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 jose1244 01-07-2008 12:40 PM

Adding New Light and Switch to Existing Three-Way

Hi!

I don't know if this topic has been covered any where yet, but here's what I'd like to do in my basement:

In my stairwell going down, I have an existing three-way switch and light at the top and bottom of the stairs. I'm not sure if power is coming into the first light and switch or the second switch. I know it terminates at the second (bottom) light. I'd like to add another light and switch out in the basement bedroom I'm adding so that I can go from the stairs to the bedroom without having to go back and turn the stair light off. What's the best way to do this? Thanks for your help for a real newbie!

 handyman78 01-07-2008 02:53 PM

A "simple" 3 way circuit uses 2-3way switches. More than that requires a 4way switch in addition to the 2-3ways. You can add as many 4ways as you would like as the result would be the same.
The problem is that the wiring is more complicated. Power currently comes into the one switch, thru "travelers" to the other switch and to the light or lights off of the other end. A 4way switch needs to extend the travelers in between to another location.

 jose1244 01-08-2008 07:11 PM

Thanks, Handyman!

So I'm clear here, would I be replacing the 3-way switch #2(power coming into switch #1, and continuing on to light #1 and then switch #2 and light #2) with a 4-way and then extending the circuit out to the last (new) light and 3-way switch? Thanks for your help!

 handyman78 01-08-2008 09:27 PM

Visualize this- If I understand you correctly yes-the 2 black traveler wires from 3way switch #1 would go to 4way switch #2, another set of black travelers would go from switch #2 to the 3way switch #3 which would then go onto the light. Not stated but to be understood- there would also need to be a continuous white(neutral) wire connection and ground connection from the power source to the light. These go from source to light unswitched in any way.

However- This is a problem- you mention a light at each switch? For this to work effectively there is only one light connection (which could have many lights connected to it). Each of the lights (no matter where they physically exist) need to be powered from the last common connection on switch #3.
As I mentioned you can have as many 4 ways as you like since they only add another on-off opportunity for the circuit. Ultimately the power is either on or off at the light with any switch changing the scheme with a flip!

 220/221 01-08-2008 11:51 PM

Typically, a 3way system has the power at one switch and the switch leg at the other and a 3 wire cable running between them.

1. Determine which 3way contains the power and which one has the switch leg.

The voltage on the "common" terminal of the powered switch will remain constant no matter which direction the switch is flipped.

The voltage on the common terminal of the switch leg 3 way will turn on and off by operating the switch.

2. Feed the new light with a 2 wire cable sized like the other wires in the box from an existing light location or the 3way that has the switch leg.

3. Run a 3 wire from either 3way to the new location.

You will have to do some rewire to make that 3way a 4way. How you do that depends on factors unknown at this time. It's one of those things that will take much longer to explain than it would to actually do it.

 handyman78 01-09-2008 10:10 AM

Quote:
 Originally Posted by 220/221 (Post 86900) It's one of those things that will take much longer to explain than it would to actually do it.
Isn't that the truth!

 AllanJ 01-09-2008 04:27 PM

Any 3 way switch setup can be converted to a 4 way setup this way:

Run a 3 wire cable from the new (third) location to one of the existing switch locations.

Remove the 3 way switch from the opened location and put it in the third location connecting the same colored wire to the dark (common) terminal as before.

At the opened location connect the two old travelers (wires originally connected to the light or non-common terminals of the 3 way switch) to the dark terminals of the 4 way switch and the two new travelers to the light terminals of the 4 way switch.

Connect the other two wires togehter (these should have matched in color).

Mark both ends of the new cable's white wire with black tape or stain.

To add yet more switches, as in a 5 way setup, run the new 3 wire cable to a 3 way switch's box (not a 4 way switch's box) and repeat the above procedure.

 Andy in ATL 01-09-2008 04:59 PM

Quote:
 Originally Posted by AllanJ (Post 87036) Any 3 way switch setup can be converted to a 4 way setup this way: Run a 3 wire cable from the new (third) location to one of the existing switch locations. Remove the 3 way switch from the opened location and put it in the third location connecting the same colored wire to the dark (common) terminal as before. At the opened location connect the two old travelers (wires originally connected to the light or non-common terminals of the 3 way switch) to the dark terminals of the 4 way switch and the two new travelers to the light terminals of the 4 way switch. Connect the other two wires togehter (these should have matched in color). Mark both ends of the new cable's white wire with black tape or stain. To add yet more switches, as in a 5 way setup, run the new 3 wire cable to a 3 way switch's box (not a 4 way switch's box) and repeat the above procedure.

Allan,

Your way is the best way. What is a 5 way?

 AllanJ 01-09-2008 11:01 PM

A five way setup -- Another switch (fourth location) added to a four way (three locations).

 jose1244 01-28-2008 04:49 PM

Thanks guys!
I've been away for a while, so it was great to see your replies. Allan, I'll put your expertise to good use tomorrow evening when I get home. You guys are great!
Jose

 joed 01-28-2008 06:10 PM

Adding additon fixtures requires that you connect into the existing fixtures or switch where those fixtures are fed from. In your case it sounds like this is the switch at the top of the stairs.

 cwelte 02-15-2008 11:20 AM

Same but slightly different situation...

Quote:
 Originally Posted by jose1244 (Post 86445) In my stairwell going down, I have an existing three-way switch and light at the top and bottom of the stairs. I'm not sure if power is coming into the first light and switch or the second switch. I know it terminates at the second (bottom) light. I'd like to add another light and switch out in the basement bedroom I'm adding so that I can go from the stairs to the bedroom without having to go back and turn the stair light off. What's the best way to do this? Thanks for your help for a real newbie!
I have a very similar situation, except I want to do something different. I have an overhead kitchen light that is in the middle of a three-way switch run. I want to add a light over our table that will operate on a seperate, independent switch. I want to tap into the existing three-way switch to power the separate light and switch. Is that possible? Do I just pass the terminal wires over to the next switch?

Thanks for the help!

 AllanJ 02-15-2008 11:47 AM

You must find where power comes in.

If both power and the sets of travelers come into the existing fixture box, it is likely that the box is too crowded to add another 14-2 cable to continue the power to the new light and separate switch. You might have to dig out that box and replace it with a larger box, or find another power feed.

You would not tap into existing travelers and you would not tap into existing light feed wires.

 hms 02-15-2008 12:44 PM

They now make a wireless switch which you can add to one of the existing 3way switches which will allow you to control one of the existing 3 way switches remotely. You would then mount the remote switch downstairs where ever you want to put it. They only cost about \$30.00 at your local hardware store.
Not the most permenant solution, but a solution to look into none the less. Good Luck

 cwelte 02-15-2008 01:57 PM

Quote:
 Originally Posted by AllanJ (Post 98245) You must find where power comes in. If both power and the sets of travelers come into the existing fixture box, it is likely that the box is too crowded to add another 14-2 cable to continue the power to the new light and separate switch. You might have to dig out that box and replace it with a larger box, or find another power feed. You would not tap into existing travelers and you would not tap into existing light feed wires.
Makes sense, thanks. I had a gut feeling that the "proper" way to do this would be to run a new feed up from the basement to the new switch. I was just hoping for a less intrusive way. Sometimes the easiest way is not the best.

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