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Old 09-28-2009, 10:57 AM   #1
 
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Sorority House Light Fight


My daughter lives in a 100-year-old sorority house. Each girl has her own bedroom and every two bedrooms walk out onto a shared patio or deck.

From her bedroom, a girl can turn on or off the patio ceiling light, unless the other girl in the other bedroom has already switched the light off from her bedroom. Both girls must have their switches on for the other girl to get light. So when one girl turns off the light in the daytime to save electricity, and then doesn't get home until after dark, the other girl is left with a dark patio.

This is not safe because there are steps leading up to the patio, not to mention there are plenty of burglars in their town.

So, the easiest solution, to me, is to buy a curly light that uses very little electricity and leave it running 24/7. But is there anything else they can do? Could they, without drilling or running ten feet of cord, govern that light from the outside?

Is there an adaptor that would screw into the light socket that would be sensitive to a remote control and turn the light on or off from that adaptor rather than from their respective bedroom wall switches?
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Old 09-28-2009, 11:02 AM   #2
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You can buy a photosensor that screws into the light that will turn it on at dusk & off at dawn
Might depend on if there is a cover & how big



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Old 09-28-2009, 01:20 PM   #3
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X10 has some products that might help you. You will also need the remote from them http://www.x10.com/automation/x10_lm15a.htm or Hd http://www.homedepot.com/h_d1/N-5yc1...atalogId=10053

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Old 09-28-2009, 02:02 PM   #4
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It sounds like you a miswired three way switch. If the college owns the house, tell them to fix it. If its privately owned, and you, or someone you know, can make electrical connections, we can tell how to fix it.
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Old 09-28-2009, 07:51 PM   #5
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Another idea is to use a motion detector, when they walk up to the stairs the light will come on. ALso will deter peopel who are not suppose to be there.
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Old 09-28-2009, 08:48 PM   #6
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Does every pair of students have this problem or just your daughter and her neighbor?

Especially since it is women who are affected, the school (or the sorority if it owns the house) should get it fixed quite quickly for security's sake.

Actually the first one home if they're both out after dark will always have the problem unless the light was left on all day even with a real 3 way switch setup. One of the above suggestions or a third switch installed outside at the bottom of the steps (4 way switch setup) would be needed to get around this.
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Old 09-29-2009, 11:11 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Code05 View Post
It sounds like you a miswired three way switch. If the college owns the house, tell them to fix it. If its privately owned, and you, or someone you know, can make electrical connections, we can tell how to fix it.
This is correct. These lights are not connected properly. There is nothing you can do with the exception of a light that requires no power from the patio fixture.
This is the responsibility of the property owner. This is a safety hazard and should be addressed immediately.
Contact the proper authority and report this today.

If this were my daughters living quarters I would hire an electrician to come in and correct it, then bill the owner if he or she is not cooperative.
I would expect the electrician could be in and out on simple but serious problem like this.
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Old 09-29-2009, 04:58 PM   #8
 
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Have an electrician come in....

I suspect someone changed a switch and did not install a 3-way ('cus they cost a buck more) and now things don't work.

Easy fix..and it's gunna cost someone 100 bucks. (sorry)

_pete
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Old 09-29-2009, 08:07 PM   #9
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My suggestion.......


  1. Remove both switches
  2. Replace one switch with a programmable "In Wall Astronomic Timer" (Intermatic makes one)
  3. Wire nut conductors in other switch box and cover with a blank plate
  4. Install a motion detector at the exterior fixture wired in parallel with the astronomic timer
  5. Program astronomic timer to switch light "ON" at dusk and "OFF" at midnight, switch light "ON" again at 6:00am and "OFF" at daybreak.
The roomies will always have an exterior light on at normal student waking hours when natural light is dim or non-existant. They will also have a security light which will automatically switch on if they return to their rooms after the pre-determined "OFF" time, or if an unknown person approaches the door.

http://www.intermatic.com/products/t...0switches.aspx

Last edited by MI-Roger; 09-30-2009 at 11:14 AM.
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Old 09-29-2009, 08:14 PM   #10
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Only the landlord can have someone do electric work
Anyone else & you will risk losing any security deposit



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Old 09-29-2009, 09:18 PM   #11
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You would not have to alter any of the wiring if you did string an extension cord from inside the room with a plug in lamp to light the porch with. Accessories like dusk to dawn switches can work with this too. This too may influence the owner to redo the wiring of the porch light more quickly.
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Old 09-30-2009, 05:45 AM   #12
 
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Sorry Allen, as an electrician I cannot condone using an extension cord!

