Three-way switch with on/off indicator

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YEs, but Claire was talking about a pilot light (on when the circuit was on). This does require some sort of return.

Yes, I mentioned the same thing, up there a while. I'm not seeing how this works for 4-way, though. I remember having illuminated 4-ways in my parent's house.

That's the discussion. ISTR, and maybe it's changed now (GFCIs throw a wrench in here), that some "leakage" current to ground was allowed for this purpose.

Good point. They do work with the old-style inductive ballast fluorescents, however. We had a house full of them. Another reason to shun CFLs. ;-)

Assuming there is a ground in the box, of course.
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snipped-for-privacy@att.bizzzzzzzzzzzz wrote:

Maybe someone can find a 'pilot light' switch without a neutral connection. The only ones I saw had a neutral (and I believe they all do).

A 4-way has the 2 travelers traveling through the switch and swaps them, or not, as they go through. Both kinds of 3 way switch handle light also work on a 4-way if you connect to either of the traveler terminals.

Find a pilot light switch that does not have a neutral connection. The ones I found did (so there is no ground leakage). (Manufacturers don't seem to want to tell you if there is a neutral connection or not - important piece of information if you are going to be using one of these.)

If not the NEC says what to do.
--
bud--

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You may be correct. Because of GFCIs, these may no longer be kosher.

I don't understand your second sentence, but looking at it again, it's clear to me that there is a neon "drop" on each traveler from the voltage at the "off" end. A neon between travelers at each 4-way will illuminate it and there will never be more than two neon drops in the chain (always two - or zero, with at least one 4-way).

Certainly, in jurisdictions where the NEC applies. ;-)
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snipped-for-privacy@att.bizzzzzzzzzzzz wrote:

Apologies for over-explaining.
The travelers are the 2 wires that connect between the 3-way switches.
A 4-way switch has terminals A-B that connect to one 3-way switch and terminals X-Y that connect to the other 3-way switch. In one position the connections are A-X and B-Y. In the other switch position the connections are A-Y and B-X. If you add 10 more 4-way switches, each one just connects the travelers 'straight' through or 'swaps' them.
If either 3-way scheme is connected to terminals A-B (or terminals X-Y) inside a 4-way switch it is the same as connecting to the traveler terminals on the 3-way switches. If you understand how pilot/illuminated 3-ways work you understand pilot/illuminated 4-ways.
The handles on both 3-way snitches, and all 11 4-way switches, will glow or not glow the same. All the neon lamps are connected in parallel.
--
bud--

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Yes...
Yes...
Um...
Ah! Yes, I see, the 3-way neon isn't across the switch, as it is with a SPST switch, rather across the travelers like the 4-way neon connection. <slap>
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bud-- wrote:

In the Leviton system you describe, suppose R is the resistance of each resistor in the voltage divider (between travelers). Suppose I is the current of the neon indicator.
If the load bulb is burned out, the voltage divider will be between hot and open regardless of switch positions. Voltage across the indicator should be 120-IR. I would expect the indicator to glow.
If the bulb is burning, the voltage divider will also be between hot and open. The indicator should glow as above.
If the bulb works but is switched off, the voltage divider will be between hot and neutral (ignoring the bulb's small resistance). The voltage across the indicator should be 60-(IR/2). I suppose the indicator wouldn't light.
So it appears to me that load current is required not to turn the indicator on but to turn it off.
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J Burns wrote:

Neon lamps are not like incandescents in that the voltage across the lamp is essentially constant after the lamp has 'fired' (ionized the gas and started conducting). And if the voltage is not high enough the neon lamp will not fire on every half cycle.
60V may not be enough to 'fire' the neon lamp. Or, because the neon lamp is at constant voltage, the drop across the resistors is much lower than you expect and the current is relatively low - dim neon lamp

Sounds eminently reasonable. I was 1/2 wrong.
If the bulb is burned out, (or maybe fluorescent), or switched receptacle with nothing plugged in the switch won't indicate right.
--
bud--


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On Sat, 03 Jul 2010 19:27:45 -0500, " snipped-for-privacy@att.bizzzzzzzzzzzz"

Not the OP's question. Michael's question, which was all that Gordon quoted.

But that's not relevant to Michael's question.

