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J187 02-17-2008 07:04 PM

Leviton Lighted 3-way Rocker. Switch works but does not illuminate
I replaced one of my garage 3-way switches with an illuminating leviton 3-way rocker so I will notice now If I leave the garage light on. The switch does work as a switch, but does not illuminate. It seems strange to me that there would be a reason I would have to replace both switches in the 3 way circuit with lighted... That's not the problem is it? I've tried 2 different switches from different stores so I don't think its defective. Am I missing something?

End Grain 02-17-2008 07:08 PM

It's odd, but in previous jobs, I've encountered several Leviton 3-way dimmers where the light didn't light or where one of the two positions did not function properly straight out of the sealed blister package. Before you go along too far or go crazy rehashing things, try bringing it back and getting a new one.

Stubbie 02-17-2008 09:06 PM

Leviton 3 ways decora rocker style switches come two ways one is called a pilot light switch which requires a neutral and the other is called an illuminating switch which does not require neutral wire.

The pilot light version is load 'on' light 'on' ...requires a neutral

The illuminated version is load 'off' light 'on' ...does not require a neutral

My guess is you have the pilot light version and without a neutral in the switchbox so your light will not come on

Is your switch a 5638 series? If not what series is it?

J187 02-17-2008 09:10 PM

Thanks. It's definitely not the one that requires a neutral. Its load off = illuminated. ANy other reasons it may not light?

Stubbie 02-17-2008 09:37 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Well lets look at the wiring diagram, it appears that it doesn't matter which 3-way is replaced since it allows a resistive load to travel through the light regardless of rocker position. Did you get it connected correctly as far as the correct wire on the common screw (dark colored one)..? I'm groping here.

AllanJ 02-18-2008 10:16 AM

If the light doesn't work (bulb burned out) the switch will not light up either.

It is conceivable that if the light being controlled is a compact fluorescent, there is something about its ballast that would prevent some kinds of illuminated switches (notably with neon lamps) from lighting up. Just for kicks, substitute an incandescent lamp.

The little lamp in the switch should be connected across the two traveler terminals internally. It should make no difference whether one or both switches are the illuminated kind.

handyman78 02-18-2008 11:11 AM

As AllanJ mentioned, I have had some Leviton illuminated 3-ways act up using flourescent lighting.

J187 02-18-2008 05:42 PM


Originally Posted by Stubbie (Post 98823)
Well lets look at the wiring diagram, it appears that it doesn't matter which 3-way is replaced since it allows a resistive load to travel through the light regardless of rocker position. Did you get it connected correctly as far as the correct wire on the common screw (dark colored one)..?

Yeah, it's definitely wired correctly. In fact, the switch operates perfectly. It just doesn't light up.

You guys may have hit the nail right on the head though, this switch is most certainly controlling some flourescent lighting.... I will investigate.

forsunny 10-09-2008 12:17 AM

Similar to the posts above, I recently (2-3 days ago) installed three decora illuminated 3 way switches on three circuits in my house recently. The other side three way switches are regular old non-illuminated toggle type. The three circuits work properly, but only one of the illuminated switches lights up correctly. The the other two on the other two circuits don not light up at all. I even exchanged one of the non-lighting switches with a new one from the store just to make sure the switch itself was not defective. Smae result. So I do not think that the switches are themselves defective unless these switches have an extraordinarily high rate of manufacturing defective pieces. There are only incandescent lamps on these circuits and no fluorescents/cfls.

There is only a couple of plausible explanations I can think for this. One is that either both ends of each circuits are required to have the illuminated switches instead of a regular non-illuminated switch.

The second explanation I can think of is that the neon(I think) backlight illuminating the switch somehow depends on the capacitance of the whole ciruit to light up, because the switch on the longest circuit(more capacitance allowing more current through the neon backlight bulb) lights up, but the two on the shorter circuits don't.

If anybody has any explanation of how these illuminated switches work and/or how I can remedy my situation - Please help.

AllanJ 10-09-2008 08:22 AM

How the illuminated switch with no neutral is supposed to work:

1. When the switch is "off" the little (neon or LCD) lamp in the switch actually completes a series circuit in place of the switch contacts. Because the little lamp draws so much less current than the load (larger lamp, appliance, etc.) the latter does not operate with the minute current passing through.

2. When the switch is "on" it "short circuits" if it does not disconnect the little lamp inside and that lamp no longer lights up.

forsunny 10-10-2008 01:42 AM

3 way illuminated switch
Hi AllanJ: Thanks for the reply. But, I was wondering about how does the neon/lcd switch between the terminals or how is it connected to the 3 terminals of the 3 way switch. Is it connected to the common terminal on one side and both the other two switched terminals?

Can you please explain the internal structure of such an illuminated 3 way switch, or even better if you can some how draw it. I can posiibly sacrifice 1 such switch, break it and look into the internal wiring of it, but if you could explain it to me without me having to resort to breaking it, that would be much better.

I have the illuminated switches only in the Switch 1 (connected to the incoming hot wire from the mains) positions on all circuits. Like I mentioned before, one of them illuminated fine while the the other two on the other two circuits don't iluminate. I am wondering what the problem could be? Would exchanging the positions of the two wires interconnecting the two 3 way switches on each end make a difference?

Ultrarunner2017 10-10-2008 10:23 AM

For a 3-way illuminating type switch, there will have to be two neon or lcd lamps inside, one wired to each switch position, with the other lead of both lamps being wired to the common terminal.
This way, you have illumination for each position of the switch (when the switch is not making the circuit).

forsunny 10-14-2008 09:04 PM

Illuminated 3 way switch
Thanks for the explanation KE2KB.

Could you suggest what could be the problem that my Decora 3 way illuminated switches are not illuminating? I described the problem in this post about a week ago.

Thanks in advance.

forsunny 10-16-2008 09:57 AM

Could it be because the other switch is older and maybe has somewhat bad contacts causing poor connection when the load is extremely small such as the neon in the other light switch but is able to overcome the bad contact when the load is large such as the main lights on the circuit? Thus the main circuit works properly while the switch does not illuminate. Do you think replacing the other switch in the circuit with a brand new one would help?

forsunny 10-16-2008 11:54 AM

I really don't see the point of having the illuminated switch turn off its neon when the main lights are on. The main lights are so bright that the neon in the illuminated switch should not bother anyone. That would simplify construction and make it more robust. It would only need one neon light in it then.

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