Wiring for multiple control [4 switches control one set of lights] light switch !!!

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On Thursday, June 20, 2013 10:49:16 AM UTC-4, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

switches in a certain position with the lights off. Either four down, two down, or four up.

Yes, we all agree, what he wants makes no sense. But what he wants is for the light to be off when ALL the switches are down.
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look at the light: -- if the light is off, he's finished. -- if the light is on, remove a faceplace and turn any one of the four switches upside down.
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wrote:

Again, I understand your lack of sympathy. When there's a single switch in the panel at the ends of a hall; UP/DOWN makes NO difference. However, I've got over 20 light panels containing racks of up to 5 switches per panel! As I said, if light switches can be made to be all down when off; it's easy to tell which light switch activated the light. But, when you have a rack of switches in arbitray positions and all your lights are out but one...
Quoting from one of my replies to another: "From all the replies there's not been much sympathy for the confusion 3,4,5-way switches can cause. I agree, if there's a single switch controlling the light set, not a biggie, don't care about up or down position, but when you have light switch panels containing 4 and sometimes 5 switches it can be a bit daunting when you're half asleep. and don't want to exercise every frigging light in the room trying to find the right one."
And again, turning a switch over is not a viable option. The wiring is often too short, the boxes are FILLED with wiring, and the wiring itself is NOT very flexible. This may have been 12 Awg wiring, will have to check. So turning a switch over puts the GND wire at the top and distorts everything so much that the switch never lies flat again and cosmetically looks terrible after the cover plate is replaced.
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On Thu, 20 Jun 2013 12:01:05 -0700 (PDT), Robert Macy

You can accomplish the same thing Doug suggests by swapping the travelers at one switch. A 3-way switch will have one screw that has a different marking than the other two. Swap the two wires on the terminals that have the same markings.
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On Thursday, June 20, 2013 12:31:28 PM UTC-7, Metspitzer wrote:
sense.  But what he >> > wants is for the light to be off when ALL the s witches are down. >> >> That's not difficult. All he needs to do is flip al l the switches down, and then look at the light: >> -- if the light is off, he's finished. >> -- if the light is on, remove a faceplace and turn any o ne of the four switches upside down. > >Again, I understand your lack of sy mpathy. When there's a single >switch in the panel at the ends of a hall; U P/DOWN makes NO >difference. However, I've got over 20 light panels contain ing racks of >up to 5 switches per panel! As I said, if light switches can be made >to be all down when off; it's easy to tell which light switch >act ivated the light. But, when you have a rack of switches in arbitray >positi ons and all your lights are out but one... > >Quoting from one of my replie s to another: > "From all the replies there's not been much sympathy for th e >confusion >3,4,5-way switches can cause. I agree, if there's a single sw itch >controlling the light set, not a biggie, don't care about up or down

ant to exercise every frigging light in the room >trying to find the right one." > >And again, turning a switch over is not a viable option. The wirin g is >often too short, the boxes are FILLED with wiring, and the wiring >it self is NOT very flexible. This may have been 12 Awg wiring, will >have to check. So turning a switch over puts the GND wire at the top >and distorts everything so much that the switch never lies flat again >and cosmetically looks terrible after the cover plate is replaced. You can accomplish the sa me thing Doug suggests by swapping the travelers at one switch. A 3-way swi tch will have one screw that has a different marking than the other two. Sw ap the two wires on the terminals that have the same markings.
Thank you. I didn't see any such markings, but on the next set will look fo r them!
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First -- why do you care which switch activated the light? When one light is controlled from four different switches, any one of the four can turn it on -- and any one of the four can turn it off, too. What possibile difference could it make, to know which switch turned it on? You can turn it off from any of the other three. You don't have to turn it off using the same switch that turned it on.
Second -- you're wrong about it being "easy to tell" anyway. Suppose you have four switches controlling the same light; suppose further that you've succeeded in configuring this so that the light is off when all four are down. If three of the four are *up*, which one turned it on? For that matter, even if only *one* of them is up you *still * don't know which one turned the light on most recently: flip switch 1 up, light goes on; flip switch 2 up, light goes off; flip switch 1 *down*, light goes on. Switch 2 is up, but switch *1* turned the light on.
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In article

