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# Single switch to three way switch?

#1
06-02-05, 11:52 PM
Chewie
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Single switch to three way switch?

I've looked all over the internet and finally stumbled accross this place (the information in the other posts is fantastic!). So here's my situation:

I recently purchased my first home with a finished basement (I have access to all the wiring behind the walls). The problem lies with the lighting in the basement. There is a single switch that turns on all the lights in the basement (4 recessed ceiling lights) at the top of the stairs, but NO switch at the bottom of the steps (I set up a theater in the basement, so I would like to be able to control the lights once I am downstairs in the basement)

I'd like to replace the single switch with a three way switch and put another three way switch at the bottom of the step (running cable is not a problem). There is 14/2 wiring (white, black, green) for all of the lights and outlets in the basement.

I can easily access the 14/2 cable from the single switch at the top of the steps going into the lights (Power > Single Switch > Lights). So, I was looking at John's explanation for three way wiring:

Originally Posted by John Nelson
If I use "=" to mean 14/3 and "-" to use 14/2, all of the following are possible:
1. Power-S1=S2-L1-L2-L3.
2. Power-S1=L1=S2, and L1-L2-L3.
3. Power-L1-S1=S2, and L1-L2-L3.
4. Power-L1=L2=L3-S1=S2.
It seems as though Power-S1=S2-L1-L2-L3 is my best option. My question is how difficult is this? Would I basically replace the single switch upstairs with a three way switch, run the 14/3 cable between the three way switch upstairs and the new one downstairs and then connect the 14/2 from the downstairs switch to the lights?

I'm hoping this is easier than I think. I've done outlets and single pole switches before, just never replace a single with nor installed three way switches. Any help would be GREATLY appreciated!

- Marc

#2
06-03-05, 04:51 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Oregon
Posts: 1,219
Since you can see all of the wiring, the first thing that you need to do is to map out your current situation. Your description is unclear as to how power goes to the switch.

Please describe how the wire for this circuit goes to the lights and the switch. In particular, please describe how many cables and of what sort are connected to the switch box.

-Jon

#3
06-03-05, 06:39 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: United States
Posts: 18,497
Would I basically replace the single switch upstairs with a three way switch, run the 14/3 cable between the three way switch upstairs and the new one downstairs and then connect the 14/2 from the downstairs switch to the lights?
Yes, that would certainly work. But it may not be the easiest solution for your situation. All you really have to do is run a 14/3 cable from the upstairs switch to where you want the downstairs switch and leave the other cabling alone. This uses an option I didn't even mention in the prior post you quoted:

Power-S1-L1-L2-L3-L4, and S1=S2.

Power-S1-L1-L2-L3-L4

so all you'd have to add is:

S1=S2

#4
06-03-05, 07:56 AM
Chewie
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I'll have to take another look as well after reading some online diagrams it seems as though I may have this situation as well:

S1-L1-L2-L3-L4-Power

Without a closer inspection (I'll look when I get back home this afternoon) I am thinking the cable may have terminated at the switch upstairs.

Would this be the same scenario as:

Power-L1-L2-L3-L4-S1

#5
06-03-05, 08:14 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central New York State
Posts: 13,973
In order for either of your scenarios to be present (the power and the switch at opposite ends of a series of lights), there would have to be 14-3 between the lights. This is unlikely.

You may have the switch and power on opposite sides of the first light, and then 14-2 to each of the next lights in series. This is much more likely.

#6
06-03-05, 08:27 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: United States
Posts: 18,497
Chewie, we'll wait for you to take a look. Your current guess cannot be correct since that would not even work. In any event, if you can run a new 14/3 from the existing switch to the new one, the current cabling is immaterial and we don't even need to know (so don't waste a lot of time figuring it out).

#7
06-03-05, 09:40 AM
Chewie
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This seems strange to me. I just took off the light switch at the top of the stairs. I've got three 14/2 cables coming into the switch junction box. All three were connected to the one light switch! 4 black wires from the 3 cables (including the one attached to the switch), 4 white wires from the 3 cables (including the one attached to the switch) and 4 bare/green wires from the 3 cables (including the one attached to the switch) were all grouped.

Without following each cable to their point of origin to see where there coming from, can I just replace the single switch with a three way and then attach the new 14/3 cable to the new switch at the bottom of the steps? This would now be 4 cables (three 14/2 and one 14/3) at the old switch and only one 14/3 cable attached to the new three way.

Or do I really have to go through and see where each cable is going to?

#8
06-03-05, 09:46 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: United States
Posts: 18,497
It's very common. The three cables are:
1. Incoming power.
2. Outgoing unswitched power.
3. Outgoing switched power.
As long as you leave it alone for now, it won't be a problem and as I said before, you don't even need to understand it. And yes, you can do this with a 14/3 to the new switch (providing the box isn't too small). We'll provide connection details when you're ready to go.

What exactly do you mean by "4 white wires from the 3 cables (including the one attached to the switch)"? There isn't a white wire attached to the switch, is there?

#9
06-03-05, 12:14 PM
Chewie
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Nope.. They're black wires covered in paint

I'll let you know how things come out...

#10
06-03-05, 12:23 PM
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Location: welland ontario
Posts: 5,599
This is very simple if you just take a 14/3 from the existing switch box to the new location. Leave everything else exactly how it is. I am going to leave out the ground wires in my dscription.
Take one of the wires from the existing switch and connect it to the common screw of the new three way.
Take the other wire and connect it to the black wire of the new 14/3 cable.
Connect the other two wires(red and white) from the 14/3 to the remaining two traveller screws on the new three way.
At the new switch location
Connect the black to the common
Connect the red and white to the traveller screws.

#11
06-04-05, 03:46 PM
Chewie
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And to think after ALL of this I cannot get access to the wire directly behind the junction box (I guess my access to the wiring was not as good as I had originally thought).

I really don't want to cut holes in my drywall or start drilling through 2x4s.

I'm going to try out one of these new wireless three way switches (levitron). If you're interested, I'll let you know how they work out.

#12
06-11-05, 07:53 AM
Chewie
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This thing works great!!!

If I had done it using my original plans it would have cost more than \$70 (new switches, cables, junction box, auger bit, etc.)!

I purchased this wireless switch off of ebay for \$20 and it set up in 10 minutes.

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...sPageName=WD1V

(I'm using the ebay link because it has better pictures than leviton's website)

Definitely recommended!!!

#13
06-11-05, 08:15 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Connecticut
Posts: 721
Chewie,
I'd be interested in that type of switch also. Now I assume the wired switch replaces your single pole switch in the box.
Does the wireless transmitter switch sit flat on the wall like aregular switch in a junction box would, or is it raised off the wall?
Thanks.
Dave

#14
06-12-05, 03:18 PM
Chewie
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Originally Posted by Dave4242
Chewie,
I'd be interested in that type of switch also. Now I assume the wired switch replaces your single pole switch in the box.
Does the wireless transmitter switch sit flat on the wall like aregular switch in a junction box would, or is it raised off the wall?
Thanks.
Dave
It's raised off the wall about 1/3 - 1/2 of an inch. It's really not noticeable. You'd think it was a regular wall switch (it's raised just enough to compensate for the 4 AAA batteries it needs to operate).

I like the fact I could mount it anywhere.

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