View Full Version : Paging electricians. 3-way motion activated light switch installation

08-20-2010, 09:28 PM

For some reason, I feel completely dumb today and need your help with wiring.

I have two regular 3-way switches in my garage that operate one load.

Switch #1 is to be replaced by the motion activated switch. Its box has HOT LINE, Traveler A, and Traveler B wires.

Switch #2 (regular 3-way) will remain. Its box has HOT LOAD, Traveler A and Traveler B wires.

Here's a copy of the installation instructions, but it pertains to a situation when Switch #2 is being replaced (taking into consideration its box content):

How should they be wired in my case?

Thank you in advance!

Liger Zero
08-20-2010, 09:29 PM
How should they be wired in my case?

...by an electrician. :p

:eek: (runs like hell)

08-20-2010, 09:58 PM
these might help:



08-20-2010, 10:13 PM
these might help:


Sorry, but it doesn't look like it pertains to my situation. Am I missing something?

08-20-2010, 10:31 PM
according to the diagram switch 2 is replaced it is very clear ly shown how to connect this unit i think you can easily do it if you just relaxe and read the instructions on the diagram you say you are replacing switch 2 so you should have no problems if you need further assistance email me and i will assist you good luck jack please let us know how you make out

08-20-2010, 11:28 PM

My fault! In my OP I didn't choose the best numbering for my switches, and this could cause a confusion. I've just corrected the numbers, so it should look more straight forward.

The manual describes replacing Switch 2, but I need to replace switch 1. The problem is that switch boxes have different wires available (LOAD instead of LINE and vise versa). That (and pretty pictures instead of electrical diagrams) what drives me crazy.

Jim Shaper
08-20-2010, 11:39 PM
Three way switches are a bit of a goofy thing to get your head around.

What you want to do is have the light on motion activation, but with a means to turn it off, right? Or do you want the physical switch to act as another motion input would if you flip it from off to on?

08-20-2010, 11:50 PM
Deleted disregard

08-21-2010, 01:12 AM

I don't really know in what modes this combo can possibly work. They're not mentioned anywhere. Could you please describe all options in more details?

I guess the first one you describe would make more sense.

I suppose, if the new switch is in AUTO mode, the second (regular) one should be disabled. If the new switch is in ON|OFF position, they should work in tandem as a regular pair of 3-way switches. But I suspect they cannot work like regular switches since the motion activated one has distinct ON and OFF positions. Lack of the real diagrams or descriptions and the guessing game makes me feel like an idiot.

However, in general, I see no way to connect the switches in the boxes where I need them to be without having an additional, fourth, wire. Looks like Leviton describes the only configuration possible with three wires per box. The motion activated switch can only be located in the box which has the Load wire, and the mechanical switch- in the box with the Hot Line wire. If I need it another way, I'll have to provide an extra wire. Does anybody see it differently?

P.S. They talk about light sensitivity adjustment and suggest to adjust it "based on the room conditions". What conditions? Amount of ambient light? But it'll fluctuate dramatically during 24-h period.

08-21-2010, 01:37 AM
I don't think that the motion-sensing switch will be able to work in the location where you want to put it.

The problem is that the motion sensor switch is not really a true 3-way switch, and so it can not be substituted for the function of a real 3-way switch wired to the input LINE.

You will notice that, unlike a true 3-way switch, the motion sensor switch does not have a Traveler A output and a Traveler B output (which a true 3-way switch in position 1 must have). Instead, the motion sensor switch only has one output wire, and that one must go to the LOAD.

08-21-2010, 07:58 AM
It all depends on what you want switch #2 to do...

If you just want it to force the lights on:-

At position 1, connect hot to sensor and traveller A, sensor out to traveller B. leave position #2 as is.

If you want to force lights off, don't connect hot to traveller A, but otherwise as above.

If you can fit a 3 position switch you can of course have on/off/auto, but not real three way switching. (on/off at switch overrides sensor controls)

I don't think there are any other otions, but how would you actually like it to have functioned ?



08-21-2010, 08:49 AM
ok i see can you make a rough sketch of the actual wiring in each box specifically wich box is the light connected to at this time with that we can determine what will be the easiest way to help you do this . jack

08-21-2010, 08:29 PM

Is that what you suggest?

08-21-2010, 09:39 PM

Is that what you suggest?

My understanding of how the switch is "supposed" to work in the recommended hook up is that the function of the yellow wire (yellow/red, actually) is to permit the original 3-way switch to signal to the motion sensor switch to change its state (either from off to on or from on to off). [While it is possible that the yellow wire also supports the function of supplying power to the motion sensor in some conditions, IMHO that is unlikely to be the case.]

It can not work that way if the motion sensor switch is installed in accordance with either of your diagrams (because the LINE is not being switched to or away from the yellow wire in either of your diagrams).

My interpretation of how it would work if installed in accordance with your diagrams:

The connection to the Yellow wire performs no function whatsoever in either the top diagram or the bottom diagram, thus having it connected or not will make no difference to the way that the system operates and so IMHO it would best be left disconnected (and covered with a wire nut and tape).

