how to convert two three way switches to two single pole switches?


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Old 09-06-15, 09:08 PM
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how to convert two three way switches to two single pole switches?

Hi, I'm wondering if someone could help me with converting two three way switches to two single pole switches. I'm completely new so please excuse me if I got the terminology wrong.

Anyway, here is my situation. I have two lights at the front of the house one by the garage and one by the front door. Both of these lights are controlled by 3-way switches. One switch is located in the garage and the other by the front door. Both lights will turn on when either switch is on and off when either switch is turned off. I would like to convert these three way switches to 2 separate single pole switches so that the one in the garage controls the light at the garage and the one by the front door controls the light on the front porch.

I have open both of these switches and the wiring seems to be the same, just up-side down. They are as follows.

Front Door Switch:
Right Side - black wire to yellow screw (top), black wire to black screw (bottom)
Left Side - red wire to yellow screw (top), copper bear wire to green screw (bottom)

Garage Switch:
Right Side - copper bear wire to green screw (top), red wire to yellow screw (bottom)
Left Side - black wire to black screw (top), black wire to yellow screw (bottom)

I'm not sure if it's even possible to convert these to two separate single pole switches. It seems like everywhere on the web said that I have to deactivate one of the switches and have the other one as a single pole, but I would like to control both lights from two separate switches. Any help is appreciated.

Click on pictures for full size.







 

Last edited by PJmax; 09-07-15 at 03:40 PM. Reason: added pictures
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Old 09-06-15, 09:30 PM
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There should also be 2-conductor cables in the boxes. Tell us about those. The number of 2-conductor cables in each box.Which boxes they are in.There are probably three two conductor cables. One is power in and two other 2-conductor cables go to the lights. They are key to making this work.
 
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Old 09-07-15, 11:00 AM
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Hi Ray, I'm not sure what the conductor cables are in this case, but there are two switches at each box. At the front door there is the three way switch and another switch to control another light inside the house. The same setup with the box at the garage, a three way switch and another switch to control another light inside the garage. I see three sets of wires at each box with one set going to the three way and another set going to the second switch next to it, and then the third set in the middle.

I have some photos that may help with the explanation, but I think they're too large to upload to this post. If you don't mind private messaging I think I can pm them to you.
 
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Old 09-07-15, 11:01 AM
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Don't unhook any wires without labeling them first.

It is possible you need to string a new cable from one of the lights to one of the switch boxes, which one we don't have enough information yet.
 
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Old 09-07-15, 12:00 PM
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I see three sets of wires at each box with one set going to the three way and another set going to the second switch next to it, and then the third set in the middle
Those are cables. A 2-conductor cable has a black and white wire (+ground). A 3-conductor cable has black, red, and white (+ground).
 
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Old 09-07-15, 01:42 PM
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Ah ok, that makes sense. I need to correct what I've said before. The box at the front door actually has two three way switches, because it has 4 cables. Two cables with 4 wires (black,white,red,ground) each, and two cables with 3 wires (black,white,ground) each.

The box in the garage has 3 cables. One with 4 wires (black,white,red,ground), and the other two with 3 wires (black,white,ground) each. So I'm pretty sure this box has one switch that is a 3-way and one that is a single pole. I have sent the pictures to PJmax because he said he will re-size and post them for me.
 
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Old 09-07-15, 03:42 PM
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Pictures hosted and posted in first post of this thread.
 
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Old 09-07-15, 04:27 PM
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Just so we are using the same terms:
Two cables with 4 wires (black,white,red,ground)
No, three wires because ground doesn't count when referencing cable. So a 3-conductor cable.
two cables with 3 wires (black,white,ground)
No two wires so 2-conductor cable.
The box in the garage... has one switch that is a 3-way and one that is a single pole.
So rewritten:
The box at the front door actually has two three way switches, because it has 4 cables. Two 3-conductor cables and two 2-conductor cables.