Robert-
I missed the earlier comments, but I see a point of confusion.
Do you want any one switch to be able to turn off the light if a different switch turned it on? That requires a string of switches, with the end switches in a SPDT configuration. Any intermediate switches would be in a DPDT configuration. (There may be some 4 terminal switches intended for this function.) As mentioned, you could swap two wires at any one of the switches to give you "All Down Equals OFF".
But that would be of little value if you want to know which one switch was responsible for leaving the light on. For that, you would simply connect all SPST switches in parallel. All switches in the up position would need to be turned off for the light to go off. Then you would not have "N-Way" switches where one of N switches could turn off a light another switch turned on.
Fred
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You're missing what Robert's *really* confused about... see below.

Knowing which switch is responsible for leaving the light on is of no value to begin with. If the light can be turned on OR OFF from any of multiple switches, WHO CARES which switch turned it on? It. Does. Not. Matter.

... thus completely defeating the purpose of having multiple switches.
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On Friday, June 21, 2013 7:13:02 AM UTC-4, Doug Miller wrote:

Heh, I'm with you on this one Doug. I don't see the point to the whole exercise. But there are others here like Dennis, that think we shouldn't be asking the question about "why" he wants it, what purpose it serves, just tell him how to do it.
He started off with:
"Plus, (original installer) paid no attention to having all of the individual multiple switches end up in any proper position when the hallway light is off, so want to change. Swapping these two switches in their physical location in the box is no problem the wiring appears to be long enough, although the cabling comes down through the inlet holes in the wrong places. but still reaches.
Big problem is the best way to change the switching action of the multiple control switch. "
Which implies that there is an expectation of what the "proper position is for 3-way, 4-way, 5-way switches should be to each other? No electrician even considers this, because the light can be on with some switches up, some down and no one that I know cares. You just look at the light. If Robert rewires it so that the light is off with all 4 down, then if you're standing at one switch and the light is off, all you know is that the one corresponding switch is also down. You still don't know what position the other two switches are in. So, AFAIK, you would have to go check one of those as well. Or you could just look at the light. In every case I've seen, it's easier to look at the light for a hallway, then check at least two switches....
If this really is an OCD thing, like Dennis says, that's fine, and he can get all 4 down with the light off. It's just that if it really solves something that we're missing, it would be nice to know what that is. Like you, if someone wants to set about fiddling with something that is work and seems to serve no purpose, I try to understand the real objective, so that we're not just providing steps in some process that doesn't solve anything.
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On Friday, June 21, 2013 7:25:03 AM UTC-7, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

oglegroups.com>, > > > Robert Macy wrote: > > > > > >> As I said, if light switches can be made > > >> to be all down when off; it's easy to tell whic h light switch > > >> activated the light. But, when you have a rack of swi tches in arbitray > > >> positions and all your lights are out but one... > > > > > > Robert- > > > > > > I missed the earlier comments, but I see a p oint of confusion. > > > > You're missing what Robert's *really* confused a bout... see below. > > > > > > Do you want any one switch to be able to tur n off the light if a > > > different switch turned it on? That requires a s tring of switches, with > > > the end switches in a SPDT configuration. Any intermediate switches > > > would be in a DPDT configuration. (There may b e some 4 terminal > > > switches intended for this function.) As mentioned, you could swap two > > > wires at any one of the switches to give you "All Down Equals OFF". > > > > > > But that would be of little value if you wan t to know which one switch > > > was responsible for leaving the light on.

