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Old 01-11-2010, 11:20 AM   #1
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HELP - wiring a 4 gang switch panel


Decided to replace my old switches this weekend and got in a little over my head.

2 switches on the left are 3 way, and the 2 on the right are regular switches. The one on the left works - the rest do not. I tried to wire it up the way they were on the old switches (with the wires going to just one screw on the 2nd 3-way switch), but after the 2nd switch didn't work, I tried to get creative and after trying seemingly endless wiring combinations, I couldn't get any of the 3 remaining switches to work.

Here's a photo of the mess, and a diagram I cooked up. Any help is very appreciated.


****I updated the wiring diagram with the changes I made. The one on top with the #7 is the newest...
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HELP - wiring a 4 gang switch panel-old-switches.jpg   HELP - wiring a 4 gang switch panel-4-gang-wiring-diagram.jpg  
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Last edited by Tim_; 01-12-2010 at 10:05 AM.
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Old 01-11-2010, 12:34 PM   #2
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HELP - wiring a 4 gang switch panel


Is this how itis now or how it was before?
I have no idea where to start with this.
I can tell you from the drawing
Cable 4 & 5 appear to be unswitched power in and power out.
'No idea' switch will need to be on for porch to work.

I also appears the the bottom right screw of th three way switches should be the common connection(usually a black screw).

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Old 01-11-2010, 12:53 PM   #3
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HELP - wiring a 4 gang switch panel


Needless to say, it is a good idea to take pictures, label each wire with sticky labels, and draw a wiring diagram *before* disconnecting any of the old switches.

If you know how it was wired with the old switches, then be aware that a new 3-way switch will probably have different connections than a new 3 way switch.

You need to understand how a 3-way switch works inside. It is like in the below picture.

And you need to know how to use a continuity tester. Check the old 3 way switches and the new 3 way and note the differences. How to use a continuity tester...
http://www.dinosaurelectronics.com/Test_Fuse.htm

3-way switch...

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Old 01-11-2010, 01:01 PM   #4
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HELP - wiring a 4 gang switch panel


Quote:
Originally Posted by joed View Post
Is this how itis now or how it was before?
This is how it is now. When I was loosing the screws on the switch, I didn't realize that some of the screws had 2 and sometimes 3 wires on them - and after I took the screws out I wasn't sure which ones had multiple wires on them...

Quote:
Originally Posted by joed View Post
It also appears the the bottom right screw of the three way switches should be the common connection(usually a black screw).
I must have the 3-ways 'upside' down - the common black screw is on the upper left here.
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Old 01-11-2010, 01:04 PM   #5
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HELP - wiring a 4 gang switch panel


Next you need to understand what each switch goes to.

Then you have all the tools you need to figure out this puzzle!

Figure out which wires go to each light or whatever they go to and LABEL those wires.

You can remove a light fixture, use a long length of wire, and a continuity tester to determine WHICH wire(s) from the switch box goes to that light.

AND...

You can remove the covers on the opposite 3 way switches, then use a long length of wire and a continuity tester to find which wires go to the opposite 3 way switches in the 4 gang box.

You will need to disconnect the wires from the opposite 3 way switches before doing a continuity test. And at the other end as well. Label the wires first and take pictures.

You can get stick on address labels to stick to an envelope, cut them thin with scissors, and stick them around each wire. Then write A, B, C... on each wire or whatever.

You also need to *fully* understand the wiring in your house and *fully* understand how the entire circuits function. If you don't, get a book on electrical wiring from a home improvement store and this may make things click (get one with many pictures and diagrams of typical wiring).
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Old 01-11-2010, 01:25 PM   #6
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HELP - wiring a 4 gang switch panel


P.S. The "neutral" wires shown in the above picture probably don't travel through your 4 gang electrical box.

And with old wiring there is no "ground" wire, so that would not be there either.

And it is possible these switches are on more than one breaker / circuit. So best to always turn off the main power before working on any electrical wiring. Then you are sure all the power is off!
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Old 01-11-2010, 01:36 PM   #7
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HELP - wiring a 4 gang switch panel


Quote:
Originally Posted by Billy_Bob View Post
P.S. The "neutral" wires shown in the above picture probably don't travel through your 4 gang electrical box.

