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Old 04-14-2012, 11:17 PM   #31
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Replacing single pole light switches with double pole


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Originally Posted by bruce54 View Post
So far, all the switches I've replaced in the house have been double pole, so that's why I automatically bought the double pole switches.
No way. As others have said, those were 4-way switches, not double pole. Both have four connections, but the switching action is different. The replacement switches you posted pictures of appear to be 2P, not 4-way. If you already replaced some 4-ways with 2P's, those circuits shouldn't be working quite right. So the concern now is not so much the issue you started this thread about; it's that the work you already did needs redone.

It would be possible to use 2P or 4-way switches in place of single pole switches. But there's no reason to, and you need to understand how they work to wire it properly. They also won't fit in the box easily.

As others have said, you cannot feed a new light fixture from the box you have without running a new cable to it, since there is no neutral available in that box.

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Old 04-14-2012, 11:23 PM   #32
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Replacing single pole light switches with double pole


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OK, you guys are starting to lose me here. Again, as I originally stated, I picked up the 2-pole switches because all of the other switches I've replaced in the house (about 14 double sets) were 2-pole switches. I am changing the switches from the ivory color to bright white. True, I should have looked at the switches before I bought them. I know I can buy two white single pole switches and replace the two single pole ivory ones that are there right now. OK, everybody got that?

A couple folks have said that the wiring coming into the box needs to have a neutral wire in the bundle in order to safely hook up the two switches and have current travel to the dimmer toggle switch. Would everyone agree with that last statement, or not? If so, I will call an electrician and have them add the correct wiring to the new 3 gang box for what I'm trying to accomplish.

Thanks very much to all and good night.

Bruce
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Old 04-14-2012, 11:25 PM   #33
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Replacing single pole light switches with double pole


Has anyone else come to the conclusion that the OP has only dealt with DC circuits (ie auto) electrical.
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Old 04-14-2012, 11:26 PM   #34
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Replacing single pole light switches with double pole


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Originally Posted by bruce54 View Post
OK, you guys are starting to lose me here. Again, as I originally stated, I picked up the 2-pole switches because all of the other switches I've replaced in the house (about 14 double sets) were 2-pole switches. I am changing the switches from the ivory color to bright white. True, I should have looked at the switches before I bought them. I know I can buy two white single pole switches and replace the two single pole ivory ones that are there right now. OK, everybody got that?
I don't got that. How have you confirmed that they were double pole switches? How were they wired? This is so unusual that it's just completely implausible, unless the house was originally wired by aliens (of the outer space variety). What is a "double set" of switches?

Quote:
A couple folks have said that the wiring coming into the box needs to have a neutral wire in the bundle in order to safely hook up the two switches and have current travel to the dimmer toggle switch. Would everyone agree with that last statement, or not?
It's not a matter of needing another wire for it to work "safely" or so "current can travel to the dimmer". You do not have one of the necessary wires to power another load from that box. I mean... how were you planning on connecting it?

You'll have to run a cable from the light fixture to the box, of course. You will also need to either run another cable to the switch box from some source of power to feed the new switch/fixture, OR you will need to run a second cable to the new fixture from some source of power. Either way. Right now the box contains only switch loops, so there is no way to connect a new load to it.

I think you need to spend some time looking at residential wiring diagrams and tutorials to develop and understanding of how circuits are wired. You need to understand what the devices do and how everything is connected and works together. It's really not possible to safely work on an electrical system without understanding how the circuits function. With that understanding, almost all of these questions will disappear.

Last edited by mpoulton; 04-14-2012 at 11:29 PM.
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Old 04-14-2012, 11:33 PM   #35
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Replacing single pole light switches with double pole


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k_buz, I can certainly post a photo of some of the previously replaced switches, but I can tell you that ALL of the other double pole switches (4 screws each) I have replaced from ivory to white had two separate Romex wires coming into the box, each with one white, one black and one ground wire so that each of the 4 screws on each switch had its own appropriate wire connected. This is the first switch (and the last room in the house) that I've encountered that has this wiring configuration. Does this help?
Double pole switches are used in two situations:
1) Switching 240V loads with two live wires that need to be switched.
2) Switching loads on two separate 120V circuits at the same time, if listed for 2 circuits. For example switching multiple light banks in an office. (This sounds like what you have)

You usually don't see many double pole switches in a home. I could see for a bedroom, if you wanted to be able to switch the overhead lights and plugs at the same time and they were on separate circuits, you would use a double pole switch.

To answer your question, yes you may use the double pole switch as a single pole switch. Connect both wires on the same side of the switch. There are two reasons you may not want to:
1) The DP switch is 3 - 5 x the cost of a single pole
2) The DP switch body is bigger. You said you wanted to add a dimmer in a 3 gang. You might want to use single poles just to free up room for the dimmer switch. (How would a DP switch affect box fill calculation?)

Whatever you do please fix the code violations while you're at it:
1) Color coding the wires correctly
2) Properly grounding
3) The white jumper should be to the wire nut, not between the switches

Last edited by goosebarry; 04-15-2012 at 12:05 AM. Reason: added "if listed for 2 circuits"
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Old 04-14-2012, 11:34 PM   #36
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Replacing single pole light switches with double pole


I haven't replaced any 4-ways with 2P's. The replacement switches I have used have been 2P, or Double Pole switches, exactly what was there originally. All I've done is replace original switches, duplicating the existing wiring to the new switch. All have had 4 screws and a ground. In a few, the left side screws were not used and power was traveled to the next switch. By the way, all of the switches I've replaced in the house have been double gang boxed, double plated with two switches in each box.

