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Old 03-22-2008, 12:16 AM   #1
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3 Way Switch Draw additional Power?


I just installed a 3 way switch following a switch-light-switch diagram (power coming into a switch, to light, to other switch and back).

My question is, does it draw additional constant power? The reason I ask is I tested it with switch on and off, and both times the wire is hot (lights my tester). The tester lights much brighter with the switch on and lights moderately with the switch off, but lights it nonetheless. In a traditional set up, the switch cuts the flow of power completely. Is it just this set up, and if so, is power constantly being used? Is it not a good set up?

I am pretty new to the electrical thing, so thanks in advance.

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Old 03-22-2008, 08:00 AM   #2
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3 Way Switch Draw additional Power?


OK, first explain this: (power coming into a switch, to light, to other switch and back).
I don't like the sound of that.

NO, it dose not draw any more that before. A switch is a control, it has NO draw.

Also,a 3-way switch has NO "on" or "off". So you cannot turn a 3-way switch "OFF".

Please explain how you wired this setup.
If you are new to the "electrical thing" then this is quite a confusing task to undertake as your first.

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Old 03-22-2008, 08:29 AM   #3
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3 Way Switch Draw additional Power?


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Originally Posted by mattyd View Post
I just installed a 3 way switch following a switch-light-switch diagram (power coming into a switch, to light, to other switch and back).

My question is, does it draw additional constant power? The reason I ask is I tested it with switch on and off, and both times the wire is hot (lights my tester). The tester lights much brighter with the switch on and lights moderately with the switch off, but lights it nonetheless. In a traditional set up, the switch cuts the flow of power completely. Is it just this set up, and if so, is power constantly being used? Is it not a good set up?

I am pretty new to the electrical thing, so thanks in advance.
You aren't testing consumption with a lighted tester. Your testing the presence of voltage.
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Old 03-22-2008, 08:30 AM   #4
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3 Way Switch Draw additional Power?


Here is the setup I used:



There was info on this set up at a variety of sites.
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Old 03-22-2008, 08:39 AM   #5
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3 Way Switch Draw additional Power?


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You aren't testing consumption with a lighted tester. Your testing the presence of voltage.
So is this set up different than a traditional 3 way in that there is always voltage? Is this ok? Sound there be no voltage when one of the switches is off (which is how my other 3 ways are set up)?
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Old 03-22-2008, 09:30 AM   #6
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3 Way Switch Draw additional Power?


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So is this set up different than a traditional 3 way in that there is always voltage? Is this ok? Sound there be no voltage when one of the switches is off (which is how my other 3 ways are set up)?
It all depends on where you test. Look at the diagram. If you test from ground (bare wire) to the black wire on the lower right side of the bottom switch, you will show power at all times. If you test from ground to either the red or black on the top two screws, one will show power, the other will not, depending on which way the switch is flipped.

In the top switch, if you test from ground to either the red or white (with black tape), one or the other will show power, depending on which way the switch is flipped. What is important is that the is no power at the black of the light fixture when it is off.

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Old 03-22-2008, 10:30 AM   #7
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3 Way Switch Draw additional Power?


It's a false reading. You are not using power when the lights are off.
Speedy, I can't believe you have never seen a three way setup with the fixture between the switches.
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Old 03-22-2008, 10:56 AM   #8
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3 Way Switch Draw additional Power?


Of course I have seen (and wired) that. I was unclear about what exactly he did.
I was confused by the "...and back" part.
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Old 03-22-2008, 02:37 PM   #9
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3 Way Switch Draw additional Power?


Many years ago, when I "played" around with a lot of X-10 Powerhouse, Plug 'N Power home automation I thought the 3-way circuit would "go away", but alas, the old fashioned method is alive and well!

Unfortunately, the "wireless" systems are flawed, and the only truly reliable system is the hard-wired one.

I always loved 3-way circuits as a kid. I recall once doing a demo in grade school using two knife switches (double throw of course), a lamp, and a 6V battery.
The class was amazed. I told them that this is what's happening in your house when you have the "upstairs-downstairs" setup.

I also recall the first time I replaced a 3-way switch in my house. The wires were not color-coded. It was old knob & tube.
I believe what I did was pull out the old switch and observe the connections, then read the instructions on the back of the box for the new switch.
The switch I was removing was so old it was ceramic, and was open in front. You could actually see what was connected to what.

I also had the old neon tester. That would work sometimes, but without a ground system, it was difficult to get it to light. Sometimes there would be enough leakage through me that I could hold one end and touch the other end to the live circuit. Never felt anything of course (nature of neon lamps).

I would love to see a 4 or 5 way switch setup!

FW
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Old 03-22-2008, 03:07 PM   #10
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3 Way Switch Draw additional Power?


check that the nutral wire on the fixture for power when the light fixture is off. if there is power you may have made an opps or some older houses have swithed nutrals in them. this is a no no know but not in the day.
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Old 03-22-2008, 06:09 PM   #11
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3 Way Switch Draw additional Power?


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I would love to see a 4 or 5 way switch setup!
Pretty simple actually, all you do is place a four way switch between your three ways. You connect the travelers to them, you could control a light from any number or locations.
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Old 03-22-2008, 06:25 PM   #12
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3 Way Switch Draw additional Power?


Sounds like the circuit is okay.

Try brad's idea. If you get anything other than 0v or close, let us know.
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Old 03-22-2008, 07:24 PM   #13
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3 Way Switch Draw additional Power?


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I would love to see a 4 or 5 way switch setup!

FW
It would be the same as this only you have as many more 4 ways between the three ways as you like. They are all wired exatcly the same as the existing one.

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Old 03-24-2008, 10:04 AM   #14
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3 Way Switch Draw additional Power?


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Pretty simple actually, all you do is place a four way switch between your three ways. You connect the travelers to them, you could control a light from any number or locations.
Yes, but I've never actually come across one in use. I suppose in large buildings, warehouses, etc you might find them.

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Old 03-24-2008, 10:10 AM   #15
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3 Way Switch Draw additional Power?


They are common in residential single family dwellings as well...

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