3-way puzzle

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  #1  
Old 02-21-06, 03:02 PM
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3-way puzzle

I've been trying to adapt various 3-way switch diagrams to fit my situation but can't find the exact configuration. If anyone can help with this I'd really appreciate it.

The existing light circuit has a basic setup- power (P) coming in to a switch (SW) which goes to the light fixture (L). I'd like to make it a 3-way with receptacles (R) by each switch. For example:

P--> R1--> SW1--> L--> SW2--> R2

What's the best way to do this? By the way, the receptacles are going to be 12" off the floor, and the switches 48"- it's not a double gang setup (if that's the right terminology).

Thanks very much for any help.
 
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  #2  
Old 02-21-06, 03:18 PM
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Do you want the receptacles to have power all the time or only when a switch is on ?
 
  #3  
Old 02-21-06, 03:51 PM
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The best way to do it is P>R1>R2>then any threeway setup you like.
 
  #4  
Old 02-21-06, 05:52 PM
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P---- .. 12/2 to first box
|
V 12/2 through the basement ceiling
--> R1------------------------------------> R2
|
| .. 12/2 to first switch box
|
V 12/3 through the living room ceiling
|--> SW1--> L--> SW2




If you'll ceiling cannot be rewired, you can do this:
But you will need to install bigger boxes.




P---- .. 12/2 to first box
|
V 12/2 through the basement ceiling
--> R1------------------------------------> R2
|
| .. 12/2 to first switch box
|
V existing 12/2
|--> SW1----------------------> L
|
V new 12/3
|-----------------------> SW2

 
  #5  
Old 02-21-06, 06:10 PM
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Originally Posted by findtheriver
P--> R1--> SW1--> L--> SW2--> R2

What's the best way to do this?
For this setup to work, you need to use four conductor (plus ground) cable from SW1 through the light to SW2, assuming that you want R2 to always be powered. Four conductor cable is either referred to as 14-4 or 14-2-2 (could be 12-4 or 12-2-2).

Four conductor cable is hard to find at most big box stores, and expensive, so you may find it cheaper to run the wires some other way. The other posters have suggested several ways to do this.
 
  #6  
Old 02-21-06, 06:12 PM
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What everyone is telling you is that there are many ways to do this, but

P--> R1--> SW1--> L--> SW2--> R2

is not one of them.
 
  #7  
Old 02-21-06, 06:28 PM
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Originally Posted by racraft
you need to use four conductor (plus ground) cable from SW1 through the light to SW2
From the light to SW2, five (hot, neutral, 2 travelers, and a wire to go from the black of the light to the black of SW2).
 
  #8  
Old 02-21-06, 06:28 PM
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Thank you for the replies. I'd like the receptacles to always have power, not just when the light is on. Also, I have access through both the ceiling and basement, so running cable is not an issue.

bolide, you diagrammed:

P---- .. 12/2 to first box
|
V 12/2 through the basement ceiling
--> R1------------------------------------> R2
|
| .. 12/2 to first switch box
|
V 12/3 through the living room ceiling
|--> SW1--> L--> SW2


I'm not sure I have this straight. Will I be running:

P--> R1--> R2
l
l
SW1--> L--> SW2 ???

In other words, place a j-box at "P" and run 12/2 to R1 and R2;

and from the same j-box run 12/2 to SW1;

and then run 12/3 from SW1 to the Light and to SW2 ???


I appreciate the help. I'm obviously quite confused Also, would using 14/3 instead of 12/3 be a bad idea? My neighbor has some 14/3 that he'd like to get rid of.
 
  #9  
Old 02-21-06, 06:30 PM
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Quite right bolide, my mistake.
 
  #10  
Old 02-21-06, 06:34 PM
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If this is a 20 amp circuit then you need to use 12 gage wire.

If this is a 15 amp circuit then you could use either 12 gage or 14 gage wire, but you should use 14 gage so as not to confuse anyone. Don't mix wire gages, it leads to confusion.

Don't install a junction box that you really don't need. Every junction is a potential point of failure, and junction boxes placed in attics and crawl spaces tend to get forgotten. Just run power to R1, and from there run two cables. One to R2 and the other to SW1.
 
  #11  
Old 02-21-06, 06:40 PM
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12/x (or thicker) is _required_ if this is a 20A circuit.

If this is a 15A circuit, than 14/x (14/2 or 14/3, depending upon circumstances) is just fine.

bolide
Originally Posted by racraft
you need to use four conductor (plus ground) cable from SW1 through the light to SW2
From the light to SW2, five (hot, neutral, 2 travelers, and a wire to go from the black of the light to the black of SW2).
Actually, you _could_ use only 4 conductors between the light and SW2, and be code compliant (no switched neutrals). If you switch neutrals (which is _not_ code compliant), then you can use 3 conductor cable. Neither is a good solution for the original poster; far better to use separate cables in the wiring methods described, but a fun little puzzle to play with.

-Jon
 
  #12  
Old 02-21-06, 06:54 PM
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Okay... now I'm more confused than ever.

Can I simply run power to R1, 12/2 from R1 to SW1, 12/3 from SW1 to the Light and onto SW2?

-Much appreciated.
 
  #13  
Old 02-21-06, 06:55 PM
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I forgot to mention running 12/2 from R1 to R2 in the last post.
 
  #14  
Old 02-21-06, 06:57 PM
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Originally Posted by findtheriver
Okay... now I'm more confused than ever.

Can I simply run power to R1, 12/2 from R1 to SW1, 12/3 from SW1 to the Light and onto SW2?

-Much appreciated.
This is correct.
 
  #15  
Old 02-21-06, 07:02 PM
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Thanks, everyone. I'll give it a shot.
 
  #16  
Old 02-21-06, 07:09 PM
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Originally Posted by winnie
Actually, you _could_ use only 4 conductors between the light and SW2
May we assume that an explanation will be forthcoming?

Are you using any other devices?

I could get a duplex receptacle to work where either the top or the bottom is live.
With some solid state circuitry, I could pull from either traveler with just a blink.

Or I could run five current-carrying conductors between SW1 and the light.
 
  #17  
Old 02-21-06, 07:24 PM
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It was supposed to look like this (: and .. use as filler to maintain alignment):

P---- .. 12/2 to first box
::::|
::::V 12/2 through the basement ceiling
::::--> R1------------------------------------> R2
::::::::|
::::::::| .. 12/2 to first switch box
::::::::|
::::::::V 12/3 through the living room ceiling
::::::::|--> SW1--> L--> SW2



Originally Posted by findtheriver
Will I be running:
P--> R1--> R2
l
l
SW1--> L--> SW2
???

In other words, place a j-box at "P" and run 12/2 to R1 and R2;

and from the same j-box run 12/2 to SW1;
If you put a big deep box at R1, you don't need another box.


> and then run 12/3 from SW1 to the Light and to SW2 ?

Yes.


> would using 14/3 instead of 12/3 be a bad idea?

Everyone always seems to end up needing more power than they ever imagined.

I would consider using tapping a lights-only 15A circuit with #14 for the lights only and a 20A circuit with #12 for the receptacles (this can be your new circuit).
The cable to the receptacles, if in the basement, would be easier to split off or to upgrade later.
 
  #18  
Old 02-21-06, 07:26 PM
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If you need some pictures this link should help.

http://www.wfu.edu/~matthews/courses...ariations.html
 
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