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scoot
Starting Member

USA
4 Posts

Posted - 08/18/2017 :  5:23:45 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I'm trying to put in a Leviton Decora smart dimmer and remote in a hallway. The switches control three lights in an upstairs hallway, with one switch at the top of the stairs and one at the bottom.

Original wiring: The top switch box has 12-2 coming in, with the white wire apparently the line, but pigtailed into the 14-3 going to the bottom switch. The black from the 12-2 was then the common (If I remember correctly), and the red and black on the 14-3 were the other two connections on the switch. The bottom switch box only has one 14-3 coming in, and the black was the common, with the white and red the other two connections.

Apparently this Leviton switch requires a neutral, which I know after reading this forum isn't at all uncommon. Since the 12-2's white was pigtailed directly into the other white, I mistakenly believed that it was the neutral. After using a multi tester on it I confirmed that it was the line. I then hoped that the black was the neutral, but I'm not sure that's the case; after wiring it that way (and then pigtailing the line in with the 1st traveler coming off the 14-3 on the main switch since I don't have a 1st traveler going down to the remote switch) the switches appear to work from the app, but don't operate the lights. Will I have to run a neutral down to the main switch (or both), or is there a way to get away with not having to do that?

stusviews
Moderator

USA
15600 Posts

Posted - 08/18/2017 :  9:19:19 PM  Show Profile  Visit stusviews's Homepage  Reply with Quote
First a word on terminology: "common" is usually the term used for a neutral wire. Neither switch box has a neutral wire.

The 12-2 at the top switch box is a switch loop with white being the line and black the switch return (load). that's done so that the fixture does not connect to two white wires. If you remove the fixture closest to the top switch, you'll find a black wire(line) connected to the 12-2 white wire. The fixture connects to neutral and the 12-2 black wire.

Each 3-way switch has one black and two brass screws. The black screw at one switch is the line and at the other switch is the load. The brass screws are the travelers.

What is the purpose for using the Leviton switch? Which specific one?

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scoot
Starting Member

USA
4 Posts

Posted - 08/18/2017 :  9:37:20 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks for the response.

Sorry for the confusion; by "common" I meant the post marked "common" on the old switches (what would be the black screw).

The Leviton switches I'm using are the Decora smart dimmer (for Apple HomeKit) and the corresponding remote (DD00R). Is the only solution to bring a neutral into the box? The main dimmer has posts for Line, Neutral, travelers 1 and 2, and ground. In that case, what should be done with the load?
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stusviews
Moderator

USA
15600 Posts

Posted - 08/19/2017 :  1:32:42 PM  Show Profile  Visit stusviews's Homepage  Reply with Quote
There is no choice for the Leviton switches. Both switch locations require both line and neutral. One of the two switches connects to the load.

The only cable you have that connects to the load is a 2-wire cable. That needs to be replaced with a 3-wire cable or you need to bring power (line and neutral) to the other switch box.

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scoot
Starting Member

USA
4 Posts

Posted - 08/19/2017 :  3:28:25 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
That's what I was afraid of (and thanks for the confirmation).

I can pull a neutral to the main box, and there's a 2-gang box next to the remote box, but it's on a different circuit, so I don't think that will work (please let me know if I'm wrong on that). Which brings me to my last question:

Can I pull a neutral to the main box and connect it to one of the wires on the 14-3 to the remote box to provide neutral there so I don't have to string another wire to the remote box? The Leviton remote requires the load and the 1st traveler to be connected into the same screw, but I was thinking I can connect those at the main box, so I'd only need the 14-3 wires.
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stusviews
Moderator

USA
15600 Posts

Posted - 08/19/2017 :  5:06:21 PM  Show Profile  Visit stusviews's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Besides being not in compliance, using a neutral from another circuit can be unsafe because the neutral will carry the load from both circuits and the neutral is not overload protected (i.e, only line wires connect to circuit breakers).

A solution is to bring both line and neutral from the same circuit into either box. That will also require that you remove the fixture at the box that has the 12-2 and use that cable to provide load and neutral to the fixture instead of line and load to the switch.

The existing 14-3 cable between the two switch boxes can be utilized, only the connections change.

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scoot
Starting Member

USA
4 Posts

Posted - 08/19/2017 :  8:55:25 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
That's what I was afraid of (and thanks for the confirmation).

I can pull a neutral to the main box, and there's a 2-gang box next to the remote box, but it's on a different circuit, so I don't think that will work (please let me know if I'm wrong on that). Which brings me to my last question:

Can I pull a neutral to the main box and connect it to one of the wires on the 14-3 to the remote box to provide neutral there so I don't have to string another wire to the remote box? The Leviton remote requires the load and the 1st traveler to be connected into the same screw, but I was thinking I can connect those at the main box, so I'd only need the 14-3 wires.
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stusviews
Moderator

USA
15600 Posts

Posted - 08/19/2017 :  9:41:54 PM  Show Profile  Visit stusviews's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I'm not sure what you mean by the "remote box." Each Leviton switch requires both line and neutral. The line and neutral must be from the same circuit.

No matter how you provide line and neutral, the existing 3-wire cable can provide that, using the 3-wire black to provide line and the 3-wire white to provide neutral. You will still have a red wire between the two switches. How you connect the red wire depends only on which box you add line and neutral to.

In any case, you must provide line and neutral to one of the boxes. You cannot/should not add only a neutral wire.

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