There are at least three different ways to create a three-way light circuit.
At least two of those configurations will give you a headache if you try to
install Switchlincs because they lack a Neutral (white) line and SwitchLincs
need the Neutral line to function properly.
Ideally, and as described in SmartHome's Switchlinc documentation, you want
the mains (power from the electrical panel) to enter one switch, proceed to
the next switch, and then onto the light fixture. Nice arrangement if you
My hallway light has the the mains entering the light fixture itself and
then proceeds through the two switches. This configuration, although valid,
supplies no viable neutral line to the two switches. There's a third
configuration where the mains also enters the fixture and one switch is
supplied with a neutral line.
The only fix for my configuration, was to disconnect the mains from the
light fixture and run a new mains to the first floor switch. The existing
wiring was then "re-purposed" and allowed for the neutral line to become
available to both switches.
BTW, you may be faced with a simlar problem when attempting to install a
Swichlinc in a simple two-way light circuit. If you remove the existing
light switch and see only one cable, (containing Hot/Black, Neutral/White,
and ground), you're in trouble. It means the mains enters the light fixture
and then proceeds to the switch. The Switchlinc wants to see two cables in
the switch box, one providing the mains and the other continuing on to the
load (the light). It uses the neutral line from the mains cable.
The solution is to disconnect the mains from the light fixture and supply a
new mains line to the switch (i.e reverse the order of things: not power to
the light fixture and then to the switch but power to the switch and then to
the light fixture). Unfortunately, it is often impractical to fish the
wires or undesirable to chop holes in walls just to install a Switchlinc
dimmer. Then again, it depends on how badly you want to get that frickin
light under MrHouse's control! :-)
Jack Edin wrote:
> Simmer down... This is easy!
> If you install an Insteon SwitchLinc or ICON in-wall dimmer switch at
> both ends of the 3-way, replacing whatever you had before...
> There will be the normal ground and neutral wires in each box...
> One of the boxes will have a wire that is the HOT, from the breaker
> panel. Usually Black...
> One of the boxes will have the wire that goes to the lamp fixture...
> Usually Black too.
> Then there will be a "runner" that goes between the two boxes, usually
> What needs to happen is this:
> After you identify the wires, as described above...
> Each Insteon switch CAN control a load, but in a 3-way only one DOES...
> So on the switch in the box that leads to the lamp (MAIN) will have it's
> Red load wire connected to the light's wire. The switch in the other box
> (SECONDARY) will have it's Red load wire capped-off, and it will remain
> The question IS does each switch's box have a live Black wire? One may
> not, and thus the reason for the "Runner"...
> You might need to USE the "runner" wire to bring a HOT lead to the other
> switch. Insteon switches need Hot, Neutral, and Ground to function.
> Once the switches are physically wired, and in place only ONE will
> operate the light at this moment.
> Now you need to LINK the two switches to each other. Cross linking is
> what you'll be doing...
> Very simple...
> Press and hold the MAIN switch's ON... At least 10 seconds... The little
> LED will start flashing (and the lights'll flash)...
> Now walk over to the SECONDARY switch and do the same... Don't let go
> till you see the light's flash once, no more than about 15 seconds
> oughta git 'er done...
> You have now linked the two switches, but only in ONE direction. You now
> have to repeat the process.
> Press and hold the SECONDARY switch's ON... At least 10 seconds... The
> little LED will start flashing but the light may not flash...
> Now walk back to the MAIN switch and do the same... The load may not
> You need to make sure they go out of linking mode. Tap the switch to
> exit, if the little LED is still flashing...
> Now both switches will operate the load.
> And you could easily make the 3-way into an N-way, just program
> additional Secondary switches... Or the KeypadLink...
> Any switch can be an Insteon controller...
> The KeypadLink can control a load, but the other buttons are for
> controlling other devices... or macros (scenes.)
> When you go to control the N-Way circuit virtually (from a computer),
> you need only control the MAIN switch...
> Insteon works, and it is only getting better!
> I hope this helps...
>>This seems really stupid. I asked SmartHome if these would do 3-way
>>circuits. I didn't say "virtual 3-way circuits." Doesn't work either and
>>am sure they are wired correctly. I give. What is an "Insteon
>>A maxi-controller with an LED? The documentation is ridiculous. Were
>>trying to save paper? A definition of "Insteon Controller" (which is
>>referred to 20 times) would have been nice. I am sure I don't need it and
>>just as sure that their marketing department wants me to buy it. Does
>>anyone else out there have these newer SwitchLincs (and does the virtual
>>3-way trick work?)
>>Funny how virtual n-way circuits have worked with KeyPadLinc's and X10 for
>>years, but somebody was not happy with that and had to layer a whole new
>>mess on top of it. I think the PCS stuff does true 3-way circuits, but I
>>had moved away from them for reasons I can't remember.
>>And the status responses are still bogus (and I have reported it at least
>>twice.) I guess fixing problems with existing products does not generate
>>headlines, so they spend all of their time inventing new stuff (and new
>>problems.) I hate Insteon already.
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