screw Red wire. Top right black screw Black wire

Bottom left, Silver screw Red wire, bottom right, silver screw, black wire

3-way switch. Top left Silver screw, black wire, top right silver screw-red wire. Bottom left Black screw white wire.

Out of the box for the dimmer switch. One green, one black and two reds.

Now I need to figure out which are the travlers and which is the hot.

Thanks

    Bookmark   December 5, 2007 at 5:39PM
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normel

Your travelers should be the red and black you say are "hot". The other black is the feed to the fixture. Connect the travelers to the red wires of the dimmer, and the black from the dimmer to the black in the box.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2007 at 6:57PM
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dean_0

I will try that. My dimmer is a Leviton 6333-PL. Does this matter

    Bookmark   December 5, 2007 at 7:15PM
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dean_0

I conncted everyting as per the instructions and I am still having some problems.

If I turn the lights on with the new dimmer switch, I can turn them off with the 3-way switch, but I can't turn them back on with the dimmer. The 4-way switch is always on. Is it possible that there is now a problem with the 3-way switch? Or even the new dimmer? I even tried switching the 2 travler wires on the dimmer but that didn't work either.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2007 at 9:25PM
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heimert

Your 4-way switch is wired wrong, which is causing the problem

Left should have one red and one black. Right should have one red and one black. Idea is power comes either through the red or the black on the left and goes out either through red or black on the right (depending on which way switch is). See the diagram I linked to.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2007 at 1:31PM
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dean_0

Ok,

thanks I will try changing it. Weird thing is, it worked fine before the dimmer quite working. Once I tried the new dimmer, now it won't work.

I will change it and see what happens.

Thanks again

    Bookmark   December 6, 2007 at 4:59PM
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joed

Don't tell us top, left right. That means nothing. You have to identify the common and the travelers. They are in different positions on different brands. The common is usually black. On the 4 way the two pairs/sets of screws will be different colours.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2007 at 6:10PM
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normel

Yeah, but your original post said one switch had to always be on for this to work, that means it was NOT working correctly. A correct configuration means you can turn the light on or off from any switch regardless of the position of any other switch.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2007 at 6:11PM
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dean_0

How do I identify what the travlers are? The only thing that has changed is the old switch went bad and I am trying to install a new one. I have tried switching the two red wires for the dimmer and that doesn't help.\

Thanks

    Bookmark   December 9, 2007 at 8:31AM
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