Need help to convert single switch light to a 3-way switch light

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by BrokeDIYer, Jun 24, 2021.

  1. BrokeDIYer

    BrokeDIYer New Member

    Dec 23, 2020
    Ok gang, need some electrical help! I've called some area electricians to help troubleshoot, but so far no call backs or they're a couple weeks out from being able to even come take a look.

    Working on my house still that I bought last year in central Illinois. Had two rooms (ok, one tiny room and one tiny hallway) that I converted into one room. Each space had a separate light, I removed one of the lights and am now wanting to turn the other light into a 3-way switch scenario so when I come in from the garage I can turn the light on and when I make it to the dining room, I can turn the light off at a different switch.

    I've ran several different configurations with the hot wires and neutrals acting as the hot switching things around based on a few configurations I found searching the internet, however, I can't seem to get it all to work with the 2 3-way switches on opposite sides of the room. I can get the light to turn on and off from both switches, but I can't turn it on from one side and turn it off from the other. In the main switchbox the black line bridges to a separate switch that also controls outside lights, so that is complicating matters more. I've since put everything back the way it was to start at square one since I already blew a breaker.

    The 14-2 power source is coming in from the ceiling to a junction box, that connects to a 14-3 and a 14-2 line. The 14-3 is the one that controlled the hallway light (which is the one I'm trying to convert into a 3-way). The other 14-2 in the ceiling is sending power to the lights in two adjacent rooms (dining room and a laundry room).

    The 14-3 in the switch box bridges to a 14-2 to control the outdoor lights.

    In the ceiling there is a white pigtail and a red hot line from the 14-3 that plugged into the original ceiling light. In the ceiling now I have a new 14-3 running that will run from the light to the new switch. From the new switch I also want to put an outlet below since there isn't an outlet in the room. So, a lot going on that I can get some of it to work, just not all of it at the same time.

    Hopefully someone can decipher my notes and diagram to help troubleshoot this.

    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 26, 2021
  2. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Sep 25, 2013
    The 3 gold ellipses represent lights.

    You want the two outside lights controlled by a separate simple on-off switch.

    You want the big indoor light to be controlled by the two 3-way switches.

    Is this what you are trying to do ?
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  4. BrokeDIYer

    BrokeDIYer New Member

    Dec 23, 2020

    I've got the outdoor lights on one switch, and currently the one indoor light on the second switch in the same box. That all works, until I try to introduce the 3-way switches into the setup. I think my hot wires are just cycling through and shorting each other out or cycling through constant so that when I do flip the second switch off nothing happens. E

    Everything on the right side of the diagram is new wiring that isn't connected to anything yet as I disconnected it from my failed attempts and am trying to figure out the correct configuration.
  5. wwhitney

    wwhitney Well-Known Member

    Mar 17, 2019
    Berkeley, CA
    A few comments:

    If I understand correctly, the ceiling box behind the former hallway light now has 14/2 power coming in, 14/2 power going out, 14/3 power plus extra going to the lower left switch, and new 14/3 going to the right side. So that box sounds pretty full; it needs a volume of at least 22 in^3.

    Also, to do what you want with conventional 3-way switches, you would need one more wire from the left switch box to the light box, and two more wires from the light box to the right switch box (or vice versa), and the box size required would go up to 28 in^3.

    So you may want to look into a wireless solution. Or you could use the two single wires you have along with two relays to make it work. RIBU2C from Relay In A Box would work, but box fill would be an issue, it would add 10 or 12 conductors. So that would bump up the ceiling box size required to 42 or 46 in^3.

    Cheers, Wayne
  6. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Sep 2, 2004
    Retired Systems engineer for defense industry.
    New England
    Leviton Maestro series might get it to work as it doesn't need as complicated wiring, but it also includes a dimmer function, and the switches are a lot more expensive than simple 3-way switches. You'd need one master and one slave version.
  7. BrokeDIYer

    BrokeDIYer New Member

    Dec 23, 2020
    I was thinking I probably didn't have enough available wiring to pull this off. I'm looking at the Caseta line and will probably try that setup here. Be cheaper than having an electrician come out and rewire everything and heck, with the cost of ROMEX right now it's still a cheaper solution to run the wireless setup from the current switch and then remote a 3-way in on the opposite wall. Thanks for the input!
  8. hj

    hj Master Plumber

    Aug 31, 2004
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    You need 3 things for a pair of 3 way switches
    1. a "hot" wire to the common of one of them.
    2. a wire from the common of the second to the light
    3. a pair of "traveler wires" between the other connections on the switches.
    Once you have these installed your switches will work properly
  9. James23912

    James23912 Member

    May 16, 2020
    Can you go down through the floor an up to a switch?
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