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Old 03-27-2012, 11:14 PM   #1
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4 way switch setup with multiple runs of lights


Hi. I have what I consider a complicated layout I want to do for a 4-way switch setup. the answer may be easy but I haven't found a diagram showing what I want to do. All the diagrams I see have the following:

A) power into the 3 way switch, then 4 way switch(s) in between and finally ending with a 3 way switch before running to the lights, or

B) reversed, with the power into a light fixture (s) and then 3way switch, 4way(s) in between and finally ending with a 3 way.

I want to do a setup where there are 3 switches, switch A at the begining and then the circuit forks with each leg of the fork serving a bunch of recessed lights before each ends with another switch (see image). I can't connect all lights between switched due to a steel beam separating them without running a good bit of extra wire.

Questions:
1) Can my schematic be laid out like I'm showing or do I need to run wire to connect all switches together in linear fashion first and then run wire again to connect all lights together in linear fashion (or vice versa)?

2) I'm showing the outdoor lights getting power off of a 3 way (or 4 way) switch. Now that I'm learning more about this am I correct to assume this is not possible unless it happens to be the first switch and can be pigtailed off of the wires coming in?

If I can't do what I'm showing the only solution I can think of is to run power to the 3 way switch A, connect all of the lights running wire through basement and up to avoid the beam, then run wire to the 4 way switch B at the front door and then run wire to the 3 way switch C at the stairs. Seems inefficient so let me know if there is a better way!

THANK YOU!
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Last edited by CapeCod153; 03-27-2012 at 11:17 PM.
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Old 03-27-2012, 11:36 PM   #2
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4 way switch setup with multiple runs of lights


There is a way to do it, but it might take a change in where the power enters the system. Instead of it entering at the switch with the "fork" it would have to enter at one of the other ends.

That being said, to wire it like you want, you would have to run 14-4 between all the lights. 14-4 is available, but not common, you would probably have to go to an electrical supply house to find it.

If this is something you would like to continue with, then I can draw something out, but it might not be that much cheaper than running some extra wire and wiring the system the conventional way.

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Old 03-27-2012, 11:48 PM   #3
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4 way switch setup with multiple runs of lights


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There is a way to do it, but it might take a change in where the power enters the system. Instead of it entering at the switch with the "fork" it would have to enter at one of the other ends.

That being said, to wire it like you want, you would have to run 14-4 between all the lights. 14-4 is available, but not common, you would probably have to go to an electrical supply house to find it.

If this is something you would like to continue with, then I can draw something out, but it might not be that much cheaper than running some extra wire and wiring the system the conventional way.
Thanks for the quick reply. I can run power to switch B first (allows me to pick up those 2 outside lights before I enter the switch) and if I understand you correclty my choices are:

1) either run 14-4 after Swtich B in my current diagram or

2) connect 3way (Switch B) to 4way (switch 'C') and then to 3 way (switch A) and finally run 14/2 from Switch A to all of my lights in series.

Looks like either I use a lot of common wire or a little less of not so common wire, both costing more money than I wanted!
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Old 03-28-2012, 12:00 AM   #4
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4 way switch setup with multiple runs of lights


If it were me doing it, i would do the switches and then go to the lights, way simpler to connect and troubleshoot down the road if needed.
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Old 03-28-2012, 12:03 AM   #5
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4 way switch setup with multiple runs of lights


A quick look online and I found 14-4 NM for .68/foot.
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Old 03-28-2012, 06:19 AM   #6
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4 way switch setup with multiple runs of lights


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A quick look online and I found 14-4 NM for .68/foot.
Is there a good electric supply online store that people really like or do most of you buy local?

THANKS everyone!
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Old 03-28-2012, 06:32 AM   #7
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4 way switch setup with multiple runs of lights


NO WAY I'd run 4-wire through all those lights just to save a bit of 14/2. An extremely inefficient and complicated way of doing it.

Wire 3-wire between the switches and wire the lights the typical way. The feed can be at any switch and so can the switch leg.

I have to say, if you're installing 11 recessed lights as part of a renovation, and a few feet extra of 14/2 is not in your budget, you may want to re-think doing a project like this until you can afford it.
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Old 03-28-2012, 06:54 AM   #8
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4 way switch setup with multiple runs of lights


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NO WAY I'd run 4-wire through all those lights just to save a bit of 14/2. An extremely inefficient and complicated way of doing it.

