Are there three-way switches that have indicators (e.g. a light) that
tells you whether the circuit is on or not?
I checked a couple of stores online, and there are lighted three-way
switches, but they don't say that they are the type I need.
The reason is that there are two three-way switches on an outside
light, and you can't see the outside light from one of the switches so
you don't know whether it is on or off.
Lighted switches are NOT indicators. If you need a pilot on a 3 way
you are going to need to add it as an extra switched load. Absolutely
no other way around it. (other than fiber optics or a mirror mounted
on a post that you can see from the window or door where the switch
If you connect a neon lamp (inside the switch) between the traveler
terminals on a 3-way switch, the neon lamp will be on (for both 3-way
switches) when the load is turned off. I assume they do the same thing
on 4-way switches.
There is a little more complicated indicator lamp in 3-way (and probably
4-way) switches where the indicator is on when the load is on. Probably
requires a neutral connection to the switches.
It is not rocket science - they are readily available.
Somewhat OT. I have a regular switch for my outside light that lights
when the outside light is on. The curious thing is that my
electrician put it in using existing wiring and there is no neutral in
the box. The house is 70 years old and there are only 2 wires in the
box and the box is not grounded.. How is that possible?
Either way, his question was how does the light switch light when the
outside light is on?
Clare mentions a neon light, but they light when the outside light is
I can't answer Michael's question. Maybe someone can.
How about a PR2 flashlight bulb: 500ma at 2.38V. In series with a 60W
load, it would take 2% of the power.
To avoid exposing the flashlight bulb to the starting surge, you could
bypass it with a thermistor having a positive temperature coefficient.
If the load drew more current than the indicator bulb, you could bypass
the indicator bulb with a resistor. In that case, a thermistor with a
negative temperature coefficient in series with the bulb (but not the
resistor) would protect it from starting surges.
Another approach might be to use a step-up transformer with a low
primary impedance in series with the load to provide voltage for a neon
indicator across its secondary.
There are light switches that have a separate light. They fit a duplex
outlet plate and I believe the switches are available in three way.
On Sat, 03 Jul 2010 20:13:24 -0500, The Daring Dufas
But isn't this two separate things on one strap and it's up to the
user to make sure it works the way he wants it to?
Three Way Switch & Red Neon Pilot Light No promises. No statement
that the neon light goes on when the circuit is on.
Break off provision for wiring on same circuit or separate circuits
As quoted above, Michael says his switch box is not grounded and has
only two wires. He says the indicator light is on when the outdoor
light is on. With only a hot wire and a load wire, how would you
connect your neon indicator light to come on when the outdoor light came on?
As RBM wrote "Pilot light switches are lit when the circuit is on, and
illuminated switches are lit when the circuit is off." Both of these
have the light in the handle of the switch (not a separate pilot light).
"Illuminated switches" are easy - as I said before you connect a neon
lamp between the traveler terminals If you work out the circuit, this is
the same as connecting a neon lamp across a single-pole switch.
"Pilot light switches" from Leviton require a neutral connection - I
believe that is true for all of them. They don't use a ground
connection. The circuit for one that I saw had resistors from each
traveler terminal to a common point. A neon lamp connected from that
point to a neutral.
Both of these use current through the load to light the neon lamp. If a
light bulb is burned out they will not work. They may or may not work
with fluorescents (CFLs).
All switch straps that are metal these days have a ground screw. If the
switch is not installed in a metal box you have to ground the strap. The
strap is grounded so any metal plate - present or future - will be grounded.
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