# Convert 4 way switch?

• posted on September 15, 2004, 11:10 pm
I have a 4 way lighting circuit. Of the three switches I want to tie off one to use the box for another unrelated switch. There is space in this boc for the number of wires I will have.
I believe that if I transfer the 4-way switch to the box I want to change, then I can tie the respective hot leads together and the other two wall switches will function correctly. Is this correct?
Thanks
Lambert
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• posted on September 15, 2004, 11:26 pm
deloid wrote:

Did you know code specifies how many wires you can have in a box based on the size of the box?

Frankly I have no idea of what you are thinking of doing. I don't see have a 4-way switch is going to fit in here or why you want one there. Is the "4-Way" switch you are talking about in the center of a series of switches controlling one light or group of lights from three or more switch locations?

--
Joseph E. Meehan

26 + 6 = 1 It's Irish Math
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• posted on September 16, 2004, 2:49 am

What? I stated that there was space in the box...that should indicate that I know the code...missed that one did you?

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switch
As you state you clearly don't know what I'm doing so why did you bother to answer. Just in case you can be helpful...let me try again. Three wall switches & one light. That is called a four way switch system. One of the three switches is considered a four way switch the other two are three way. I want to convert this to a pseudo-three way switch system so I can use the box space for another switch (yes,..ample room per code). In othe words I want to have only two remaining switches for this one light. Can you help?

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• posted on September 16, 2004, 3:35 am

Just wire-nut the travellers together, then. It doesn't even matter which goes to which, unless you care what combination of states on the remaining switches work out to "on". That's all the middle switch does, is swap the travellers in one position, and not swap them in the other.
--Goedjn
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• posted on September 16, 2004, 4:03 am

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Goedjn
I need the middle of the run box to remain functional and the last box before the light to become a "travelers" box.
I think if i take out the middle switch (4 way) and replace it with the 3 way switch (properly connected) I can ignore the exiting red wire and pass through the black wire to the next box and wire-nut the black/ black and white/white in the last box...again ignoring the dead (not connected) red wire that came from the middle box. This should basically convert this back to a standard three way system.
Sounds right I think. Am I missing anything?
Thanks
Lambert
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• posted on September 16, 2004, 4:16 am

That won't work. Assuming the red and black are the travellers, when the first switch is UP the top (say, red) line is energised, and when it's DOWN, the bottom (black) is hot. If the last switch is in the same state (up or down) then the output from it is hot, if it's in the opposite state, then the output from it isn't. The middle switch passes both the red and black through, in either state, swapping them if it's up, and not swapping them if it's down. So you have to pass both travellers through when you commandeer the switch box for something else.
Since you're going to have to run new wire for whatever your alternate application is, anyway, why don't you just put in a new switch-box?
--Goedjn
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• posted on September 16, 2004, 4:29 am

I don't understand what this means, even after reading the next sentence. What is a "travelers" box?

back
That is fine; you are just shortening up the system. I would have more confidence in the plan though if I understood the first sentence.
You should wirenut the red wire so no one thinks it has fallen off somewhere accidentally.
As someone else said, the box has to be rated for the number of wires you are putting into it, but that is very rarely a problem as long as you can comfortably stuff them in.
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• posted on September 16, 2004, 10:16 am
deloid wrote:

It should, but many people writing for help have never heard of the code and they mean they can fit that many wires in the box.

Very good, you used the term correctly. However there was no way I could have known that. If I were to try and address a question asked by someone who did not know enough to use the term correctly, who knows what kind of mess they may have ended up in.
In any case I could not determine what you wanted to do from your original description. If it was do to my lack of understanding or your failure to clearly state your question is not really important except to those who may be having a bad day. Sorry if you were offended.
Frankly, even after reading your recent replies to others, I am still not sure what you are intending to do. I don't even know what questions to ask to help me get a clear idea.
If you just want to remove the 4-way and connect the travelers (so they continue to pass through (red to red black to black) that should work. Somehow I don't think that was your question as you seem to know enough that you would not have bothered to ask just that.

--
Joseph E. Meehan

26 + 6 = 1 It's Irish Math
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• posted on September 16, 2004, 4:34 pm
Lambert, As I understand it you would like to eliminate the 4-way switch and install a 3-way switch instead. Thereby giving you a total of two switches instead of the current three to operate your light.
Unscrew the 4-way switch from the electrical box. It should have four wires on it. Unscrew the 3-way switch from the electrical box that you plan to use as a junction box. That switch should have three wires on it. Identify the wire on the 3-way switch that is terminated on the black screw. This is the most important wire. It is either your line or your load, but for your purposes it doesn't matter.
Go to the 4-way switch and identify the two wires that go to the 3-way switch position that will be eliminated. Remove those two wires from the 4-way switch. Cap one of them off as it will no longer be used. Go back to the 3-way switch location and disconnect the travelers. Cap off the same wire as you did in the 4-way box. Remove the wire on the black terminal of the 3-way switch and and splice it together with the other traveler that is not capped off.
Go to the 4-way switch box location. Put the wire that is not capped off onto the black screw of the 3-way switch. Remove the remaining two travelers from the 4-way switch and put them on the 3-way switch. Screw the 3-way switch onto the box.
There shouldn't be any need to open up the other 3-way switch. Both 3-way switches should be operational, one of which is now located in the box formerly occupied by the 4-way switch. You do not need a 4-way switch for a two switch operation. 4-way switches are only used when you want to control lights from more than two locations.
You might want to put tags on some of these wires so that the next person who opens the switches up will have an idea of what is going on.
John Grabowski http://www.mrelectrician.tv

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• posted on April 5, 2016, 10:04 pm
replying to John Grabowski, Tony Mazeika wrote: Your response sounds exactly like what I did. Now have 3 way set up. If the first 3 way is on , the second 3 way works fine ( on & off ). If the first 3 way is off the second 3 way doesn't work. ??? Tony Mazeika
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• posted on April 6, 2016, 11:25 am

One of the connections is wrong. You may have the hot wire or the load wire on one of the traveler screws. Identify the hot wire and the load wire and make sure that they are on the screw terminals that are black.
This page has 2 simple diagrams. One without a 4-way switch and one with a 4-way switch: http://www.mrelectrician.tv/questions/question-howtowire3way.html
John Grabowski http://www.MrElectrician.TV
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• posted on April 8, 2016, 2:04 pm
replying to John G, Tony Mazeika wrote: That was the problem I swapped terminals for blk & red wires & it works fine now Thanx
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• posted on April 6, 2016, 9:38 pm
"Tony Mazeika" wrote in message
replying to John Grabowski, Tony Mazeika wrote: Your response sounds exactly like what I did. Now have 3 way set up. If the first 3 way is on , the second 3 way works fine ( on & off ). If the first 3 way is off the second 3 way doesn't work. ??? Tony Mazeika
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• posted on April 7, 2016, 12:03 am

It is an unfortunate name, chosen because the switch has 4 terminals. You insert that in a set of 3 way switch travelers to allow control from an additional location. There is no limit to the number of 4 ways in a 3 way switch loop.
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• posted on September 18, 2004, 2:41 am
deloid wrote:

iiuc, you want to replace one 3-way, and leave the other 3-way and 4-way functional. If this is the case, just wire nut the common and one of the travelers together at the 'removed' 3-way, and insulate (wire nut) the other traveler. Then you can use the space for your other switch. You already stated that you have enough room for the wires.