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Thread: Adding 4-way switches to a 3-way lighting circuit

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    DIY Member cej22's Avatar
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    Default Adding 4-way switches to a 3-way lighting circuit

    I understand that there are a myriad of ways to wire up three way switches, but that's about as far as my knowledge goes. Here's my issue. I've got three cans which are currently controlled by two 3-way switches. I want to add two more switches to control this same set of lights. Access is fairly good in that the walls are open to all but one light and one switch. What is involved in adding these 4-way switches? I'll draw up a diagram if necessary. Thanks.

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    Computer Programmer Bill Arden's Avatar
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    The 4 way switches are connected in series with the two wires that go between the 3-way switches.

    Like this
    http://gilchrist-electric.com/Images...ng-diagram.jpg
    Important note Ė I donít know man made laws, just laws of physics
    Disclaimer: I'm a big fan of Darwin awards.

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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default switches

    There is only ONE way to wire three way switches, and there are a limited, not myriad, number of ways the switches can be physically positioned. The 4-way switches are attached to the two traveler wires between the 3-way switches, AND you have to check the wiring diagram for the switches you use to determine HOW the wires attach to it, i.e. line 1/A and line 2/B.

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    DIY Member cej22's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hj View Post
    There is only ONE way to wire three way switches, and there are a limited, not myriad, number of ways the switches can be physically positioned.
    Are you playing semantics? Would you prefer I say there are "multiple configurations" rather than a "myriad of ways?"

    Here are a few different "ways," but I suspect you knew that...
    http://www.homeimprovementweb.com/in...way-switch.htm

  5. #5

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    There is only ONE way to wire three way switches
    Come on now plumber. You know he meant 3 way circuits.

    The first thing to understand is how your system is wired. You will need to take the switches out and do some simple testing. Details depend on how it's wired.

    The next thing to understand is how the 4ways work, along with the 3 ways.

    The 3 way circuit uses two traveler wires, sending power on to one or the other of them. The 4way switch simply flips the traveler connections.

    You 3way/4way system will have a 3way sw on each end and as many 4ways as you desire in between.

    Pull out the switches and see what you have in there. A diagram will be necessary, or at least an accurate written description.



    EDIT: IF you existing circuit is not wired thru the lights, all you really need is access to the three wire cable running between the switches. If you can cut that cable and splice onto it, you are good.

    Cut the cable and, in a jbox, splice on to a new 3 wire cable and run it to the first 4way, Run the 3 wire cable to the next 4 way, Run the 3 wire cable back to other end of where you cut the cable.

    The exact make up of the wiring depends on what colors the original installer used.
    Last edited by 220/221; 04-21-2009 at 05:40 PM.

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    DIY Member cej22's Avatar
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    I think this is starting to make sense. The existing circuit is not wired through the lights.

    Here's what I've got. At the top of the stairs is the first switch. 14/3 leads from there to the second switch. There isn't another set of wires in the first box. The second 3-way switch has the common wire from the 14/3 attached, and then the other screws are occupied with the hot and neutral coming from the fixtures. The red wire from the 14/3 goes into a wire nut with hot wires that come from the power source and go to the next switch on the circuit. That's the part that doesn't really match the various diagrams I have. I would have expected the red to go to the second 3-way switch.

    If I understand you correctly, it sounds like I can leave the existing three way switches in their current locations by removing the end of the 14/3 from the bottom of the stairs (it's long enough that a junction box wouldn't be necessary) and run it to my 4-ways, then eventually end back up at the 3-way at the bottom of the stairs.
    Last edited by cej22; 04-21-2009 at 06:45 PM.

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