Wiring issue with motion detector

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by mntentman, Sep 17, 2008.

  1. mntentman

    mntentman New Member

    Messages:
    68
    I have a switch in the garage that controls the overhead light. The switch is a single pole and has three wires connected to it -- two wires that run to the top and one to the bottom. I want to change it out and put in a motion sensing switch.

    I did this and found that the wiring obviously is connected as well to the garage door opener/light. And no matter what combination I connect the wires(the motion sensing switch has a hot, neutral and ground), I get either the overlight to work or the garage door opener/light, but not both.

    My question: am I doing something wrong, or am I, for some reason I am not aware of, out of luck? (Or I am not including all the information you need to tell?)

    Any suggestions? Thanks.
  2. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    Location:
    New England
    You sure that's a single pole switch? Are there two switches that can turn the light on and off?
  3. mntentman

    mntentman New Member

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    68
    No, this is the only switch that controls that light. I want the motion sensing switch because it have to step into the dark garage from the house to turn it on.
  4. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

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    Are you sure the motion sensor has "hot/neutral/ground"?

    The common connections on a motion sensor are a neutral ( white ) a hot input ( black ) and the switched hot output (red)/
  5. mntentman

    mntentman New Member

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    68
    It is a Cooper 6105 Motion Sensing Wall Switch. It shows black to lighting load (neutral). It shows green to ground wire to junction box screw or grounding wire. It shows black to hot.

    Does that help? Thanks!
  6. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

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    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego

    Your terminology is off base. The lighting load is NOT a neutral. I only harp on this because if you decided to connect that wire to an actual neutral wire, it would mess up your life!
  7. jbfan74

    jbfan74 Electrical Contractor

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    Location:
    Newnan, GA
    Take the two wires that where on top of the switch and put them on the black wire that shows hot. Take the wire from the bottom of the switch and connect it to the lighting load, and connect the green to the ground.
  8. Alectrician

    Alectrician DIY Senior Member

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    689
    If it had 3 screw terminals (excluding the ground) it was not a sp sw.

    3 black wires?


    Was one wrapped around the screw and two stabbed in the back or visa versa?


    If so, one wire is hot coming in, one is hot going out and the third is going to the light.
  9. mntentman

    mntentman New Member

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    68
    Thanks for the posts. Jimbo, my terminology could well be off. The diagram shows black from the switch to the light, then neutral coming out of the light:

    black > lighting load > neutral

    green > junction box screw or grounding wire

    black > hot (line)

    And.. "do not connect to neutral wire or damage to unit will occur" : )

    220/221: Old switch had two black wrapped around the top screw, and one green wrapped around the bottom. Two terminals, right?

    jbfan74, I will give that a shot.

    Thanks again.
  10. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    22,268
    Location:
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    It sounds like you'd take the two black wires, connect them to one side of the control - one black wire, then take the other lead, the white that was on the switch, put it on the other black wire from the detector, then connect the ground to the green, and pick up the white that was never connected to the switch for the white on the detector. The white on the switch is likley the switched hot.

    If you don't own a multimeter and know how to use it, you either need to learn, or pay someone to check and install this for you.

    If there isn't a white wire that was not connected to the old switch in the junction box, you've got problems and won't be able to use that device without rewiring things.
  11. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

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    Location:
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    switch

    From your description, not your terminology, you do not seem to have a white/neutral at the switch. If so and the sensor needs one, in most cases it cannot be done.
  12. mntentman

    mntentman New Member

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    68
    Youre right, there is a white that is in the box but was not connected to the switch. It's going in/out to/from a connector.

    Does that help any?

    But I'm not sure what you're saying, jadnashua, you said "the white that was on the switch" but there was not a white on the switch.

    If it helps, when I disconnect one of the two blacks that go to the current switch, it cuts off the garage door/light, but leaves the overhead light working.
  13. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,268
    Location:
    New England
    You said there were two wires on the top and one on the bottom. I assumed one was white, but it doesn't matter. Take the pair that was on one terminal, connect them both to the same lead from the new switch, then take the other and connect it to the other black lead. Add a jumper to the white that doesn't connect to the switch to the white of the new switch, and then the ground to the ground lead. You really should check that other white lead to make sure it is not part of a different switched circuit...it MIGHT not be a neutral! If it is in fact neutral, by adding a jumper from there to the neutral connection of the switch, it should work.

    Really, if you don't have the tools AND know how to use them, electricity can kill you. You shouldn't be doing this!
  14. mntentman

    mntentman New Member

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    68
    OK, you're probably right. But with more information, let's take one more shot at this. I got the new switch to work with power to both the light and the garage door/opener, but when I turned the switch off, the light went off and I could not operate the opener/light... which is obviously not the way I want it.

    Here is the actual setup, as it was with the old switch:

    Coming into the box are three wires -- white, black, ground. The black connects to the switch. The white and the ground are pigtailed into a connector.

    Then, a red and black wire come off the switch and go on to the light. A white and ground wire come out of the connector and go on as well.

    So, given that, is there a way to make this work with the motion sensor?

    Thanks much.
  15. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,048
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    ?

    Are you saying the white AND ground wires are in the same wire nut? If so, who wired this system? Without a wiring diagram and using your description. The black HOT wire, and the white NEUTRAL should connect to your motion detector. Are you sure you know which black is the hot and which is the switched lead? If you interchanged them you will have a very erratic operation.
  16. mntentman

    mntentman New Member

    Messages:
    68
    No, ground and white are not in the same connector.

    It's working fine now, wired this way:

    Incoming black goes to switch black #1 and then black out to the outlet (garage door/light plugged into it). Switch black #2 goes out to the light. White to white (incoming to outgoing), not connected to switch, in a wire nut, this did not change. Ground to ground (incoming, outgoing now also switch) in a wire nut, ground was not connected to switch before.

    It works... but is there anything wrong with this set up?
  17. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,048
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    switch

    What happened to the white/neutral wire on the switch?
  18. mntentman

    mntentman New Member

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    68
    There was never a white on the switch. Only came into the box, to a wire nut, then back out.
  19. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,048
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    motion detector

    This is part of your original question.

    the motion sensing switch has a hot, neutral and ground),

    What did you do with the neutral if it is not connected to the wires in the box?
  20. mntentman

    mntentman New Member

    Messages:
    68
    The neutral was identified as one of the two black wires coming from the motion sensing switch. The two blacks go out from the switch to the light and to the outlet.
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