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  1. #1
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    Converting a wall switch to an X-10 XPT transmitter

    Hello,

    Let me start by saying that I am a bit of a newbie, and I did not find a good answer to this question after searching the forum. This is a bit long, but I would really appreciate it if someone could give me some guidance on this project.

    I have a 1920's house with a lot of original wiring. There is a set of 3 older light switches next to the back door off the kitchen. One switch controls an interior ceiling light by the door, one switch controls an exterior porch light and flood light, and the third switch is an old 3-way switch that does nothing now (the kitchen was remodeled before we bought the house and I think this switch used to control a now nonexistant light fixture). All 3 switches are connected in series at the bottom from one old wire that feeds into the box (presumably the power in), and the top of each switch has an individual wire that leaves the box (except the dead 3-way, which has 2 wires leaving the box).

    If possible, I want to remove the dead 3-way switch and replace it with an X-10 transmitter base (XPT), as I am adding X-10 to my house along with a wireless security system. This XPT module seems unique in that it functions as a switch but it requires a hot and neutral wire, which is more like wiring a standard electrical outlet than wiring a switch. Fortunately there is a newer grounded non-GFCI outlet one foot directly below the 3-switch box.

    My question is whether or not I can run some romex wire from the existing outlet, behind the plaster wall, and into the old electrical box where the XPT module will be installed (where the dead 3-way switch used to be).

    If this is possible, I have a bunch of other "newbie" questions about the installation:
    1) Should I run both hot and nuetral up from the outlet, or can I just run a neutral wire up there and use the existing hot wire that feeds the existing switches (the outlet and switches are likely on 2 different circuits)?
    2) Can I just run the hot/neutral wires directly off the existing outlet terminal screws or do I need to splice in the new wires using wire nuts?
    3) Can a hot/neutral connection to an X-10 module be safely contained in an old electrical box that is shared with 2 other light switches?
    4) What gauge wire would you recommend for such a short run?
    5) Will a small DIY electrical job like this be within "code"? If not, what would I need to do (short of hiring an electrician to do such a small job) to keep everything kosher?

    I have already replaced many of the house's old crumbling outlets and I know my way around the circuit breaker, so I feel confident that I can handle dropping a 1' wire down behind the wall to connect the XPT module to the existing outlet. I just want to make sure that this is an acceptable and safe solution to my problem.

    Thank you,

    Noah

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
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    Saint Regis Falls, NY, USA.
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    what will be connected to the X-10 switch? are there any neutrals in the existing three gang box? If this box [three gang] is fed off the existing knob n tube, then chances are there is no neutral in the box, just the hots and returns. the two coming off the three way are the travelers to the other remote three way. if you need a hot and neutral to the X-10, then running a piece of wire from the outlet you specified will do nicely. as far as gauge goes, whatever is on the gfi use that 12 or 14.

  3. #3
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    Thank you very much for the very prompt and helpful reply.

    You are correct in assuming that there is no neutral in the existing 3-gang switch box. I converted my exterior house lights to X-10 lights so that they can flash when an intruder triggers my security system. I need the X-10 switch (XPT module plus XP4 keypad) at the kitchen back door so that I can have manual control over the exterior lights from that location. I thought it would work out well since I could create room in the 3-gang box for the XPT module by removing the dead 3-way switch, but after getting into the installation, I realized that the XPT requires a neutral wire.

    I will go ahead with my plan to run a wire (both hot and neutral) up from the existing outlet, but that leaves me with a few more questions:

    1) Can I just attach the new wire to the existing outlet's screw terminals, or should I cut the existing wires and splice in the new wires with wire nuts?

    2) The flood light and the porch light are actually wired in series off the same switched circuit. Since the X-10 switch will now control each of these lights individually, I no longer need the circuit to be on a physical switch. Can I just remove the switch and connect the 2 wires for that circuit with a wire nut so that this circuit is "always on"?

    3) When I remove the dead 3-way switch, should I just tape off the dead wire ends and leave them in the box?

    Thanks again for your fast response to my initial question. I was not expecting such quick turnaround at 1:45 on a Sunday morning!

    Noah

  4. #4
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    what you can do is, shut off the breaker for the circuit. take some wire and strip off both ends. fasten one set of these [white-black]to your gfci. on the other end strip off some insulation strip off some insulation on your [white-black] going to the X-10. Now in the gfci box, splice all three whites - put on a wirenut and the three blacks, put on a wirenut and fold this back into the box and replace the gfci. In the other box [three gang] you'll have a hot and neutral for the X-10. the wires from the three way, either tape them off or put one wirenut on each wire and shove the wires in the box.

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