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This wiring is in a house that was built in the late 1980s. The junction boxes in question are located in two ends of the kitchen. One junction box has 4 switches (located at Kitchen entry), and the other has 5 switches (located at Kitchen breakfast nook). 2 or 3 of those are 3-Way. The rest are single. As an extra FYI - the breaker at the main panel for these two junction boxes also controls 2 additional single switches within the Kitchen (above Desk light and above Stove light).

For labelling purposes, the lights are:

  1. Kitchen entry (recessed with 2-pin MR16 bulbs) - single switch
  2. Kitchen ceiling (recessed with 2-pin MR16 bulbs) - 3-way switch
  3. Kitchen island (hanging lights - LED) - 3-way switch
  4. Kitchen breakfast book (hanging lights - LED) - single switch
  5. Outdoor (Kitchen backyard door) light that has been converted to Ring Spotlight - wired to always be ON. - single switch
  6. Spare light - not sure where this goes to ... was once used - but when we renovated kitchen - this "light" was removed. - either single or 3-way. Not sure.

I successfully replaced Kitchen Breakfast Nook switch with an Aeotec Z-Wave Illumino smart wifi switch - just using existing wiring (there was an older smart switch there that stopped working)

An older wifi smart switch was also installed for the Kitchen Island few years ago but no longer works properly. Looking to replace with the Aeotec Z-Wave Illumino Switch but I run into trouble here. If I simply take the wires from the current smart wifi light switch and attach to the new one - when the 3-way switch (regular switch located at entry) is off, no power runs to the smart switch. When its on - power runs to the smart switch. This does NOT occur when the older wifi switch is attached. Here are the instructions for 3-way wiring.

It appears to me that the junction box located at the Kitchen entry is where the power comes in (however, it almost appears that it really comes from the breakfast nook but just wired backward to the entry.) The entry has no neutral wires so I cannot put the smart switch here. However, the nook junction box which has the neutral wires, but no power, so this what throws the smart switch off. I almost feel just by looking at the two junction boxes and where the various white wires run - the electrician looped things around and this is not how it should be. So that is where you folks come in - hope you can help!!

I hope you can make sense of my writing in trying to figure these out:

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  • I should add - but my wiring knowledge is limited - every 14/3 gauge wire here - the neutral/white wire seems to be connected to a different switch other than the one it is intended for (i.e. look at the entry junction box - the white wire - which is part of the 14/3 gauge wire for the Entry light switch (2nd from the left), is actually a hot/power wire that connects to the first switch on the left - which is the island lights.
    – Jon
    Feb 8 at 16:46
  • Or look at the 2nd switch from the right - which is the main lights - one white wire comes from the 14/3 wire for the island, and one white wire comes from the 14/3 for the spare/non-used timer. At the nook junction box - the middle light switch (main kitchen lights) has two wires coming into it - one is from the 14/3 wire for the main lights (#3) and the other is coming from the 14/3 (that I labelled as #7) which has its red wire capped off and the black wire tied to #8. I almost feel like power is being sent back and forth to both junctions in different ways that defy logic.
    – Jon
    Feb 8 at 16:46
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    – isherwood
    Feb 9 at 15:14

2 Answers 2

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It sounds like the new switch is not capable of working in a 3-way circuit with a dumb 3-way switch, or, at least, not at this position in the 3-way circuit.

There are a couple of possible causes/solutions:

  1. You may find that swapping the new smart switch with it's dumb switch mate at the other end of the 3-way will fix the problem.
  2. You might have to buy a new 3-way that will work with a dumb 3-way
  3. You might find that your 3-way needs another smart 3-way as the other switch in the pair
  4. You might find that your 3-way needs a not quite as smart "companion" switch at the other switch in the pair.

You'll probably need to look through your instructions to see if any of these are the case.

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    Thank you for the suggestions. I tried swapping the smart switch and dumb switch, but the dumb switch location has no neutral wire which is required. This smart switch does work with a dumb 3-way as you can see by the instructions. As for points #3 - I will check into this, but #4 - they do not have a companion type switch as far as I can see.
    – Jon
    Feb 8 at 16:35
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Assuming the cable that runs between the two three way switches has three conductors it should be possible to use this switch.

You might have to put switched live or supply live on one of the conductors to make it work but the cable should have three conductors and the connection to the dumb switch only needs two conductors (and one of those can be used as a neutral)

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