three switches one light?

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  #1  
Old 09-30-05, 04:39 PM
window dude
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three switches one light?

hey, here's what I am trying to do... I have a switch at the top of my stairs that turns on the basement lights, there is also a switch at the bottom of the stairs that operates the same lights. I want to install a third switch by my walk-out basement door to operate the same lights. How do I do this? will I need 3 conductor wire? and can I hook into the basement switch?
thanks a lot!!!!

- window dude
 
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  #2  
Old 09-30-05, 05:25 PM
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Yes, you need three conductor (plus ground) wire. The wire needs to be the same size as the existing wire (should be 14 gage for a 15 amp circuit, or 12 gage for a 20 amp circuit). You can tie into either switch or the light. Either switch is much easier. You also need a four way switch. A four way switch has four connection terminals for current carrying wires, and one terminal for the ground wire.

The four way switch will replace one of the existing switches. That switch will be the new switch at the basement door. You run the wire from the existing basement switch to the new switch location.

Run the wire into the existing switch box. There are three wires connected to the old switch (not counting the ground wire). Two of the terminals are the same color and one is a different color (again, ignore the ground terminal for now). Pay attention to which wire is which and how they are connected. Make written notes if you have to. The two wires connected to the same color screws are called travelers, and they are connected to traveler screws. The other wire is called a common and it is connected to the common screw.

On the new four way switch two terminals will be one color and two will be another color. Connect the two traveler wires from the old switch to two of the same color screws on the new switch. Now connect the common wire to the red wire of the new cable using a wire nut. Connect the black and white wire of the new cable to the other terminals of the new switch.

At the new switch, connect the red wire to the common screw of the switch, and connect the white and black wire to the traveler screws.

At both locations, connect the ground wires together and to the ground terminal of the switch and to the metal box.
 
  #3  
Old 09-30-05, 07:31 PM
window dude
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thanks

I got the stuff todo this and will try it in the a.m.thank you for your reply
 
  #4  
Old 10-01-05, 06:40 PM
window dude
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four way switch a problem

Everything worked, except the four way switch the lights just fliker when it is switched if you are faceing the switch as it would go into the box the two black wires from the previouse three way switch[traveler wires] are hooked to the right top and right bottom of the new four way switch the reds are hooked togather and the white and black are hooked to the lefttop and left bottom
 
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Old 10-01-05, 07:36 PM
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Words like left, right, top and bottom mean nothing. Look closely at the 4-way switch. The four screws come in two pairs of two screws. Sometimes the pairs are marked "input" and "output" and sometimes they are just colored differently (two of one color and two of the other color). Wires that come from the same cable should be connected to screws in the same pair.
 
  #6  
Old 10-02-05, 09:46 AM
window dude
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switch question's

the switch that I got has no sutch markings and there is a barely discerable differance in color from the set of screws on one side of the four way switch to the other left to right so my question is are the screw connections paired across the switch top two and bottom two or are they paired on sides of the switch left two and right two?
 
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Old 10-02-05, 01:10 PM
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Take an ohm meter, and check for continuity between pairs of screws. Two screws that have no continuity between them no matter how the switch is toggled are a pair. The other two screws should check out the same way and be the other pair.
 
  #8  
Old 10-02-05, 07:28 PM
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If you can't tell by looking at the switch, then look at the wiring diagram on the box.

Or you can use an ohmmeter as suggested.

Or you can go by trial and error.
 
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