Lighted light switch cover?


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Old 08-19-21, 04:55 PM
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Lighted light switch cover?

Is anybody aware of a single gang light switch cover that lights up when the power is on? I am not looking for a "night light" cover with a light sensor because the area in question is always a little dark, so I doubt it would ever turn off. I am also not looking for a pilot or locator switch. What I'd really like is an AC version of this:

https://www.harborfreight.com/200-lumen-led-super-bright-flip-light-64723.html

As you may have guessed, the switch is on a 3-way circuit (two switches controlling a single light). I was hoping to go this route instead of adding a battery powered light in the stairway or enlarging the existing switch to a double gang and putting a light of some kind in there.

Any suggestions?
 
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Old 08-19-21, 05:07 PM
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Depending on what wires you have in the switch box, or what access you have in the lower/upper level, it might be easier to add a light in the stairwell.
 
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Old 08-19-21, 10:32 PM
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Thanks for the reply. I am trying to make as few changes as possible, so if I can't find a perfect solution, will go with either a battery powered closet light or a double gang box with a light in the second space.
 
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Old 08-20-21, 02:19 PM
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Depending on how your 3 way is wired you may not have a neutral available or you may only have only the unswitched hot in that box.

If you do have the correct wires in the switch box it would likely be easier to add a light above the switch box than to change the switch box to a 2 gang.
 
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Old 08-20-21, 04:34 PM
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I had another idea. There are also split switches, a switch and an outlet in a single gang package. I wonder what the chance is of finding one with 3-way support and wiring it as a hot switch to the outlet? Then I'd put an unobtrusive night light in the outlet.

Tolyn: I haven't had the switch cover off yet, and am reading up on 3-way wiring.
 
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Old 08-20-21, 05:09 PM
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They do make 3 way/receptacle combo devices. See Here for example: https://www.homedepot.com/p/Leviton-...B&gclsrc=aw.ds
 
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Old 09-18-21, 11:40 PM
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Returning to my thread. I ultimately special ordered a Leviton 5645-I from a local electrical supply store, and it should arrive this week. In the meantime I acquainted myself with the basics of 3-way wiring and had a look inside both boxes. There are some oddities, and I wonder if anybody would like to comment.

1) This particular overhead fluorescent has given my parents trouble in the summer for a number of years, where it takes several flicks of a switch to completely power up. Otherwise it illuminates at maybe 10% power. Some research last year suggests a grounding problem. Neither of the light switches are grounded, i.e. the green screws aren't populated. I plan to remedy this shortly, but does anybody care to bet on whether it will solve the problem?

2) The 3-way switch at the top of the stairs serves as a junction for literally five different cables. I've stared at it and diagrammed it, and while I don't know where all the cables go, the organization makes sense. The black screw here gets the Load wire. The 3-way switch at the bottom of the stairs houses the Hot wire. But this switch literally has just two wires connected, hot and a traveler, and nothing else! Aside from the previously mentioned summer problem, the circuit works. Can anybody explain why? Should I be "fixing" it?

3) I can always double check with Leviton's support, but when I install the combination switch/outlet at the top of the stairs, how should I deal with the neutral wire -- needed for the outlet, but they are currently all bundled with a wire nut. Is is important which neutral I use? (I am thinking "yes".)

4) Similarly, if anybody is personally familiar with Leviton's combination switch/outlet units, I have their PDF, but am still unclear how to make the outlet switch on and off in sync with the light. It seems I should wire the switch in the most basic way without breaking any side tabs?

Thanks for any feedback!
 
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Old 09-19-21, 07:42 AM
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I plan to remedy this shortly, but does anybody care to bet on whether it will solve the problem?
Grounding the switches will likely not solve the issue. The issue is the light is old and the ballast, or even the starter if it has one, is starting to fail. The ground is only there to carry fault current.

Is is important which neutral I use? (I am thinking "yes".)
Yes. You should only use the neutral wire that is associated with the circuit. If all the neutrals are ties together then they are all of the same circuit.

