Help with change from 3 way light socket to standard


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Old 09-23-19, 04:15 PM
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Question Help with change from 3 way light socket to standard

Hi all.

I just bought some cheap floor lamps at Walmart that were on deep discount, and I didn't pay attention when I bought them that the main lamp has a 3 way socket. I think I would have still bought them anyway because of the deal, but, 3 way LED's are VERY expensive, and I don't like running the 3 way Incan's in the warmer months because of the heat.

I tested a 3 way Incan bulb and it will run fine on the highest setting, but a standard LED will not run at all. At best, it lightly flickers on the highest setting. If it would run fine on high like the Incan, then that would work, as I really only use these big lamps on high anyway.

SO, I'm wanting to do one of two things:

1) If perhaps there is an easier way than replacing the socket, perhaps just rewiring the current one to turn it into a standard lamp? That would be nice and save me money. Can this be done? If so, how do I do it properly without turning the outside of the lamp into a shock post!

I will also ask here if anyone makes a simple screw in adapter that converts a 3 way to a regular without having to do any wiring. That would be great!

2) If #1 won't work, I have already bought a replacement standard socket, but I still need to know how to wire it correctly.

Please see the pics. As you can see, each screw has 2 wires going to it, and these wires go down to another junction where a side lamp is connected. It's a standard cheap combo lamp.

Any help is appreciated here! And if you have links to videos that show this type of swap out, that would be great too. Before I do wiring jobs, I like to verify with multiple sources and videos before proceeding to be safe.

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Last edited by PJmax; 09-23-19 at 04:26 PM. Reason: reoriented/resized pictures
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Old 09-23-19, 04:19 PM
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That's not a typical three way bulb socket.
That is more than likely a main bulb, second bulb and both type of switch.
A regular switched socket would just have two screw terminals. It looks like yours has 3.

Easy enough to replace the socket but you will loose the second bulb unless you put a new socket there too. You can just change the inside socket. The existing metal shell can be reused.
 
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Old 09-23-19, 04:32 PM
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That's not a typical three way bulb socket.
That is more than likely a main bulb, second bulb and both type of switch.
It may put the main bulb and the aux bulb in series when in a certain position.

Easy enough to replace the socket but you will loose the second bulb unless you put a new socket there too. You can just change the inside socket. The existing metal shell can be reused.
The side lamp has its' own switch. It comes on via that switch no matter what the other switch does. I'll test it again when I get back to make sure though, but I've had one of these kinds of lamps years ago and I remember them being separate.
 
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Old 09-23-19, 11:28 PM
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Btw, my pictures might have been confusing. The original socket only has two screws with 2 wires going to each one.

--->>> Also, looking closer at the wires, there seem to be 2 ribbed wires going to the sliver screw, and for the brass screw, there is one smooth wire and the other one I can't quite tell if it's ribbed, or maybe has some super thin white lines on it.

I've looked at the instructions for the new socket and they are pretty simple. It says:

* Attach white or ribbed conductor to silver screw, and the other one to the brass.

I'll try to take a closer look tomorrow as I don't have much light in there now and it's hard to tell and i have it all apart. But, if there is a white/ribbed one also going to the brass screw, that would seem to be in conflict with these instructions for the standard socket.

So, can you help me sort this out? I do have a multimeter and a some electronics training so I'm not totally green on checking leads, etc.

In the mean time, I'll try to watch some videos and find some help pages on how 3 way switches work so I have a better idea of what I'm looking at. In my electronics training, we only dealt with ground and postive/Vcc or whatever (been a long time for me), but in house wiring, there's sometimes the 3rd wire and I never have learned how that works.
 

Last edited by spaceboy909; 09-23-19 at 11:49 PM. Reason: font
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Old 09-26-19, 08:09 PM
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Just an update here to close out this thread and for reference for anyone who may come across this and have questions about 3 way switches and wiring like I did. I did some digging and got some help elsewhere as well, and I've got it sorted out.

* Your typical standard light socket just has one metal contact tab, down in the center, inside the socket when you look where the bulb is screwed in. A typical 3 way socket will have 2 tabs, one in the middle and one off to the side.

* Standard on/off sockets and standard 3 way sockets are both wired the same way. A neutral wire on the silver screw, and a hot wire on the brass screw. Neutral wires may have ribbed insulation, or white stripes, or be solid white, or may vary. Hot wires will typically be solid black, but may vary.

* 3 way bulbs have 2 filaments inside, and a center contact and an offset contact, to match the 3 way sockets.

* A 3 way bulb will partially function in a regular socket, but you will only get the middle wattage from it, so a 50/100/150 bulb will only give you 100W of light

* A regular bulb in a 3 way socket will function at its' normal wattage on the last 2 ON positions. So, the bulb will be OFF in the off position, and the low watt position, and be ON in the middle watt and high watt position, but since the bulb just has one filament, the light output will be the same in the middle and high watt switch positions.

* An LED bulb will work in both sockets, the same as above.

* The lamp switch that I have in the pics, with 4 wires gong to it, confused me, since you only need 2 to power a bulb. But someone else said that that means that the two bulbs are wired in parallel, and that they ran the main wire to the top lamp first, and then branched off back down to the side lamp.

I assumed they would branch off in the middle and that is what confused me, but the person said that would be an improper way to arrange it. So, now the 4 wires at the top make sense.

---------------

Now, the problem I ran into was really my own fault. First, I made an incorrect assumption about how 3 way switches and bulbs worked. Then, I thought I had pulled a working LED bulb out of another lamp, but whether I did or didn't, the LED bulb was actually bad, and this caused me to believe that standard LED bulbs would not work in 3 way sockets.

So, I hassled myself for nothing, but in the process I have learned a bit about wiring and lamp switches. I have opted to keep the lamp as is, as I typically only use the highest setting in a 3 way switch anyway. Btw, for xtra light, especially with low watt LED's, I buy these socket splitters so I can plug in 2-4 bulbs into one socket. It's cheap, and if you need to raise or lower the output, you can just partly unscrew one of the bulbs.

I do this all the time in the bathroom that has 5 socket vanity setup, and I have a 7 watt mini Incan bulb, and a @15 watt refrigerator Incan bulb, and then a 60W LED. At night I use the low watt bulb. When I'm getting up or getting to the end of my day I use the middle bulb, and then during the day I use the bright one.

FTR, dimming bulbs and sockets are supposedly a different animal, but I have not researched those as I don't have any dimmer lamps at the moment.

So, I hope this helps someone and saves you some time and money.
 
 

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