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Old 03-03-2019, 07:25 PM   #1
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Wiring an added recessed light circuit with 1 dimmer and one switch


Hello, Iím adding 12 very basic phenolic medium base $2 lamp holders to the joist bays (mounting to the bottom of the subfloor above) of my unfinished basement space. I want to use dimmable led bulbs. They are rated at about 8 watts a piece.

I want to have 2 3-way switches. One will be at the top of the stairs and i guess it should be the regular switch. The other will be in the lighting area at the bottom of the stairs and Iím guessing THIS area should have the three way led switch. This switch is rated for 150 watts and should be enough for dimming all 12 led lamps at 8 watts each.

I donít know anything about master/slave orientation but Iím wondering about the particulars of the necessary wiring of this circuit for example which switch should get the power and how should the lights be wired together, series or parallel?

I know very little of the proper terminology so feel free to speak as basically as you wish. I wonít be offended lol. Does it matter which switch the power line goes to first? Or simply the order of things. I know i have some drilling to do with all the joists. Iíd hate to run all the wiring of course and find out it was wrong and i have to rewire. Wire is expensive and i want it right the first run.

I understand i need a 3-wire black red white traveler between the 3-way switches. I donít know where the line should start and end or if it matters.

Thank you very much In advance and i look forward to your replies and recommendations.

Sincerely,

a humble home owner trying to please his wife by fixing up her giant dollhouse lol.
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Old 03-03-2019, 07:50 PM   #2
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Re: Wiring an added recessed light circuit with 1 dimmer and one switch


Best option is power into the switch at top of stairs. Then 3 wire cable to dimmer switch. Then 2 wire cable from dimmer to L1 then to L2 to L3 etc.
Lights are wired in parallel.
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Old 03-03-2019, 08:24 PM   #3
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Re: Wiring an added recessed light circuit with 1 dimmer and one switch


Thank you, i donít mean to sound stubborn but if i already ran the power to the basement switch would that be okay?
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Old 03-03-2019, 09:10 PM   #4
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Re: Wiring an added recessed light circuit with 1 dimmer and one switch


There are or there use to be 5 ways to wire a set of 3-way switches. With the requirement for a neutral at switches you are limited to 3 ways (as practical matter).

The switch where the power comes in is known as the line switch. The switch where the power goes to the fixture is known as the load switch.


In your case you can make either the switch at the bottom of the stairs the line or you can make the switch at the top of the stairs the line switch. Either one can be the dimmer switch.
If you make the switch at the top of the stairs your line switch, you would run your 2-wirepower cable to the box at the top of the stairs. You would run 3-wire cable to the box at the bottom of the stairs and 2-wire cable from the bottom of the stairs to the first light fixture. You would connect the neutral (white) of the power in cable to the white of the 3-wire cable. You would connect the hot (black) of the power cable to the common terminal of the 3-way switch. You would connect the black and red of the 3-wire cable to the traveler terminals. At the bottom of the stairs you would connect white of the 3-wire cable to the white of the 2-wire cable to the light fixture. You would connect the red and black of the 3-wire cable to the traveler terminals (just like above). You would connect the black of the 2-wire cable to the light fixture to the common terminal.


OR
You could do it in reverse making the switch at the bottom of the stairs the line switch and connect the switch at the top of the light fixture.

OR
You could make the switch at the top of the stairs the line switch, make the power go to the load switch at the bottom of the stairs and come back to the box at the top of the stairs. To do that you would run a 2-wire cable for power to the top, run a 2-wire cable from the box at the top of the stairs to the first light fixture and a 3-wire cable to the box at the bottom of the stairs. You would connect the incoming neutral (white) to the out going neutral (white) going to the light fixture. You would connect the incoming hot (black) to the common terminal. You would connect the black of the 3-wire cable to the black going to the light fixture. You would connect the red and white of the 3-wire cable to the traveler terminals. Put a piece of black tape on the white to designate it as hot. At the bottom of the stairs connect the black to the common terminal. Connect the white and red to the traveler terminals. Put a piece of black tape on the white.