Sarcasm!
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wrote:

Used to have a neon pilot mounted on the switch plate of the basement light switch in the old farm house. It was a PILOT light - on when the basement light was on. Big flickery old neon bulb - NE0010 if I remember correctly.
Didn't flicker nearly as much on 60hz as on the old 25Hz from the Niagara Adam Beck #1 station.
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On Sat, 3 Jul 2010 01:35:13 -0700 (PDT), Michael

a neop indicator will light without a "real" ground
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Bub is correct about the 3 way set up.
I happen to have two 3-way light switches; one at the top of the stairs & one at the bottom.
BOTH are lit when the controlled light is OFF, BOTH are unlit when the controlled light is ON
IIRC neither switch had a neutral connection, just the typical three screw terminals that a regular 3-way switch has.
Yes, the light in the switch toggle is not meant to be an indicator lamp but all the lighted switches I've installed seem to provide that side benefit. My real intent was to help navigation through a dark house at night and reduce dirty finger / hand prints around light switches.....seems to help.
I have no practical experience with light switches in 4 way circuits.
cheers Bob
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wrote:

The switches with the indicators are readily available? Do you know where?
--
Replace you know what by j to email

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On Sat, 03 Jul 2010 00:22:13 -0400, Jan Philips

The light in the switch is usually on when the switch is off.
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On Sat, 03 Jul 2010 01:20:37 -0400, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

On a 3 way, it is generally on ALL the time, since there is no OFF position to the switch itself.
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On Sat, 03 Jul 2010 02:20:54 -0400, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

If the circuit is open (light off), the traveler opposite of the position the switch is in will be energized (or grounded, and the common energized). An indicator from the switch common to this traveler will be lit.
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On Sat, 03 Jul 2010 01:20:37 -0400, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

That will work.
--
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Jan Philips wrote:

There are 3-2ay switches that indicate if the circuit is off. Most of them are probably this type. (They probably have a neon light between the "traveler" terminals.)
I believe there are also 3-ways that indicate if the circuit is on. They may require a neutral connection to the switch (which is not always available at a switch box).
--
bud--

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On Sat, 03 Jul 2010 00:22:13 -0400, Jan Philips

I've seen lighted 3-way and 4-way switches. The lights are on when the circuit is off (open), which is also the norm for lighted single-pole switches. What "type" do you need?
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wrote:

Which of the three way switches is the one where you can't see the light from ? The supply side or the load side of the loop ?
If you are at the load side of the loop you could wire a pilot light into the circuit so that when the load is powered the pilot light indicates that... If you are referring to the switch at the supply side, doing that would require running another wire from the load connection back to the switch box on the supply side of the loop for the pilot light to work properly...
Most every lighted switch I have seen is illuminated when the circuit is off to make the switch visible in low light conditions so a person could find the switch easier and turn on the lights...
Usually circuit status in the way you are looking for is accomplished using a pilot light switch with an indicator built in or wiring in separate pilot lights...
~~ Evan
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On Fri, 2 Jul 2010 23:06:43 -0700 (PDT), Evan

This sounds about right. (Unless some clever designer has come up with something we don't know about.)

And also because it's easier to do that way. The neon light can be put in parallel with the switch. When the switch is on, the voltage across the switch is zero or very close to it***, and there is little or no voltage to light the neon light. When the switch is off, the votage across the switch is 110AC and that's what the neon light is designed for**, and the current through the neon light will flow though the light the switch controls, but it's so little that light won't light.
**including its own resistor to lower the 110 to what is needed.
***Could they ever include a small resistor of some sort, to make a 5 volt drop to power the neon light. I tried to do something like that when I wanted my home burglar alarm to turn on my hall light. The option on the alarm panel made that simple. But then I wanted it to turn on the kitchen light, which had a switch with a built-in clock to turn it on and off. If I used the alarm panel to supply 117 volts to the load side of the timer switch, that meant zero volts across the timer, and it reset itself, resetting the time and forgetting the time/on/off settings. So I put in a resistor to lower the voltage supplied by the alarm panel to about 112, hoping 5 volts would be enough to keep the timer powered. I don't remember if it worked or not, but if it didnt't, I was going to increase the volts to 10 and see if that worked. Hmmm. I think it didn't work and I turned my attention to the dining room light, that was easy to do. Eventually the alarm panel failed and I haven't hooked this all up for the new one yet.

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