3-Way Switch Circuit

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  #1  
Old 01-31-07, 07:31 PM
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Thumbs down 3-Way Switch Circuit

I am adding a three-way switch circuit to my downstairs den. The existing circuit consists of two recessed lights on a single switch with power fed to the switch box. I might add that I am going to be replacing all of the wiring anyway because it is currently wired with the old-style nm cable with the crumbly jacket (don't have any idea what it is/was called but I'll bet you know what I mean). Also want to replace the cable because I have recently worked in some of the boxes in that area and am not very comfortable with the methods my dad used back in 1968 to wire it (switching neutral instead of hot, etc.).

I am going to install a new box but haven't yet decided if I am going with a two or three-gang - I am also going to add another three-way circuit in this box for the stairway, and want to add either a duplex receptacle or use a combination switch/receptacle for the first circuit. I wondered if I might not want to bring the feed into the light and run the three-wire cables to the switches, perhaps saving a little loading of the box. The new switch will be in the garage at the entrance to the den, so I am going to have to run a new cable for this switch anyway.

I have easy access to the light fixture from above via a panel in the ceiling, so wiring at that point should be no problem.

What does anyone think of using a combination three-way switch/receptacle? I'm not sure that I like it now that I think about it - it sounds as if it is just going to make things more complicated. Especially if I run the feed to the light instead of the switch. Besides, I really want the outlets on a separate circuit. Well, just talked myself out of that idea, I guess! No if you experts would just verify my thoughts on this <grin>.

What do you think of this plan? Does it make sense?
Thanks.

JimC
 
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  #2  
Old 01-31-07, 07:46 PM
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There's about eight ways to do this correctly, and about 100 ways to do it wrong. The way with the least problems is to run black/white/bare cable to the first switch, black/red/white/bare cable from the first switch to the second switch, black/white/bare cable from the second switch to the first light, and black/white/bare cable from the first light to the second light. Almost every wiring book on the planet has the wiring diagram for this.

The most common mistake is to follow a wiring diagram that only shows one light and improperly extrapolate it for more than one light.

Forget the switch/receptacle combo. Since you're doing all new wiring, just wire a separate receptacle.
 
  #3  
Old 01-31-07, 07:50 PM
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Forget the switch. rec. combo.

Unless you want a 4' high rec.
Iwould feed the switch first, with a 2 gang box and 15 A ckt, you should be fine for space. Then go to the garage lights.

This is assuming (I know) that the ckt is new from the panel. (fresh-untapped ckt.).


ADD: Forgot the 3-way/ John is on target.
 
  #4  
Old 01-31-07, 08:13 PM
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3-Way Switch Circuit Update

The reason for the receptacle in the same electrical box is that it is on a cement block wall with a boxed 'cabinet' that I have remade to accomodate a 2-3/4" deep electrical box and hide the wires. There are no other outlets along this wall and really no other logical place to install one.

As for the combination switch/receptacle, you verified what I had already talked myself out of!

And, yes, it will be an all-new circuit directly from the breaker.

Sounds like you don't care for the idea of feeding power into a box at the light? Any particular reason for this or just preference?

Thanks.

Jim
 
  #5  
Old 01-31-07, 08:20 PM
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It can certainly be done with power feeding to the ceiling first. An experienced person would have no trouble with this at all, but for a novice, there's just a whole lot more mistakes you can make that way. You'll need to make a switch loop, which involves using a white wire as a hot wire, and that freaks some people out and they get all confused. Also, it'll make adding a receptacle more difficult since the normal wiring plan would have no neutral wire at the switch box. You can overcome this too, but it just gets a bit more complicated all the time.

Get a wiring diagram, and then wire it all up to control just one of the two lights. Once that is working perfectly, run a cable from the first light to the second light to add in the second light.
 
  #6  
Old 03-01-07, 07:27 PM
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Wink Basement Den 3-Way Switch

Finished the wiring project today. Ran a new 14-2 feeder off a new 15A breaker to switch box, rather than to light as I had originally intended. Used a scheme which I believe is called California 3-way switch wiring. Other than a lot of work pulling the new cable over the drywall ceiling and beneath the I-Beam frame (about 1' of clearance at most), everything went well. I ran the feed into a junction box before going to the switch box so I can branch to the garage lighting and bedroom lighting circuit later. Flipped the breaker on, turned the switch on and Voila! - there was light and the 3-ways worked.

Thanks for all of the help and suggestions.
 
  #7  
Old 03-01-07, 07:32 PM
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Yikes! A California 3-way is very illegal and very dangerous. It hasn't be legal for the last 50 years. I hope that isn't what you did!!
 
  #8  
Old 03-01-07, 07:44 PM
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California 3-way

OK, maybe I am wrong about the name. Found this in a wiring book but that probably doesn't mean anything.

Power into box 1:
black power in (box 1) to 3-wire black to box 2 common
white power in (box 1) to 2-wire white to light
Red (in 3-Wire) from traveler terminal SW1 to traveler terminal SW2
White (in 3-wire) from traveler terminal SW1 to traveler terminal SW2
black SW1 common to 2-wire black to light

Does all of this sound copacetic?

JimC
 
  #9  
Old 03-02-07, 04:25 AM
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You did not install a California (or Chicago) three way. That's good, because as John said, those are very dangerous.

You installed using one of the many legal ways for running three way switches.
 
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