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3 way switch light - help

Posted by rvsunn (My Page) on
Wed, Apr 13, 11 at 22:47

OK, I am trying to hook up 3 pole switches in two locations.
4 lights in the ceiling are all LED.

Looks to me like the power comes in at the first swtch.
Then comes the next switch, followed by the lights.

The first switch was already hooked up and was not removed during renovation.
Light fixtures were changed and a splice added and the second switch is being changed out.
So I have tried every possible combination of wires just in case the colors are not color coded proper.

I almost always get the same situation where one switch
will turn the lights on/off, then the other switch turns lights on /off, but then turn one off and the other does not turn on/off. This is not correct, they should both turn the lights on/off no matter what the other does, right?

If there is an experienced electrician out there that can recognize the problem or anyone with ideas what could be wrong - Id appreciate some help.
Only thing I can think of now is that maybe the splice does not connect all 3 wires between the switches? I plan to go up in the attic to see if I can spot something tomorrow.


Follow-Up Postings:

RE: 3 way switch light - help

The basic idea is that power comes into the first switch and connects to the screw labeled "common." From there two wires called travelers go to the second switch. Power goes out from the second switch, via the screw labeled "common" to the fixture. From what you describe it sounds like you have something amiss there.

RE: 3 way switch light - help

hanks Mike for posting.
Thats the drawing that I am trying my darndest to get wired like. I am sure I have gotten this exact combination.

Maybe what is a miss is my expectations? I am thinking that someone could turn the lights on/off from each entry AND that if one turns on from one switch that they can turn OFF from the other switch and then come back to the initial switch and turn lights on again?? This I cannot accomplish.
Im sure they are both 3 way switches.
I climbed up in attic this AM and I think the splice looked correct. 3 wires were bundled up. Its possible that it just looks as such, or that I looked at the wrong splice. So maybe the next step is to get two new wires(as the "travelers) and just go across the room directly bypassing the existing wires?
Only one difference in your drawing is that my switches have an extra green screw for ground, but I have not yet connected the green ground wires yet - to just get the correct hook up first.

Any thoughts yet?
Thx- rvsunn

RE: 3 way switch light - help

To check your travelers take the covers off the switches and the switch that is receiving the power, put an idiot light tester on one of the travelers and the ground. Find the one that is hot and then go to the other switch and the traveler screw in the same location on the switch should be hot.

Go back to the first switch and flip it, the other traveler should now be hot, check the second switch and check the traveler screw in the same location, it should be hot.

Report back.


RE: 3 way switch light - help

My two idiot testers are broken so used the dummy bulb test.
Looks like one traveler is not getting juice.
Looking into this now.

RE: 3 way switch light - help

Hey I got it.

Wires in wrong place on the first switch.
They were all painted, so was hard to tell.

THANKS GUYS - great group!!!


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