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I have a switch indoors which controls two outdoor daylights. I opened the wall plate and found that it has two red wires and two black wires and one ground (so 5 terminals in all). I stuck a multimeter on them and only one of the black ones has voltage, the rest are all 0.

Now, I want to replace this whole thing with a timer switch, which has one line, one load and one neutral. I've taken care of the neutral (together with all the other neutrals in the box), but I am a bit confused about what to put in the line and load.

How can I make my timer switch control both the daylight bulbs? Also, what kind of a switch is that, which has five terminals?

Thanks!

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    Can you please post a picture? – Hari Ganti Jun 11 '18 at 23:18
  • Unfortunately I removed all the wires from the switch. But it was a switch with 2 terminals on each side + 1 ground. There were 2 red and 2 black wires connected to the 4 terminals. The switch looks like this: - goo.gl/ozPRqS – greenberet123 Jun 11 '18 at 23:45
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    Are there other switches that control these same lights? Specifically at least 2 more? Sounds like a 4-way, only think that doesn’t make sense is 2 terminals should be hot. – Tyson Jun 11 '18 at 23:45
  • Or a double pole, still doesn’t explain one hot tho. – Tyson Jun 11 '18 at 23:46
  • @Tyson - I haven't been able to find any other switches that control the same lights. The one switch controls 2 lights though, does that change things? – greenberet123 Jun 11 '18 at 23:52
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Connect the line to the one hot wire. The black wire in its cable gets capped off. Connect the load to the black or red wire of the other cable, you'll know you have the right one because the light will work. Cap off the other one.

This combination will work until you find one of the other 3-way or 4-way switches in the system. Then, it will fail until you throw that switch back. Your layout is

  ---- 3way ==== 4way ==== 3way ----
  ----------------------------------

or

  ---- 3way ==== 4way ==== 4way ==== 4way ==== 3way -----
  -------------------------------------------------------

with any number of 4ways in the middle.

I have a personal rule that "the last guy" probably had a pretty good reason for doing it that way. So before you take a wrecking ball to his work, look for those reasons. Otherwise later, you'll be going "Gosh, it'd be a lot more convenient if it worked like --- oh right, it already did and I destroyed it because I didn't understand it". Those 4-way switches are about $10 each, people don't use those without a pretty good reason.

  • Thanks!. I did something like this and I think it worked. I connected the line to the hot wire (black) and I connected the load to one of the red wires and now both lights work. I actually tried connecting the load to all three of the other wires one by one, and only that particular red one worked. No wrecking ball, I've neatly capped off the other wires. Can restore it if I ever figure out what was going on there. – greenberet123 Jun 12 '18 at 5:21

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