f multiple switches, WHO CARES which switch > > turned it on? It. Does. Not . Matter. > > > > >For that, you would simply > > > connect all SPST switch es in parallel. All switches in the up position > > > would need to be turn ed off for the light to go off. Then you would not > > > have "N-Way" switc hes where one of N switches could turn off a light > > > another switch tur ned on. > > > > ... thus completely defeating the purpose of having multipl e switches. Heh, I'm with you on this one Doug. I don't see the point to th e whole exercise. But there are others here like Dennis, that think we shou ldn't be asking the question about "why" he wants it, what purpose it serve s, just tell him how to do it. He started off with: "Plus, (original instal ler) paid no attention to having all of the individual multiple switches en d up in any proper position when the hallway light is off, so want to chang e. Swapping these two switches in their physical location in the box is no problem the wiring appears to be long enough, although the cabling comes do wn through the inlet holes in the wrong places. but still reaches. Big prob lem is the best way to change the switching action of the multiple control switch. " Which implies that there is an expectation of what the "proper po sition is for 3-way, 4-way, 5-way switches should be to each other? No elec trician even considers this, because the light can be on with some switches up, some down and no one that I know cares. You just look at the light. If Robert rewires it so that the light is off with all 4 down, then if you're standing at one switch and the light is off, all you know is that the one corresponding switch is also down. You still don't know what position the o ther two switches are in. So, AFAIK, you would have to go check one of thos e as well. Or you could just look at the light. In every case I've seen, it 's easier to look at the light for a hallway, then check at least two switc hes.... If this really is an OCD thing, like Dennis says, that's fine, and he can get all 4 down with the light off. It's just that if it really solve s something that we're missing, it would be nice to know what that is. Like you, if someone wants to set about fiddling with something that is work an d seems to serve no purpose, I try to understand the real objective, so tha t we're not just providing steps in some process that doesn't solve anythin g.
... I don't know why it's so difficult to understand WHY I'd like the switches to be at least once in their lives setting ALL in the proper position. You evidently don't have a house with a lot of lighting controls and multiple s witch plates. I have agreed in previous posts that *if* this were a single light switch plate at four different locations to control an overhead ligh t; no biggie. I don't care WHAT position they're in, because THAT light swi tch obviously controls THAT light, done. But when you have racks and racks of multi-controller switches running ?? around your bedroom; it would be ni ce to have the switches at least be 'settable' to a mnemonic configuration, where OFF is down, then when turn one on it's obvious which light switch t o turn off to get back to ALL lights off. Else, you're stuck out there in t he 30 by 50 ft room trying to remember exactly which one in the rack of 5 i s the one to shut off! Results, you wake up and have to 'think' about the light switches. Don't want that, don't want to have to completely wake up, rather scan the switches and think, oh that's the one and OFF it goes - don e and can go back to sleep.
I'm not even going to get into the problem of explaining the switches to a guest in the house! Or, I could say, "Yeah, feel free to play with the swit ches until you get the right one." A guest unfamiliar with the switch setup only has to look at the rack and notice which one is up to turn off a ligh t.
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On 6/21/2013 12:35 PM, Robert Macy wrote: ...

But, as soon as one of these is switched from another location somewhere else it screws it up anyway, so there's really no point--they'll be at odd positions in the other panel(s), anyway.
Labels would seem to be the think if you really have so many you can't recall which one is what...
The most there is in this house is one set of four at the outside door but they're installed in a logical order from top to bottom--yard,porch,entry,dining. Consequently it's no issue to know which to hit; even visitors figure it out pretty quickly w/o formal training. :)
It would seem like such an arrangement should be possible to at least ameliorate the problem if not totally solve it. OTOH, I'd probably just simplify and eliminate the switches if were so annoying as it sounds as if were... :)
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Okay.
If I'm understanding correctly, he wants to be able to tell if a circuit is on or off by looking at the switch.
The standard convention for switches is up for ON, down for OFF, but this doesn't work for multiple control switches.
So, why not solve the problem with a pilot light? A small indicator light by each switch would glow when that circuit has power. Or when it doesn't, either way.
I've seen this done for refrigeration equipment, maybe for boilers, I think a couple of other applications. If you have a freezer on a switch you like to know nobody turned it off.
The advantage of this is he could see the switch panel in the dark and know without turning anything on.
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On 6/21/2013 2:50 PM, TimR wrote: ...

Yeah, and w/ the number he's talking about it'll look like Christmas... :)
--


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On Friday, June 21, 2013 3:50:23 PM UTC-4, TimR wrote:

Welcome to the club.... There are two views here. Most of us are in your camp. Even those in the other camp, Dennis mostly, recognize what you say. You can set up a N way switch system fo the light is off with all the switches down. That is one state. You can do that. But it's also obviously off with other combination, so, like you, I think we all don't see it solving anything. I don' think Dennis thinks it solves anything other than providing that one all down position to solve some kind of OCD thing.

each switch would glow when that circuit has power. Or when it doesn't, either way.

couple of other applications. If you have a freezer on a switch you like to know nobody turned it off.

