3 And 4 Way Switches - Power To First Light - Electrical - DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum

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Old 12-04-2011, 06:55 PM   #1
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3 and 4 way switches - power to first light

I am wiring several different sets of lights and want to find out if I can do this -

For the three way switches, I have several lights that the switch is controlling. Power is going to the first light in the series and I want to confirm I am wiring the rest of it correctly - from the first light I will run a two wire to the first switch and a three wire between the two switches. In the first light box the hot from the power in will connect to the black in the two wire going to the switch (and not connect to the light). I will connect the neutral from the power in to the light. The white from the two wire going to/from the switch will have be taped black and connect to the black for the light and in the switch box it will connect to the common terminal. I will use the three wire between the light switches as follows: the white in the first switch will be taped black and connected to the switch and will run to the next switch where it will be taped black and connected to that switch. The reds will be connected to the switch, and the black from the three wire will connect to the white taped black (from the two wire going to the light as already mentioned above) in the first switch and to the switch in the second switch. The lights will then be daisy chained together with a 2-wire. In general, the wiring diagrams I see have the power going to the last light in the series and use the three wire to essentially take the power to the first light, then to the switches and back to the lights to turn them on. It seems better to have power go to the first light in the series and rather than having to run a three wire between all the lights and then to the switches. Will this work? Will this same theory apply in a four-way switch application?


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Old 12-04-2011, 08:05 PM   #2
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It will work as described. However you have two code violations.
1. You need to swap the black and white going to the first switch. The power to go TO the switch on the white and come back FROM the switch on the black. This will ensure you have a black and white wire to connect the fixture instead of two whites.
2. Current code in most locations requires a neutral wire to be present in the switch box. To accomplish this you have several option. Up the wire count in your witch cable by one all the way. That is use three wire and four wire cable. Option 2 is to put the power feed at the last(furthest) switch instead of the fixture.


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Old 12-04-2011, 08:22 PM   #3
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Joed’s mention of current code requiring the neutral be present in the switch boxes refers to the 2011 NEC. 2008 NEC doesn’t require it, so it depends on which code cycle your area is on. If your area is on the 2011 code, the easy way to do it is: power to sw 1, 3-wire from sw 1 to sw 2, 2-wire to the lights. That supplies the neutral at both switches.

A 4-way can be added to the circuit between the 3-way switches. 4-way switches only get the traveller wires (between the 3-ways) connected to them, and you can have as many of them as you need.

Just because you can, doesn't always mean you should
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Old 12-04-2011, 09:07 PM   #4
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Thank you so much. Our permit does not fall under the 2011 code so it looks like I am safe to do it as I posted, with the modification to the use of the taped white. Thank you both for your help - I can rest easy now.
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