3-way switch multiple lights

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Old 03-11-06, 11:36 AM
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Question 3-way switch multiple lights

I know I probably should search and find the answer for this one, but I thought someone could answer this for me. I am trying to wire a 3 way switch in my kitchen and I am trying to put two different lights on the same circuit. I did this with another pair of lights on a 3 way switch in the same room and it works great. This one doesn't seem to work right. When I turn on the switch, (depends on which switch is up or down) one light comes on dim, and the other (which is a small chandeller, but only uses 5 40watt bulbs) slowly comes on over about 6-8 seconds and is very dim as well. I have tried to wire them by themselves on the 3-way switch and they work great and are much brighter. I was wondering what was going on here?
 
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Old 03-11-06, 02:55 PM
J
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you have attempted to wire
3 way - light - light - 3 way

You can't do it without four wire cable between the lights. The best is to wire a single light three way. Then take a 14/2 from the first light to any additional lights on the circuit.
 
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Old 03-11-06, 07:17 PM
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This is probably one of the top-ten mistakes we see here. I would like to see all switch-light-switch wiring diagrams contain this note: WARNING: don't attempt to extrapolate this diagram to more than one light!

Let me expand a bit further on Joe's advice. I'll use "-" to indicate black/white/bare cable, and "=" to indicate black/red/white/bare cable. The following two are the most common configurations:
  • Power-S=S-L-L.
  • Power-S=L=S, and L-L.
What you tried (Power-S=L=L=S) can never work.
 
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Old 03-11-06, 08:10 PM
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WOW! uh, ok. I think you mean 2 conductor and 3 conductor cable? black white bare is two conductor and black white red bare is three conductor. I just lost you on the - and the =. Does the S mean "switch"? Does the P mean "power"? and the l means "light"? Is it because of the load that is on the switch? Is there another type of switch for this? I have a ceiling fan with 4 lights in it and another two 100 watt lights on one 3 way switch right beside the one that is giving me problems. How is it working? I am a little lost on this one. Are you saying I may be using a 2 conductor wire for a 3 way switch? What I have now is just the light over the dinning room table (5 40watt bulbs) on the 3 way, and it works fine. My wife would like to have the light that is above the french doors come on as well when we turn on that light. I just didn't want to have to bust sheet rock and add a 4 light panel on one side and a 3 light panel on the other side. OH yeah, the guy who wired the house for me (at a cash deal) kept his standards up. He was half lit when he did it! So I ran him off and tried to finish it myself. (In about 10 hours before sheetrock). Oh another one, I guess he figured it would be a good idea to have the light switch for the back porch in my daughters room. That way if she thought she heard someone, she could turn it on and look out!
Thanks.
 
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Old 03-11-06, 08:21 PM
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Sorry that my notation was confusing.

Is it because of the load that is on the switch?
No.
Is there another type of switch for this?
No.
Are you saying I may be using a 2 conductor wire for a 3 way switch?
No. We're saying that what you are trying to do is impossible with the cable you have in place now.

Here are your two main options (expressed with more words and less symbols):
  • Run the power to the first switch on a black/white/bare cable. Run a black/red/white/bare cable from the first switch to the second switch. Run a black/white/bare cable from the second switch to the first fixture. Run a black/white/bare cable from the first fixture to the second fixture.
  • Run power to the first switch on a black/white/bare cable. Run a black/red/white/bare cable to from the first switch to the first fixture. Run a black/red/white/bare cable from the first fixture to the second switch. Run a black/white/bare cable from the first fixture to the second fixture.
If I understood correctly, here's the cable you have in place now. You ran power to the first switch with a black/white/bare cable. You then ran a black/red/white/bare cable from the first switch to the first fixture. You then ran a black/red/white/bare cable from the first fixture to the second fixture. You then ran a black/red/white/bare cable from the second fixture to the second switch. If this is correct, then it cannot be made to work with this cable.
 
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Old 03-12-06, 05:37 AM
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Thumbs up

Thanks for the explanation! I will have to go back up there and look. I think that is what we (maybe us cajuns) call a 2 conductor and 3 conductor wire. "2 conductor 14" is a black/white/bare (each being 14 gauge) and 3 conductor 12 is a black/white/red/bare (each being 12 gauge). With bare used for the ground on both. Maybe I just heard someone else call it that and called it that myself.
 
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Old 03-12-06, 07:08 AM
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You have the correct terms for your cables. a 14/2 cable has black/white/bare. We don't count the bare in NM-B cable descriptions.
 
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