The 3-way switch at the bottom of the stairs houses the Hot wire. But this switch literally has just two wires connected, hot and a traveler, and nothing else! Aside from the previously mentioned summer problem, the circuit works. Can anybody explain why? Should I be "fixing" it?
A 3 way will always have three wires connected to it. If there are only two then it is not wired correctly. There should always be two 3 way switches if there are two switching locations. If there are more than two there will be 4-way switches in between the 3 ways.

but am still unclear how to make the outlet switch on and off in sync with the light. It seems I should wire the switch in the most basic way without breaking any side tabs?
How you want the outlet to function will depend on your existing wiring. In some cases, you will have a hot at one 3 way and the switch leg at the other 3 way. It is possible to have both. You will have to inspect the existing wiring and/or post what you have and we can help you.
 
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Old 09-19-21, 11:24 AM
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It doesn't make a whole lot of sense with your upper 3 way switch box containing five cables and the switch downstairs is the line connection.

That means the upstairs 3 way switch contains the load connection which is only live when the lights are on. You will not be able to use that switch to control a receptacle there. You could probably use the 3 way switch as it is, break it off the receptacle and connect the receptacle to something always live in the box.

You are bordering on complicated here.

As far as your starting problems with the fluorescent lights..... it sounds like it time for some modernization. Convert to LED or change to electronic ballasts.
 
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Old 09-19-21, 09:54 PM
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Grounding the switches will likely not solve the issue. The issue is the light is old and the ballast, or even the starter if it has one, is starting to fail. The ground is only there to carry fault current.
The fixture is definitely old, but works normally in any season but summer. The family room isn't air conditioned, but it doesn't get very hot either, and the humidity is controlled. Do you still think it's the light itself? My original hypothesis was that Dad added some electrical functionality to the attic by tying into the line, and either made a grounding mistake there or something is coming undone with age, and aggravated by summer heat and humidity.

Yes. You should only use the neutral wire that is associated with the circuit. If all the neutrals are ties together then they are all of the same circuit.
So you'd recommend a white pigtail wire running from the wire nut to neutral? I can do that.

A 3 way will always have three wires connected to it. If there are only two then it is not wired correctly. There should always be two 3 way switches if there are two switching locations. If there are more than two there will be 4-way switches in between the 3 ways.
Nix my original comment. Apparently the second traveler wire detached when I wiggled the switch from the box. I tried the light again yesterday and reattached the wire securely when I realized it really didn't work properly with just two wires.
 
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Old 09-19-21, 10:08 PM
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It doesn't make a whole lot of sense with your upper 3 way switch box containing five cables and the switch downstairs is the line connection.

That means the upstairs 3 way switch contains the load connection which is only live when the lights are on. You will not be able to use that switch to control a receptacle there. You could probably use the 3 way switch as it is, break it off the receptacle and connect the receptacle to something always live in the box.
Maybe you misunderstand? (Or maybe I misunderstand, lol.) I want the outlet to be a hot switch and activate and deactivate along with the downstairs fluorescent light. I was originally looking for a lighted switch, but everything I found was either a dim "locator" switch or a light-sensing night light. I already bought a 100 lumen night light (with a light sensor that can be turned off) for the outlet. I wish it came in a smaller package, but it won't block the switch.

I am still debating if I need to do anything special to make it a hot switch. I guess not? If I move the load and the two travelers to the new switch/outlet, run a pigtail from the bundle of neutral wires, and add a ground, will it work as I intend? No "magic" needed?
 
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Old 09-23-21, 11:33 AM
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FYI, I had a talk with Leviton's tech support and the 5645 will not do what I want. The default configuration is for the outlet to be "always on", and I would apparently need to run additional wire to make it a hot switch. Eaton's offering would work, but isn't available in a Decora design. Cooper is out, too. I forget the reason. I am now trying a Legrand combo switch and will post more when it arrives.
 
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Old 10-23-21, 10:30 PM
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A final followup. The Legrand combo switch did the job:


The stock installation turns the family room light on, as well as the outlet, which when populated with a bright night light also illuminates the top of the stairs. The night light has an optional light sensor with an On-Auto-Off switch, but I leave it at On. If I don't want/need more illumination, I can just remove the light and the switch largely degrades to its old function. The "magic" I alluded to earlier is just getting a switch that does what you need out-of-the-box. Some operate the outlet like a hot switch by default, and some expect a different source of power. Actually, I believe the Legrand easily does both.

My only complaints are that I couldn't find a lower profile light, as it gets in the way of the switch somewhat. And that the purchase had to be a special order. Hopefully this helps someone else doing a web search.
 
 

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