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Old 01-05-2010, 12:23 PM   #1
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replacing 3 way dimmer with 3 way rocker


First thank you to this forum. Lots of good information here.

My question is this. I have a 3 way switch setup. One of the switches is a rocker. The other is a dimmer. I would like to replace the dimmer with a rocker. So my question is this. How do I identify which wire is the common and does it matter which terminal the traveller wires go to?

Thank you.
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Old 01-05-2010, 01:07 PM   #2
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I would expect both switches (old and new) to be marked which connections are common and which are travelers. Make notes which house wires are connected to which, and duplicate on new switch.

It DOES matter which terminal that the common is attached to. I do not belive it matters which of the two terminals that the two travelers are connected to.

Using your favorite search engine, search on three way switch. It will show the many variations of wiring diagrams, based on where power is supplied. An understanding of three-way switch wiring will better ensure you do things correctly.

Note, also, colors of wires. If you use a white wire as a traveler, put some black tape on it to indicate it is not a neutral. Green, or bare, goes to ground.
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Old 01-05-2010, 01:12 PM   #3
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If the present dimmer has two reds and one black, the black is the common.
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Old 01-05-2010, 01:21 PM   #4
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Thanks for the quick replies. I did a search and came up with this site.

http://www.homeimprovementweb.com/in...way-switch.htm

Looks like there are 8 possible ways to wire a 3 way. wow, didn't realize that it was that complex. Not sure at this point which one I have, but I'll take it apart again and have a look. From what I can tell, all 8 options all a few things in common. One common always connects to the hot coming from the breaker. The other common goes to the black on the light.
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Old 01-05-2010, 01:45 PM   #5
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The current wiring of the 3-way setup should not matter. Does the dimmer you want to replace have only 3 wires (common and two travelers?) Just look on the current switch for the "common" markings and replicate this with the new switch.
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Old 01-05-2010, 02:04 PM   #6
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Yes. There are 3 wires coming off of the dimmer all of which are black and not labeled. I don't remember off the top of my head what colors the house wiring that connect to these 3 black wire are.

It would be easy if the house wiring just connected to terminals on the switch but that isnt the case. It looks like this dimmer but with 3 black and ground. So that is why I'm confused as to which one is the common.

http://www.homedepot.com/hdus/en_US/...step_3optb.jpg
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Old 01-05-2010, 02:24 PM   #7
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You will need three tries to get right then. The traveler wires sont' care which one is which. Try one of the wires on the common of the switch. If it doesn operate properly from both ends then try a different one. If it still doesn't work then try the last one. If it worked before then it has to work with one of the three setups.

I can't believe the dimmer is not marked. Usually one of the wires is different from the other two to indicate the common connection.
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Old 01-11-2010, 02:56 PM   #8
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I would like to thank everyone for their help. Here's how things went down. I removed the switch from the box but did not disconnect it. Then I looked at the 3 wires. I used cheap tester to test for power. I noticed that I had power on 2 of the 3 wires. I then flick the switch and tested again. I then flicked the remote switch and tested again. What I noticed is that the power moved back and forth between 2 of the wires, but it never moved on the 1 wire. The one that power never moved I connected to the common on the new switch. The other 2 wires went to my travelers. The new switch works great.
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Old 01-11-2010, 04:23 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by liquidvw View Post
........ The new switch works great.
Congratulations on your logic to find the Common.

And thanks for posting the results.

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