Three-way to Two-way Switches

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The light in the laundry room and the light on the back porch are both controlled by a pair of three-way switches. The first switch is where you come into the laundry room from the dining room and the second is in the laundry room by the door exiting to the back porch. I would like to change it to having two two-way switches, one to control the laundry room light and one for the back porch light.
It seems that I should be able to do this without rewiring the whole thing. First identify the hot line coming from the box, then using the two wires running between the two existing switches use one to feed the other switch box in an always-on mode while the other controls the other light. The major re-wiring will be to get one switched hot line to each light fixture but since it's a suspended ceiling, the wires are all visible behind the tiles.
Any thoughts on this? Anyone tried it before?
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@Pavel314:
Are the lights on the same circuit ?
One side of a three-way switch loop will be the power side and one side will be the load side... You just have to figure out which side is supplying the power...
You have enough conductors in the wires in use to do the change you wish to make, it is just a matter of identifying where the power feed is coming from and changing the connections around to accomplish single location switches...
~~ Evan
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On 1/30/2012 2:55 PM, Evan wrote:

controlled by a pair of three-way switches. The first switch is where you come into the laundry room from the dining room and the second is in the laundry room by the door exiting to the back porch. I would like to change it to having two two-way switches, one to control the laundry room light and one for the back porch light.

First identify the hot line coming from the box, then using the two wires running between the two existing switches use one to feed the other switch box in an always-on mode while the other controls the other light. The major re-wiring will be to get one switched hot line to each light fixture but since it's a suspended ceiling, the wires are all visible behind the tiles.

Incorrect. The feed can be in one of the two lighting outlets as well. There is no scenario where the existing conductors are sufficient to do what he wants. He will have to add one two wire cable somewhere.
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You assume that the switch loop must be fed from the fixture using a two wire cable from the power feed at the light... There are two configurations out of eight possible ways to wire the light to be controlled by two switch locations... Given the fact that the OP has said that there are two three-way switches controlling different lights located in the same switch box locations it would be highly doubtful that the electrician who originally wired that situation would have chosen those methods to accomplish it as it would have required more wire to be used than feeding one side of the switch loops and using larger sized switch boxes as needed...
There is a 25% chance what you have said is true and an 75% that what I have said is correct...
Method 1: Feed @ Sw A and Light from Sw B
Method 2: Feed @ Light, 2 wire cable to Sw A to feed loop
This is one of the situations in which the task the OP wants to do is impossible without adding wires...
Method 3: Feed @ Sw A, light in middle of loop
Method 4: Feed @ Light, light in middle of loop
Method 5: Same as Method 1 only feeding multiple fixture locations
Method 6: Feed @ light, multiple fixtures, loop fed by 2 wire cable
This is one of the situations in which the task the OP wants to do is impossible without adding wires...
Method 7: Feed @ Sw A, multiple lights in middle of loop connected by double runs of 2 wire cable
Method 8: Feed @ light, multiple lights in middle of loop connected by double runs of 2 wire cable
Those are the eight acceptable ways for three way switch loops to be run that were taught by the master electricians at the vocational school I was a student at many moons ago...
Maybe the OP will take pictures of how many wires are located in each of the switch boxes and at each fixture so more information about exactly how it is wired can be determined...
~~ Evan
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On 1/30/2012 4:34 PM, Evan wrote:

controlled by a pair of three-way switches. The first switch is where you come into the laundry room from the dining room and the second is in the laundry room by the door exiting to the back porch. I would like to change it to having two two-way switches, one to control the laundry room light and one for the back porch light.

First identify the hot line coming from the box, then using the two wires running between the two existing switches use one to feed the other switch box in an always-on mode while the other controls the other light. The major re-wiring will be to get one switched hot line to each light fixture but since it's a suspended ceiling, the wires are all visible behind the tiles.

