3 way switch problem

Old 05-27-01, 09:39 PM
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I have wired a circut with 2 fixtures sandwiched between the 3-way switches. The juice enters through the first switch.

I am having problems operating the lights from each end of the circut. When the first switch is in the up position I can turn the lights on and off from the 2nd switch, but when I put the first switch in the lower position I can not turn the lights back on with the 2nd switch. I am not sure if it is in the switches or the wires. One thing that has me fooled is that I have no place to attach the bare wire in the 2nd switch box. The 3 way switch has screws for the black, red and white wires but no green screw for the bare wire. I am using a plastic box ond it has no grounding options either. The wire is just coiled inside the switch box. Is this correct ?? Could this be my problem??
Old 05-27-01, 10:46 PM
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Your problem has nothing to do with the grounding wire.

Wiring two lights between two 3-way switches is not normally a good idea. My guess is you ran a 14/3 cable from switch#1 to light#1 to light #2 to switch#2. This cannot be made to work, even with 14/3 cable between each outlet. To make this work, you need FOUR insulated conductors between light#1 and light#2. Another alternative is to run a 14/3 cable from switch#1 to light#1 to switch#2. Then you can run a 14/2 cable from light#1 to light#2. (Another alternative was suggested here last month that used the grounding wire between the two lights as a conductor, but I and the NEC don't like that -- however, none of the electricians here chose to step in and suggest that it was a bad idea.)

It's hard to say why it went wrong since you didn't tell us how you wired it. My guess is that you not only have switches that don't function properly, but it is also likely that you have wired these lights in series (are they more dim than you would expect?). Please post back with information on how you connected the wires, and we'll help you understand why it doesn't work. I hope you still have the walls and ceiling open so you can run new cable -- you're going to need it.

[Edited by John Nelson on 05-28-01 at 01:37]
Old 05-28-01, 04:44 AM
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if the lights work only according to switch position the problem could be what is known as 'crossed runners' . You need to verify that the commons on the 3-ways serve #1-incomming power #2-the lights.

oh, and John is right about using a grounding conductor for anything else, despite the BB's silence.

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