Monday, March 16, 2009

Subject: adding light to end 3-way switch

Name: Tom

Question: Bill, Thanks for helping out! Currently, I have two 3-way switches that operate a light at the bottom of the stairs. We wanted to add a light at the top of the stairs to help with the darkness when going up the stairs. One of the 3-way switches is at the bottom of the stairs and one at the top (pretty standard set-up I figure).The current set-up, as best as I can tell, is as follows: power source, light, 3-way at bottom of stairs, 3-way at top of stairs.With the addition of the light at the top of the stairs I was hoping this configuration would work: power source, light, 3-way bottom, 3-way top, light.Not having any experience with 3-way switches I figure that I could just wire in the new light to the top of the stairs 3-way switch with no problem. I installed the light, was able to drop the wire through the wall to existing 3-way switch box and then I hit a roadblock. As you could probably guess, one of the two lights is always on: flipping the switches just changes which light is on (top or bottom). Needless to say, my wife didn’t like this option.After some searching on the internet I think I now understand why this is happening, but I'm not at the level where I can proceed and finish my project. I prefer not to run anymore wire if possible (it was a bear to get this far), but I’m afraid that may be my only option. I’ve seen other diagrams that would work for me (and I saw that you recommended this to another person): power source, light, light, switch, switch… BUT, this would require sending wire from the attic to the basement, and I don’t know if I can swing that.Is there any way that I can use what I have now to achieve the desired result?Thanks again for your help!Tom

Answer: Hi Tom,It is not likely that there is anything that you can do to make this work with out getting a wire to your switch or light on your first floor. The switch up stairs was not wire to support an additional light,If you want to go with some fancy digital switches you maybe able to do some remote control. You could check out If you switches could talk to each other they could work. It is not the cheapest option but it is a cool way to cheat.

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