Wire 3-wire between the switches and wire the lights the typical way. The feed can be at any switch and so can the switch leg.

I have to say, if you're installing 11 recessed lights as part of a renovation, and a few feet extra of 14/2 is not in your budget, you may want to re-think doing a project like this until you can afford it.
Thanks for your reply - that is what I've decided to do. It's not that this extra wire isn't in my budget it's just that as is typical with these projects, everything keeps taking longer and costing more. This is not unusual for a DIYer but I feel I need to figure out the most efficient way to do things to try to keep the cost and time in check. In this instance it is the install time much more than the cost of the wire since it takes a lot of time running the wire back and forth. My understanding is in the unfinished basement the wire cannot be run & attached to the bottom of the joists but rather must be drilled through. So this switch layout simply requires me to drill a lot of holes since a good bit of the back & forth run is perpendicular to the joists.
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Old 03-28-2012, 07:07 AM   #9
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4 way switch setup with multiple runs of lights


I guarantee you, unless you have a qualified electrician there helping you, with going the 4-wire route figuring out the splices, and troubleshooting the problems would take longer.
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Old 03-28-2012, 07:20 AM   #10
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4 way switch setup with multiple runs of lights


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I guarantee you, unless you have a qualified electrician there helping you, with going the 4-wire route figuring out the splices, and troubleshooting the problems would take longer.
You are absolutely correct and that is why I will run the extra wire 14/2 and 14/3 wire. Since I'm not an expert I just wanted to make sure that was my best option. I think we all know it is! Thanks again for taking your time to post and help me out.
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Old 03-28-2012, 07:30 AM   #11
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4 way switch setup with multiple runs of lights


If you had one inkling of running 14-4 from one light fixture to the next, why not run 14-3 for the travelers along the same route, passing nonstop just outside of each light fixture? This 14-3 would go from one switch to the next. Use 14-2 from fixture to fixture for the switched power..

(Of course if there were a shorter route from switch to switch, you would run the 14-3 along that more direct route.)

Saves having to have joints in the travelers inside each light fixture along the way.

In a sense we could be "saving on wire nuts" although this is a useless comment as worded.

It is better to run the power to an end (a 3 way) switch, not the middle (a 4 way) switch.

Provided that the connection boxes at the various light fixtures are large enough, you could tee off at some fixtures as opposed to do a strict daisy chain from one fixture to the next, if this saves on joist drilling.
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Last edited by AllanJ; 03-28-2012 at 08:18 AM.
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Old 03-28-2012, 07:44 AM   #12
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4 way switch setup with multiple runs of lights


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If you had one inkling of running 14-4 from one light fixture to the next, why not run 14-3 for the travelers along the same route, passing nonstop just outside of each light fixture? This 14-3 would go from one switch to the next. Use 14-2 from fixture to fixture for the switched power..

(Of course if there were a shorter route from switch to switch, you would run the 14-3 along that more direct route.)

Saves having to have joints in the travelers inside each light fixture along the way.

In a sense we could be "saving on wire nuts" although this is a useless comment as worded.

It is better to run the power to one of an end (a 3 way) switch, not the middle (a 4 way) switch.
If I understand what you are saying (and that's a big if for an electrical rookie) I had wondered if I would be allowed to do that (or if electricians actually do that). However, in this situation I think it is best if I connect all of the switches first and then run to the lights. I will considering Teeing off of the electrical boxes. Thanks!

Last edited by CapeCod153; 03-28-2012 at 07:58 AM.
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Old 03-28-2012, 10:29 AM   #13
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4 way switch setup with multiple runs of lights


3-way at "B" with power in to supply other lights, 4-way at "A", 3-way at "C" with switch leg to lights. Run the extra wire up, over, around the beam to connect the lights... you're gonna have to get wire between two of the switches across the beam anyway.
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Old 03-28-2012, 10:59 AM   #14
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4 way switch setup with multiple runs of lights


I think if it was me I would break it up into several smaller groups of lights with separate switches.
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Old 03-28-2012, 12:52 PM   #15
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4 way switch setup with multiple runs of lights


I dont know if this helps but it has incoming power at your switch "B" which is a 3-way. Switch "A" is the 4-way and switch "C" is the other 3-way.

Al cables between switches are 12-3, all cables between lights are 12-2. In the strategically placed junction box I do not show it but the white traveler from switch "C" should be reidentified with black tape at both ends
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Last edited by hammerlane; 03-28-2012 at 01:00 PM.
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