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Confusing 3-Way switch wiring found in trying to convert outlets to 1/2 switch

Confusing 3-Way switch wiring found in trying to convert outlets to 1/2 switch

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  #1  
Old 05-13-13, 08:02 PM
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Question Confusing 3-Way switch wiring found in trying to convert outlets to 1/2 switch

In my new house, I have two outlets which are both fully switch, and can be controlled by two different switches (three way of course). I would like to convert the outlets both to half switched, but if both cannot be done, my wife and I could settle with one. The problem is, I'm a bit confused on the wiring. I'm not a wiring expert, and haven't seen a three way switch set up like this, nor can I find a diagram similar. Pictures of both switches and both outlets are below.

The wiring is as follows. Please note: I'm not 100% certain the order of each item in the circuit, so don't let my order in the list dictate the circuit.

Outlet 1: Two sets of 2-Wire, one set of 3-Wire. The 3-Wire and one of the 2-Wires exit top, and the other 2-Wire Exits bottom. The bottom 2-Wire's white is connected to the other 2-Wire, and the 3-Wire's black. Outlet has whites from the top 2-Wire and the 3-Wire, Black from bottom 2-Wire, and the red of the 3-Wire. All Tabs are intact

Outlet 2: One 3-Wire, One 2-Wire. Black wires are connected, outlet has both whites, and the red alone on one side. All tabs are intact.

Switch 1: One 3-Wire, One 2-Wire. White wire from 2-wire is connected to black from 3-wire. Switch has Black from 2-wire, and both white and red from 3-wire

Switch 2: One 3-Wire

Can anyone help clear this up so we can make at least one outlet only half switched? Thanks so much!!

Photos: Strange Three Way Switch Wiring - Imgur
 
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  #2  
Old 05-13-13, 09:27 PM
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You appear to have power in at the receptacle where you have the black and white wire connected together.



You can confirm that by checking if the black wire comes from the same cable as the neutral wire connected to the receptacle. If that is true check for 120 volts. Then you need to break the tab on the brass side. Add a black pigtail to the black and white connection and connect the pigtail to one of the brass screws. Connect the black and red wires currently connected to the receptacle to a pigtail and that pigtail to the other brass screw.
 
  #3  
Old 05-13-13, 09:57 PM
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Welcome to the forums!

In my new house, I have two outlets which are both fully switch, and can be controlled by two different switches (three way of course). I would like to convert the outlets both to half switched,
You didn't tell us where the power from the panel enters this system, nor what wire is connected to the common terminal on each switch, so I'm making some assumptions in my replies. I'll spell them out, but you'll need to check to see if I'm correct.

Tech Note 1: You have some 2-conductor, 3-wire cables (black, white and ground) which you're caling 2-wire, and some 3-conductor, 4-wire cables (black, red, white and ground) which you're calling 3-wire. I'll be referring to them with standard terms. I'll also be referring to receptacles, since every box is an outlet.

Note 2: My overriding assumption is that the second 2-conductor cable in Outlet 1 is the panel feed and that the 2-conductor cable in Outlet 2 is feeding power out to other loads. While you have the wires in the receptacle boxes apart, you can use an analog multimeter to test for power in each receptacle box to confirm that.

I've also changed the order of discussion, just because that's the way I was thinking through it.

One more note: I've assumed that you'll have the upper receptacle be switch controlled and the lower one be always hot on each duplex. If you want it to be the other way, just reverse the advice about "up" and "down" for the hot side connections.

The wiring is as follows.

Outlet 1: Two sets of 2-Wire, one set of 3-Wire. The 3-Wire and one of the 2-Wires exit top, and the other 2-Wire Exits bottom. The bottom 2-Wire's white is connected to the other 2-Wire, and the 3-Wire's black. Outlet has whites from the top 2-Wire and the 3-Wire, Black from bottom 2-Wire, and the red of the 3-Wire. All Tabs are intact
The 2-conductor cable that has it's white wire spliced to the two black wires goes to Switch 1. The other two cables go to the other receptacle box.

The white wire in the cable going to the switches has been repurposed as an ungrounded conductor. While you're working on this, you should tag that white wire with some electrical tape or a permanent marker, preferably black or red, but any color other than green or gray is acceptable, to indicate that.

Switch 1: One 3-Wire, One 2-Wire. White wire from 2-wire is connected to black from 3-wire. Switch has Black from 2-wire, and both white and red from 3-wire
The black from the 2-conductor cable should be connected to the common (usually black) terminal on the switch. If so, tag the white wire from the 2-conductor cable the same way you did in the first receptacle box, remount the switch and cover it.

Switch 2: One 3-Wire
The black wire should be connected to the common terminal. If so, remount the switch and cover it.

Back at "Outlet 1," disconnect all of the wires on the receptacle. Break off the tab on the brass or "hot" side. Cut three pigtails (three pieces of wire the same gauge as the conductors in the cables, about 6" to 8" long), one each with white, red and black insulation. Splice the two white wires that were on the receptacle and the white pigtail together, and terminate that pigtail to either of the silver screws on the neutral side of the receptacle. Tighten both silver screws. Re-connect the ground wire. Splice the black and red wires that were on the receptacle and the red pigtail together and terminate that pigtail to the brass screw for the receptacle that will be up. Add the black pigtail to the splice that has the two black wires and the single tagged white wire, and terminate that pigtail to the other brass screw.

Outlet 2: One 3-Wire, One 2-Wire. Black wires are connected, outlet has both whites, and the red alone on one side. All tabs are intact.
Disconnect the wires from the receptacle and break off the "hot" side tab as before. You will only need a black and a white pigtail here. Use the white pigtail in a 3-wire splice to connect to the neutral side. Add the black pigtail into the black wire splice and connect it to the lower brass screw. Connect the red wire to the upper brass screw.

[SUP]Ray types faster and explains things more succinctly. [/SUP]
 
  #4  
Old 05-13-13, 11:10 PM
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I confined my suggestions only to the receptacle in my post. Nash has covered all the receptacles. At any point where Nash's instructions vary from mine follow Nash's instructions as I was only concentrating on getting one receptacle to work half switched and he was looking at the big picture.
 
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