wanna double check my plan for 3 way circuit

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  #1  
Old 05-22-07, 07:21 AM
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wanna double check my plan for 3 way circuit

Hey all,

In the middle of a re-model on my second floor. 1920's house and nightmare wiring around every corner. Mapped all the circuits out, and have replaced, repaired and rewired as I went along. I've had to change my plans along the way, due to the little "surprises" I've uncovered as I go... but I'm nearing the end of the rough in and just want to double check my plan for hallway lighting.

I've run several new lines up to a large junction box in the attic to spread the load off the few circuits that originally provided power. From there I'm continuing a couple lines for dedicated window outlets and the bathroom, plus some extra lines to split out to the bedrooms.

One line is going to power hallway lighting controlled by 3 way switches... one at the top, and one at the bottom of the stairs. The original line used 2 separate circuits to provide power to the original fixture (long story). but the power going to the switch at the bottom of the stairs provided power to a switch at the porch light, along with 2 receptacles.

As I understand it, I can run 2 wire from the incoming power in the attic to the downstairs box... pull power from there to service the outlets, the porch switch and the hall (3 way) switch. Then run 3 wire from the switch to the fixtures, then to down to the upstairs switch. I have a series of 4 3" recessed lights between the two 3 way switches.

I guess what I'm asking is, is this the best way, or is there an easier way? can I provide power to the upstairs switch FIRST, then head through the fixtures to the downstairs box, THEN power the outlets and porch light? Also, I have some diagrams for wiring 3 way switched fixtures, but they only provide for 2 fixtures... Can I just duplicate the series of 2 fixtures to use as a diagram for 4... or will the wiring be different for each?

Sorry... that was long winded. Just trying to provide as much info as possible.

Thanks!
-BK
 
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  #2  
Old 05-22-07, 08:23 AM
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Location: Central New York State
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In order to have more than one light between the switches you will need to use four conductor wiring (plus ground) between the lights. While this will work, it is very confusing to wire for a novice and creates confusion down the road. Instead run from one witch to the second switch and then to the first light, the second light and so on.

If you try to run power to the upstairs switch first and then to the down stairs switch you will need the same four conductor wire to go between the switches. Again, this adds to the confusion.

If at all possible I recommend that you keep your wiring as simple and straight forward as possible, even if this means using more wire.

I also don't like your junction box in the attic, but that's a different issue.
 
  #3  
Old 05-22-07, 09:09 AM
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Hey, thanks for the reply... Here's what I THINK you are saying (i'm just a bit confused)

# 1 (preferred) -- By running to the downstairs switch first, then to the upstairs switch, then to the fixtures will allow me to pull power before the first switch, to power the porch. It also means that I only need to run 3 wire between the switches, then 2 wire to the fixtures, wired in series as usual...

# 2 (too complicated) running to upstairs switch first, then through fixtures, then to downstairs switch will require 4 wire through fixtures in order to pull power to the porch. Same goes for wiring upstairs switch first, then to downstairs switch, then to fixtures.

All of the diagrams I've looked at for 3 way switches require no more than 3 wire. Is the need for 4 wire because of my desire to pull un-switched power at the downstairs location???

I like option 1 if I'm correct in my understanding of it.

----------------

BTW, why don't you like the idea of a JB in the attic? If you don't like that idea, you'd probably HATE the idea of multiple junction boxes HIDDEN under the attic floor! I had 5 or 6 of those!
 
  #4  
Old 05-22-07, 09:48 AM
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I don't like junction boxes in an attic because it's just one more place for a fault to occur. Further, you need to know the box is there and be able to find it to check for a problem. Now of course a note in the panel and perhaps even something int he attic can help those concerns.

The need for four wire when wiring more than one light between the 2 three way switches is because you need to carry two travelers, switched power and the neutral.

The need for four wire if wiring first to the upstairs switch is that you need to carry the unswitched power to the bottom switch so that the receptacles and other lights have power that is not switched by the switches at the top and bottom of the stairs.

I urge you to draw pictures of your various wiring ideas so that you learn why some layouts are better than others and/or easier to follow, etc.

Remember that for three way switches you need two travelers and a third wire. depending on the wiring scheme this third wire might be the neutral, or it might be switched power or common power.

Yes, what you have now labeled as option 1 makes the most sense and is easy (I hope) to understand.
 
  #5  
Old 05-22-07, 11:09 AM
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Thank you... I do understand option 1. That's the way I'm gonna go. No need to complicate things, so thank thank you!

I do try to draw out the more complicated issues... I also have a few books to reference. Every now and then a wrench gets thrown in that I just need a little directions with. That's how you learn though.

Again, thanks for your input!
-BK
 
  #6  
Old 05-22-07, 11:36 AM
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To pull power for the porch light you actually would have needed 5 wires, because you would have also needed an unswitched hot wire. You chose the best way.
 
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