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I have a bit of a unique electrical situation that I am dealing with. My house was wired with several three way lighting boxes that included a switch for a fan which is not used. I am working on transitioning to zwave controlled dimmers for LEDs and these switches require a neutral conductor to function properly. Since the end of line switch does not have a neutral present, I need to get a neutral to it somehow.

My thought is that I can disable the unused fan circuit and instead use the wiring that was going to that switch to carry a neutral to the box. I believe that this only requires removing and capping the common line (three way switch common line, not common ground) on both ends of the switch as this would isolate the switches from both line and load. I should then be able to use either traveler (preferably the no longer black coded white one) as a neutral by adding it to the neutral nut.

Are there any problems with this setup that anyone can see? Alternately, are there any alternatives that anyone knows of such as wiring a battery powered remote switch in place of cannibalizing the unused circuit that would make this unnecessary?

More technical details in response to comments: It is actually two parallel 3 way switches that are for both a fan and a light. They are all on the same breaker using a shared common neutral and shared common ground at the main light switches.

The 4 conductor to the ceiling fixture from the main switches is a 4 conductor with black for light load and red for fan load (capped at fixture since there is no fan).

There are two switches in the main box, both wired to interrupt between line and load in a 3 way configuration with both lines to the remote switches being 4 conductor lines with white coded to black and red as the two travelers and black as the common line/common load.

It is basically two of these, one interrupting black load (light) one interrupting red load (fan/unused), but with fused grounds and neutrals across both loops.

What I am planning for the fan circuit is this: enter image description here

I'm not sure if I also need to remove the common ground or do anything with the isolated traveler that isn't attached to anything anymore. I'm not sure at what point (if ever) it is considered just a 14 gauge wire in my wall rather than part of the electrical system. It is also worth noting that on my diagram, the load is not actually attached to line at the fixture, but rather is capped with the neutral line only actually used at the fixture for the light circuit.

  • Maybe I missed it, but you missed an important part of the puzzle. What are the colors of the wires in the box with the switch? And do you really mean 3-way (which means a light controlled from 2 switches) or are you just saying that the fan and the light are independently switched? – longneck Feb 16 '16 at 18:23
  • @longneck - Updated with more detail and a link to a picture that matches the configuration I have. – AJ Henderson Feb 16 '16 at 18:37
  • Can you post the model of the Z-wave dimmer you are using? – ThreePhaseEel Feb 17 '16 at 0:04
  • I am using a leviton dzmx1 with the remote station with led that corresponds. – AJ Henderson Feb 17 '16 at 2:05
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Since you posted the model numbers of the switches, now I can be specific.

Remote switch:

  • Unwrap the tape from the white.
  • Connect black terminal to black wire, white terminal to white wire, and the red wire to the yellow/red terminal of the remote switch.

Main dimmer:

  • Unwrap the tape from the white.
  • Connect all whites together, including the white wire on the dimmer.
  • Connect the red wire on the dimmer to the black wire going to the light.
  • Connect all remaining black wires together including the black wire on the dimmer. (Do not connect the black wire going to the light).
  • Connect the yellow/red wire on the dimmer to the red "traveler" going to the remote switch.
  • Cut and cap both ends of the red wire going to the light.
  • Doh, that is pretty obvious now that you put it that way. I hadn't gotten the remote switches yet so I wasn't thinking about the fact they don't have a load line since they are digitally switched on yellow/red. – AJ Henderson Feb 17 '16 at 16:30
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OK, now I understand. Let me rephrase your question:

What do I do with the red wires?

Cap them off.

Can I un-tape the white wire and use it as a neutral?

Yes. This is preferred over anything else (such as using the traveler/red as a neutral) since it puts your wiring in a standard configuration.

  • I'm planning to leave the switches in the wall to simplify swaping configuration back in the future. Is it actually neccessary to cap the red traveler or remove the ground from the switches if I'm leaving them in the wall, but disconnected from power. And actually, thinking about it a bit more, is it even necessary to remove the power leads from the system since ultimately I'm just making the three way switch in to half of a three way switch where only one traveler will complete the circuit. – AJ Henderson Feb 16 '16 at 21:47

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