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Discussion Forum

3-way switch

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Vally Farm

08-11-2008 08:41:48

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Well, I need a screwdriver and pliers, so I guess this is the place. Does anyone know how to splice an outlet inline on a 3-way circuit for my cellar lights? Just a plain old 110 plug outlet so that when I need more light I can plug in extra lamps, but not have to go back down again to unplug them when I'm done for a while. :cry: Thanks. Black and red wired into the plug makes the switch only work on one end, and outlet is a No GO. Black and white wired into the outlet gives me nothing, so I figure I'll find out the right way before I end up with mangled wires and a busted outlet. Mike

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Bud in WV

08-11-2008 17:43:11

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 Re: 3-way switch in reply to Vally Farm, 08-11-2008 08:41:48  
Brain cramp! OK - I didn't read close enough - you might need to "Streach" the wires. A coupla 4" "handy boxes", a few feet of 12/3wG and some Romex connectors should allow you to "streach" the wires.....'course if your luck is like mine, it'll probably have to be done in the attic....

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Bud in WV

08-11-2008 17:33:56

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 Re: 3-way switch in reply to Vally Farm, 08-11-2008 08:41:48  
Try this - Odds are they have the wiring diagram you need -


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08-11-2008 16:45:09

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 Re: 3-way switch in reply to Vally Farm, 08-11-2008 08:41:48  
Short answer: Hook your other lights/outlets up in parallel to the existing light.

Long answer: Three-way switches work by switching the HOT lead, assuming that the circuit is wired correctly. (And that may not be a reasonable assumption.) You need both a hot and a neutral to get power to an outlet. The problem is that it is common, particularly with older wiring, to not have a neutral wire run to the switch box. With no neutral, there's no way you can get power by tapping into the three-way switch box.

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Bryan in iowa

08-11-2008 12:33:39

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 Re: 3-way switch in reply to Vally Farm, 08-11-2008 08:41:48  
How bout this ? Get couple of those remote outlet controls? plug into outlet , lamp plugs into it , then you can mount wireless remote anywhere . Just a thought .

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08-11-2008 11:07:53

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 Re: 3-way switch in reply to Vally Farm, 08-11-2008 08:41:48  
Oops, sorry, I missed the part about the black and white wire not giving anything either. As you can see from the various diagrams in the link, depending on the application, the white wire can be used to carry line voltage also therefore it isn't always going to be a neutral. It should be taped black if used this way but you never know what someone else has or hasn't done when it comes to wiring. So, that may be your problem there. Beyond that my suggestion for the inline plug and a professional still stands or if you feel qualified just do like Bob suggested and wire the receptical in from the hot and neutral at the existing light if possible. That way there should be no doubt that it will work properly when either switch is used. Good luck

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08-11-2008 10:56:32

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 Re: 3-way switch in reply to Vally Farm, 08-11-2008 08:41:48  
Here is a link to a site showing various wiring diagrams as to how a three way can be wired in different situations. Unless you"ve got a neutral at the switch your trying to tap into there"s no way to "legally" wire in a receptical like your wanting to do.

In any case you can look a the diagrams and see that the black wire is a power wire and the red wire is also a power wire called the traveler. Because both carry power and neither is a neutral you can"t make an outlet work off of those two wires alone. Fortunately the twowires carry the same phase so you don"t wind up with 240 Volts across them when you hooked them to opposite sides of an outlet. Too since the voltage is basically dead headed when the two are connected through a load they shouldn"t blow up anything, otherwise what you plugged into the outlet to test it would have been ruined.

The best thing to do in a case like this, especially when your not sure what"s going on, is to get a qualified electrician to do it for you. Until then places like Home Depot, Lowes, etc still carry "inline outlets" that are made where you can screw it into the light socket and have an outlet or two and still screw the bulb in also.

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08-11-2008 10:38:59

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 Re: 3-way switch in reply to Vally Farm, 08-11-2008 08:41:48  
Look at the diagram on this site. You need to find the Hot Black wire and the true White neutral. Click below for the diagram

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08-11-2008 10:07:11

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 Re: 3-way switch in reply to Vally Farm, 08-11-2008 08:41:48  
Why don't you just tap into the neutral and switched hot wire at one of the existing lights?

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Gerald J.

08-11-2008 11:30:25

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 Re: 3-way switch in reply to Bob, 08-11-2008 10:07:11  
Because that's the ONLY way that will work. No other scheme will switch the outlet with the lights. Those runners between the two 3 way switches have to be left alone.

You could tap at the common of the three way switch nearest (by wire) to the existing lights.

Gerald J.

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