I am getting ready to update my largish family room and am considering
how to approach the lighting. I'd like to install flush mounted
fluorescents, halogen task lights, wall sconces and a switched outlet
in three separate lighting zones so that the room can be lit according
to its use.
In my switch box, I'd also like to have one master switch that turns
all three zones on or off regardless of the state of any of the other
zones. For example, if zones 1 and 2 are off and 3 is on, flipping
the master would turn on all 3. Flipping the master again would turn
off all three. Then flipping zone 3 once more would turn it back on.
It's a 3-part 3-way if you will.
Can this be done? I'm having a hard time wrapping my puny non-
electrician brain around it. If this is done, what's it called so I
can search for the wiring diagram?
If you don't have any luck with the way you want to do it you can
always go with X10.
Here's the link:
It has the ability to turn all lights on and off or in any combination
And it's pretty simple to hook up.
Hope this helps.
That would be a 3PDT (3 pole double throw) switch. I don't know what
else to call it.
That switch is 3 electrically isolated but mechanically connected 3way
switches. Electrically you have 3 separate 3way circuits.
The first sketch I did had AC in mind. Having DC would make things
simpler. With DC, you could use the same type master as you have for
the single switches. You could use diodes instead of a triple throw
I think most of the relays for the home are 24V AC/DC. How about this
Assuming you want to be able to control the lights individually, that
circuit will NOT work. The problem should be obvious, the coils for
one light are in parallel with the coils for the other one. The
correct function of the diodes is to keep them separate (which those
The 4 individual (not master) buttons can be connected directly to the
coils, but you'll need a diode between each master button and each
coil (total 4 diodes). This prevents current from one of the
non-master buttons from operating the other light's relay. Your
circuit does not have this protection.
Diodes are needed for any button that controls more than 1 relay. The
number of diodes is equal to he number of relays controlled (here 2 +
2 = 4).
BTW, diodes don't cost much, and are easy to experiment with. I always
have a few 1N4001 diodes (50V 1A).
The relays are still shorted together, so ANY switch will operate all
Note that if a diode is connected to a button (as you have done), it
will perform no useful function unless at least 2 diodes are so
The shorts between coils should be obvious. They're the vertical lines
in the diagram.
If you do it right, you'll need 4 diodes (for 2 lights). They'll be in
the vertical lines, not the horizontal ones.
You mean, turn only the one that was on when all this started, 4 lines
ago, right? Below, I do almost everything you want with just two
extra On/Off switches.
You could do this with x-10 or relays, but if all of the switches will
be in the same location, it would be far far easier to either forget
it, or two have two additioinal switches in addition to the three ones
for each zone.
Even if they are not all in the same location, one master switch
could be run in parallel and turn everything ON no matter the position
of the 3 zone switches, and the other could be run in series and turn
everything OFF no matter what the position of the zone switches.
You would have to decide which should have priority, the master ON
switch or the master OFF switch. If you planned carefully, you might
be able to wire it so that changing the priority later was not a lot
And if you wanted the master switch without priority to win on a
particular day, you might have to flip the other master switch also.
Not a lot of work, and those two switches could almost certainly be
put next to each other.
If this is acceptable and you need more details, post back.
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