3 way light switching


Old 08-14-07, 01:54 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Mount Vernon
Posts: 2
Question 3 way light switching

This is my 1st post so I hope this will be explained correctly.
I'm putting flourescent lights in our new barn with switches at each end. I have 14/2 from the panel to switch 1 (black to the black screw and white continuing on thru.) I used 14/3 to go thru each light in series to switch 2. At switch 1 I have the red and black connected to the brass screws and running as travelers to switch 2 and connected to the brass screws. The white 14/3 wire goes to the fixture and is connected to the white ballast wire, the black ballast wire is conected to the white 14/3 wire running to the next light and so on to switch 2 where it is conected to the black screw.
I have 120v to both switch 2 travelers (depending on switch 1 position) and 120v to the 1st fixture (white wire) from switch 2, but I'm losing 20v after each fixture ( there are 8) and so none are turing on.
Where did I go wrong? I'm about ready to pull my hair out. Thanks!
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Old 08-14-07, 02:03 PM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central New York State
Posts: 13,973
As they say in Maine, you can't get there from here.

To go through the lights, you need 14-4.

Re-wire with 14-4.


Wire with 14-3 from the first switch to the second switch. Then pretend all the 14-3 you have in place is really 14-2.
Old 08-14-07, 02:52 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Mount Vernon
Posts: 2

Thank you. I think the best way will be to run another 14/3 from switch to switch and re-wire the lights as 14/2 (I'll just abandon the red wire). The part that sucks is the lift is gone so I will have to work from a ladder up 16'.
Oh well, as they say "Live and Learn"
Old 08-14-07, 02:56 PM
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: United States
Posts: 18,497
You're frustrated because you're trying to do the impossible. Bob suggested two ways to resolve the problem. I'll suggest a third.

You already have 14/3 between the switches. It just happens to travel through the light boxes. At each light box, simply splice the incoming and outgoing cables together, with no connection to the light fixture at all. Then run a new 14/2 back from the second switch back to the lights.

This may cause too much crowding in the light boxes, so you may want to mount a second box next to the first at each light to do your 14/3 splices in.

If it's any consolation, this is a very common mistake.
Old 08-15-07, 03:12 PM
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 12
Use John's method. To make it more clear, I assume you are using 3-way switches, 2 wires from panel- "Bk" (hot) & "W" (net.), connect the "Bk" wire to the "common" terminal of the switch, wire nut the "W" wire to the "W" wire of the 14/3 that goes to the other switch box, connect the "Bk" & "R" wires of the 14/3 to the other terminals of the switch. Now go to the other switchbox and put the "Bk" & "R" wires of the 14/3 on the same terminals as the 1st switch (not the "common" terminal), wire nut the "W" wire of the 14/3 to the "W" wire from the light, now put the "Bk" wire from the light on the "common" terminal of the switch. In the lights connect the "Bk" wire (14/2) to the "Bk" wire from ballast amd the "W" wire (14/2) to "W" wire from ballast. If you have more than one light that needs a wire between them, just wire nut "Bk" to "Bk" and "W" to "W". You had said you serised the lights, but they are in parallel. Hope this will help.
Old 08-15-07, 03:28 PM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central New York State
Posts: 13,973
If you are following John's directions, don't add another wire to the final run (from the last light to the second switch). While it may be easier to wire, it will waste the wire. You can use the 14-3 for this final run.

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