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Re: Three way switches [Re: gfretwell] #182552 12/01/08 09:08 PM
Joined: May 2007
Posts: 169
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ChicoC10 Offline
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I use Leviton devices for the most part but this technique works on P&S as well.

Assuming I did the rough and used a stuffing/switching convention that lets me readily identify what travelers go where, and assuming the colors of the travelers are different and consistent from end to end, at finish I do this...

I have a hierarchy of colors in place that in most of my cases goes black, red, white-phased black.

When installing the first switch in a 3 way set, after attaching the common first I then attach the highest color in the the hierarchy (present in that particular traveler) to the screw directly above the common. This leaves the lesser color to go on the screw opposite the common.

I then do the reverse of that at the other end of the traveler.

Both switches are installed into the box with the ground screws on the left ( the same way I install my receptacles).

When I have 4 ways in between I make sure that the colors match on their respective ins and outs. (both blacks on left and reds on right as an example).
These also get installed with the ground screws on the left.

Without dimmers or other devices that that need to be rung out to determine which 2 contacts connect in the "up" position, this technique gets all the switches down when the light is off.

I use Leviton "Togglers" to match standard switches and they have the opposite connection pattern as the Leviton switches. In this case connect them the same way at both ends of the traveler.

Occasionally I have to go back and flip a 3 way over after I power it up to make it perfect ( the best laid plans and all of that) but this works for me 99% of the time and I do it mindlessly (which probably accounts for the other 1%).

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Re: Three way switches [Re: SteveFehr] #182604 12/04/08 04:59 AM
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pdh Offline OP
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Originally Posted by SteveFehr
pdh, just wire the lights initially so that when every light switch is down, the lights are off. You may end up with some up and down during normal use, but during a power failure, put them all down, and you'll know the lights will be off when power returns. And, honestly, this doesn't even sound like a problem so much as an aesthetic preference and pet peeve- for anything actually critical, you should be securing the breaker and not relying on light switches anyhow. The electrical costs for a single light are negligible in the scheme of things, especially considering the low-likelihood of the kind of thing you're talking about. I mean, you're talking about 10 cents a day for a 60W bulb left on 24/7. About $1/month for a typical CFL. I have a bunch I just leave on 24/7 intentionally because.

The reason I would turn them off has nothing to do with the reason I would secure a breaker. I never rely on switches to make a circuit "safe" for wiring work. It's all about making sure lights are off ... or on as the case may be. I can make a light be on by moving all switches down to off, then moving one back up. Then when I come back, if the power is back on, the lights should be in the desired on/off arrangement. FYI, I have 500W of nice warm kitchen task lights on one of the 3-ways (each end of access to the kitchen). CFLs are unsuitable for task lighting, at least for me. My electrical conservation is in the form of not having lights on unless I need them.

Originally Posted by SteveFehr
3-way switches are indispensible, especially for rooms with multiple entrances. I have 4 light switches controlling my dining room chandalier, and wouldn't have it any other way. One of which is a push-button, boo-yah!

Switches that do up and down momentary contact, resting in the middle position, controlling a contactor/relay, would do the job. I would prefer this kind of setup.

Re: Three way switches [Re: pdh] #182607 12/04/08 03:00 PM
Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,498
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gfretwell Offline
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Look into th4e GE RR7 relay system if you want momentary switch activation. Then all of your switch legs are run in bell wire and the number of switches is virtually unlimited.
I had the outside floods on this system at my mouse in Md. There were several places around the house with a switch that would turn them all on or off.


Greg Fretwell
Re: Three way switches [Re: gfretwell] #182624 12/05/08 12:00 AM
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pdh Offline OP
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The RR7 are mechanically latching. Some lights I would want to work that way. Some others I would not. I want to look into some solid state switching, which I presume is how things like X-10 do it.

Re: Three way switches [Re: pdh] #182629 12/05/08 01:39 AM
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gfretwell Offline
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I have a bunch of things switched with SSRs and CMOS controllers but some day the "listing police" swat team will be storming my house.
"Come and get me copper"

They do have the U/R label but no assembly listing.
The opto 22 SSRs are a nice fit in a handy box and it is easy to rig a barrier between the line side and the LV side so I am "hold your nose" legal. If you use a 4x4 box the factory supplied barrier works if you cut a slot to fit over the SSR. Hammer the back KO down flat (if it isn't already) and apply the white heat sink goo. On the ones running my 11kw spa heater have a supplemental heat sink but that is not in a device box.
Once you get the line voltage side out of the way the sky is the limit with what you can do on the CMOS side.


Greg Fretwell
Re: Three way switches [Re: gfretwell] #182723 12/07/08 10:10 PM
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pdh Offline OP
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If I were to run some twisted AWG#22 or such wire to the switches, with the intent to have them controlling solid state control devices, I'm wondering what the AHJ inspectors might think of that. Even if explained to them exactly what is going on (on the plans when permits are pulled), they might take the position that the next homeowner that buys the place from my estate might think the wire is OK to use after removing all the solid state and then wire it up as normal switch loops. So it might still need to be wired with AWG#14.

Re: Three way switches [Re: pdh] #182735 12/08/08 03:17 PM
Joined: Jul 2004
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gfretwell Offline
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All of my LV stuff uses momentary contact switches so that would not be an issue here. I am not even sure I would trust regular snap switches going into CMOS. I bet they are pretty noisy and might depend on a certain amount of current just to keep them clean.


Greg Fretwell
Re: Three way switches [Re: gfretwell] #182775 12/09/08 09:34 PM
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pauluk Offline
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Just as with the NEC, our code in Britain does not address the issue of 3-way switch orientation, but I always wire them so that "both up" and "both down" are off (of course, our regular light switches here are up=off, down=on, but for 3-ways it works out the same on both sides of the Atlantic).

Where a 4-way is involved as well, I wire so that all switches up = off.



Re: Three way switches [Re: gfretwell] #183106 12/26/08 01:16 AM
Joined: May 2007
Posts: 46
Samurai Offline
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I wired my personal 3 ways at home and have had many customers request: both down = off. The problem is, now it bothers me if both are up for off - I catch myself turning them both down for uniformity (I think I'm not OCD.). I suspect those customers run all over their houses turning all their three ways down - completely defeating the convenience of them.

the easy trick is to reverse the orientation of the travelers, using common as reference - it seems to work no matter the switch brand.

what I really wanted to do was an RF programmable system, maybe next year.


Re: Three way switches [Re: Samurai] #183108 12/26/08 08:06 PM
Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 853
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leland Offline
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I can't believe this topic has gone on for three (3) pages and one (1) month.

That I find more amazing than an electrician or customer worrying about the position of a 3-way.

Heck! How would you ever get the job signed off? the customer walk thru would destroy all your hard work! smile

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