4 Way Wiring Sanity Check and Wire Color Question

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  #1  
Old 08-20-12, 03:47 PM
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4 Way Wiring Sanity Check and Wire Color Question

I would like to connect a 4 way switch to a light and put an outlet next to the light that is not on the 4 way switch.

here is the basic setup:
Name:  4-Way_Switch_with_Outlet.jpg
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here is the proposed wiring run and wiring color scheme I propose to use:
Name:  4-Way_Switch_with_Outlet_Wiring.jpg
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Question 1: Will the 4 way switching and outlet feed work?
Question 2: Is the wiring color scheme correct? Note that the existing power source wires are RED and WHITE.
Question 3: Is there a better way to achieve the above?

Note: Ground not shown to simplify wiring scheme. Ground will be included on actual installation.

Thanks,
Moe

PS- Very nice forum interface/tools. A++ to the developers at DoItYourSelf.com!
 
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  #2  
Old 08-20-12, 03:58 PM
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Question 1: Will the 4 way switching and outlet feed work?
Yes.

Question 2: Is the wiring color scheme correct? Note that the existing power source wires are RED and WHITE.
Yes.

Question 3: Is there a better way to achieve the above?
None I can think of.

Note: Ground not shown to simplify wiring scheme. Ground will be included on actual installation.
Thank you. We actually prefer to leave the ground out of wiring diagrams for the same reason. And we always insist that it be included in the installation.

PS- Very nice forum interface/tools. A++ to the developers at DoItYourSelf.com!
Thank you for this feedback! I'll pass it along.
 
  #3  
Old 08-20-12, 05:08 PM
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Hi Nashkat1, Thanks for the quick response.

Just a followup, if my wire pairs running to the light are using a RED/WHITE scheme, would it be acceptable to simply connect the BLACK (which is coming off of the 3-way) to the RED wire for the light run as in the following?

Name:  Wire_Color_Run_Close-Up.GIF
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Or should I undo the RED wire run to the light and replace it with a BLACK wire as noted in the original post. I am asking cause I had already ran the RED wire to the light. If this isn't acceptable in the electrical world, I have no issues with rerunning it with BLACK wire; just wanted to get feedback on the convention.

Thanks,
Moe

PS- Looking back at my original post and wiring scheme, why do you suppose the existing power source (labeled "PANEL") wire colors are RED and WHITE, rather than BLACK and WHITE?
 
  #4  
Old 08-20-12, 06:07 PM
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if my wire pairs running to the light are using a RED/WHITE scheme, would it be acceptable to simply connect the BLACK (which is coming off of the 3-way) to the RED wire for the light run as in the following?
Sure.

Or should I undo the RED wire run to the light and replace it with a BLACK wire as [shown] in the original post.
You can do it either way.

just wanted to get feedback on the convention.
Electricity could care less what color the insulation on its conductor is. Those colors are, as you say, conventions we dumb humans have adopted to aid our own clarity. Within the conventions, both black and red are standard insulation colors for the ungrounded conductor.

Looking back at my original post and wiring scheme, why do you suppose the existing power source (labeled "PANEL") wire colors are RED and WHITE, rather than BLACK and WHITE?
A: Because the electricians had enough red wire on hand, but were short on black?
B: To indicate that this circuit if fed from the B phase? or
C: Because this circuit is one-half of a multiwire branch circuit, and they used black for the other half?
 
  #5  
Old 08-20-12, 09:04 PM
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Thanks Nashkat1. I appreciate your time and input.

-Moe
 
  #6  
Old 08-21-12, 07:08 AM
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Just to elaborate a little on what Nashkat said, the hot ('ungrounded') conductors can be ANY color except white, gray, or green. The most common colors of course are red and black, but you could also run into blue (would be present in 12/4 or 14/4 Romex), yellow, brown, orange, or really any other color (other colors come on spools, so you'd only find them in situations where conduit was run). Neutral ('groundED') conductors must be white or gray, or (for larger conductors) black with a white or gray stripe. Ground ('groundING') conductors must be bare, green, or green with a yellow stripe.
 
