Questions on 3 way switch wiring and others

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Old 05-15-13, 06:30 PM
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Questions on 3 way switch wiring and others

Hi,

Need some help wiring my basement.

Basically installing some pot lights in 3 sections all on separate breakers:

Section 1 & Section 3: 4 lights each w/ a dimmer. No issues.

Section 2: 12 lights w/ 2 dimmers on separate walls.
I have narrowed it to 2 options.
Option 1: Lights Between Two Three-Way Switches: Power Through Switch.
Option 2: End-Wired Switches: Power Through Light.

Question: When connecting the lights do I need to use 14/3 wire when looping light to light or just 14/2 between the lights and 14/3 to the switches?

Any help is much appreciated.
 
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Old 05-15-13, 07:08 PM
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Welcome to the forums!

First of all, where are you? This is essentially a North American forum and it helps us focus our answers if we know where you're doing the work.

That said,
Option 1: Lights Between Two Three-Way Switches: Power Through Switch.
Option 2: End-Wired Switches: Power Through Light.

Question: When connecting the lights do I need to use 14/3 wire when looping light to light or just 14/2 between the lights and 14/3 to the switches?
Choose Option 2. Bring the power into one switch box and feed the lights from the other. This will give you a neutral in each switch box, which is needed for many advanced controls.

Assuming a 120V 15A circuit, run 14-2/G from the panel to the first box, from the second box to the lights, and between the lights. Run 14-3/G between the switches.

Connect the black in the 14-2/G cable to the common, or point, terminal on each switch. Splice the neutral through with the white wires. Connect the black and red in the 14-3/G cable to the traveler terminals on each switch.

Connect color-to-color at each light.
 
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Old 05-16-13, 08:38 AM
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Thanks, I am in Ontario Canada.

I got those options from another website (see attachment) but they did not have a connection between the switches.
 
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Old 05-16-13, 09:35 AM
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I got those options from another website (see attachment) but they did not have a connection between the switches.
Yes they do . It won't work any other way. They just took it through the light boxes and used some 2-conductor cable, twice, between the two light boxes to hook everything together.

Besides being hard to follow and confusing, that diagram contains a number of actions that do not comply fully with either code or best practice. Probably as true in Canada as it is here.

Can you wire your system the way I suggested earlier?
 

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Old 05-16-13, 09:38 AM
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Nash....based on your option 2 I drew the following diagram.

Name:  3 way drawing.jpg
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Old 05-16-13, 09:58 AM
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Thanks, PJ. A diagram often helps clarify thinks.
 
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Old 05-17-13, 02:54 PM
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Thanks guys. This is all new to me (first timer doing wiring) and not an electrician. I can follow the diagram I posted but PJMax's diagram is a bit confusing to me. I am a bit dense when it comes to electricity mostly due to fear.

Nashkat1 Can you clarify your comment "Connect the black in the 14-2/G cable to the common, or point, terminal on each switch. Splice the neutral through with the white wires. Connect the black and red in the 14-3/G cable to the traveler terminals on each switch."

Some of the terminology means nothing to me in this context. "Common" or "point" "Splice the neutral through with the white wires"? What does that mean? Can someone clarify?
 
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Old 05-17-13, 03:39 PM
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This image shows the common terminal
[ATTACH=CONFIG]12756[/ATTACH]

Since a 3-way switch is a single-pole, dual throw, the common switches between T1 and T1. More-accurately, the common is tied to either T1 or T2, based on the position of the switch lever.

White is your neutral, and since you're just passing it through the boxes (neutrals don't connect to the switches), on its way to the light, simply tie all neutrals in each switch box together with a wire nut.
 
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Old 05-17-13, 04:34 PM
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Thanks guys. This is all new to me (first timer doing wiring) and not an electrician.
Sorry, I did write in shorthand. First here are two resources you may find useful: ...Basic Terminology & Other info and Wiring Simplified.

"Common" or "point"
Seattle2k posted a nice illustration and explanation, To add to that, a 3-way switch does not interrupt the power. It just switches the connection back and forth between the common, or point, terminal the two traveler terminals.

Draw a "V". Make one side solid and the other dashed or open. That'e the schematic of a single-pole double-throw, or 3-way, switch. The point of the "V" is the common or "point" terminal. The other two points are the traveler terminals.

If you look carefully at Seattle2k's illustration and at your two switches, you should notice that one of the terminal screws is black and the other two are brass. The black screw identifies the common terminal.

"Splice the neutral through with the white wires"? What does that mean?
In the two switch boxes, splice the two white wires together and push that splice to the back of the box, behind where the switch will be.

Have you made an electrical splice before?
 
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Old 05-17-13, 06:29 PM
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Here's another way to look at the inside of a 3-way switch.

 
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Old 05-17-13, 09:07 PM
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I like your double-throw knife switch, Ray!
 
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Old 05-18-13, 05:57 AM
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Thanks guys for all the help. will read some more.

Nashkat1, no I have never made an electric splice before. When you say push it to the back of the box, I assume you mean tape & tie them together and tuck it in. What is the purpose of it? Thanks.
 
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Old 05-18-13, 06:33 AM
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I assume you mean tape & tie them together and tuck it in.
No tape should be used. You use wire nuts. There is no need to tie them together. Connecting them together with a wire nut serves that purpose.

What is the purpose of it?
So that all of the neutrals are connected back to the panel.
 
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Old 05-18-13, 08:28 AM
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Thanks Ray, much appreciated.

I'll do some more reading on the basics as suggested by NashKat1.
 
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Old 05-18-13, 10:02 AM
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Nashkat1, no I have never made an electric splice before.
OK. Here's the short answer:

Use a pair of cable strippers to strip about 5/8" of insulation off the end of each wire going in the splice. Hold the wires together so that the ends of the insulation are even with each other. Use lineman's pliers to twist the wires together, with at least 3 good twists. Use the pliers to trim the ends of the conductors if they need it. By hand, twist on an appropriate-sized wire nut, clockwise.

Here's the longer version for the project you're doing: Use a pair of cable strippers to strip about 12" of the jacket of a 14-2/G cable; Use a utility knife to carefully cut the jacket of a 14-3/G cable. Feed the cables into the box until the jacket appears inside. Clamp the cables if you're using metal boxes.

Make up the grounds first. If you're using metal boxes, start a ground screw in one of the holes in the back. Loop and crimp the ground conductor from the cable bring power in around the ground screw, and tighten it. Trim the other ground conductor(s) back to leave about 3" in front of the box. Push the shorter ground conductors into the box so that they touch the ground screw and lie next to the long ground wire. Trim, curl and connect the long ground wire to the device.

Do the neutrals next. Trim and splice them as above. If your device needs a neutral, cut a 6" to 8" white pigtail and add that to the splice. Once you have made the splice, fold the neutrals into the back of the box with the wire nut pointing up. Connect the pigtail to the device if needed.

If unswitched power is going beyond the box, splice the power wires with a pigtail as above and connect the pigtail to the device. This won't apply to what you're doing. Just strip, curl, crimp and tighten the power conductor to terminate it to the common terminal. In one of the boxes, the power conductor will be bringing unswitched power from the panel. In the other box it will be taking switched power to the lights.

Note:
12 lights w/ 2 dimmers on separate walls.
You can use one 3-way dimmer and one standard 3-way switch, or a set of master/slave dimmers, to control all 12 lights from either location. The master/slave pair will allow you to control the level of light at each location, but the 1 dimmer - 1 switch option will only allow dimming at one of the locations.

Or you can break this section in two and control each of those separately.
 
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