Two switches w/ one switched outlet -- weird 3-way wiring


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Old 05-20-20, 04:25 PM
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Two switches w/ one switched outlet -- weird 3-way wiring

My bedroom (in the US) has two light switches. Both are capable of turning on or off an electrical outlet that is used for a floor lamp. I suppose this is what's called a 3-way switch. I wanted to understand how they are wired, and it looks different from the 'standard' 3-way wiring in that each switch is only wired up with neutral, black and red wires (no traveler), and behind one of the two switches (see picture) I found a black and a white wire that were mated to one another. I don't understand this type of wiring -- can someone explain it to me?

Both switches function as they should -- either one can turn on or off the light, and they complement each other (I can turn on or off the light from one switch, then on or off from the other again).

Thanks!
-J
 
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05-20-20, 04:57 PM
joed
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It is a switch loop setup.
The white wires are NOT neutrals. They are being used as hots.
Here is what you have except you have a receptacle instead of a light fixture. Your setup is different in that the black and white from the fixture are swapped at the first switch.
 
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Old 05-20-20, 04:57 PM
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It is a switch loop setup.
The white wires are NOT neutrals. They are being used as hots.
Here is what you have except you have a receptacle instead of a light fixture. Your setup is different in that the black and white from the fixture are swapped at the first switch.
 
cannondale0815, PJmax voted this post useful.
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Old 05-20-20, 06:34 PM
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Hey joed, that's super helpful, thank you! Now I'd like to replace (and simplify) this setup a bit by removing (or ignoring) one of the switches and replacing the other with a Wemo smart switch that's not capable of a 3-way setup. Is there an easy way I can bypass the switch that is pictured and replace the other one with that Wemo? I already tried replacing it, but the Wemo doesn't function at all in turning on the light. That's when I opened the other switch (pictured) and realized I have no clue what was going on
 
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Old 05-20-20, 06:42 PM
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If the Wemo requires a neutral wire..... it cannot be used there in either location.
You have a hot wire and a switched hot..... no neutral.
 
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Old 05-20-20, 08:21 PM
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WEMO search indicates it needs a neutral. You can't install it. There is no neutral in that box.
 
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Old 05-23-20, 02:15 PM
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Thank you joed and PJmax -- that is the answer I needed. I now went a different route and just screwed two smart bulbs into two floor standing lamps and made sure neither lamp is connected to the outlet that is controlled by the two wall switches. Now it's voice controlled via Google Home instead of a physical switch.

Thanks!

P.S.: How is it that a white cable can sometimes be neutral and sometimes be hot -- could that not lead to dangerous confusion? I assume all this is up to code still though, right?
 
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Old 05-23-20, 04:41 PM
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The white can be used as a hot when used in a switching application. It's recommended to put some colored tape on white wires that are used for switching so that they aren't confused as neutrals.

I put a wrap of blue tape on ANY white wire used for switching.
 
 

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