Multiple 3 way switches powering different lights

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Old 04-08-09, 06:04 AM
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Multiple 3 way switches powering different lights

I'm wiring my basement and have multiple sets of lights operated by different switches all on the same circuit. I'm confused on how to hook all this up. I hope you guys can help. The details are below.

First Double Gang Box with single pole switch to operate 3 lights, second switch is 3 way to operate 8 different lights. Second Double Gang Box has the second 3 way switch to operate the 8 lights and the first 3 way switch to power 2 other lights. Third Single Gang Box has the second 3 way switch to operate the 2 lights.

This is all on the same power source, a single 20amp breaker.
Wires are run so that the power comes into the first Double Gang Box, so I only need to run 12/2 from the second 3way switches to the lights and Iím using 12/3 between the switches.

My question is how does this all get connected with multiple 3 way switches in the same box?

Right now the wires I have run are as follows:
12/2 from power source runs to first double gang box, 12/2 runs from the single pole switch in first gang box to a set of 3 lights. 12/3 runs from 3 way switch in the first gang double box to second double gang box with the 2 3 way switches. I then ran 12/2 from the first 3 way switch in the second double gang box to the set of 8 lights and another 12/3 wire from the second switch in the second double gang box to a third single gang box with another 3 way switch. The third single gang box has 12/2 coming out and going to 2 lights.

I hope this makes sense? There are 3 sets of lights all together between these 3 gang boxes. 3 operated on a single switch, 8 operated by 2 switches, and 2 operated by 2 switches.
 
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Old 04-08-09, 07:12 AM
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Hi bdf and welcome to the board. I'm not one of the electricians you want to hear from, but I do enjoy helping. So wait for the pros to review your description. From my first reading it looks like you may be missing a power feed from the first set of boxes to the second set of boxes. But you did good and I'll watch to see the full description.

Bud
 
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Old 04-08-09, 08:04 AM
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I agree with Bud, both in that you are missing a cable you need and that you provided a good description.

The problem is that you have no unswitched hot wire in the second double-gang box, and you need one for the second set of 3-way switches.

There are probably a hundred ways of wiring what you want, but let's try to focus on just one, one that will be an easy change from what you have.

I'd run another 12/2 from the first double-gang box to the second double-gang box. In the first double-gang box, connect this directly to the power feed 12/2 (i.e., you are providing a power feed to the second double-gang box--you can alternatively get this power feed from somewhere else on the circuit if that is more convenient). Then use this new power feed to power your second pair of 3-way switches, exactly as you used the other power feed to power your first pair of 3-way switches.

When wiring up the second double-gang box, do it exactly as you would if these two switches were each in their own boxes. I.e., there are no connections between the two switches and no common wires between them
 
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Old 04-08-09, 08:10 AM
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Bud9051,

I was wondering about the power feed too. I'm wondering if I'll need to run 2 - 12/3 wires from the first box to the second instead of 1?

I did read online about a guy having 2 gang boxes, one double with 2 - 3 way switches and a tripple with 2 - 3 way switches and one single pole. He ended up running 2 12/3 wires from the tripple gang box to the double gang box to get it resolved. I wasn't sure I needed that though because the first double gang box for me only has one 3 way switch and one single pole switch.

My father in-law is doing the connections but is confused on how to connect everything in the box with two 3 way switches. He's afraid he might wire it wrong and get 220v on accident.
 
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Old 04-08-09, 08:23 AM
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Originally Posted by John Nelson View Post
I agree with Bud, both in that you are missing a cable you need and that you provided a good description.

The problem is that you have no unswitched hot wire in the second double-gang box, and you need one for the second set of 3-way switches.

There are probably a hundred ways of wiring what you want, but let's try to focus on just one, one that will be an easy change from what you have.

I'd run another 12/2 from the first double-gang box to the second double-gang box. In the first double-gang box, connect this directly to the power feed 12/2 (i.e., you are providing a power feed to the second double-gang box--you can alternatively get this power feed from somewhere else on the circuit if that is more convenient). Then use this new power feed to power your second pair of 3-way switches, exactly as you used the other power feed to power your first pair of 3-way switches.

When wiring up the second double-gang box, do it exactly as you would if these two switches were each in their own boxes. I.e., there are no connections between the two switches and no common wires between them
Thank you! That makes perfect sense now. Wire the first set of 3 way switches like normal. Then run the 12/2 from the first gang box to the second to provide power for the 2nd set of 3 way switches. That way the two 3 way switches in the second gang box are totally seperate connections.

I was under the assumption I could jump the power from one switch to the other in the second gang box from the existing 12/3 running from the first gang box. Running a whole seperate 12/2 wire for a power feed makes more sense.

Am I understanding you correctly?
 
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Old 04-08-09, 08:54 AM
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Yes, you understand correctly. Good luck.
 
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Old 04-08-09, 10:10 AM
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Thanks for the advice so far.
I have another question that comes to mind now. There is actually another single pole switch hooked up to a single light on the same circuit before the first double gang box with the 3 way switch and single pole switch. My father in-law wired one separate 12/2 from that single pole switch to the double gang box for a power feed so I didn't think it was relevant. But, now that got me thinking that I might need two 12/2 power feeds from the first single pole to the double gang box for a power feed, one for the 3 way and 1 for the single pole. Right now he has a jump for the hot in the first double gang box from the single to the 3 way switch.

Do I need to run a second 12/2 for power to the first double gang box housing the single pole switch and the 3 way switch so they both have a separate power feed? Or is the jump hot wire he has wired between the two ok?

If this is confusing let me know, I'll try and clear it up a bit.

Thanks
 
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Old 04-08-09, 11:14 AM
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But, now that got me thinking that I might need two 12/2 power feeds from the first single pole to the double gang box for a power feed, one for the 3 way and 1 for the single pole.
You're thinking too much. You do not need the second 12/2 to the first double-gang box. The existing jumper is fine.

The difference between this first double-gang box and the second double-gang box is that the second double-gang box currently has no power feed at all (the 12/3 between the boxes is a traveler cable and doesn't count as a power feed).
 
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Old 04-08-09, 11:40 AM
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Originally Posted by John Nelson View Post
You're thinking too much. You do not need the second 12/2 to the first double-gang box. The existing jumper is fine.

The difference between this first double-gang box and the second double-gang box is that the second double-gang box currently has no power feed at all (the 12/3 between the boxes is a traveler cable and doesn't count as a power feed).
I thought about that after I posted. Cool, I can't wait to get it all wired up then. I'll let you know how it turns out. Thanks a lot for the help.
 
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Old 04-13-09, 09:01 AM
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Update:

Everything is wired up and working as it should. I want to thank you all for the help. All I need now is to purchase a new 3 way dimmer switch. The one I bought is rated at 600w. I didn't know it, but when I removed the sides which are heat sinks I reduced the rating from 600 to 400 watts. The lights are pulling 520 watts now. I'm going to pick up a 1000 watt switch in the near future. The current one runs very hot after a while.
 
 

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