4-way and 3-way Switch Wiring - Electrician Talk - Professional Electrical Contractors Forum
CLICK HERE AND JOIN OUR COMMUNITY TODAY, IT'S FREE!
Go Back   Electrician Talk - Professional Electrical Contractors Forum > Electrical Forum > General Electrical Discussion


Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 02-25-2015, 06:48 PM   #1
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: ??
Posts: 49
Rewards Points: 100
Default 4-way and 3-way Switch Wiring

Hey guys I'm back again with a question. I've been trying to find some general principles to go by when wiring 3-way/4-way lighting circuits, because I know just memorizing colors is not a solid way of understanding how to wire a 3-way/4-way switch lighting circuit.

So far this is what I've come up with by looking at diagrams where the source comes in at either a switch box or at the light:

1. One of the two 3-way switches will have their common connected to the power source.

2. The other 3-way switch will have its common connected directly to the light/load.

My question is, from what I just wrote is there a situation where those two principles would not hold true? Like would adding a certain amount of 4-ways or having the source come in at a specific device location make it so 1&2 are not true?

Once again thanks for reading this and I appreciate any info/advice.
badreligion9265 is offline   Reply With Quote
Join Contractor Talk

Join the #1 Electrician Forum Today - It's Totally Free!

ElectricianTalk.com - Are you a Professional Electrical Contractor? If so we invite you to join our community and see what it has to offer. Our site is specifically designed for you and it's the leading place for electricians to meet online. No homeowners asking DIY questions. Just fellow tradesmen who enjoy talking about their business, their trade, and anything else that comes up. No matter what your specialty is you'll find that ElectricianTalk.com is a great community to join. Best of all it's totally free!

Join ElectricianTalk.com - Click Here JOIN FOR FREE


Warning: The topics covered on this site include activities in which there exists the potential for serious injury or death. ElectricianTalk.com DOES NOT guarantee the accuracy or completeness of any information contained on this site. Always use proper safety precaution and reference reliable outside sources before attempting any construction or remodeling task!

Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
Old 02-25-2015, 06:54 PM   #2
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: MB, Canada
Posts: 240
Rewards Points: 319
Default

just remember one switch has a power leg, and the another switch has a a switch leg actually controlling the lights, and don't get your travelers mixed up.
__________________
IBEW Local 2085
fisstech is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-25-2015, 06:57 PM   #3
I own stock in FotoMat!
 
480sparky's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Cornpatch USA
Posts: 39,118
Rewards Points: 6,520
Default

The best way to understand how to wire 3-way and 4-way switches is to get one of each and take a continuity tester to them.
__________________
I'm 480Sparky, and I approved this message.
480sparky is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to 480sparky For This Useful Post:
The_Modifier (02-27-2015)
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
Old 02-25-2015, 07:04 PM   #4
Rest In Peace
 
aftershockews's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: TN
Posts: 6,298
Rewards Points: 7,003
Default

My father once told me that there are 11 ways to wire a 3 way switch configuration. I know of 7 that I have done. I alway look at the 4 way as being in series of the wiring. Keeps from making it complicated.

Your 3 ways are the key. Using 3 wire, your hot and switch leg can be in any of the switch boxes (pretty much) to make any configuration work.

I trouble shoot some where the 3 wire for the 3 ways goes through the light box for which they are controlling.

Boss calls it a 3 up-3 down method.
__________________
Official troll magnet.
aftershockews is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to aftershockews For This Useful Post:
SdCountySparky (02-26-2015)
Old 02-25-2015, 07:04 PM   #5
Senior Member
 
The_kid's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: Long Island, NY
Posts: 659
Rewards Points: 12
Default

Except when you have the switch leg and feed both in one box and you have to send over the feed (or switch leg) to the other box.

In that case you would tie the feed on to the common terminal, the red and black of the 3 wire between the boxes as the travelers and the white of the 3 wire spliced to the switch leg.
In the other box, the travelers are still travelers, and the white would be your common.
The_kid is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-25-2015, 07:15 PM   #6
Rest In Peace
 
aftershockews's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: TN
Posts: 6,298
Rewards Points: 7,003
Default

When I first started this trade, I found and animated GIF that helped me to learn 3 ways.



I hope this may help.
__________________
Official troll magnet.
aftershockews is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to aftershockews For This Useful Post:
51360 (02-25-2015), just the cowboy (02-26-2015), The_Modifier (02-27-2015)
Old 02-25-2015, 08:16 PM   #7
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Pennsylvania, USA
Posts: 35
Rewards Points: 56
Default

Here is a similar animation for a circuit with a 4-way switch too: http://users.wfu.edu/matthews/misc/s...Animation.html
jhartz is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to jhartz For This Useful Post:
hardworkingstiff (02-26-2015)
Old 02-25-2015, 08:29 PM   #8
Electrical Contractor
 
wendon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Wisconsiberia
Posts: 9,327
Rewards Points: 54
Default

There are a lot of different ways to wire them but my preferred method is:

Power in at 3way #1

14-3 daisy chained between all the 4-way locations terminating at
3-way #2.

Power out to lights from 3-way #2

Easy to trim out and you don't end up with a pile of conductors in your ceiling box. JMHO
__________________
Saving the world, one backstabbed receptacle at a time.
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
wendon is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to wendon For This Useful Post:
hardworkingstiff (02-26-2015), shocksystems (02-25-2015)
Old 02-25-2015, 08:37 PM   #9
evil bastard
 
mcclary's electrical's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: State of Euphoria
Posts: 15,771
Rewards Points: 746
Default

I hate the setup you've mentioned. I like to feed and leg out of the same box. Dead end three way on the other end.

