Convert 3-way Switch To Outlet

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  #1  
Old 05-10-13, 08:32 AM
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Question Convert 3-way Switch To Outlet

I have two 3-way switches that operate a pool light.
One is located inside the house & the other is located outside by the pool. There is a junction box (located outside) that the light's wires go to before running to the outside switch.

I want to convert the outside switch to an outlet (GFI).

PIC #1 is the inside switch. This is a double gang, where the top switch - right side of pic by the date stamp - is for the pool light. (The bottom 3-way switch - left side of pic - operates the kitchen lights.)

Pic #2 is the outside 3-way switch for the pool light. It is this switch that I want to convert to an outlet.

Previous advise I rec'd from an electrician I cornered at Lowes did not work, and he examined the pic I'm about to upload. Another posting in this forum didn't have the same color wires, so I was reluctant to try that.

Any assistance is greatly appreciated. Tx.
 
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Old 05-10-13, 09:10 AM
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To install a receptacle you need a neutral. To have a neutral power must come in at the box where the receptacle will be. All neutrals should be white (or gray) but just because a wire is white does not mean it is a neutral. A quick visual check check for a neutral in a box is are there two or more whites wires in a wire nut connected only to each other with no other color wires in the wire nut. Best check is to mark and record all connections* in the box and disconnect all the wires. Do you have a 2-conductor cable that reads~120 volts between the black and white wires of the cable?

*When 3-way switches are present be sure to mark which wire is connected to the common terminal.
 
  #3  
Old 05-10-13, 11:03 AM
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Because the pool light works, we know you have a neutral in the box it's wired through. The thing is, you may only have switched power there.

If so, one solution is the one you proposed: Convert the inside switch to a SPST switch, use one of the two existing travelers to supply power from that switch to the light, and use the other traveler to supply constant hot to your new GFCI receptacle.

That said, there are a lot of wires in the box where the 3-way by the pool is mounted. What is each of those wires doing now? We can see that the blue wire on the switch is the load for the light, and the red and black are the two travelers, but are there other loads fed through this box? Specifically, are there any loads fed from this box, like a pump, that aren't controlled by the two switches?
 
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Old 05-10-13, 11:52 AM
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Depending on the location of the switch at the pool it may be too close to install a receptacle.
 
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Old 05-11-13, 01:44 PM
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Convert 3-way Switch To Outlet

Attached is another PDF file showing the Junction Box. I should have put this puzzle piece in on my orig post so that you could have a complete "schematic." Sorry. Also, refer to the prev PDF upload 3-Way Switches.PDF showing both the outside switch & the inside switch.

(See uploaded file Junction Box View.PDF)
Starting at the pool light and working our way to the outside switch...
There are 3 wires from the pool light: Green, White, Black
In the Junction Box, they connect as follows to the cable going to the outside switch:
[1] Green from pool light ==> wire nut containing a ground pigtail + two thick black wires
[2] White from pool light ==> wire nut containing another white wire (going to outside switch)
[3] Black from pool light ==> wire nut containing blue wire (going to outside switch)

Now take a peek at the prev PDF file (3-Way Switches.PDF) which shows how the two 3-way switches are connected.

I hope this answers your Q's. Have I given you enough info for my solution?

What sayest thou?

Thanks for the assist.
 
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Last edited by OuchThatHurt; 05-11-13 at 02:02 PM.
  #6  
Old 05-11-13, 02:01 PM
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>> What is each of those wires doing now? <<
Darned if I know... They appear to be tickling each other.

>> but are there other loads fed through this box? <<
None that I know of, but it does go thru a near-by circuit breaker that has a dedicated breaker for only this light circuit. The breaker box is less than a foot from this outside switch.

>>Specifically, are there any loads fed from this box, like a pump, that aren't controlled by the two switches? <<
Not that I know of. The pool pump is on a separate isolated breaker-protected circuit.
 
  #7  
Old 05-11-13, 04:50 PM
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>> What is each of those wires doing now? <<
Darned if I know... They appear to be tickling each other.
Cute. Buying and reading a copy of the text for our little online seminar might help you understand what we're asking for, and why. The title is Wiring Simplified. You may find it in the electrical aisle at your local big box store, or you can order it online.

This is the information we are looking for, for the box where the switch is mounted:
There are 3 wires from the pool light: Green, White, Black
In the Junction Box, they connect as follows to the cable going to the outside switch:
[1] Green from pool light ==> wire nut containing a ground pigtail + two thick black wires
[2] White from pool light ==> wire nut containing another white wire (going to outside switch)
[3] Black from pool light ==> wire nut containing blue wire (going to outside switch)
Ground is ground. You don't need to describe the ground wires. (Note: The two thick black wires are probably part of a separate path to ground established for the pool area.)

The white wire may go to the switch box but it will not be connected to the switch.

As noted earlier,
Originally Posted by Nashkat1
We can see that the blue wire on the switch is the load for the light
Now take a peek at the prev PDF file (3-Way Switches.PDF) which shows how the two 3-way switches are connected.

I hope this answers your Q's. Have I given you enough info for my solution?
No. If that had been sufficient, there would have been no need to ask you for more information.

Describe each wire in the outside switch box and tell us what it is doing now, just as you did for the wires in the J-box. What pipe does it come out of, what size and color is it, how is it connected, and to what.
 
  #8  
Old 05-16-13, 06:01 AM
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Sorry for the delay in replying back. I've been super busy. I will post back later with the info you requested.

Tx.
 
  #9  
Old 05-30-13, 12:40 PM
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Thanks for your patience. I finally got it solved.

My neighbor knew an electrician who finally came over the other day and got it done. I was waiting on him for almost 2 weeks. The price was right, too. All that work for only 3 beers. Whatta guy!

 
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