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Thread: MACL-135M + 3 dimmers - Does order of brass/black wires matter on middle switches?

  1. #1
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    MACL-135M + 3 dimmers - Does order of brass/black wires matter on middle switches?

    I’m replacing 4 switches for a light with MACL-153M along with 3 x companion dimmers. Currently, it’s 2 x 4-way switches in middle and 2 x 3-way switches on the ends.


    For the replacement, I understand the wiring for the blue common terminals (going to use the white wires) and which one is the black load/line on the 2 x 3-way ends, but on the 4-way middle switches I’m not sure which of the two black wires is the line in and which is the load out.


    The diagram from a Lutron says to wire the “line” to the “black” terminals of the middle two switches and “loads” to the “brass” terminal.


    http://www.lutron.com/TechnicalDocum...ry/369613a.pdf


    Question: Assuming I put the MACL-135M on one end, with companions in the middle, does it matter if the brass and black wires are reversed for the two middle switches? I can use my voltage tester and turn the circuit back on (with switches disconnected) but seems like a waste if this doesn’t matter. What happens if they are reversed?

  2. #2
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    It's going to take some leg work. Replace the 3-ways (end switches) with a dimmer and companion. Disconnect the 4-way switches and test the black wires for power. If neither has power you will have to turn the companion or dimmer on (depending on which end the power comes from). One of the 4-ways won't have any power on the black wires until you get the 2nd companion in. I recommend a voltage stick. You touch it to the side of the wire and it buzzes if there is voltage. $10 or so at HomeDepot. Some sticks can sense low voltage. The other wire may have enough voltage to trigger the LV stick.

    If you reverse the order the lights won't dim properly. Some people say they do, but performance is reduced and you will notice most at the least opportune time.
    LED, Incorporated
    Raleigh, NC 27614

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  4. #3
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    I know how to check for voltage, I just was trying to avoid running back and forth to circuit breaker and have to trace the entire wire path. I was hoping maybe it didn’t matter which was attached to brass/black, but sounds like it does..

    I guess I have a lot of running back and forth. At least the 3-way switches are easy to check without running around using the existing black screw.

  5. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by randyc View Post
    If you reverse the order the lights won't dim properly. Some people say they do, but performance is reduced and you will notice most at the least opportune time.
    One oddity I noticed is that it's not clear if the last switch in the series should have the black screw going to the light, the brass screw going to the light.. or it doesn't matter? This is based off Lutron's documentation:

    1) MACL-135M Spec - Page 5 shows 3 switches with brass to the light:
    http://www.lutron.com/TechnicalDocum...ry/369613a.pdf

    2) Companion installation - Bottom of page show 3 switches with black to light:
    https://www.homedepot.com/catalog/pd...7de48a196d.pdf

    I finished the wiring and used black anytime it was line in, and brass when it was load out. The last switch I did question whether or not it was right.. or even if it wasn't, whether or not it mattered.

  6. #5
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    Definitely some leg work involved. If you follow the directions you should turn power off, pull the devices out, turn power on, identify the conductors, turn power off, replace device, turn power on, test, turn power off, put devices in the wall, turn power on, enjoy! And yes, I always follow those directions, even if the breaker is 300-feet, 2 flights of stairs and an attention starved Great Dane away.

    The Lutron documentation is inconsistent, as is the response from tech support. The stand-alone division says it doesn't matter. The "systems division" that I normally deal with (RR2, HQS) always say, "black in, brass out to next device or load." I prefer this method because it has never failed, makes sense and is easier to explain to installers - black = in, blue = comm, brass = what ever is left that is not a neutral. I had a lengthy discussion with tech support on this and have a couple of theories.

    1. The tech support rep initially said it would work either way. After discussing it with the "system guys" he changed his mind. I believe the TSR was blindly supporting the documentation without examining the underlying question.
    2. Prior to the Maestro, you only had on/off control from the secondary locations so it was not as important. With systems like RR2, you don't always have the physical action to turn lights on/off so the path to the load is more important.
    3. Lutron engineers are aliens!
    LED, Incorporated
    Raleigh, NC 27614

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