Can these light switch changes be done?

canishelFebruary 20, 2010

First of all, IÂll ask an electrician to do this, but IÂd like to understand what is possible and OK per code.

The objective is to add two additional switches that control one set of floodlights. That is, I want to control this set of lights from three locations. This set of lights is on one circuit (call it circuit A). Other lights are on this circuit, but may be irrelevant for this question.

IÂd like to install these additional switches in two existing boxes whose switches control other lights. One box contains two rocker (Decora) switches. Both switches are on the same circuit (circuit B), but one switch is a three-way that controls a second set of floodlights. The second box contains three rocker switches; two switches are on one circuit (circuit C), the third switch is another three-way for the second set of floodlights. This house is finished, no remodeling or otherwise having walls open to easy additions. IÂm not sure if thereÂs enough room between studs to change the boxes to larger ones.

For the sake of consistency/emergency (muscle memory), IÂd like to combine the two floodlight switches into the same box at each location. I would prefer to keep the two sets of floodlights separate (not combine on the same circuit).

Can a dual rocker switch be used? My searches indicate that it is used for light/fan combos. Anyway, this dual switch is not three-way. Maybe my searches were incomplete.

So, how would you suggest these additional switches be added? If another box has to be added, so be it, but IÂd like your opinions on the options.

Thank you for reading this and for any suggestions.

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joed

There is nothing in the code to prevent what you want.
Not sure what you mean dual rocker switch. If that is two switches in the space of one, you can them in three way versions.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2010 at 10:58AM
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linesman

Hello canishel

"The objective is to add two additional switches that control one set of floodlights. That is, I want to control this set of lights from three locations.

If your going to controll the light(s) from 3 different switches, you will need to buy 2 new 3way switches and a 4 way switch.
The 4 way switch has to be wired inbetween the two 3 way switches

Hope this helps

Have A Nice Day
Linesman

    Bookmark   February 20, 2010 at 4:18PM
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canishel

joed,
yes, I meant a device having two switches but the same size as a regular switch.

Linesman,
thanks for the info about a 4-way switch.

I described the business about two circuits on one dual switch because a customer at Home Depot said that 'it's not typically done'. I don't know whether he was talking through his hat, too nice to say that was a stupid idea, or that the concept is against code. I didn't know enough to ask why not.

So, keep those comments coming! Anything is appreciated.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2010 at 8:53PM
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joed

You need the Leviton 5640, dual three way. It comes in different colours.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2010 at 10:37AM
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spencer_electrician

You will wind up with 2 circuits on the same yoke (switch device) That would require you to find the 2 circuits in the panel and put them on a double pole breaker. Also if it is a newer house and the circuits are or are a part of bedrooms, then an expensive 2 pole AFCI breaker would be needed. Simpler to just expand the boxes granted there is room to. Plus you will probably need to pull out the boxes to fish in the cable anyway and the switch that becomes a 4 way is going to have 2 more 14/3 cables added to the box making it near or over the box fill limit.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2010 at 11:51AM
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canishel

"Simpler to just expand the boxes granted there is room to"

That sounds more reasonable. The boxes can be rotated to fit in the spaces (I'm getting to be a whiz at fixing drywall). The 4-way could then be placed in either of two locations?

Please clarify this box fill limit. Two boxes contain two single switches and one box contains three single switches. So am I correct in thinking that the 4-way could only go in one of the two-switch boxes?

You folks are great!

    Bookmark   February 21, 2010 at 12:36PM
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spencer_electrician

You can add on to the triple box with a 4-way, the 4 gang box should have enough additional volume for the 2 14/3 cables. The 4way will be located at the switch that is in the middle of the run. If there is not room between the studs, adding an extra box above the others would look better than rotating the switch plate orientation in my opinion.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2010 at 12:41PM
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canishel

OK.
You all have given me a much better grip on what to expect.
Now all(?) I have to do is decide how I want the switches placed AND find someone to do it.

If anyone can think of something I've missed, please let me know.

Thank you all so much.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2010 at 3:21PM
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