As for the new 3 gang box I want to use (you can actually see my pencil marks extending from the old 2 gang box) should easily house any three switches adequately.

Thanks,
Bruce
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Old 04-14-2012, 11:35 PM   #37
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Replacing single pole light switches with double pole


I read what he is saying as he has replace (28) 2 Pole switches. But he wasn't able to do them all at the same time because HD didn't stock (28) 2 Pole switches in one location. I'd be curious what he paid per switch.

Yeah...that's completely normal
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Old 04-14-2012, 11:43 PM   #38
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Replacing single pole light switches with double pole


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Originally Posted by bruce54 View Post
I haven't replaced any 4-ways with 2P's. The replacement switches I have used have been 2P, or Double Pole switches, exactly what was there originally. All I've done is replace original switches, duplicating the existing wiring to the new switch. All have had 4 screws and a ground. In a few, the left side screws were not used and power was traveled to the next switch. By the way, all of the switches I've replaced in the house have been double gang boxed, double plated with two switches in each box.

As for the new 3 gang box I want to use (you can actually see my pencil marks extending from the old 2 gang box) should easily house any three switches adequately.

Thanks,
Bruce
All joking aside.

This is SO OUT OF THE ORDINARY that none of us can comprehend why any electrical contractor would use 2 pole switches when there would be absolutely NO REASON to use 2 pole switches.

Add to that, that 4 way switches LOOK EXACTLY THE SAME as 2 pole switches, with one minor exception...4 way switches don't have off/on on the toggle. It would be easy for a novice to mix up the two.

This quote is what scares me...

Quote:
had two separate Romex wires coming into the box, each with one white, one black and one ground wire so that each of the 4 screws on each switch had its own appropriate wire connected
This could be one of 3 things...

1) Each romex is acting as a switch loop, but being controlled by the same switch. I don't think I have ever seen this situation in 14 years of being out in the field.

2) One romex is power in, and the other romex is the switch leg. In this situation, if you wired the blacks to one side of the switch and the whites to the other, you would be switching the neutral. You are not allowed to switch the neutral according to code. Not to mention this is dangerous!

3) This is actually a 4 way switch and the two 2 wire romex's are being used as travelers

Combining everything you are telling us, we cannot help you. We would have to be there to physically go to all the switches to see WTF is going on because it is SOOOOOO out of the ordinary.

Last edited by k_buz; 04-15-2012 at 12:05 AM.
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Old 04-15-2012, 01:03 AM   #39
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Replacing single pole light switches with double pole


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2) Switching loads on two separate 120V circuits at the same time, if listed for 2 circuits. For example switching multiple light banks in an office. (This sounds like what you have)
After I wrote this I started looking around the Internet for DPST "2 circuit" toggle or Decora switches and did not find any. 30 years ago (I was licensed back then) I remember wiring DPST switches with 2 120 V circuits.

Does anybody know of a listed DPST "2 circuit" switch?

BTW If you look at the spec for DPDT "2 circuit" switches, the circuits are on separate throw not separate poles.
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Old 04-15-2012, 08:53 AM   #40
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Replacing single pole light switches with double pole


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Originally Posted by bruce54 View Post
I haven't replaced any 4-ways with 2P's. The replacement switches I have used have been 2P, or Double Pole switches, exactly what was there originally. All I've done is replace original switches, duplicating the existing wiring to the new switch. All have had 4 screws and a ground. In a few, the left side screws were not used and power was traveled to the next switch. By the way, all of the switches I've replaced in the house have been double gang boxed, double plated with two switches in each box.

As for the new 3 gang box I want to use (you can actually see my pencil marks extending from the old 2 gang box) should easily house any three switches adequately.

Thanks,
Bruce
No, what you have been dealing with is a bunch of Switch Legs.
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Old 04-15-2012, 09:42 AM   #41
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Replacing single pole light switches with double pole


You can use the two new switches to replace the existing ones. While not normal they will work.

YOU CAN NOT ADD THE THIRD SWITCH UNLESS YOU PUT THE POWER FEED FOR YOUR NEW FIXTURE AT THE FIXTURE OR PULL IN A NEW POWER FEED CABLE TO THE SWITCH BOX.
The existing three wire cable does not have a neutral. The white wire is the unswitched hot power coming in. The red and black are the two switched hot wires back to the two fixtures.
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Old 04-15-2012, 10:17 AM   #42
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Replacing single pole light switches with double pole


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Really can not, due to that is actually two Switch legs.
I disagree!
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Old 04-15-2012, 11:11 AM   #43
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Replacing single pole light switches with double pole


I'm calling an electrician tomorrow to go through all my switches and advise on my current (no pun intended) dilema.

Thanks everyone!
Bruce
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Old 04-15-2012, 11:23 AM   #44
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Replacing single pole light switches with double pole


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I disagree!
Then show us how, with their current setup.

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