No, I haven't assumed anything: ~ Evan wrote" One side of a three-way switch loop will be the power side and one side will be the load side... You just have to figure out which side is supplying the power...
I merely corrected you. Now suddenly you found Jesus
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You said I was wrong, yet in 6 of the 8 methods of wiring a three-way switch loop what I said was 100% factual... Sounds like you thought I was unaware of the wiring methods and circuit paths in a three-way switch loop, yet what I said was in fact correct in most situations where three-way switches are installed, I will take those 3 out of 4 odds...
In fact now that the electrical code requires the neutral for the lighting circuit be available at each switch location, the two methods you say I was wrong about would no longer be code compliant in new or modified old-work, would they as there is no way to provide the neutral to a three-way switch loop using a 2 wire cable to feed the loop from the power feed at the light...
Must be a regional thing but I have only seen feeds at the switch or from the light in the middle of the loop in my area: Methods 1, 3 and 4...
Sounds like you assumed a lot more than I did...
~~ Evan
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On 1/30/2012 8:35 PM, Evan wrote:

controlled by a pair of three-way switches. The first switch is where you come into the laundry room from the dining room and the second is in the laundry room by the door exiting to the back porch. I would like to change it to having two two-way switches, one to control the laundry room light and one for the back porch light.

thing. First identify the hot line coming from the box, then using the two wires running between the two existing switches use one to feed the other switch box in an always-on mode while the other controls the other light. The major re-wiring will be to get one switched hot line to each light fixture but since it's a suspended ceiling, the wires are all visible behind the tiles.

Evan, you are an idiot. No matter how the three way wiring, controlling two light fixtures is set up, it can't be broken down and rewired to have each switch control one light fixture, without adding wiring
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On 1/30/2012 8:35 PM, Evan wrote:

controlled by a pair of three-way switches. The first switch is where you come into the laundry room from the dining room and the second is in the laundry room by the door exiting to the back porch. I would like to change it to having two two-way switches, one to control the laundry room light and one for the back porch light.

thing. First identify the hot line coming from the box, then using the two wires running between the two existing switches use one to feed the other switch box in an always-on mode while the other controls the other light. The major re-wiring will be to get one switched hot line to each light fixture but since it's a suspended ceiling, the wires are all visible behind the tiles.

OK, I stand corrected. No, you're still an idiot, however a wiring scenario where the 3 conductor line from switch to switch breaks through one of the lighting junction boxes, could be converted to two single pole switches, each controlling a separate light. This however would be a pretty unlikely scenario because of the high volume of wires in one box.
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Since the OP doesn't know where the wires actually go, just that he can see them (plural) above the ceiling that is still quite a large assumption on your part... Are the wires 3 conductor or 2 conductor, he didn't offer that information, all that is known is that there are more than one that he can see...
As is the fact that the OP used rather sloppy language when he was explaining how the lights were controlled, as to both being controlled by a pair of switches...
He never clearly states whether or not both fixtures, the inside one and the outside one are controlled by the SAME set of switches or if there are two sets of switches each controlling one of the fixtures...
This time the odds are even as to whether or not your latest explanation is valid or not...
Calling me an idiot does not make you correct, that will not be known until the OP figures out the circuit, but it is clear that you assumed way more than I did as your way of thinking was correct only 25% of the time... Don't let that twist too far into your backside...
~~ Evan
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O

You continuously show your ignorance with statements like the above. The OP has a set of 3 way switches controlling two existing lights. Unless he has an ancient Carter system, he has 3 wires going between the switches. I don't need him to offer that information and I don't need to see them. They exist

It was clear enough to me, and you're reply to him:
" One side of a three-way switch loop will be the power side and one side will be the load side... You just have to figure out which side is supplying the power..."
Is patently false. The feed side and the load side, can be in the same box. The feed can also be in the lighting outlet. Your second statement:
" You have enough conductors in the wires in use to do the change you wish to make, it is just a matter of identifying where the power feed is coming from and changing the connections around to accomplish single location switches..."
Is also false with the one exception being that his wiring system has the three wires that go between the switches, breaking through one of the lighting boxes. This is possible, but if you had any real life experience, you'd know it's very uncommon.
Thinking you know something about electrical wiring, because you have the ability to read, makes you an idiot
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My second statement is not false with current code requirements, there is no other way to feed a 3-way loop providing neutrals at both ends of the loop unless one side is feed and the other load unless you use 4 conductor cable to provide the hot return from the far side of the loop and I have yet to see 4 conductor non-metallic cable used in a house...
You can not feed a three way loop with a two-wire cable and satisfy the code requirement of a neutral at each switch location... You can not feed power and connect the load to the same side of the switch loop without using 4 conductor cable... Even with the light in the middle of the loop would require 4 conductor cable to provide the neutral at the switch locations...
You jumped to the first conclusion which was that both lights operated from the same switch loop, and though proven correct on that by the OP's latest response, that was still a leap...
Then you said "no, not enough conductors exist" which was bullshit because more often than not, they do, the most ideal situation for the OP would be if the feed was at one of the lights which was daisy chained to the other, because then it is just a matter of changing how things are connected... You were NOT correct in saying that a new wire is required in the OP's given situation with the information originally provided -- another assumption...
There is however a feed and a load side in three way switch loops -- again, they are rarely located in the same box and can no longer be co-located under present code unless 4 conductor cable is used between the two switch locations...
You jump to too many assumptions and either were taught only one specific way of doing certain wiring and never were curious enough to learn the other methods or are very close minded about doing things other than the way the electricians you apprenticed under showed you...
Thank god you are not in my state, I wouldn't hire you to do electrical work for me, I would go through 4 years of apprenticing and obtain my own license first before I ever paid you do it...
~~ Evan
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On 2/2/2012 12:25 AM, Evan wrote:

