Illuminated switch question

Discussion in 'Electrical and Wiring' started by Stubarber, Jul 14, 2010.

  1. Jul 14, 2010 #1

    Stubarber

    Stubarber

    Stubarber

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    Hello, all.
    The wife wanted illuminated switches placed at the top and bottom of our stairway - the circuit being one of those where you can turn the same bulb on or off with either switch (top or bottom of the stairs).

    I bought 2 switches, swapped out the 3 wires to their respective positions and connected the grounds - but only the top switch would work properly, and only then if the bottom switch was in one position and not the other.

    Figuring there might be some kind of loop with 2 to-ground connections in the same circuit I replaced the lighted bottom switch with the old unlighted switch - but that didn't help.

    Is it not possible to add a illuminated switch to a 2-switch system?
     
  2. Jul 14, 2010 #2

    kok328

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    Yes and you did. The system assumes that your requiring illumination from the switch that is OFF. The other switch will not illuminate until it is flipped opposite of the other switch.
     
  3. Jul 14, 2010 #3

    Stubarber

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    Sorry, I wasn't clear enough. It's not just the 2nd switch that won't illuminate - the 2nd switch won't work the ceiling light either.
     
  4. Jul 15, 2010 #4

    kok328

    kok328

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    Assuming that both the old non-illuminated switches worked prior to change, I'd have to conclude that you didn't hook them up correctly or the new non-working switch it bad out of the box.
     
  5. Jul 15, 2010 #5

    Wuzzat?

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    Post a link to the switches you are using. They need a source for the internal neon bulb or LED.

    [ame]http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&safe=off&client=safari&rls=en&q=define%3A+%223+way+switch%22&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=[/ame]

    But there is another problem yet to be solved in your circuit.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2010
  6. Jul 15, 2010 #6

    kok328

    kok328

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    I'm assuming you used 2-way switches and not regular light switches
     
  7. Aug 18, 2010 #7

    Stubarber

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    Actually, it seems I was trying to use 2-way switches instead of 3-way switches. Same number of connections on the back, but different internals (obviously).
     
  8. Aug 19, 2010 #8

    dodge2000

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    My understanding about switch a light from two locations, here top and
    bottom of stair is that you need to use what the trade people call a
    3-way switch. (why they call it this I don't don't, they only good for
    two location, addition location require what they a 4-way switch. So
    follow this rule, if its has three screw terminal two the same color and
    one of a darker color its 3-way switch.) A 3-way has one terminal
    that the trade calls the common terminal. This terminal would receive
    either 120 volts or the light circuit load hot conductor. The other two
    wires the trade calls travelers, they are general insulated color black
    read. Wiring between the switch is done using a 3-wire conductor,
    with insulated wires of black, red & white. White is most alway used
    as the ground/neutal conductor. It not up on neon switches, but
    I think the MFG. could make then to light up, no matter how the 3-way
    switch are position.

    Good Luck
     
  9. Aug 20, 2010 #9

    budro

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    sir, you have one wire crossed somewhere. it may not be where you suspect it either. the switch you say won't work may be wired right or vice versa. if you have another three way circuit in your house, turn the power off and pull it out of the box without disconnecting it. look it over good and as dodge 2000 stated earlier one of the three screw terminals will be a different shade of color than the other two. it doesn't matter if the two the same are sideways or up and down. just locate the different color terminal. this will be your common (hot) wire. the word common is sometimes confusing in electrical lingo but it means that terminal is common to the other two. put this switch back in the wall as you were only using it as a guide. i don't know if you were wired with 12-3 or two 12-2's. if you have a red wire it was 12-3 and usually black is the common. if it was wired with two 12-2's, then you probably have two blacks and one white. usually one of the white wires of one of the 12-2 is either snipped off or rolled back. if this is the case, then usually the 12-2 using just the black only to the switch is the common and would go to the odd colored screw. make sure the same is done at both switches. you should work fine now. thanks, buddy
     
  10. Aug 20, 2010 #10

    budro

    budro

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    oh and p.s., the reason a two location switch is called three way is the load it turns on is considered a part of the circuit. in that respect two switches and a load constitutes three parts. and so called a three way circuit. and no, linking other loads in parallel does not add to the number. thanks, buddy
     
  11. Aug 20, 2010 #11

    JoeD

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    That's not how I was told. A normal switch has on and off. That's two ways. When you add another switch you add another way, so three way.
     
  12. Aug 21, 2010 #12

    budro

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    if you add another switch it has two positions. one on and one off. how can you add two positions for one switch then only add one for the other? how i stated it is, is what my electrical teacher taught me years ago. he made have been wrong but i bought it. you always have one less switch than the circuit you are talking about. three switches and a load is a four way circuit. four switches and a load is a five way circuit. etc. the load i understand is a necessary part of the circuit. a two switch circuit is called a three way circuit, not a three way switch. the switch is called a three way switch in reference to the three way circuit. with no load, no circuit.
     
  13. Aug 21, 2010 #13

    budro

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    and in addition there is no two way switch. there is a single pole, three way and four way. you can have single pole double throw and double pole single throw or double pole double throw. but i've never seen a two way switch. the only circuit labeled different than my above comments is the single pole circuit. next we jump to the three way circuit. no two way.
     
  14. Jan 7, 2011 #14

    caryhome

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    It seems like you use two switches to control one light. It is consistent with the operation principle of two-way switch. The two-way light switch must be connected with one Live Line and one Negative line. And communication line btween two switches must be connected to work normally.
     

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