California 3-way switching


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Old 10-26-18, 11:01 PM
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California 3-way switching

I am familiar with the "traveler system" (or "common system") of wiring a 3 way switch circuit.

I recently read of the California system and made a diagram of it. From what I've read, to comply with the "code", it must include a neutral wire, so I drew my diagram with a 4 wire cable between the switches.
I was wondering what is the advantage of this type of switching? One advantage (that I thought of) is that an outlet could be added to the junction box, which I have labelled 1 2 in the right hand switch.
Are there any other advantages for using the "California system" ?
 
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Old 10-27-18, 05:43 AM
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Hi wolf and welcome to the forum.
Help me out, but your diagram doesn't make sense, at least to me.
Can you identify your travelers and the common terminal for each switch?

Traditional wiring would have the two travelers connected between the two switches with power fed to the common terminal of one and the light connected to the common terminal of the other. Then the white from the power input and the white from the light connect to the white (neutral) that is part of the 3-wire between the switches.

Not sure what CA wants, but the typical missing feed is a power connection between the switches, as there is already a neutral.

Pros may correct and it won't hurt my feelings

Bud
 
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Old 10-27-18, 08:46 AM
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There existed (a few example still exist) a system sometimes called "California 3 way" that does not have travelers and that is antiquated and that is no longer (may never have been) code compliant.

It was used with knob and tube wiring prior to 1950.

It cannot be modernized other than by replacing all of the wires.

Your diagram (orientation of switch terminals) suggests to me that you are referring to this ancient system when you mentioned "California."

With the power coming into one switch and the light attached to the other switch you do not need a 4 wire cable.
 
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Last edited by AllanJ; 10-27-18 at 09:36 AM.
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Old 10-27-18, 08:55 AM
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Thanks Allan, now I feel better...........................................

Bud
 
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Old 10-27-18, 10:55 AM
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Come to think of it, the original diagram works fine and is perfectly legal, with the 4 wire cable.

But I am not not sure how it worked prior to the installation of the 4 wire cable for the neutral between the switches.

Yes it provides a constant hot for a receptacle at the second location.

Another advantage is having switched hot for an additional light at the first location.

It could not have another switch added to make a 4 way switch setup. Someone in a different city in a different building may have in the past may tried to insert a 4 way switch and, not knowing that this was the setup he started with, wondered why it stopped working.
 
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Old 10-27-18, 12:48 PM
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Basically, I was following information I found at Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multiway_switching
I found that 4 wire system in the Alternative System section, (I redrew the drawing they had).

As for the "old system" that goes back to the knob and tube days that is called the "Carter system" and has been prohibited by the Electrical code since 1923.

As for the "California System", as AllanJ said, since it cannot have a 4 way switch added to it, gives it a big disadvantage. (But it's good to know it is up to code).

I wanted to post an image but it seems on this forum, uploading a graphic gets to be VERY %^(*&^%$%&*(**&^!_(*&^%& DIFFICULT!!!! I should be happy I was lucky enough to get that first one uploaded.
 

Last edited by wolf1728; 10-27-18 at 01:17 PM.
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Old 10-27-18, 01:05 PM
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As you know basic 3-way is really simple but as we know on the forum it is not well understood by many home owners. I'm not actually an electrician (just electronics technician) but have had to untangle many 3-way wiring problems. If I were to run into what you have drawn I would be rewiring, but I will dig into it to convince myself that it works.

Interesting
Bud
 
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Old 10-27-18, 01:45 PM
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You could have used a three wire cable. The red and black would have been the travelers and the white would have carried the neutral to the load side switch. You already have neutral at the line side switch.
 
 

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