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I believe Robert has the answer he was looking for by now - reverse connection of two wires.
Someone once said, "I have CDO. CDO is like OCD, except it is in alphabetical order as it should be!"
That was when I realized I had it too.
Fred
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On 6/21/2013 4:31 PM, Fred McKenzie wrote:

That only solves the problem as long as none of the other switches change _their_ position--as soon as any one of them is switched, he'll have the same issue.
So, unless he no longer ever uses any of the others after they're all put in some reference position, switching a traveler doesn't solve the problem, either. Equivalently and less work, he can put them where he wants them in the room in question then go turn off whatever is on at one of the other locations--accomplishes just as much.
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On Friday, June 21, 2013 6:33:56 PM UTC-4, dpb wrote:

That's exactly how I see it too.....
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On 6/21/2013 7:06 PM, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

'Cuz that's how it is... :)
As somebody else noted, the only way he can accomplish the goal is to use a bunch of logic or a wireless controller or somesuch--it just is simply not possible w/ conventional house wiring w/ multiway switches unless the others on the circuit in question aren't changed from their positions when the target one is as desired (there are combinations of the others' positions that also leave the one unchanged, of course, by switching them in pairs, for example, but not in general).
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On Friday, June 21, 2013 1:35:46 PM UTC-4, Robert Macy wrote:

googlegroups.com>, > > > Robert Macy wrote: > > > > > >> As I said, if ligh t switches can be made > > >> to be all down when off; it's easy to tell wh ich light switch > > >> activated the light. But, when you have a rack of s witches in arbitray > > >> positions and all your lights are out but one... > > > > > > Robert- > > > > > > I missed the earlier comments, but I see a point of confusion. > > > > You're missing what Robert's *really* confused about... see below. > > > > > > Do you want any one switch to be able to t urn off the light if a > > > different switch turned it on? That requires a string of switches, with > > > the end switches in a SPDT configuration. A ny intermediate switches > > > would be in a DPDT configuration. (There may be some 4 terminal > > > switches intended for this function.) As mentione d, you could swap two > > > wires at any one of the switches to give you "A ll Down Equals OFF". > > > > > > But that would be of little value if you w ant to know which one switch > > > was responsible for leaving the light on . > > > > Knowing which switch is responsible for leaving the light on is o f no value to begin with. If the > > light can be turned on OR OFF from any of multiple switches, WHO CARES which switch > > turned it on? It. Does. N ot. Matter. > > > > >For that, you would simply > > > connect all SPST swit ches in parallel. All switches in the up position > > > would need to be tu rned off for the light to go off. Then you would not > > > have "N-Way" swi tches where one of N switches could turn off a light > > > another switch t urned on. > > > > ... thus completely defeating the purpose of having multi ple switches. Heh, I'm with you on this one Doug. I don't see the point to the whole exercise. But there are others here like Dennis, that think we sh ouldn't be asking the question about "why" he wants it, what purpose it ser ves, just tell him how to do it. He started off with: "Plus, (original inst aller) paid no attention to having all of the individual multiple switches end up in any proper position when the hallway light is off, so want to cha nge. Swapping these two switches in their physical location in the box is n o problem the wiring appears to be long enough, although the cabling comes down through the inlet holes in the wrong places. but still reaches. Big pr oblem is the best way to change the switching action of the multiple contro l switch. " Which implies that there is an expectation of what the "proper position is for 3-way, 4-way, 5-way switches should be to each other? No el ectrician even considers this, because the light can be on with some switch es up, some down and no one that I know cares. You just look at the light. If Robert rewires it so that the light is off with all 4 down, then if you' re standing at one switch and the light is off, all you know is that the on e corresponding switch is also down. You still don't know what position the other two switches are in. So, AFAIK, you would have to go check one of th ose as well. Or you could just look at the light. In every case I've seen, it's easier to look at the light for a hallway, then check at least two swi tches.... If this really is an OCD thing, like Dennis says, that's fine, an d he can get all 4 down with the light off. It's just that if it really sol ves something that we're missing, it would be nice to know what that is. Li ke you, if someone wants to set about fiddling with something that is work and seems to serve no purpose, I try to understand the real objective, so t hat we're not just providing steps in some process that doesn't solve anyth ing.

