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Old 09-24-2019, 06:12 PM   #1
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How to replace a 3 way light socket with standard


Hi all.

I just bought some cheap floor lamps at Walmart that were on deep discount, and the main lamp has a 3 way socket. I want to change the socket to a standard because, 3 way LED's are expensive, and I don't like running the 3 way Incan's in the warmer months because of the heat.

I tested a 3 way Incan bulb and it will run fine on the highest setting, but a standard LED will not run at all. At best, it lightly flickers on the highest setting. If it would run fine on high like the Incan, then that would work, as I really only use these big lamps on high anyway.

So, I'm wanting to do one of two things:

1) If perhaps there is an easier way (and cheaper) than replacing the socket, perhaps just rewiring the current one to turn it into a standard lamp? That would be nice and save me money. Can this be done? If so, how do I do it properly without turning the outside of the lamp into a shock post!

I will also ask here if anyone makes a simple screw in adapter that converts a 3 way to a regular without having to do any wiring. That would be great!

2) If #1 won't work, I have already bought a replacement standard socket, but I still need to know how to wire it correctly.

As you can see in the pics, each screw has 2 wires going to it, and these wires go down to another junction where a side lamp is connected.

It's harder to see in the pics, but the silver screw seems to have one ribbed wire, and one wire that has a large white stripe on it, and may also be ribbed. The brass screw has one smooth wire, and the other seems to have multiple super thin white lines on it. I suppose that makes sense to have each wire marked in a 4 wire setup.

Any help is appreciated!
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How to replace a 3 way light socket with standard-socket-2.jpg   How to replace a 3 way light socket with standard-socket-3.jpg   How to replace a 3 way light socket with standard-socket-4.jpg  
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Old 09-24-2019, 06:24 PM   #2
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Re: How to replace a 3 way light socket with standard


Not an expert, but I believe that there is no difference in the wiring. Just think about the fact that your wall receptacles only have a hot, a neutral, and a ground. Whether you plug in a standard bulb socket, or what you are calling a 3way bulb socket, both will work plugged into any receptacle.

The difference is inside the 3way socket as far as I know.

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Old 09-24-2019, 08:28 PM   #3
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Re: How to replace a 3 way light socket with standard


Did you try the LED on the other switch settings? A incandescence 3-way lamp has two filaments powered by different contacts (centre and ring on the bulb base) and gets the high setting by turning them both on. Maybe the two closely spaced contacts are messing up the LED bulb. You might be able to achieve the same thing by disconnecting the wire from the low (non-centre) contact.
Regardless, all those black wires are coming from the switch, wherever that is. There's only two incoming wires from the plug; hot and neutral. They may be be black and white or with internal lamp wiring could be any colour.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3-way_lamp
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Old 09-25-2019, 12:42 AM   #4
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Re: How to replace a 3 way light socket with standard


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Originally Posted by lenaitch View Post
Did you try the LED on the other switch settings? A incandescence 3-way lamp has two filaments powered by different contacts (centre and ring on the bulb base) and gets the high setting by turning them both on. Maybe the two closely spaced contacts are messing up the LED bulb. You might be able to achieve the same thing by disconnecting the wire from the low (non-centre) contact.
Regardless, all those black wires are coming from the switch, wherever that is. There's only two incoming wires from the plug; hot and neutral. They may be be black and white or with internal lamp wiring could be any colour.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3-way_lamp
Ok, thank for the info and link. I'm starting to get a better understanding of this now. I also just watched a video where a guy replaced a standard socket with a 3 way and it was just a 2 wire setup and just a simple swap out.


With this lamp, it has that side lamp, and that must be the reason for the extra wires, but there are 2 switches, one at each lamp. And there are only 2 screws on the main lamp switch, with 2 wires going to each one.


So, my guess is only 2 of the wires going to the main switch are active at a time, 2 for when the side lamp is off, and 2 for when it's on.


I don't think the main 3 way switch will come apart to allow disconnection of the low wattage contact, but I'll take a closer look.


Now that I know how the 3 way bulbs and contacts work, I'm a little surprised that my LED isn't at least working on the medium setting. Maybe it's a bad bulb. I guess I should have checked that first.....



Ok, I'm going to tinker. I'll report back what I figure out. Thanks for the help guys!
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Old 09-25-2019, 04:00 AM   #5
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Re: How to replace a 3 way light socket with standard


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Originally Posted by spaceboy909 View Post
Ok, thank for the info and link. I'm starting to get a better understanding of this now. I also just watched a video where a guy replaced a standard socket with a 3 way and it was just a 2 wire setup and just a simple swap out.

With this lamp, it has that side lamp, and that must be the reason for the extra wires, but there are 2 switches, one at each lamp. And there are only 2 screws on the main lamp switch, with 2 wires going to each one.

So, my guess is only 2 of the wires going to the main switch are active at a time, 2 for when the side lamp is off, and 2 for when it's on.
No. Your guess is wrong.
The two switches are wired in parallel, and are "energised" at all times that the lamp is plugged into the socket outlet.

From the Wikipedia link of which you have been advised you should see that any normal E26 lamp (whether Incandescent, CFL or LED) if inserted into a "3 way" switched socket should operate as normal on any of the three "non-off" positions.