Or
You can do this in reverse making the switch at the bottom of the stairs the line switch. Wiring would be the same.
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Old 03-03-2019, 09:18 PM   #5
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Re: Wiring an added recessed light circuit with 1 dimmer and one switch


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Thank you, i don’t mean to sound stubborn but if i already ran the power to the basement switch would that be okay?
I think that means you have already run power to the bottom of the stairs. If so you can run you 3-wire cable to the top of the stairs and take your power from there to the fixture. Or take the last option and make it come back to the bottom of the stairs and go from there to the light fixture.
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Old 03-03-2019, 09:25 PM   #6
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Re: Wiring an added recessed light circuit with 1 dimmer and one switch


There is another way. Want to hear it?
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Old 03-04-2019, 03:20 AM   #7
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Re: Wiring an added recessed light circuit with 1 dimmer and one switch


Harold, thank you for your time and explaining what looks like my three options. It sounds like the new electrical code has made it only three options. It wouldnít be that hard for me to use the switch at the top of the stairs to be the feed to the lights. Right now the line is going to the bottom switch and the feed is also coming from the bottom switch. The drywall isnít finished yet so Iíd simple remove the screws. Waste a little wire. My other headache, if you will, is do i really have to put all the lights in parallel?

I wouldnít mind hearing your other wiring option especially if it heutilizes my current configuration lol 😝

But really thank you Harold for your time sir!
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Old 03-04-2019, 07:54 AM   #8
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Re: Wiring an added recessed light circuit with 1 dimmer and one switch


Quote:
My other headache, if you will, is do i really have to put all the lights in parallel?
Lights are always wired in parallel. What were you thinking of doing?
Here is a drawing of what you should be doing.

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Old 03-04-2019, 08:30 AM   #9
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Re: Wiring an added recessed light circuit with 1 dimmer and one switch


Quote:
is do i really have to put all the lights in parallel?
You can put your lights anywhere you can run cable.
Not sure what you mean by parallel? I would call Joed drawing sequential. Sequential in logic. The wires (hot and neutral) always run parallel but the fixtures are sequential. They can physically be anywhere you want to put them. You could wire from a switch to any one of the fixtures you want to, and then go out from there in multiple directions.

The other way of wiring (and this might be the easiest with stairs) is to run your power cable to a light fixture and then run 3-wire cable to the line (first) switch. Then run 3-wire cable from the line switch to the load (second) switch. With stairs this would probably be the easiest to do and require the least amount of wire. The only requirement is 3-wire cable between the light fixture and the switch.
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Old 03-04-2019, 08:40 AM   #10
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Re: Wiring an added recessed light circuit with 1 dimmer and one switch


Quote:
Originally Posted by hkstroud View Post
You can put your lights anywhere you can run cable.
Not sure what you mean by parallel? I would call Joed drawing sequential. Sequential in logic. The wires (hot and neutral) always run parallel but the fixtures are sequential. They can physically be anywhere you want to put them. You could wire from a switch to any one of the fixtures you want to, and then go out from there in multiple directions.

The other way of wiring (and this might be the easiest with stairs) is to run your power cable to a light fixture and then run 3-wire cable to the line (first) switch. Then run 3-wire cable from the line switch to the load (second) switch. With stairs this would probably be the easiest to do and require the least amount of wire. The only requirement is 3-wire cable between the light fixture and the switch.
This method is no longer compliant as there is no neutral ant the second switch box.
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Old 03-04-2019, 09:08 AM   #11
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Re: Wiring an added recessed light circuit with 1 dimmer and one switch


Quote:
This method is no longer compliant as there is no neutral ant the second switch box.
I haven't check the latest code but the last time I looked there is an exception for the second 3-way switch that is in the same room
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Old 03-04-2019, 10:12 AM   #12
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Re: Wiring an added recessed light circuit with 1 dimmer and one switch


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I haven't check the latest code but the last time I looked there is an exception for the second 3-way switch that is in the same room
Better check again:

404.2(C) has no exceptions for 3 ways so a neutral is required at all switches. The reason is because of the high use of timers, motion sensors, occupancy sensors etc which , in the past used the egc as a CCC. This code makes a neutral available so the egc is not used to carry current.

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Old 03-04-2019, 11:49 AM   #13
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Re: Wiring an added recessed light circuit with 1 dimmer and one switch


OK, interpret 404.2(C) 5
Also check
http://www.electricallicenserenewal....ectionID=301.0
Check the wording of 2017
Quote:
Where multiple switch locations control the same lighting load such that the entire floor area of the room or space is visible from the single or combined switch locations, the grounded circuit conductor shall only be required at one location
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Old 03-04-2019, 01:52 PM   #14
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When you called the dimmer(s) master and slave it made me think you are using dimmers such as Lutron Diva or Maestro which use a 2nd controller other than a regular switch. If so, they wire differently. I will wait to hear what dimmer you are using before going into detail.
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Old 03-04-2019, 03:56 PM   #15
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Re: Wiring an added recessed light circuit with 1 dimmer and one switch


Three way switches are not the easiest things to figure out. This helped me figure out a couple of things regarding the wiring:
https://www.familyhandyman.com/elect...reeway-switch/

One of the keys it to make sure both the dimmer and the switch are three way.
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