Go Back  DoItYourself.com Community Forums > Electrical, AC & DC. Electronic Equipment and Computers > Electrical - AC & DC
Reload this Page >

Simple Question - Wiring 3 Way without source power in box

Simple Question - Wiring 3 Way without source power in box

Reply

  #1  
Old 12-18-12, 11:34 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 28
Simple Question - Wiring 3 Way without source power in box

Ok, so I have no idea what terminology to actually use, so bear with me.

I have a set of lights in the ceiling which are controlled by at least three different switches, maybe a 4th that I haven't yet discovered. These switches are all old rockers from the 60's, so I'm endeavoring to update.

In this particular instance, I have a known three way switch with only a single 12-3 coming into the switch. I am confused as to how to determine which wire to attach to which terminal because there is a red, white, and black.

I can find a ton of info on wiring a three-way when you have power to the switch directly, but nothing on when it's just an interruptor. SO... shall I connect the black to the black screw, the white opposite, and then the red to the terminal below? Please help - and feel free to educate me, but don't criticize please...
 
Sponsored Links
  #2  
Old 12-18-12, 11:44 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 28
Help - 3-way with 12-2

I am updating old switches in my house. I have a series of 3-ways controlling two ceiling lights (there are at least 3 switches, maybe 4 that all control these two lights).

This switch in particular has a power (source) at the switch, and then continues to interrupt. It's 12-2. I don't know how to use a 3-way with only a black & white.

Shall I take the 12-2 to 14-3 in the box, before the switch? If so, guidance please.

Thanks for assistance.

Oh, and please don't cite code at me... I am fully aware. I would like some useful suggestions, however.

Images found here:
http://www.childhoodrevered.com/switch1-.jpg
http://www.childhoodrevered.com/switch2-.jpg
 

Last edited by Angie Nixon; 12-18-12 at 01:14 PM.
  #3  
Old 12-18-12, 12:00 PM
ray2047's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 33,058
There is no actual color code for 3-way switch wires. It is up to the discretion of the original installer. What is important is the color of the terminals. There will be two brass screws on the old switch and one odd colored screw, usually black or dark gray. That odd colored screw is the common. Mark that wire before disconnecting. That will go to the common of the new switch. Travelers will be the other two. The travelers are interchangeable.

The 4-way is a bit different and may vary with manufacturer but basically you have two travelers from switch "A" going in and two travelers going out to switch "B". Look for the "in" and "out" marking before disconnecting and mark the wires accordingly. Switches "A" and "B" may be either a 4-way or a 3-way. There may also be two wires just spliced together. It is important you do not undo that splice. On the new switch terminal position may be different but one should be marked in and one out. Even if you mess up and forget you should have two cables. Just connect the disconnected pair wires of one cable to "in" and the other pair of wires to "out".
 
  #4  
Old 12-18-12, 12:06 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 28
The old switch has no screws. Just slots to shove wire in on the back. Seriously. And it's not like they're just missing - there are no places for terminals.

The order of wires is white on top, black in the middle, and red on the bottom - in line. With some strange circle copper thing to the side of the black (middle molded and raised section).

http://www.childhoodrevered.com/gameroom1c.jpg

http://www.childhoodrevered.com/gameroom1a.jpg
 

Last edited by Angie Nixon; 12-18-12 at 01:19 PM.
  #5  
Old 12-18-12, 12:20 PM
ray2047's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 33,058
Wire color is not indicative of function. Is there a letter "C" by any of the back stabs? Can you post a picture? There are ways to determine which is which terminal on the switch using a multimeter set to continuity. We can do it that way if we need to. Whatever you do don't disconnect the switch before marking the switch and wires "A" "B" "C" so once the terminals are identified we can match them to the correct wire.

Up load your photo to Imageshack or Photobucket. Copy the BB code for your picture and paste into your thread. Example of BB code: [img]YourSwtch.jpg[/img] Photobucket calls it Image Code. Image shack labels it for forums. Do not use Tinypic. It is blocked by the forum.
 

Last edited by ray2047; 12-18-12 at 12:39 PM.
  #6  
Old 12-18-12, 12:47 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 28
Ok, I think I may have mixed up two different threads....

One switch is here -

http://www.childhoodrevered.com/gameroom1.jpg
http://www.childhoodrevered.com/gameroom1a.jpg
http://www.childhoodrevered.com/gameroom1b.jpg
http://www.childhoodrevered.com/gameroom1c.jpg

The OTHER switch is here

http://www.childhoodrevered.com/switch1-.jpg
http://www.childhoodrevered.com/switch2-.jpg


They are both three way switches, however one goes to ceiling A (two lights) and the other to ceiling B (two lights).

I am attempting to update both switches with standard three ways from this century.
 

