Master switch - is it possible?

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Old 05-20-13, 07:59 AM
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Master switch - is it possible?

Hi,

I posted in a previous thread about wiring my basement in 3 sections.

http://www.doityourself.com/forum/el...ml#post2111072

Now I have this crazy idea of one master switch (at top of stairs as one enters the basement) that will shutoff the lights in all 3 sections. I do not think it is possible given what I know now, since if 2 sections were on then the master switch will turn on the last section and shut off the other 2 (that were on). Am I correct?

As an alternative, Is it better to install 3 different switches (at top of stairs) to shut off each section?
 
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Old 05-20-13, 08:40 AM
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You could use a double-pole switch at the top of the stairs to work as a 'master' switch for two sets of downstairs lights, but then that switch needs to be on for the other switches to work (it won't work like a 3-way switch). Electrically it would work, but it doesn't make much sense nor is code compliant since you don't have working switches at the top and bottom of the stairs.

I think you're much better off to put one 3-way switch at the top of the stairs that controls the first set of lights, then two more switches somewhere downstairs to control the remainder. Alternatively, you could put all three 3-way switches at the top of the stairs for the control you need, but it's sort of unorthodox to do it that way.
 
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Old 05-20-13, 08:41 AM
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In order to have a master switch you would need all three areas on the same circuit. With 20 lights ..... unless they're LED type lamps...... will draw too much power for one circuit.
 
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Old 05-20-13, 11:11 AM
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Since you ran three circuits for the three sets of lights, here are your choices:

1> You can install one switch, fed by a fourth circuit, that controls a 3-pole contactor that opens and closes the three circuits. The contactor itself can be in the basement.

2> You can install three single-pole single-throw (on/off) switches that will each kill or restore the power for one of the three sets of lights. This will require that the power feeding each set goes to the kill switch before going to the lights and switches downstairs.

Either of these first two options will literally kill the power to the recessed lights in the basement. None of the switches there will work unless the kill switch - or the kill switch for that set - is on.

3> You can install an additional multi-location switch for each circuit - either a 4-way switch or one of a pair of 3-way switches for that set - at the top of the stairs

I do not think it is possible given what I know now, since if 2 sections were on then the master switch will turn on the last section and shut off the other 2 (that were on). Am I correct?
No. With three separate circuits, you could not make that happen without two contactors or one contactor wired with reverse logic on one of the sets of contacts.

What are you trying to accomplish? How are the three sets of lights laid out? Where and how ro you want to control them? How are you lighting the stairway? As Zorfdt said, you need a pair of switches for that, on at each level.
 
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Old 05-20-13, 01:31 PM
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Thanks guys.

What I was thinking of was having a switch at the top of the stairs that will switch off the lights downstairs without having to go down the stairs to switch them off.

Here is the layout:

- 3 different circuits, 3 sections of lights.
- all with dimmers
- one section has dimmers on alternate walls, originally planned as a 3 way.
- all will be LED lights.

What I am thinking of is having the 2 sections where I had planned having 1 on/off switch/dimmer, I will have to make it a 3 way instead with an on/off switch at the top of the stairs ( one each for each of the 2 sections).

For the third section where I needed a 3 way switch does that mean it needs to be a 4 way switch (?), if I need an off switch at the top of the stair. How do you wire a 4 way circuit?

Thanks.
 
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Old 05-20-13, 05:32 PM
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- one section has dimmers on alternate walls, originally planned as a 3 way.
As said before, if you want to be able to adjust the light level from more than one location, you will master/slave dimmers. Standard 3-way dimmers won't do that.

What I am thinking of is having the 2 sections where I had planned having 1 on/off switch/dimmer, I will have to make it a 3 way instead with an on/off switch at the top of the stairs ( one each for each of the 2 sections).
If you add a second switch location at the top of the stairs for each of those areas and run 3-conductor cable between the two switch locations, you can use a 3-way switch in the new location and a 3-way dimmer in the basement for those.

For the third section where I needed a 3 way switch does that mean it needs to be a 4 way switch (?), if I need an off switch at the top of the stair. How do you wire a 4 way circuit?
If you install a standard 4-way switch in thei set, you will be able to turn the 12 lights off and on from all three locations, but you will only be able to dim them from one of the three locations. Is that what you want?

Where and how ro you want to control them?

How are you lighting the stairway?
How and where will you control the light for the stairway?
 
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Old 05-20-13, 05:59 PM
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Thanks Nashkat1. Yes, I was planning to use a master/slave dimmer for the 3rd section (the one with dimmers on separate walls and an on/off switch at the top of the stairs, sorry if my terminology is mixed up).

So I need a 4 way switch for the top of the stairs? I'll have to read more about 4 way switches.

"If you install a standard 4-way switch in thei set, you will be able to turn the 12 lights off and on from all three locations, but you will only be able to dim them from one of the three locations. Is that what you want?"

I would like to turn the lights on/off from either of the 3 switches (top of stairs, or at either of the 2 switches/dimmer on the walls). Just not sure how to wire such a circuit. It would be on its own breaker.

The other 2 sections I think I know what to do. I would just need a 3 way switch & dimmers at each switch location.
 
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Old 05-21-13, 12:12 PM
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I was planning to use a master/slave dimmer for the 3rd section (the one with dimmers on separate walls and an on/off switch at the top of the stairs... So I need a 4 way switch for the top of the stairs? I'll have to read more about 4 way switches.
Don't bother if you're going to use a master dimmer and two slaves. There are no 4-way switches in master/slave control systems - only multi-location controls.

Let's try to simplify your project a bit, OK? Three 20A circuits is overkill for 20 lights. Those three circuits can safely supply up to 5,760 watts of continuous load. That's 288 watts per fixture. A single 15A circuit can safely supply up to 1,440 watts of continuous load, or 72 watts per fixture.

Are all 20 of your fixtures the same? What is their maximum rated wattage?
 
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Old 05-21-13, 03:44 PM
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So I cannot install a 4 way switch between the two 3 way dimmers, for that one section?

Yes, it is a bit of an overkill, I was also thinking of joining 2 sections, the pot lights are 50 W, they come standard with halogen but I am planning to phase replace them with LED, hence the reason I am buying LED/CFL dimmers.
 
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Old 05-21-13, 04:10 PM
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So I cannot install a 4 way switch between the two 3 way dimmers, for that one section?
As explained earlier, you cannot install two 3-way dimmers on the same switching circuit. You can install a 4-way switch between one 3-way dimmer and one 3-way switch.

Yes, it is a bit of an overkill, I was also thinking of joining 2 sections, the pot lights are 50 W,
Is that the maximum rating? If so, one 15A circuit will power everything -- and allow you to install a single "kill switch."
 
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Old 05-21-13, 05:39 PM
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Why don't you use insteon switches? You would need 4 switches. One switch to control each section on its own. Then the fourth is the master that is programmed to control the other 3 switches. SmarthomeŽ | Home Automation, X10, Remote Control, Lighting, Wireless Security, IP Cameras
 
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Old 05-21-13, 07:11 PM
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Thanks guys. I went to HD and spoke to a master electrician.

I was told by the electrician at HD to buy the Lutron Maestro MACL-153MRHW, its a multi location Master Companion set of dimmers for 2 or more dimmers setup. They told me to wire the 4 way between the dimmers and that should work. Think I'll give it a try. Thanks for all the help.
 
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Old 05-22-13, 08:01 AM
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Sorry, went back today and the guy told me I need another Lutron Companion dimmer as an off switch NOT a 4 way switch. It will not work, so correction to my last post.

Nashkat1 you are correct, that setup will not work.
 
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