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Old 01-20-2015, 05:36 PM   #1
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3 way light switch question


Hi, I hope someone here can help me.

I have an existing 3 way light switch on a staircase, with power coming into one of the switches, and then 2 lights between the switches. I does not work properly because it does not have the second run of 2 wire between the lights. But I just ran across a diagram that would solve my problem, if it works. I took it from google images, so I do not know the original source. I did a quick tweak of recoloring a couple of wires to correct an issue that was pointed out on the image.

So my question is, will this actually work? No one else has a diagram like this, so I am wondering what the flaw here is. I really want this to work.
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Old 01-20-2015, 05:54 PM   #2
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Will not work. You have the two light bulbs connected "in series" where each 120 volt bulb gets 60 volts.

You must run the additional 2 conductor (plus ground) cable between the two lights. Connect it to the light fixtures, matching white to white (to silver screws) and black to black (to gold screws). At the first light box connect the power cable white to the light neutral (with the white wire already attached). Connect the yet unused wire coming from the 3 wire cable between the lights to the light hot (with the new black attached).

Nitpicking. The wires connected to the neutral terminals of the lights may not be colored. The wires connected to the hot terminals of the lights may not be white. Putting tape around the ends of these wires will not get around this.

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Old 01-20-2015, 06:33 PM   #3
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Will not work. You have the two light bulbs connected "in series" where each 120 volt bulb gets 60 volts.

You must run the additional 2 conductor (plus ground) cable between the two lights.
Ya, I know that, but I am not tearing out 2 walls to run a second wire. Trying to come up with a solution that does not include removing one fixture.

So next question. With the new LED bulbs that require lower voltage anyway, is there still a problem with power drain?
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Old 01-20-2015, 06:55 PM   #4
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Quote:
So next question. With the new LED bulbs that require lower voltage anyway, is there still a problem with power drain?
it's not a matter of power drain. It's a matter of Ohm's law. When you run load in series you "drop" an amount of voltage inversely proportionate to the resistance of the load.

lets say both lights are exactly equal as far as resistance. That would mean, as allenj stated, you would have 60 volts "dropped" or for a more understandable term, available at each light. On top of that, if either light burns out, both stop working.


If you have lights rated for 120 volts, you have to have 120 volts to the light.


how about making a diagram of what you actually have in the system
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Old 01-20-2015, 07:15 PM   #5
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Ya, I know that, but I am not tearing out 2 walls to run a second wire. Trying to come up with a solution that does not include removing one fixture.
The only solution that does not involve more wires or removing one of the fixtures is to use wireless three way switches.
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Old 01-20-2015, 07:23 PM   #6
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Honestly, I'm not sure what exactly is in the system. I just bought the house (1895 Victorian rewired in 1987) and this 3 way just doesn't work. The 2 fixtures are not that accessible, so I am hesitant to risk falling down the stairs for just a look-see. (servant's stairs, very narrow, very steep both fixtures over bends with triangular steps, and I'm short.)

The seller had an electrician spend a couple hours fiddling with it, and his conclusion, will never work, doesn't have the second line between fixtures. Right now, if I turn on the lower switch, then I can turn on/off at upper switch. If lower switch is off, nothing works. I am assuming that there is 3 wire between all the pieces.

I am just searching for ideas to make at least 1 fixture work properly. I also can add an option to have second fixture with a switch on the fixture, if that helps.

Baring any good alternatives, I'll just remove one fixture. And that is looking more and more likely.

Oh, Joed, I guess you posted while I was typing. Interesting idea, I didn't know there was such a thing. I will look into that.

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