The box in the garage has 3 cables. One 3-conductor cable and two 2-conductor cables. So I'm pretty sure this box has one switch that is a 3-way and one that is a single pole.
So where is the other 3-way for the second 3-way at the front door? What does it control?
Tech Note:
a 3-way and one that is a single pole
A 3-way switch is also single pole. A 3-way is a SPDT the other switch is a SPST.

What does the SPST switch at the garage control?
 
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Old 09-07-15, 06:21 PM
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The other 3-way at the front door controls the light inside the house by the front door. And the other 3-way that controls this light is by the coat closet.

The SPST switch at the garage controls the light in the garage by the motor.
 
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Old 09-07-15, 08:27 PM
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Apologies I misread your first post. You wrote:
Both of these lights are controlled by 3-way switches.
I thought you meant you had two sets of three way switches. One set controlling each light but they are really on one set of switches. That means power may go from the switch to the first light and then from the first light to the second light.

You are going to have to open the lights and check if that is true. If one light has two 2-conductor cables and the other only one 2-conductor cable then the switch feeds one light and that light feeds the other.
 
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Old 09-07-15, 09:13 PM
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Yes, sorry if I wasn't clear. They are controlled by one set of 3-way switches, that is one is at the front door and one at the garage.

I opened the light on the outside of the garage and it has one 2-conductor cable (black,white). I couldn't open the light at the front door on the outside, the way it's mounted is really weird I may need to pry it open.

Is there anyway I could test/make it work without opening the light at the front door?
 
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Old 09-07-15, 09:45 PM
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Please post a picture of the outside light and maybe we can help you remove it. If you reduce the width of the picture to 1000px or less it should post Okay. Otherwise post to a photo sharing site such as Photobucket and post the URL here. (URL will end in ".jpg".)
 
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Old 09-08-15, 06:11 AM
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I see that you're in TX. If you're around the Austin area, do you think you could come by and take a look at it? I'm kidding.

I probably won't be able to get to it until the weekends, but I will try to get it open or a photo. I will let you know, thanks.
 
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Old 09-12-15, 10:26 AM
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I opened up the light at the front door, and it seems to be similar to the light at the garage with one 2-conductor cable (black,white).

I have attached some photos.

This is what it looks like after opening the fixture.
Name:  front-light1.jpg
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This is shot of the wires.
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This is what it looks like behind the aluminum foil cover. Do we need to remove the black cover?
Name:  front-light3.jpg
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Old 09-23-15, 04:30 PM
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I'm still stumped, anyone else has any ideas about my problem?
 
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Old 09-23-15, 05:38 PM
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Opening the lights means unfastening them from their box so we can see the wires. Do not disconnect the wires just pull the fixtures out and photograph the connections.
 
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Old 09-24-15, 06:50 PM
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Why do you want to eliminate the three way function?
 
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Old 09-25-15, 10:09 AM
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Because I installed a motion activated light fixture at garage and with the 3-way function the light at the front door would always be on, and I do not want that.

The instructions that came with the motion activated fixture said that the sensor can control the motion activated fixture and a standard fixture. I just need to connect the red wire from the motion sensor fixture to the black wire of the standard fixture, but how can I do that when they're far a part? It didn't make any sense to me so I thought the other option is to eliminate the 3-way function.
 
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Old 09-25-15, 10:22 AM
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Basically you need to determine where power comes in. It may be at one of the switches or the light. Then you need to determine the wire carrying power back to the light. You will put your SPST switch on those two wires.

If you have only two wires at the light then power is at one of the switches. If you have two cables each with a black and white wire and the black of one cable is connected to the white of the other then you have power at the light. You need to open the light and look at the wires and connections to see what you have.
 
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Old 10-18-15, 09:17 AM
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Okay, I finally find the time to open up that light by the front door.

Looks like the power is at the light, because like you said it has 2 cables with wires each (black and white) (See front-light-1.jpg). The black wires from each cable are twisted together, the same thing for the white wires and the ground (See front-light-2.jpg). Then there is a black wire, white wire, and ground going from the respected connected wires from the two cables to the light (See front-light-3.jpg).Name:  front-light-1.jpg
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