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defiant daylight adjusting timer in a 3-way

I bought a defiant timer model #32648, I thought it was a 3way switch compatible. But it looks like not the case. I have existing 3way wiring where the line goes to light, then one 3-wire (red,black,white) cable goes a 3-way switch, another 3-wire goes to the other 3-way switch, like the following diagram:

But the instruction doesn't have a equivalent diagram for this setup. Also I noticed that in 3way diagram using the timer, one of the traveler wire is used as a sense wire, not switching the hot, so you need to put in a jumper in some cases. So this is not a true 3way switch mechanism ? Did anyone encounter a similar problem ? Thanks in advance.

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Posted 2017-10-23T02:21:03+0000  by novicelectric novicelectric

Hello novicelectric.  Welcome to the Community!

Great picture! This really helps.

The Defiant timer does function as a true 3 way switch with one important difference.  This timer requires a neutral wire in addition to the 3 “power” wires a switch needs.

Your diagram shows NM-B or “Romex” brand cable being used rather than loose wires running through conduit.  Because of this, the white wires that run to the switches are used not as neutrals but as power wires.  That is why they are correctly marked in the diagram with those black spots near the switch and wire nut connections.  The only true neutral wire in your diagram is the white source wire that goes directly to the lamp.

Not having a neutral wire going to where you mount the timer will be an issue, as the timer will not work properly without it, and adding a wire into a system of cables is no simple task.

The “jumper” wire seen on the 3-way switch side is easily added, as it only exists inside the electrical switchbox.  Below are the 3-way wiring options from the Defiant installation instructions.


Thanks, Chris.

Posted 2017-10-24T14:50:19+0000  by Chris_HD_CHI
I don't think the defiant timer can act like a true 3-way, single pole double throw switch. If so, then it shouldn't need the shunt (6-7) on the remote like your diagrams. Also, I measured the voltage on the traveler and load, they don't swap hot and n/c like a true SPDT switch when I toggle the on/off on the timer.

I also tried this on the line side, swapping the left 3 way with the timer and adding a wire from neutral (white) to timer:

That doesn't work, nor when I tried a 4-way switch, replace the 3way switch on the right with the timer, adding a line to the neutral for timer, connecting red to load and black to traveler:

My guess is that traveler is really a low voltage sensor, it senses the state of the remote then act accordingly. Let me know if this is incorrect and you are able to wire the timer into the above diagrams and have it work.

Thanks, Peter
Posted 2017-10-29T05:15:51+0000  by novicelectric
Hello Peter.

Now that you added a neutral wire, all that's left to do is hook up the jumper as shown on my previous post.  Your last illustration uses a 4 way switch in the circuit, which will not work with this timer.

I am not an electrical engineer, nor do I have access to the inner working schematics of this timer.  I thought you needed to know how to wire this up so it works.  Whether or not this timer is exactly like a 3-way switch, it will work in a 3-way setting if wired properly.


Posted 2017-10-31T17:56:00+0000  by Chris_HD_CHI
Hi Peter,

I am an electrical engineer and the defiant timer is exactly a three way switch with the timer component added. If you were to leave the neutral wire unconnected (no wire connected to the neutral terminal of the timer then it will function as a standard 3-way switch (SPDT). The addition of a neutral conductor allows the device to consume power from the 120V circuit that is made from Line through Neutral. Neutral is needed to complete the circuit that powers the timing circuitry inside the device.

Cheers and good luck.
Posted 2017-11-15T13:19:58+0000  by jssamp
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