I just installed a new 3 way "Smart" switch (the type used in home automation where you can control lights using your smartphone and various apps.), which allows you to control your lights automatically with your smart phone via the Wink hub. I have one light switch at the end of a hallway, and another switch at the other end. I figured i would just replace one of those switches with a new smart switch and the other one I would leave as a normal switch.

After installation though, I've run into some weird issues with the two switches. for starters, if the light is off, the old switch has to be flipped up, then back down, then up again, then back down before the light comes on. My smart switch makes a clicking noise when you turn it off and on, so when using the old switch I can hear the smart switch click when I flip the switch up almost like it's controlling the power flow to the smart switch. The smart switch on the other hand works great, unless the old switch is flipped up, then it doesn't work at all.

I've installed one of these smart switches before, but it was on a single pole switch and now a 3 way. I'm not an electrician, so while I can follow instructions and videos, I have a much harder time trouble shooting specific problems. Can someone explain to me whether this is normal or not? If need I can provide pictures of my smart switch wiring.


Sorry guys for the delay, I've been out trying to figure this situation out. Below is a link to the product on Leviton's website, you will see a downloadable PDF there that shows the instructions. As for how I wired it, it should be exactly as the instructions show. I connected an additional neutral wire to the bundle that was wire nutted within the box and connected it to the switch. With that wire, I now have a white neutral wire, a red wire, two black wires (One hot), and a ground wire in the box with the smart switch. The other box has 2 black wires, 1 red wire, and a ground wire.


Like I mentioned early, the smart switch works fine, if the old switch is flipped down, but if I flip the switch up, the smart switch no longer works. As for my intentions for the old switch, I really don't plan on using it too much, I just wanted it there in cases I left my phone in the other room and needed to quickly turn the light on with that switch. I thought that maybe 2 smart switches needed to be installed in order to make it work, so I grabbed another smart switch that I have installed in another room to see if that would make a difference. I replaced the old switch with the 2nd smart switch (same brand and everything) and once I had that installed it resulted in neither switches working. I couldn't use either one to turn the lights off or on. I have since reinstalled the old switch back in place of the 2nd smart switch and receiving the same issue as I originally stated.

Sorry If I was lacking earlier on details, I was trying to jump back and forth from fixing the issue and asking this question.

  • You should teach us what is the 3 way smart switch, before one can answer you.
    – Marko Buršič
    Jan 3, 2016 at 19:04
  • I will update the question, but essentially it's one of those switches used for automating your home. The type of switch where you can control your lights from your phone using various hubs and apps. Jan 3, 2016 at 19:18
  • 3-way requires specific wiring, and it's different with a smart switch (which requires a neutral, and an always-on hot). There are several ways to wire a 3-way switch, so you'll have to explain or diagram out what you have (which wires are in which box and where they go), and then we can explain how to wire it correctly. Also, what is your intent with the old switch? It (almost certainly) can't still operate as a 3-way with the new smart switch (though if you tell us the model we can check). You either need two smart switches, or give up on the old switch entirely.
    – gregmac
    Jan 3, 2016 at 19:42
  • "one of those switches used for automating your home" ....... Brand? Model? Jan 3, 2016 at 20:23
  • @gregmac Sorry for the lack of detail earlier, I was jumping back in forth from trying to set this switch up and trying to find online help. I have updated my original question with more detail as well as a link to the product and instructions. Jan 3, 2016 at 21:12

2 Answers 2


Smart switches are not equal partners like old style 3-way switches. They are "master" and "remote".

This model of smart switch is a "master" and requires certain models of "remote" which require "neutral" (white wire) to be present in both switch boxes. That is not always so, as the electrical code only recently started requiring it.

So I'd first check the other box - if there's no neutral in it, you cannot wire a remote (though wireless options may exist). Useless old work can be dangerous, so tidy up by removing the 3-way switch, wire-nut the common to one of the messengers (trial and error will reveal which), cap the other one off, and put a blank wall plate over the hole.

If a white wire is already wired to a terminal on the old 3-way switch, bad news - that is NOT a neutral, but one of the messengers (the two inter-switch wires). Before the code change, they often used common 14/2 Romex for messenger, and one of the wires is white. They're supposed to paint or tape it.

If there is a neutral in both boxes, you can wire a remote. First, figure out which box is upstream (closest to the service panel aka breaker box). It will contain a wire that is always hot - regardless of the position of any switch.

Then review the diagram (which you already linked) showing you the wiring scheme for whichever remote you bought. You will need to re-use both of the old messenger wires.

  • When you're converting from an old 3-way circuit, so long as there is neutral in one of the switches, it's possible to use one of the travelers to get a neutral to the other switch. In almost all cases, one of them won't actually have a load or control the light directly -- it'll just be a "remote" or slave switch.
    – gregmac
    Jan 4, 2016 at 1:53
  • Problem is, I can't tell if he has a neutral in the other box or not. (There's still a way for him to get what he wants if he doesn't have a neutral, but it involves a not-so-well-known device.) Jan 4, 2016 at 4:03

Not certain if this is still active; but it appears the smart 3-way switch isn't always on. You need a Hot "line" in (usually black) to that switch, and then the opposite old 3 way switch usually has to communicate through the smart switch. Many times you have to rewire the old switch and use a traveler wire instead of the hot on the opposite pull. Many times a simple fix is to put the smart outlet in the opposite gang-box as it sounds like that could be where your hot "line" in is located. Otherwise many of these z-wave 3 ways switches require a new switch at the other location as well. I echo above that a diagram of the switched and wires coming in can be useful...


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