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Old 05-05-2008, 07:54 PM   #1
kdj
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Taking an outlet out of a 3way...


Hi -
I live in a old 3 decker in boston that got turned into condos. The back stairs go up into a headhouse on the roof that gives us access to a very nice roof deck.

Going up the back stairs, there are lights on each landing, and a light switch (3 way I think??) - the switches turn all the lights on or off.

The problem is there is a light up in the headhouse....but there's no switch.

What happens is - we go up to the deck in the evening when its sunny (so we don't turn on the hall lights)...and usually stay out till its dusk....and when we get back to the headhouse, its dark....and we have to go down some tricky 1890 era winders to get to the light switch.

Had an electrian over to do some other work - based on the layout of the stairs/headhouse, running the wires up to the headhouse for a switch would a real pain - lot of work, lot of digging in the walls, etc.

What I'm thinking about now is putting in a motion sensitive light (they sell them at lowes/Home Depot) in. We don't need much light, and it only needs to be on when we come in at night....so it might be perfect.

Any idea how hard, if its even possible, to take the light fixture/box up in the headhouse "out" of the circuit connected to the light switches? So it would be always powered?

I know my grasp of electrical terms is weak....but hopefully its clear enough that someone can give me a pointer...

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Old 05-05-2008, 08:09 PM   #2
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Taking an outlet out of a 3way...


Quote:
Originally Posted by kdj View Post
Going up the back stairs, there are lights on each landing, and a light switch (3 way I think??) - the switches turn all the lights on or off.
You're correct. If there are at least two switches that operate the same lights (as is customary at top and bottom of the stairs), that is certainly a 3-way.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kdj View Post
What happens is - we go up to the deck in the evening when its sunny (so we don't turn on the hall lights)...and usually stay out till its dusk....and when we get back to the headhouse, its dark....and we have to go down some tricky 1890 era winders to get to the light switch.
And you're drunk at this point, yes, go on...

Quote:
Originally Posted by kdj View Post
Had an electrian over to do some other work - based on the layout of the stairs/headhouse, running the wires up to the headhouse for a switch would a real pain - lot of work, lot of digging in the walls, etc. .
The problem is this. If the source of the power is at the bottom of the stairs (which it sounds like it is), then the hot wire at the top is (probably) switched. While you could hook up the motion sensor light, it won't work unless the circuit is switched on (in which case you don't need the bloody thing in the first place). Unless the 3-way circuit is wired as a Carter 3-way(nod to JRClen here) (probably not if it is newer than, say, 1923), you don't have an unswitched hot up there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kdj View Post
I know my grasp of electrical terms is weak....but hopefully its clear enough that someone can give me a ptinter...
That's why you're here. Don't feel bad!

One of the truly cheap things you could do is install a solar powered motion sensor light at the top. Now, personally I think that these things are trash so if you go this route, please don't come back and flame me! But, it would be some light which seems to be what you're looking for.

(SSSSS....SSSSS. Smell that? It's Joba about to chime in with his usual "..hire a licensed electrician" advice!)

TTFN,
Jimmy

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Last edited by BigJimmy; 05-05-2008 at 08:32 PM. Reason: nod to JRClen, sheesh!
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