Question about GE 60minute Automatic ShutOff Timer Switch 15069

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I am replacing an in-wall timer switch that controls porch lights. Old timer has only two black wires, that were hooked to the 2 black wires in the wall. The new timer (GE 15086) has black, red, white and green wires. Wall has only 2 black wires plus green. House built 1996. By hooking switch black to house black and switch white to house black the switch works for setting timer, time displayed, no fire and sparks, but when I turn on lights it only holds for a second, then turns off. By switching and using switch red to house black I get the same result. Would appreciate any help

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The original timer either was a mechanical wind-up clock or it used a "power stealing" circuit to keep itself powered while it was turned on. The new timer doesn't have this feature. While the light bulb is off, it can run on a small amount of power drawn through the light bulb, but when it turns on the bulb, there is not enough voltage left to keep the switch electronics powered, so when its power supply capacitor runs out of charge, it can't keep the bulb turned on. It probably also forgets its settings.

The only (safe) way to use this model is to bring in a neutral wire. The timer should be connected as follows:

Black: connect to house black from panel (always live when breaker is on).
Red: connect to house black from light fixture.
White: connect to house neutral (white).
Green: connect to house ground (bare copper or green).

If the wires in the box come from one of the porch lights through a conduit (this seems likely; I don't think there are any other legal methods that would leave out the white wire), then it should not be too difficult to add the white wire. Tape a pull string to one end of the wires and pull them out of the conduit at the other end. Bundle a 14 gauge white wire with old wires (tape it to the pull string) and mark the black wire that goes to the light bulbs at each end so you know which one to connect to the red timer wire. Put some wire pulling lubricant on the wire bundle (it will probably pull a lot harder with the extra wire) and pull it all back into the conduit using the pull string.

Note 1: It's tempting to just push the white wire in with the others remaining in place, but it will probably jam when it runs into a place where the others twist around each other, most likely at an elbow in the conduit. That might damage the insulation of the other wires.

Note 2: 14 gauge is the typical size for a residential light circuit. Use the same size that's in there now, and be sure it is a type UL listed for residential power wiring. Look for the fine print on the original wire; you should be OK if you match that. If more than half of the conduit cross-section will be filled with wire when you add the neutral, consult a licensed electrician to be sure you won't have a problem with crowded wires overheating.

Note 3: An alternative is to use the original wires to pull in a 14-3 cable (black, red, white and ground), provided the conduit elbows have a large enough radius to let it go through. However, the jacket on this cable has considerably more friction than the insulation on wires typically run through conduits.

What happened to the original timer? Maybe we can figure out how to fix it more easily than rewiring the box. I know there is at least one two-wire electronic timer on the market, but I'll have to go over to my church and look up the brand and model. Check back after 7:30 pm CST Oct. 13, 2010.

Posted on Oct 13, 2010

Testimonial: "The white was tucked in the back of the box and painted over so I didn't see it. By connecting as you suggested it woks just super. Thanks"

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Did you get instructions with the switch? Does it say what is line and what is load? You can hook the green and the white to the green, it won't hurt, but I think one of the colored wires is in and one is out, you have to find out which one is hot. Got a tester? The new timer is polarized for modern electricity, which hasn't gone into effect yet, it is coming. Your house wouldn't have it. If it does, you will know by the fuse box being separated by ground and neutral, the old ones were wired together. If it is, the new switch will only work with the white wire to neutral and the green to ground. Now that you are totally confused. try wiring it up with the green to ground, red and black to to the 2 blacks. See what happens. Hope this helps.

Posted on Oct 13, 2010

Testimonial: "Gread advice, it worked likje a charm. Thanks very much"

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I want to replace my existing single bulb porch light with a 2 bulb motion activated light. It would be operated with the existing switch. Is this ok to do?


Yes. Must keep switch turned ON.
Outdoor lights will only come on when motion is detected, otherwise light bulb does not come on. So the indoor wall switch does not work as override since the motion sensor takes over as the sole switch.
Copy following link for wiring illustrations:
http://waterheatertimer.org/How-to-wire-occupancy-switch.html#motion
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http://waterheatertimer.org/ST01C-program.html
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