It's difficult because I don't see what that accomplishes. I think a lot of folks here don't understand it either. The one or two that do, just accept it as some kind of OCD thing.
You evidently don't have a house with a lot of lighting controls and multi ple switch plates.
I have a house that has several switch plates that have 3 or 4 switches where some of the switches are 3 way. I have one that is 4 way. And don't have a problem. The switches that are 3 or 4 way control lights that are visible from where the switches are. So, the position of the switch is irrelevant to me.
I have agreed in previous posts that *if* this were a single light switch plate at four different locations to control an overhead light; no biggie. I don't care WHAT position they're in, because THAT light switch obviously controls THAT light, done. But when you have racks and racks of multi-cont roller switches running ?? around your bedroom; it would be nice to have th e switches at least be 'settable' to a mnemonic configuration, where OFF is down, then when turn one on it's obvious which light switch to turn off to get back to ALL lights off.
That would be nice, but as has been explained several times, it doesn't work that way. You have 4 switches on a 5-way circuit that control one light. You've rewired or turned switches upside down so that the light is off when all 4 switches are down. Let's call the switches A, B, C, D. A is the one near you. You look at it and see that it's down. That means there is a 50% chance the light is off, because you don't know the position of the other 3 switches. If you check switch B and it's also down, then there is still a 50% chance the light is off, because you don't know the position of C and D. If you check switch C and it too is down, then you know the light is off.
That's how I see it working. If I missed something, let me know what it is.
Else, you're stuck out there in the 30 by 50 ft room trying to remember ex actly which one in the rack of 5 is the one to shut off!
Yeah, that's a valid problem, if you can't remember which switch does what and they are not marked. Let's say the third switch is the one for the light you want to turn off. How does what you did, rearranging the other switches on the 5-way circuit solve that? Let's call that switch A. Unless you can not only see switch A in front of you, but also 2 of the other switches on that same circuit, you still don't know if the light is on or off. So whether the third switch, ie switch A is up or down doesn't determine whether the light is on or off. You need to know the position of two more switches.
Results, you wake up and have to 'think' about the light switches. Don't want that, don't want to have to completely wake up, rather scan the switch es and think, oh that's the one and OFF it goes - done and can go back to s leep.
But it doesn't work that way. You've fixed it so that when all four switches are down, light is out, right?
Case 1 Light out A - down B - down C - down D - down
Now Case 2 light on
A up B down C down D down
You see A is up light is on. Just like you want, so you can move it down to turn off the light.
Now Case 3
A down B up C down D down
Now what? The light is on and A is down. How do you know A is the switch there among the others on the switchplate to turn off?

itches until you get the right one." A guest unfamiliar with the switch set up only has to look at the rack and notice which one is up to turn off a li ght.
Per the above, it doesn't work that way. I would think you would have realized that by now. Maybe I'm missing something here, but I don't think so. Which is why some of us were questioning what was the ultimate objective. Dennis came to the conclusion that you just wanted all four of those 5 way switches to be down because of OCD and that you should go ahead and do it. Others, like Doug and I thought you must have some rational objective. From what you just described, I don't see how flipping, re-wiring, whatever achieves it. A couple of labels stuck on the switchplate would identify which swithc does what though.
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And I don't know why it's so difficult for you to understand that: (1) if one light is controlled by more than two switches, it is IMPOSSIBLE TO DETERMINE from the position of ONE of the switches, which of the remaining switches turned the light on or off, and (2) It doesn't MATTER which of the switches turned it on or off, you can use ANY of the switches to turn it off or on again.

Nonsense. No 'thinking' required -- which appears to be a good thing, actually. Flip the first switch in the rack of 5 -- did that make the light that I want to go out, go out, or did it turn something else on instead? If it extinguished the light you wanted, fine, you're done. Otherwise, flip the same switch again to make what you just turned on, go off, then repeat the process for the next switch.

So label the switches on each faceplate. That way, you'll at least know which switch controls which light.

So label the switches on each faceplate. That way, your guests will know which switch controls which light, too.

In contrast to the plans you have in mind, that would actually work.

False.
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