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nadjacs 05-28-2008 03:21 PM

motion switches and removal of 4-way switches
Hi, all. I came across your forum while I have been attempting to research a strange (to me) wiring problem.

I am a beginner when it comes to electrical projects -- I have only installed/swapped lights and switches in existing wiring. I am confident I have the ability to make careful changes to wiring but I haven't been able to find any good resources to read up on what I actually need to do to accomplish what I am trying to do here, so I hope someone here might have some ideas for me. Many thanks in advance!

A bit of background for the project, if I may (apologies for making this a long post but I think it will make more sense this way). I am in a new multi-level condo, and we had an electrician add recessed lighting and add a couple outlets here and there. My roommate instructed him to add another switch for the downstairs hall lights and that we MUST add motion detectors for the same lights. Unfortunately, I believe these two desires conflict, and the electrician chose to follow the "want" instead of the "need" and now I am in a bit of a mess.

Due to a lot of things, we decided we might be better off finishing the project either on our own or with another electrician. Scheduling someone else seems to be impossible in the near future, so I am hoping to go it on my own....

What we had:

3-way switch at front door, I think this is where the power comes in and also what goes to the lights
4-way box at the bottom of the stairs
3-way switch at the back door

What we have now:
3-way at front door
4-way at bottom of stairs
4-way at back door
3-way at top of stairs

What we need (for the sake of harmony in the home ;)):
3-way motion switch at front door
3-way motion switch at back door

If we can keep the switch at the top of the stairs (as a third motion switch or regular) that would be great, but what I have read leads me to believe I need to somehow lose the two 4-way boxes -- get rid of the box at the foot of the stairs (splice the wiring back together, all 4 wires from the 4-way in one wire nut?? where does the ground go?) and turn the one at the back door back into a 3-way switch.

So here are the questions:

1. Does that sound correct?
2. Anyone have instructions on how to safely and properly get rid of the 4-way box and likewise turn the one at the back door back into a 3-way? (or suggestions on a good book where I could get explicit directions for things like this)
3. Anyone have suggestions on the hardware I'd need to use? The electrician left us with 2 Leviton motion switches but I think they might be single pole (I can't be sure of the model number but they only have 3 lead wires: blue/load, black/hot, green/ground and I think the 3-way ones from leviton have 4 leads of completely different colors)

If it all seems needlessly complicated, well, good communication could have saved a lot of hassle but this is where I'm at now and I want to see if I can fix things. :) On the plus side, everything is actually working correctly, we just don't have the automation my roommate is aching for.

Thanks again in advance,


triple D 05-31-2008 10:48 AM

O.K. this will be frikin fun....
What we need to know is everything. Turn off the power, then pull out all switches pertaining to this problem. Tell us every wire color in the box. How are they hooked to switch, how are they hooked together and what color are they. This will take a while, and look closely with a light if necessary, a mistake will mislead us causing a bigger headache for you. Good luck and hope to help you soon....

nadjacs 05-31-2008 11:09 AM

thanks for the reply
Actually, I was just getting ready to write that I have it pretty much figured out, but I certainly wouldn't mind a bit more advice on the "cleanup".

I guess I described it all very poorly but I was able to finally figure out what model my motion switches are and determine that they ARE indeed 3-way capable, and even found wiring diagrams for them. I also found instructions on how to turn a 3-way switch into a 4-way switch and used my logic muscles to reverse that successfully. ;)

So the motion detectors are now both installed and working properly in their correct desired locations.

The extra 3-way switch at the top of the stairs hasn't been taken out yet but the wiring to it is now disconnected from the other end and capped with wirenuts. I assume I should instead try to pull it through and get rid of it, probably not good to have random wires sitting in the walls for no reason.

The other 4-way switch I was willing to leave alone but my roommate really wanted it gone because it is pointless to have it 3 feet from the motion detector and it irks him. :P For that, I wire-nutted the red to the red and the black to the black, but I really still am not sure what I need to do with the ground. Maybe I just need to look again....

triple D 05-31-2008 08:09 PM

Good work!
Sounds like you got it all figured out. Just remember to put all grounds together with a wire nut. And take all un-used wires and cap them with wire nuts. So long.....

desertwindpower 08-27-2013 08:04 PM

Hello, I am a general contractor that has been exposed to lots of electrical work recently. Im fairly knowledgeable but ran into a slight electrical challenge this week. Im trying to install high voltage landscape lighting that is controlled by three different motion sensors. This would be a four way motion sensor. Im familiar with a four way switch circuit but stumped on this outdoor application.
I think I posted in the wrong section.....

nealtw 08-27-2013 08:26 PM

You may get help here but if not go to forum, find the right one and then start a new thread. And welcome. Sometime people see the old date on these threads and don't bother reading it.

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