Idiot, complete idiot
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I've seen your answers here to lots of questions. And I've seen RBM's. You Sir, remind me of the robot from the 60's show, Lost in Space. Warning! Danger, Will Robinson! Arms flailing, head popping up and down..... Someone can ask about how to perform anything, and you'll tell them why they're too stupid to do it and how changing a door knob will involve insurance companies, zoning issues and could kill them.
RBM has provided sound, expert, and pracical advice to me and to others over the years. I'd be happy to have him work on my house any time. You, I wouldn't let on the property.
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On 2/2/2012 8:09 AM, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

I'll be right over (lol)
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On 2/2/2012 7:09 AM, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

RBM knows what he's talking about. I was working on an Army Core of Engineers job and the electrical superintendent and foreman I was working for had no idea how to hook up three way and four way switches. I was supposed to trust them with the 15,000 volt terminations and splices. Just because someone claims to be an electrician doesn't mean they know what they're doing. You can trust that RBM knows what he's doing. ^_^
TDD
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On 1/30/2012 2:44 PM, Pavel314 wrote:

controlled by a pair of three-way switches. The first switch is where you come into the laundry room from the dining room and the second is in the laundry room by the door exiting to the back porch. I would like to change it to having two two-way switches, one to control the laundry room light and one for the back porch light.

First identify the hot line coming from the box, then using the two wires running between the two existing switches use one to feed the other switch box in an always-on mode while the other controls the other light. The major re-wiring will be to get one switched hot line to each light fixture but since it's a suspended ceiling, the wires are all visible behind the tiles.

What you have to do, depends upon how the current wiring was set up. You have a set of 3 way switches controlling 2 lights. You want independent single pole switches, each operating one light. The feed for the existing system can be located in either switch box, or one of the ceiling outlet boxes. You pretty much will have to break it all down, identify the wires, then decide how to change it.
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You can not always easily do what you want.
3-way circuits can be wired a number of different ways. If you do not have a volt/ohm meter and know how to use it call an electrician. http://www.homeimprovementweb.com/information/how-to/three-way-switch.htm
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wrote:

controlled by a pair of three-way switches. The first switch is where you come into the laundry room from the dining room and the second is in the laundry room by the door exiting to the back porch. I would like to change it to having two two-way switches, one to control the laundry room light and one for the back porch light.

First identify the hot line coming from the box, then using the two wires running between the two existing switches use one to feed the other switch box in an always-on mode while the other controls the other light. The major re-wiring will be to get one switched hot line to each light fixture but since it's a suspended ceiling, the wires are all visible behind the tiles.

They're right. This is much more complicated than it sounds. There are at least iirc 6 ways 3-way switches can be wired.
WRT your porch light, you have a porch light now? With no switch inside? Does it have a switch somewhere? Are there wires from the proch light in that wall by the door? If Yes, yet there is no swtich there? Why would the wires be by the door if there is no swtich there?. But if there are wires there, it would be easier to just put in one more switch.
How many switches or outlets are there wehre the 3-way next to the door is. If you have a 3-way and any other two-way, you can replace the 2-way with TWO 2-ways, one for the porch.
Or you can put in a switch just above the current switch
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I like the idea of a switch above the current switch to operate the porch light independent of the laundry room light. Keep the laundry room light on the three-way, workable from either door, but have the porch light go on only when we need it.
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In which case the whole thing makes more sense. It now comes down to how easy it is to seperate the porch light from the laundry light and if a hot and neutral are available in the switch box by the door.
If the wire going to the laundry light and the wire are seperate, but both come into the door switch box, that's great.. If they are daisy chained from one light to the other inside the ceiling, walls, etc, then you have a whole different job. At that point you'd probably have to get a new cable from the new switch location to the porch light.
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