Last edited by mcclary's electrical; 02-25-2015 at 09:05 PM.
mcclary's electrical is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to mcclary's electrical For This Useful Post:
ponyboy (02-25-2015), The_kid (02-25-2015)
Old 02-25-2015, 09:02 PM   #10
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
Posts: 1,665
Rewards Points: 3,090
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by mcclary's electrical View Post
I hate the setup you've mentioned. I like to feed and leg out of the same box. Dead end the way on the other end.
I thought in the NEC, you had to have a neutral at every outlet, or something like that?

I'm asking because I am not knowing the NEC. Just curious. I do the dead end thing often, but with the new occupancy sensors now available, I think twice.

Borgi
51360 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-25-2015, 09:04 PM   #11
I own stock in FotoMat!
 
480sparky's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Cornpatch USA
Posts: 39,118
Rewards Points: 6,520
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by mcclary's electrical View Post
I hate the setup you've mentioned. I like to feed and leg out of the same box. Dead end the way on the other end.
So you like paying for 14/4?
__________________
I'm 480Sparky, and I approved this message.
480sparky is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-25-2015, 09:05 PM   #12
evil bastard
 
mcclary's electrical's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: State of Euphoria
Posts: 15,771
Rewards Points: 746
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Borgi View Post
I thought in the NEC, you had to have a neutral at every outlet, or something like that?

I'm asking because I am not knowing the NEC. Just curious. I do the dead end thing often, but with the new occupancy sensors now available, I think twice.

Borgi
That's coming next code cycle for me, and often if it's a two three or for gang, it won't matter because chances are there will be a neutal they're anyway.
mcclary's electrical is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to mcclary's electrical For This Useful Post:
51360 (02-25-2015)
Old 02-25-2015, 09:06 PM   #13
Electrical Contractor
 
wendon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Wisconsiberia
Posts: 9,327
Rewards Points: 54
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by mcclary's electrical View Post
I hate the setup you've mentioned. I like to feed and leg out of the same box. Dead end the way on the other end.
So you end up with (2) 14-2 and (1) 14-3 in a single gang box and that's assuming it's a circuit dedicated just for that lighting string. Like I said, it's just my preference. I like to try to keep the boxes as empty as possible.
__________________
Saving the world, one backstabbed receptacle at a time.
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
wendon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-25-2015, 09:12 PM   #14
Licensed Electrician
 
knothole's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Middle TN.
Posts: 170
Rewards Points: 14
Default

I never had any idea that there were 11 different ways to wire a 3 way circuit. Learn something new EVERY day....
__________________
Danny
knothole is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-25-2015, 09:25 PM   #15
Professional Nit Picker
 
manchestersparky's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Maryland
Posts: 2,289
Rewards Points: 2,214
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by knothole View Post
I never had any idea that there were 11 different ways to wire a 3 way circuit. Learn something new EVERY day....
There is only 2 ways to wire them .....................

The right way and the wrong way
__________________
Anything Worth Doing ....
Is Worth Doing Right
manchestersparky is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following 9 Users Say Thank You to manchestersparky For This Useful Post:
51360 (02-25-2015), Chris1971 (02-25-2015), crazyboy (03-02-2015), CTshockhazard (02-26-2015), DesignerMan (02-27-2015), gardiner (02-26-2015), glen1971 (02-26-2015), The_Modifier (02-27-2015), wendon (02-25-2015)
Old 02-25-2015, 11:11 PM   #16
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: ??
Posts: 49
Rewards Points: 100
Default

Thanks for the info guys. Can anyone do me a favor and link or upload an image of the circuit mentioned which involves a 14-4 wire? I have never come across this before.
badreligion9265 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-25-2015, 11:13 PM   #17
corn-fused
 
papaotis's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: on the river, near the corn
Posts: 4,769
Rewards Points: 620
Default

i think ive seen 7 or 8, most of them worked!
__________________

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
i like neat! just doesnt always happen
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
papaotis is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-25-2015, 11:13 PM   #18
Senior Member
 
cabletie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: N.J.
Posts: 1,698
Rewards Points: 1,274
Default

An old foremen of mine always said " there are two ways of doing it, my way and the Navy way. And my way is the Navy way"!
cabletie is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to cabletie For This Useful Post:
51360 (02-25-2015)
Old 02-25-2015, 11:46 PM   #19
evil bastard
 
mcclary's electrical's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: State of Euphoria
Posts: 15,771
Rewards Points: 746
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by 480sparky View Post
So you like paying for 14/4?
Why would I do that?
mcclary's electrical is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-25-2015, 11:47 PM   #20
I own stock in FotoMat!
 
480sparky's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Cornpatch USA
Posts: 39,118
Rewards Points: 6,520
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by badreligion9265 View Post
Thanks for the info guys. Can anyone do me a favor and link or upload an image of the circuit mentioned which involves a 14-4 wire? I have never come across this before.
14/4 is used for a dead-end 3-way because the NEC requires a neutral there.
__________________
I'm 480Sparky, and I approved this message.
480sparky is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Wiring a Level Switch wwaller314 PLCs, VFDs, Motors and Controls 8 02-23-2015 07:18 PM
Need help wiring switch DIYguy General Electrical Discussion 33 02-11-2014 07:20 AM
When did we switch to 3 conductor wiring? cmhcissell NEC Code Forum 4 05-09-2013 08:00 PM
wiring a 3 way switch bt3476 General Electrical Discussion 39 12-08-2009 07:46 PM


All times are GMT -4. The time now is 10:15 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Search Engine Optimization by vBSEO 3.6.1
vBulletin Security provided by vBSecurity v2.2.2 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2020 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
User Alert System provided by Advanced User Tagging (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2020 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
Our Pro Sites Network
ContractorTalk.com | DrywallTalk.com | HVACSite.com | PaintTalk.com | PlumbingZone.com | RoofingTalk.com