Last edited by Angie Nixon; 12-18-12 at 01:16 PM.
  #7  
Old 12-18-12, 01:18 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 28
No indication of C or common... on the one with no terminals. It's dusty, but you can see in the image all the comments stamped are patents and where to use a knife and to use solid wire...

http://www.childhoodrevered.com/gameroom1c.jpg
 
  #8  
Old 12-18-12, 01:48 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 28
Two Separate Switch Questions - Mod Combined?

I'm not certain, but it appears both my questions have been grouped into a single thread.

So, to clarify... I have two switches, both are 3-way circa 1960's (maybe a bit later on one), one is associated with ceiling light group A, the other ceiling light group B (two different rooms, yet same circuit).

I want to update both switches with new 3-ways from this century.

_____________________________________________________________
Both switches (and there is a third in the mix, but it's not a 3way and I managed to actually get this one finished successfully already), are in the same box, on the same circuit.

I think the images will clarify and speak for themselves.

Switch A (only a 12-3 to this switch), for ceiling A, is this one:












Switch B (has a power lead and out to light), for ceiling B, is this one:




 
  #9  
Old 12-18-12, 01:48 PM
ray2047's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 33,058
Ok, I think I may have mixed up two different threads....
No I combined the two threads.
 
  #10  
Old 12-18-12, 01:56 PM
ray2047's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 33,058
I'd be willing to bet the center wire marked with a plus is the common. You could verify that with a multimeter. Test continuity between the two end terminals and regardless of switch position they should show open. Note on your new switch use the screws not the back stabs. Back stabs are less reliable.
 
  #11  
Old 12-18-12, 02:25 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 28
Ok, I understand for the switch with the 12-3 available to it.. will check for which is common.

On the other switch, where there are 4 wires (2 blk, 2 white), how does one convert this to a three way? I wouldn't think for a moment it were already, but for the two (or perhaps three) other places that turn on the same set of lights this one does. - This is the switch with the 2 sets of 12-2.


 
  #12  
Old 12-18-12, 02:33 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 28
You are correct. Black is common... Red & white are open. I will wire it accordingly to the new 3-way.
 
  #13  
Old 12-18-12, 02:38 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 28
I'd be willing to bet the center wire marked with a plus is the common. You could verify that with a multimeter. Test continuity between the two end terminals and regardless of switch position they should show open. Note on your new switch use the screws not the back stabs. Back stabs are less reliable.

Read more: http://www.doityourself.com/forum/el...#ixzz2FRSDsjsR
You are correct. Black is common... Red & white are open. I will wire it accordingly to the new 3-way.

Now, for the other switch.. is it possible the original switch is, in fact, a 4way? (4 Way Switch | Ask the Builder)


 
  #14  
Old 12-18-12, 03:04 PM
Nashkat1's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 8,470
Now, for the other switch.. is it possible the original switch is, in fact, a 4way?
Yes, the switch with four wires connected to it is a 4-way. Do you want to replace it?
 
  #15  
Old 12-18-12, 03:13 PM
ray2047's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 33,058
The wires on the black screws are one set of travelers. They can go to either to in or out on your new switch. The other two to the other two screws ion the new switch.
 
  #16  
Old 12-18-12, 04:34 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 28
Yes, I'd like to replace the toggle with a new rocker. Can I use the 3 way I already have or do I have to go get a 4 way?

This particular switch is associated with two lights that are (confirmed now) switched in 4 different places. (Thought it was 3 but it is 4.)

So, in order for all 4 switch locations to work, do I need 2 of them to be three-way and 2 of them to be four-way, or some other configuration?

To throw into this mix, of the four switches, I have not dug into two of them, so I don't know what sort of configuration those are, but one of the remaining (aside from the one in question) has been switched out, and we set it to a typical 3 way (it had a 12-3 already led to it, so we just copied). So, given that, if the two I have not messed with are also 3-ways, then original config would have been/would be three 3-ways and the goofy 4-way I've been showing in the pics here today.
 
  #17  
Old 12-18-12, 05:03 PM
Nashkat1's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 8,470
Yes, I'd like to replace the toggle with a new rocker. Can I use the 3 way I already have or do I have to go get a 4 way?
You have to use a 4-way to replace a 4-way.

To help clarify this, every 2-switch control system uses two 3-way switches with the line feed connected to the common on one and the load connected to the common on the other and the travelers connected from switch to switch - except for some fancy electronic, remote, and master/slave units that we don't need to go into. Every additional switch beyond two is a 4-way that switches the travelers.

Your new new 4-way switch will come with a wiring diagram. It may be printed on the box. To determine which two wires are one set of travelers, just make sure they're in the same cable.
 
Reply

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Display Modes