Any reason two-way switches are upside down?


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Old 11-20-07, 10:30 AM
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Any reason two-way switches are upside down?

Hi, I've got three two-way switches in my shop in a triple-gang box. All of them are upside down. They control three circuits of ceiling-mounted receptacles for the shop. There are 4-foot fluorescent light fixtures plugged into the outlets. Like most (all?) two-way switches, they have "off" and "on" written on them. Problem is, they are upside down, with the up position being off. I have a hard time believing this was done accidentally.

Do you know of any reason someone might install switches in this manner? It's not a big deal for me to reverse them, but I was wondering if installing upside down was done for a specific reason.

Thanks as always for the insight!
 
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Old 11-20-07, 11:01 AM
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I am not sure but this is my rationale...

I see the two way switch as an XOR. If both the switches are in same position the lights will be off, on otherwise. So on/off position is not applicable for a 2 way switch. In otherwords lights may be on in "on" position or sometimes in "off" position based on the other switch position.
 
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Old 11-20-07, 11:08 AM
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Wait, maybe I have the terminology wrong. By "two-way" I just mean regular old light switch, like 90% of them in residential housing. Maybe the correct term is "one-way." I was trying to say these aren't "three-way" or "four-way" switches. Sorry if my terminology is incorrect.
 
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Old 11-20-07, 11:31 AM
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If they are "regular old light switch, like 90% of them in residential housing", that are the only switch that turns on and off the light, then the installer was lazy, blind or careless or maybe even all three. As you said, you can fix them.
 
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Old 11-20-07, 11:38 AM
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Two way switch is the proper term, but rarely used.

If all of them are this way then it was probably for a reason. Maybe the installer preferred them this way. Maybe he or she has a tendency to accidentally hit the switches and turn them off, so he switched them so if he hit them by accident, they would stay on.
 
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Old 11-20-07, 12:10 PM
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This is probably not the case, but I have to throw it out there. Maybe the previous owner was a British expatriot, who liked the way it was done back home. Not only to Brits drive on the other side of the road but their switch convention is opposite too. ie up is off.
Took me forever to get used to when I was visiting family in Scotland.
Just my $0.02
 
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Old 11-20-07, 12:11 PM
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There is No Rule that says they cant be upside down. Maybe as Racraft said, The guy just preferred them that way.

Worst case.....Take the cover off and make sure there is enough slack in the wiring to Flip them...
While it would be against "The Rules" and definitely poor practice, Short cables could account for why the "Terminals " would need to be facing in a certain direction.
If you cant find any logical reason after opening up the box...
Flip till your Heart is content.
 
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Old 11-20-07, 12:13 PM
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Originally Posted by racraft View Post
Two way switch is the proper term, but rarely used.
No, "single pole" is the proper term. There is NO such thing as a "two-way" switch.
 
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Old 11-20-07, 12:24 PM
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Originally Posted by stanfortyman View Post
No, "single pole" is the proper term. There is NO such thing as a "two-way" switch.
As I understood it , The ckt would be designated by ..

1 more than the number of switches , eg..3way =2 switches, 4way =3 switches....etc.

Why would a "TWO WAY" switch not be a single location?

..I just realized something..... 3, or 4 way switches have no on or off positions, They arent marked at all...
 
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Old 11-20-07, 12:26 PM
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I probably should have said that two way switch is ONE proper term. There are several.
 
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Old 11-20-07, 12:28 PM
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Two way switch is the British term for what we call a three way switch. I guess since you can operate it from 2 places it makes more sense to call it a 2 way switch.
 
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Old 11-20-07, 04:52 PM
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It very common for most european call this switch " two way " for our 3 way switch wordings.

i heard that all the time when i was living in France so it is very proper term used in that area. once a while we will called multi location switch as well.

Merci, Marc
 
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Old 11-20-07, 04:53 PM
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Two off-the-wall reasons I can think of:

1. Some kind of simple homebrew contraption was there at one time to turn on the lights. When tripped, a small bar could lower and hit the switches. (Couple pieces of string and a metal bar.)

2. Remote control. When they are installed upside down you can throw things at the light switches to turn them on, such as a heavy coat. Hey, it works.
 
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Old 11-20-07, 07:19 PM
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If you notice, they say "NO" when they are installed upside down.
 
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Old 11-20-07, 08:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Unclediezel View Post
As I understood it , The ckt would be designated by ..

1 more than the number of switches , eg..3way =2 switches, 4way =3 switches....etc.

...
Ok unc.how would you designate a circuit that is controlled from 28 stations?
 
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Old 11-20-07, 08:42 PM
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The number refers to the number of terminals for hot wires.

Three way switches have three terminals.
Four way switches have four terminals.
Two way switches have two terminals.

Yes, in Europe the term two way switch refers to what we call a three way switch.
 
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Old 11-20-07, 08:43 PM
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actually, if those with access will take a look at NEC 2005 404.7, you will notice it requires general use switches that are mounted so the throw is up and down, shall clearly indicate the open and closed position and when operated vertically the up position shall be the "on" position.

Now some folks will argue that this does not apply to light switches but I have had inspectors tell me it does. You all can argue with them if you disagree.
 
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Old 11-20-07, 09:29 PM
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Originally Posted by nap View Post
Ok unc.how would you designate a circuit that is controlled from 28 stations?
In all honesty---29 way Circuit....Not 29way switch

NEC 2005 404.7, you will notice it requires general use switches that are mounted so the throw is up and down, shall clearly indicate the open and closed position and when operated vertically the up position shall be the "on" position.

Do 3 and 4 way switches not count as general purpose, or are they not marked as open or close because technically there is no "CLOSED " position?
 
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Old 11-20-07, 09:38 PM
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Originally Posted by nap View Post
NEC 2005 404.7
Interesting! Quite right, thanks for pointing that out. And unfortunately I can see zero basis for any arguments that it does not apply to light switches. The definition of general use switch in art. 100 pretty much encompasses everything on a branch circuit.

One learns something new every day.

Do 3 and 4 way switches not count as general purpose, or are they not marked as open or close because technically there is no "CLOSED " position?
I'd say there is no OPEN position. But the actual exception is covered by this:

Exception No. 1: Vertically operated double-throw switches shall be permitted to be in the closed (on) position with the handle in either the up or down position.

I guess that doesn't say anything about the on/off indication though. *shrug*
 
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Old 11-20-07, 10:36 PM
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Do 3 and 4 way switches not count as general purpose, or are they not marked as open or close because technically there is no "CLOSED " position?

OOOPS............. Open is off, Closed is on. Back to Physics 101 There is no OPEN position.
 
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Old 11-21-07, 04:34 AM
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A simple on-off switch is called a "single pole, single throw". The circuit is closed when it's on, and open when it's off.

A three-way switch is a "single pole, double throw". In one position, the center pole closes the circuit to one of the two "throws." The other throw is open. In the other position the opposite occurs. This is how either switch can control a light.

Maybe the OP's switches are upside down because they're controlling floor lights?
 
 

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