And with old wiring there is no "ground" wire, so that would not be there either.
That's correct.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Billy_Bob View Post
And it is possible these switches are on more than one breaker / circuit. So best to always turn off the main power before working on any electrical wiring. Then you are sure all the power is off!
Yep - they are on more than one breaker.

Going to pick up a multimeter tonight to try to figure this out. I'm assuming I need to figure out what wires go to what and then hook the switches up to them.
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Old 01-11-2010, 01:38 PM   #8
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HELP - wiring a 4 gang switch panel


I think what has thrown me of the most is that I've never seen switches wired to each other in the same box, nor have I seen more than one wire connected to a single screw on a switch before. Of course that may be because I've never really done much 'electrical' work other than replacing single outlets and switches.
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Old 01-11-2010, 02:00 PM   #9
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HELP - wiring a 4 gang switch panel


The wires on 1 and 2 will be travelers for the 3way switches and should connect to the silver colored screws on those switches. Since you said the far left switch works the light it is supposed to, that means the black from cable 3 should connect to the black screw on that switch. Of the remaining cables, 4,5,6 you will need to determine which is the incoming hot. What concerns me though is the single black wire you have shown... where does it go and whay is there no associated white wire with it?

The two single pole switches will be the ones that share the incoming hot, although the second 3way may share also.
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Old 01-11-2010, 02:15 PM   #10
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HELP - wiring a 4 gang switch panel


Quote:
Originally Posted by HouseHelper View Post
What concerns me though is the single black wire you have shown... where does it go and whay is there no associated white wire with it?
I can't tell for sure, it appears that behind that bundle of white wires, there may be another 'terminal' that the stray black wire is going into, and I think the associated white wire might be coming out of that terminal and going straight into that pigtailed bundle.

I'll have to go check it out for sure when I get home this evening.

BTW, I'm not sure if terminal is the proper word here, but I hope it makes sense. When I say terminal I'm referring to the places where the black & white wire come into the box...
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Old 01-11-2010, 03:31 PM   #11
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HELP - wiring a 4 gang switch panel


First you must not put more than one wire under a screw. Put then togethr in a wire nut and add a short pigtail to go to the switch.
SEcond figure out wires are the unswitched hot. If there is more than one circuit involved then I think you might have an issue with neutrals crossed between circuits as well.
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Old 01-11-2010, 03:55 PM   #12
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HELP - wiring a 4 gang switch panel


Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim_ View Post
Going to pick up a multimeter tonight to try to figure this out. I'm assuming I need to figure out what wires go to what and then hook the switches up to them.
Also you can look at this as sort of a "crossword puzzle". If you can figure out one or two switches, then the remaining wires will be easier to figure out!

As to the wire going from switch to switch...

-Basically a switch turns off/on the "hot" only to a light.

-You only need to run the hot wires to a regular switch (2 wires). One from the supply power hot and one going to the light.

-And if you have say 2 switches in one box, there is no need to run 2 separate hot "supply" wires to the switch box (a total of 4 wires). Instead you can run just 1 for the "hot supply from the breaker panel", then connect that to the other switch to provide power to that switch (a total of 3 wires and one jumper between the two switches).


Then this all looks to be quite complex! BUT it is just 4 separate switches basically. Just get one working at a time, then go on to the next.
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Old 01-11-2010, 08:37 PM   #13
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HELP - wiring a 4 gang switch panel


How it's wired currently, I need to have both the "no idea" switch, and the "porch" switch turned ON for the porch light to come on...

I picked up a Voltage Tester and this Multimeter / AC Voltage Detector tonight:
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Old 01-11-2010, 08:59 PM   #14
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HELP - wiring a 4 gang switch panel


Quote:
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How it's wired currently, I need to have both the "no idea" switch, and the "porch" switch turned ON for the porch light to come on...
That problem is easy to fix. Take the wire off the top of the no idea switch that does NOT go to the other switch and swap it with the bottom wire that goes to the porch switch.
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Old 01-11-2010, 09:00 PM   #15
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HELP - wiring a 4 gang switch panel


Your need to take the wire between your no idea switch and your porch switch off. then take your other wire from your no idea switch and put it on the porch switch where you removed the other wire. that will straighten out your porch light.
Gona study your diagram some more.

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