Lights flickering on 3 pole setup

E_HillJuly 27, 2013

Doing a renovation of my attic, and was setting up a 3 pole light circuit with 2 lights, and 2 switches.

power (14/2) -> switch #1 (14/3) -> Light #1 (14/3) -> Light #2 (14/3) -> Switch #2 (14/3)

After a little trouble shooting I got the switches working correctly, but now the bulbs are not lighting up at full illumination and they flicker. Both fixtures are standard cheap porcelain type (they'll be replaced after all the work is done) with CFL bulbs, and neither of the switches are dimmers or lighted.

Would this be a faulty connection? Faulty piece of equipment?

Any suggestions would be appreciated!

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Would this be a faulty connection? Faulty piece of equipment?

Of those two I'd say that you have them wired incorrectly!

Try this link.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   July 28, 2013 at 9:39AM
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You mean 3-way, not 3-pole.

Just a question: WHY would you want to wire it this confusing way? Why not just go from switch to switch with 3-wire???

If you followed that diagram then that is your problem. You CANNOT wire this with 3-wire between the lights. You either need 4-wire or two cables.
Between the lights (besides the ground) you need the two travelers, neutral and switched hot. That is four conductors.
That diagram is TOTALLY wrong. This is what I hate about online diagrams. Folks take them as gospel regardless of source. Any diagrams like this are drawn by someone trying to be nice, or maybe make a buck. We in the trade do not use diagrams, so there are no official stock drawings like that.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2013 at 11:08AM
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Thanks, I got it fixed with that. I guess the original diagram I based it off of was faulty!

    Bookmark   July 28, 2013 at 12:12PM
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So tell us what was wrong. My guess is that the lamps were connected in series.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2013 at 2:49PM
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My original setup had only the 14/3 going between light 1 & 2 (as shown in the diagram I supplied in my first post). I swapped it out for the two strands of 14/2, and now it works perfectly.

As to why did I wire it this way? Well, we already had the first light in place, and then decided that we should add another light in the short hall at the top of the stairs on the same circuit. I was trying to wire it with the leftover wire I had on hand, and none of the lengths would make it from the first switch to the second switch...

Thank you for the help!

Also, thanks for the clarification on pole vs switch.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2013 at 9:55PM
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For many years now, using the "two strands of 14/2" as you describe has been a code violation. NEC 300.3(B) (2011).

    Bookmark   July 28, 2013 at 10:14PM
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Yes! it feels good finally you have discovered the right concept & design

    Bookmark   July 31, 2013 at 8:38PM
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