Add light fixture to three-way switch

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Old 10-08-14, 01:40 PM
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Add light fixture to three-way switch

I have a stairway with a landing. The lights for the stairway are at the landing and it is dark at the bottom. However, there are three-way switches at the top and at the bottom. I can cure the darkness with one of the recessed type lighting fixtures as in movie theaters. Can I just run a wire from the three way switch down to the fixture which will be mounted directly below the switch and have it controlled by both of the three-way's? If so, how will it be wired? The existing switch is 12-3 w/ground.
 
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Old 10-08-14, 01:46 PM
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Maybe. It depends on which end of the three way circuit is fed and which end goes to the lights. You would need a voltmeter to make test measurements at the three way switch.

You can definitely connect the new light to the existing light.
 
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Old 10-08-14, 01:53 PM
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I can't connect to the existing light as I can't get a wire through the wall to where the new fixture will be. What do I test with the voltmeter to determine if I can connect the switch at the bottom of the stairs?
 
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Old 10-08-14, 02:27 PM
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You will need to pull the switch out of the wall. DO NOT disconnect the wires yet. Tell us what colors are on the switch. Two will be on gold colored screws and one will be on a dark screw. That's the important one. You'll need to check from that screw to the box, if metal, to see if the 120vac is there when the light is on and no voltage when the light is off.

Ideally you should have 1) two wire cable there and 1) three wire cable there.
 
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Old 10-08-14, 04:41 PM
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Even if you have a xx-3 and a xx-2 cable in the box you might be at the wrong end to grab a switched hot.
 

Last edited by pcboss; 10-08-14 at 05:41 PM.
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Old 10-08-14, 05:06 PM
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He's looking for the switched/light end.
 
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Old 10-09-14, 09:16 AM
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I have 5 pictures to show the stairway, the existing sconce lighting fixture on the landing, the triple gang box with the 3 way switch, and the wiring on each side of the switch. I hope this will help.Name:  IMG_0389.jpg
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Old 10-09-14, 09:31 AM
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Circled in yellow is the terminal you want to check with meter.
Check terminal to ground and see if it is dead with light off, or live with light on.

What you want is this terminal to be live when light is on.

Post back test results.

Attachment 39713
 
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Old 10-09-14, 10:21 AM
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I have 120 V when the light is on regardless of which switch turned the light on.
 
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Old 10-09-14, 10:30 AM
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But.... Is it dead with lights off?
 
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Old 10-09-14, 10:59 AM
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Check terminal to ground and see if it is dead with light off, or live with light on.

What you want is this terminal to be live when light is on.
Sorry, I didn't explain this very well. If you want to add a light to this particular switch:

1) You will need a neutral in box that you can tie into. Highly likely with three switches.
2) The "marked terminal" I circled. You want this to be dead with lights off, and live when lights are on.
 
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Old 10-09-14, 11:16 AM
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Not your fault. I just didn't read your message carefully enough and just missed the test for dead. I have now tested it and there is no voltage from the red wire terminal to ground when the light is off. It is 120v with the light on.
 
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Old 10-09-14, 11:21 AM
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And is there a neutral in the box?
 
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Old 10-09-14, 11:33 AM
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Yes, there appears to be one. The switch on the left is a single pole switch that controls only one light.
 
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Old 10-09-14, 11:58 AM
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Remove the red from the common. Connect the red to the black from the new light and a pigtail.

Connect the pigtail to the common of the switch.

Connect the white of the new light to the group of other whites.

Connect grounds per code.

Note neutral used must be on the same breaker as the existing 3-way controlled lights. If every thing in the box goes dead when the breaker is turned off then it likely is.
 
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Old 10-09-14, 12:34 PM
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Thank you for your help and patience. I will be anxious to start this project and see it finished.
 
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Old 10-09-14, 01:42 PM
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Yes, there appears to be one. The switch on the left is a single pole switch that controls only one light
Just to clarify:
The neutral (white) you're looking for in the box will not be attached to any switch terminals.
It (they) will be in box connected with wire nut.
If you think you have a neutral because you see a white wire attached to switch: this is not a neutral.
 
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Old 10-09-14, 02:14 PM
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Excellent point Brian. Thanks.
 
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Old 10-20-14, 02:46 PM
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Well, here I am again. What I thought was a neutral behind the single pole switch was simply wires connected to the switch terminals that has white wall texture on them. Without a neutral, is there an alternative so that I can still use the three way switch as we had planned?
 
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Old 10-20-14, 04:31 PM
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If you have a single two wire cable that connects directly to the single pole switch and a single three wire cable that connects directly to the three way switch..... then you do not have an available neutral wire. Both white wires that are present in the box are being used as voltage switching lines. No neutral = no light connection at that point.
 
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Old 10-20-14, 04:42 PM
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No,
There must be a neutral wire in box to add another switch or even take power off of 3-way.

There is a door to the left of 3-gang box. Where does it go/what's behind wall?

Long story short you need to run a new cable (source power) from nearest source.
 
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Old 10-21-14, 08:08 AM
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OK. I have one other thought. The single pole switch controls a closet light. It uses the white wire and black wire as the switched power line. It does not use the ground wire. What if I wrapped the ground wire in black tape on both ends and used this as the switched power line. Take the white wire and connect it to the neutral at the light fixture and use it for the needed neutral in triple gang switch box. I could pig tail a ground for the single pole switch off the other grounds in the three gang switch box.
 
  #23  
Old 10-21-14, 08:16 AM
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You cannot use the grounding conductor as a current carrying conductor. You will need to run new cables.
 
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Old 10-21-14, 07:39 PM
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What if I wrapped the ground wire in black tape on both ends and used this as the switched power line
You would have a bare wire carrying 120 volts.

For you folks at home.... This is a never, never do.
 
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