  #7  
Old 08-21-12, 01:29 PM
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Presuming the Wiring Method is a "raceway" such a EMT or PVC conduit, a White "power" conductor to the outlet-box (OB) for the left 3WS where this White conductor is extended to the receptacle and to the fixture--- a Black "power" conductor to the OB for the 4WS ,this conductor being extended to the OB for the right 3WS and to the OB for the receptacle, = a White "power" condutor and a Black "power" conductor at the receptacle ---two Red conductors between the right 3WS and the 4WS----two Red conductors between the 4WS and the the left 3WS ---a Black conductor between the left 3WS and the fixture = a White "power" conductor and a Black "switched power" conductor at the fixture OB.
 
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Old 08-21-12, 02:40 PM
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Say what??

And you're not allowed to repurpose white wire smaller than 6ga in a raceway. You have to use 'hot' colors for switch legs and travelers.
 
  #9  
Old 08-21-12, 02:50 PM
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I think PATTBAA is referring to the grounded conductor as
Originally Posted by PATTBAA
a white "power" wire.
It got confusing for me pretty quickly, and there's no need to change the red conductor to a black one.
 
  #10  
Old 08-21-12, 03:13 PM
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Great. Saved me some time not having to replace the RED wires to the light with BLACK. Now one last question before closing [and given the information provided below, I think I know the answer].

Question: For the RED travelers noted in the original post going from the 4-way to the two 3-ways, these can be BLACK also, correct? And having these as RED simply makes the wiring scheme easier to understand for future maintenance by others, is that correct?

Thanks,
Moe
 
  #11  
Old 08-21-12, 03:17 PM
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Yes, switch travelers and switch legs can be ANY acceptable hot color. It's generally bad practice to make them the same color without putting 'spaghetti' (colored heat shrink tubing) at the ends because you need to be able to tell them apart, especially with certain configurations. Otherwise you're rolling the dice whether it'll work on the first try. At the absolute least, the common wire needs to be different, but you'll usually find red/black/blue on a three-way switch that uses conduit (you are not allowed to re-mark white as a hot in this case).

In a switch loop, you usually use red and black.. Black is power in, red is out to the light.
 
  #12  
Old 08-21-12, 04:15 PM
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Before I joined here on 3-conductor cable I used the red and black as travelers and remarked the white with blue tape and used it for common but I believe its a bit different with most here though at the moment I can't remember exactly.
 
  #13  
Old 08-21-12, 07:10 PM
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With cable it's perfectly acceptable to re-purpose the white as a hot, whether it be with tape, paint, or Sharpie.. But you can't re-purpose a white wire in conduit. You have to use 'hot' colors for ungrounded conductors.

And you are correct, using three conductor cable you MUST use the red/black as travelers because the re-purposed white can only be used as the feed into the switch, you can not have the re-purposed white as the switched leg.. Basically this means in order to comply with 200.7(C)(2) the power must enter at one of the switches, it can not enter at a fixture between the switches.
 

Last edited by JerseyMatt; 08-21-12 at 07:30 PM.
  #14  
Old 08-23-12, 10:09 AM
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The scheme I suggested would result in the following -- a Black conductor and a White conductor at the receptacle outlet - a Black conductor and a White conductor at the fixture outlet--- a Black conductor and two Red conductors at both three-way switch outlets --- two "pairs" of Red conductors at the 4-way switch outlet.

The switched "traveler" conductors are "twins" that are similiar in regard to their switching function so it's not necessary for seperate indentification.

Connection "comprehension" at a three-way switch is much easier with a Black and two Reds than with a Black-Red-White wire- combination at the switch , or a two Blacks and one Red wire-combination.
 
  #15  
Old 08-23-12, 10:33 AM
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Originally Posted by PATTBAA View Post
The switched "traveler" conductors are "twins" that are similiar in regard to their switching function so it's not necessary for seperate indentification.

Connection "comprehension" at a three-way switch is much easier with a Black and two Reds than with a Black-Red-White wire- combination at the switch , or a two Blacks and one Red wire-combination.
Be that as it may, I don't think your comprehension example particularly holds water, considering one will most certainly encounter more black-red-white examples than black-black-red or red-red-black, therefore encountering one of the latter will require a bit more thought. Considering re-marked white can't be used for a traveler or a feed leg, its function is (usually) obvious.
 
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