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Old 10-28-2010, 02:57 AM   #1
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wife looking for answers


Hi all, I am new here. I have a problem that I am trying to help my husband figure out. we are building our home. We are working on our elec. now. My husband wired in a three way switch. It went from the switch to a light to a light then to another switch. but when he turned it on the switches both work but the light is dim. What in the world is causing that. the red and black are the travlers the white is common the green is ground. Any help out there!!!! please!

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Old 10-28-2010, 06:10 AM   #2
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Your lights are connected in series, because you do not have enough conductors to properly wire this.

You need a 4-conductor cable between the lights in order for it to work. Absent that, a separate 2-conductor cable could be utilized to get the additional wire needed between those lights.

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Old 10-28-2010, 07:40 AM   #3
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You need four wire cable between the lights. Here is a drawing.

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Old 10-28-2010, 07:49 AM   #4
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One step by step way to attack the problem.

Redo it with just one light in operation. Caution: The power lead coming back from the switch to feed the light itself (to the black lead of the light) must not be white (or green). Meanwhile the common (neutral) to that light must be white. It is possible that in order to satisfy this condition you will need to make part of a traveler white (not green).

The second light still has both wires unconnected. You can test the first light at this time.

Now take the additional length of 2 conductor cable to connect the first light to the second light, black to black and white to white. If you had had 4 conductor & ground cable between the two lights, there would have been two wires (one white, the other colored and not green) left over for this without the need for the additional cable..
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Last edited by AllanJ; 10-28-2010 at 08:01 AM.
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Old 10-28-2010, 03:37 PM   #5
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I do believe it should be wired from switch to switch, then to the lights from one of the switches. So your hot wire should come into a switch, then the black and red wires should be run between the switches as a hot and a runner, then a seperate hot wire to the lights.

As for the series, I have my own question there for future reference and to help here.

Could you use a pigtail in the first light, with an in, out, and the pigtail to the light in one wire nut? This should keep them in parellel, correct?

Basically, an outlet has a built in tab between the gold screws to keep your branches in parellel, while a light will not have this, thus dropping your voltage accross the branch?

Hope I helped and did not confuse you any further, but this one got me thinking.
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Old 10-28-2010, 05:08 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by psuryan View Post
Could you use a pigtail in the first light, with an in, out, and the pigtail to the light in one wire nut? This should keep them in parellel, correct?.
Yes you could use the pigtail with one wire nut but if you did not add the extra 2 conductor cable from one light to the other light then you would have the in, the pigtail to that light, but there would be no wire for the out.

With most light fixtures there are black and white wires coming out of the fixture so you don't need the pigtail. Fixtures with screw terminals need a pigtail if you would otherwise want to connect two wires to the same screw, the latter not being proper.

You may not connect a white wire to the hot terminal of a light fixture and you may not connect a colored wire to the neutral terminal (screw terminal usually silver) of a light fixture. This will also usually keep them in parallel.
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Last edited by AllanJ; 10-28-2010 at 05:13 PM.
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Old 10-28-2010, 05:27 PM   #7
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Thank you. He piggybacked one light and the other light he did a complete run. You all were a big help
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Old 10-29-2010, 10:00 AM   #8
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I would sub out the electrical and do the plumbing yourself. Just kidding. But if you guys have no clue what are you doing. Or do you have a clue? Are you qualified to do this work? Glad to hear its a new house under construction. That way the inspector can keep an eye on your work. Is electrical work that easy that anyone can do it?
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Old 10-29-2010, 10:03 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by J. V. View Post
Is electrical work that easy that anyone can do it?
Nope, it isn't. But many like to do their own work to save money, and it's fun. Those folk had better research the hell out of good electrical books though, and come here for help, as OP is doing.
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Old 10-29-2010, 02:31 PM   #10
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Wiring 1-2-3 , the Home Depot book, shows how you can connect 3 way switches:
power-switch-fixture-switch;
power-fixture-switch-switch;
power-switch-switch-fixture.
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Old 10-30-2010, 09:42 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sirsparksalot View Post
Nope, it isn't. But many like to do their own work to save money, and it's fun. Those folk had better research the hell out of good electrical books though, and come here for help, as OP is doing.

Like I said. It's a good thing this will be permitted and inspected.
And just because you like to do your own work and its fun does not mean you are qualified to do it.

From past experience I have seen HO's doing their own work only to have to turn around and hire a contractor to fix all of their mistakes.
This can get very expensive.

Next time you get a toothache, come and see me to have it pulled. I am no dentist, but always wanted to be a doctor.

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