A lot of houses get burned down every year because of stuff like that!

_Pete
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Old 09-30-2009, 06:49 AM   #13
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Houses burn down due to the improper use of an extension cord &/or overloading it. Or using one that is old & insulation falling apart
Or running it under a rug etc
Using an extension cord for a lamp is not going to cause the house to burn down

I've had an 2 extension cords going to 2 lamps on either side of our couch for 6 years. The shorter cords on the lamps these days do not reach outlets 12' apart



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Old 09-30-2009, 11:45 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MI-Roger View Post
  1. Remove both switches
  2. Replace one switch with a programmable "In Wall Astronomic Timer" (Intermatic makes one)
  3. Wire nut conductors in other switch box and cover with a blank plate
  4. Install a motion detector at the exterior fixture wired in parallel with the astronomic timer
  5. Program astronomic timer to switch light "ON" at dusk and "OFF" at midnight, switch light "ON" again at 6:00am and "OFF" at daybreak.
The roomies will always have an exterior light on at normal student waking hours when natural light is dim or non-existant. They will also have a security light which will automatically switch on if they return to their rooms after the pre-determined "OFF" time, or if an unknown person approaches the door.

http://www.intermatic.com/products/t...0switches.aspx
If you look at this article, you will see that your very creative suggestion would not be code compliant. Great idea, but I would not try to implement it in this situation. This common area fixture must be supplied, maintained and repaired by the owner or whomever is in control of this building. This was a blunder by the installer, or someone has screwed something up over the last 100 years. Might have been perfectly legal back then? That would get the original installer off the hook.

210.25 :
(A) Dwelling Unit Branch circuits. Branch circuits in each dwelling unit shall supply only loads within that dwelling unit or loads associated only with that dwelling unit.
(B) Branch circuits required for the purpose of lighting, central alarm, signal, communications, or other needs for public or common areas of a two - family dwelling, a multifamily dwelling, or a multi-occupancy building shall not be supplied from equipment that supplies an individual dwelling unit or tenant space.
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Old 09-30-2009, 07:03 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J. V. View Post
If you look at this article, you will see that your very creative suggestion would not be code compliant. Great idea, but I would not try to implement it in this situation. This common area fixture must be supplied, maintained and repaired by the owner or whomever is in control of this building. This was a blunder by the installer, or someone has screwed something up over the last 100 years. Might have been perfectly legal back then? That would get the original installer off the hook.

210.25 :
(A) Dwelling Unit Branch circuits. Branch circuits in each dwelling unit shall supply only loads within that dwelling unit or loads associated only with that dwelling unit.
(B) Branch circuits required for the purpose of lighting, central alarm, signal, communications, or other needs for public or common areas of a two - family dwelling, a multifamily dwelling, or a multi-occupancy building shall not be supplied from equipment that supplies an individual dwelling unit or tenant space.


210.25 (A) My assumption is that the circuit breakers or fuses supplying the exterior patio light fixture are located in an electrical panel that is NOT located in either of the two Sorority House rooms opening onto the shared patio. If the circuit supplying the exterior light also provides power to receptacles or lighting fixtures within the rooms, then the AHJ may have reason to require the exterior light circuit to be a dedicated circuit.

210.25 (B) Sentence #2 above applies here also.

Use of a dedicated circuit to power this light would avoid any code non-compliance, but would be cost prohibitive for a quick retrofit. A less costly approach could be to request the AHJ to approve a design assumption that the patio and both adjacent rooms opening onto the shared patio comprise a single dwelling unit.

But in the end, the cheapest approach is to replace the single pole switch with the correct 3-way switch so both rooms can have individual control of the light.
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