Hence, there should be no need for you to replace the socket concerned, if you don't mind going three steps from "On" to "Off".

In your initial post you wrote "I tested a 3 way Incan(descent) bulb and it will run fine on the highest setting," BUT, you did not state if it would operate on the other two possible "on" settings, which it should.

If that Incandescent bulb does not operate at full on all 3 "On" settings of the switch, there is something wrong with the connections in the socket.
If it does operate at full on all 3 "On" settings of the switch, there is something wrong with the LED which you are using.

(The lamp advertised seems to be this one https://www.walmart.com/ip/Mainstays...=&wl8=&veh=sem)

Please do not "tinker" - if you do not know what you are doing.
(BUT then, if you know what you are doing, it would not be "tinkering"!)
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Last edited by FrodoOne; 09-25-2019 at 04:22 AM.
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Old 09-25-2019, 03:49 PM   #6
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Re: How to replace a 3 way light socket with standard


After seeing the pic of the lamp, I think the confusion lies in the fact that it does not appear to be a lamp with 3-way lamp sockets, but a fixture with 2 lamps on a 3-way switch; off>one lamp>the other lamp>both lamps. I am sitting under one like that as we speak.


I'm guessing if you look down into the socket bases, they lack the tab contact #2





If so, they are just two, normal single setting socket bases and will accept any similar lamp.
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Old 09-25-2019, 05:19 PM   #7
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Re: How to replace a 3 way light socket with standard


...........

Last edited by SPS-1; 09-25-2019 at 05:25 PM.
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Old 09-25-2019, 11:11 PM   #8
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Re: How to replace a 3 way light socket with standard


Thanks for the extra info guys. I have retested it with different bulbs, and indeed, my first LED bulb was bad. I did not fully understand how the 3 way switch worked at the time and assumed the bulb was bad, which I had just pulled out of another lamp.


The main/top socket on this lamp is a true 3 way switch, with both tabs inside. The side/reading lamp is independent of the main and can be on or off regardless of the other switch.


Frodo: Regarding some of the other info, based on what I saw in the wiki page and pics, a regular bulb will only be on when the switch is in the 2nd or 3rd position, but not the 1st, as it is the low watt tab only which won't contact the center of a regular bulb, and that is how this lamp tests for me: Off for 2 positions, and on for 2 positions.



I am curious though about the wiring. If it's wired in paralell, which makes normal sense for an independent setup, then why run 4 wires to the top switch when only 2 are needed? The only reason to run 4 wires would be the design that I proposed, which would be the long, and seemingly more expensive way of going about it, running that extra redundant wire up there.


I know that sometimes in manufacturing it's not always design logic that determines the design, but purchasing logic, i.e., the company may have gotten a super discount on some "4 position" switches and it turned out to be cheaper to do it this way even with the extra wires, whereas at normal buying prices, it would not.
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Old 09-26-2019, 12:17 AM   #9
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Re: How to replace a 3 way light socket with standard


If there is no switch on the pole light shaft, just a switch on the reading lamp and a 3-way switch on the main light socket - then they ran the cord to the main top socket first, and paralleled them to feed the reading light, instead of splicing the cables within the shaft or the base itself.
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Old 09-26-2019, 12:29 AM   #10
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Re: How to replace a 3 way light socket with standard


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Originally Posted by LawnGuyLandSparky View Post
If there is no switch on the pole light shaft, just a switch on the reading lamp and a 3-way switch on the main light socket - then they ran the cord to the main top socket first, and paralleled them to feed the reading light, instead of splicing the cables within the shaft or the base itself.
Oh, I see, that makes sense. I just assumed they would split it in the middle.


Both lamps have their own switch, ftr. 2 switches total.
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Old 09-26-2019, 01:41 AM   #11
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Re: How to replace a 3 way light socket with standard


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Oh, I see, that makes sense. I just assumed they would split it in the middle.
A "split in the middle" would be an extra pair of connections, which may be hard to access.
It would be somewhat akin to a junction box being "buried" in a wall - a definite no-no!


I stand corrected as to the switching possibilities of a standard E26 lamp in a "3 way" socket.
An E26 lamp base has a centre contact of between 9.14 mm and 11.56 mm in width.
The insulated area around this is between 15.24 mm and 17.01 mm.
(https://www.waveformlighting.com/hom...s-it-look-like)

While I have not found the specifications of the "3 way" (Pseudo E26) lamp, it is obvious that the extra contact must lie within the region of 11.56 mm and 15.24 mm, which is a ring of only 3.68 mm in width.

Of course, I know these "3 Way" lamps only in a theoretical manner, having seen one only once on a visit to the USA.

As far as I am aware, such lamps are not used outside North America. Certainly, they have never been available in Australia for use on a 230/240 V system.
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Last edited by FrodoOne; 09-26-2019 at 02:05 AM.
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Old 09-26-2019, 02:04 AM   #12
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Re: How to replace a 3 way light socket with standard


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Originally Posted by FrodoOne View Post
A "split in the middle" would be an extra pair of connections, which may be hard to access.
It would be somewhat akin to a junction box being "buried" in a wall - a definite no-no!
Ah, that makes sense too. I am learning my first bits about electrical wiring with these lamps. Very different animal from my electronics days.
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