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Old 03-27-2011, 10:07 PM   #1
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Rewiring 3-way switches


My basement has four overhead light fixtures, controlled in pairs:

Pair A (lights 1 and 2) is controlled by two three-way switches (top of the stairs and bottom). Pair B (lights 3 and 4) is controlled by another three-way switch at the bottom of the stairs, although there's only a single switch for them. I'd like to rewire it so that light 3 is controlled by the first three-way switch, leaving light 4 to be controlled by its own switch. (All are on the same circuit, fortunately.)

Here's what I see behind the switches at the bottom of the stairs:

First three-way switch (controls lights 1 and 2):
- white wire
- red wire
- black wire (common)
- ground

Second three-way switch (controls lights 3 and 4):
- red wire
- black wire (joins two other spliced black wires)
- black wire (common)
- ground

Also:
- three other white wires (unconnected to the switches), spliced together

I've tried several permutations of moving black or white wires around, but the results are either all four lights are controlled in unison, or none work. It appears there's a total of four black and four white wires, which I'm assuming correlate to the four lights, but I'm confused about how it should all be re-shuffled so that light #3 joins 1 and 2 on the first switch.

Any ideas? Thanks in advance.

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Old 03-28-2011, 07:04 AM   #2
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Rewiring 3-way switches


Up on the ceiling, disconnect light 3 from the wires coming to it or passing through it. Leave the rest of the wires connected the way they were, or put individual wire nuts on any ends that now have nothing to connect to. Do not connect any wire to something it ws not connected to originally.

Run a 2 wire cable from light 3 to light 2 to provide power to light 3 and have it controlled by the switch for light 2 (and light 1).

The original switches for lights 3 and 4 will now control light 4 only.

Note that some light fixtures have very little space to make connections in. It is possible that wires passing through light 3 have to be relocated to a junction box (with exposed cover on the ceiling) nearby and only the newly strung cable enters light 3.

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Last edited by AllanJ; 03-28-2011 at 07:11 AM.
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Old 07-18-2011, 08:40 PM   #3
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Rewiring 3-way switches


AllanJ: Thanks for the response. Makes sense, but running wires between the light fixtures is definitely a lot more work; do you not think there's any way to make this work via the wiring at the switches?
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Old 07-18-2011, 08:42 PM   #4
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Rewiring 3-way switches


Quick correction to my first post: The switch for lights 3 & 4 is a regular two-way switch, not a 3-way. Sorry for the confusion!
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Old 07-18-2011, 08:46 PM   #5
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Rewiring 3-way switches


i don;t see another way. there has to be a direct connection between the first pair of lights, and the new light you want to add.

How far apart are these lights?
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