In the top diagram, the light will turn on if either "the motion sensor is triggered and switch 2 is in the up position" or "switch 2 is in the down position". Conversely, if the light is on due to the motion sensor having been triggered, you will not be able to turn it off with switch 2, rather it will either turn off when the motion sensor times out, or else, if you mistakenly flip switch 2 down in an attempt to turn off the light, instead it will stay on forever (or, if you flip it back up, until the motion sensor times out). If the light is on because you have flipped switch 2 down, then you will be able to turn it off by flipping switch 2 up, as long as the motion sensor has not recently been triggered.

In the bottom diagram, the only way that the light can be turned on is if the motion sensor is tripped and switch 2 is in the up position. If the light is currently on, then it can be turned off either by waiting for the motion sensor time delay to expire, or by flipping switch 2 to the down position. If switch 2 is in the down position, then the light can never be turned on.


I leave open the possibility that the original intended function of the recommended circuit is subtly different (because there is not enough information in the data sheet as far as I can see), and it that is true, then my supposition about the function of the yellow wire may be incomplete. For example, it's unclear to me (but possibly a valid interpretation) whether the originally intended function of the motion sensor is to stay on once it has been switched on by switch 1 irrespective of whether or not the sensor is triggered while it has been switched on (what I'm trying to say is that it is possible that it was designed so that if the load has been switched on by the switch, then triggering the motion sensor may have no effect, rather, triggering the motion sensor will only have an effect if the load has been switched off by switch 1). If that is the case, then it is possible that once the circuit in your diagrams has been switched on (by turning on the circuit breaker), the motion sensor switch output will always be on, and will not respond to motion, which would in effect turn it into a piece of plain copper wire, leaving the only on/off switching function in the hands of switch 2 (which would appear to make the top diagram always be on and unable to be turned off without using the circuit breaker).

Is that clear? :-)

Then again:

Upon further inspection, it appears that the motion sensor switch apparently offers the option of manual or auto operation.

So, I am thoroughly confused.

Anybody wanna place some bets here?

08-22-2010, 12:47 AM
So, I am thoroughly confused.
Welcome to the club!

P.S. I tried the basic PR180 operation this morning and found it to be completely unacceptable for my purposes. The operation was neither reliable nor repeatable. The detector "sees" you only when you're really close (something like 7 feet vs. the advertised 20 feet). Light sensitivity adjustment didn't affect anything noticably. So, the switch was returned, but the academic interest still remains. :)

08-22-2010, 05:40 AM

Is that what you suggest?

Not quite - I wasn't suggesting using the yellow wire at all as there's no way to get a switched live back to it from switch #2, and I have no clear idea what it does !

In the instruction sheet it appears to be just a way of telling the motion detector which state the first switch is in - but then what ???

I guess if the sensor is switched to 'on' or 'off' then switch #1 might swap states, but what if it's set to 'auto' ? What does switch #1 do then ???

Also confused !



08-22-2010, 07:07 AM
Found this on another forum:-

Eventually after getting the wiring correct and playing with different delay settings, and other things that I list below, I got mine to work. Not sure exactly what made it work, but part of my problem was that I expected more from the other 3 way switch.
I was thinking it would override the daylight sensor but it does not.

The 3 way switch will only turn the light on when the light has timed out AND it is dark enough for the sensor to turn the light on. Tape over the sensor to test it.

Throwing the 3 way switch does nothing when the ambient light is above the threshhold setting. (It really does something- the green LED will come on for a few seconds just like when the PR180 detects motion, however the daylight sensor keeps the light off).

The 3-way switch will not ever turn the light off. Only the timer timeout, (or manual OFF on the PR180), will turn the light off.

There is a 1 to 3 second dely when you flip the 3 way swich. depending on which position the switch is in.

Sounds like toggling the switch 'on-off' or 'off-on' just triggers a dummy motion detect...



08-22-2010, 01:45 PM
If PR180, in addition to everything else, also has a light sensor and decides if it's dark enough to turn the lights on, then I rest my case. They outsmarted themself. It reminds me of the present cellular phones that can play music, take pictures, show directions, browse the Net, sing and dance, but have a problem working as phones.

How hard was it for Leviton to describe how their "black box" work?

Paul Alciatore
08-22-2010, 02:22 PM
MichaelP has said it. Leviton does not describe how the switch actually works. They just provide a dumb ass wiring diagram for dumb ass electricians who only know how to connect like colors together. These diagrams tell you absolutely nothing about how things actually work. I have to wonder how a color blind electricial would ever work.

What you need to know is what is the actual schematic of the switch action of that motion sensing switch and what connections are required to power the motion sensing circuitry and for it to work in a three way circuit. And what about a four way?

I suspect, but do not actually know, that the yellow wire on the PR180 is a control connection that allows the original three way switch to tell it to turn the light off. It has nothing to do with applying power to the load in any case. If this is so, it probably is not possible to swap the positions of the two switches in the diagram. If your locations are the reverse of those shown, you would need to run an additional wire to send the red connection from the PR180 back to the box with the conventional switch's box and there connect it to the load. The hot could be connected to the same wiring point in the PR180's box and there would be no need for any additional wires for that. The PR180 uses a ground connection but no netural so that should not be a problem. But the ground is probably absolutely essential for the sensing circuitry to operate, so if you do not already have that you will have to run a ground wire.

I would try to contact Leviton. I would use a lot of insulting, foul language. A lot. After all, their instruction sheet is essentally calling me an idiot.