Replacing switch with pilot light-type switch

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Old 07-09-18, 09:53 PM
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Replacing switch with pilot light-type switch

Hi folks, any tips would be great here. Once again, thought I was going to do something relatively easy, but after removing the switch cover have learned that it's more complex than I thought. For you guys, though, probably as easy one.

There are two switches in the kitchen. One switch (Switch #1) controls the indoor kitchen light. Switch #2 controls the lights in the garage. I would like to replace Switch #2 with one of those combination switches that has the red pilot light. We have a habit of leaving the garage lights on, so I thought this might help.

Attached is a JPG of the current wiring, and the switch on the right is the new pilot light switch.

Here's the switch on Home Depot's website
.

Sorry, I tried my best to draw the diagram. I wish there was an easy, more automated software program for drawing these diagrams.

A few items of note:

1. All of the 4 white wires come together in one wire nut, and then don't go anywhere else.

2. The 4 copper (bare) wires seem to go into clips, and then go to the green screws on the two switches.

3. That red wire nut in the middle actually has a pigtail wire that goes around the black screw of Switch #2, and then continues on to the gold screw of Switch #1. Looks really bad in person.

4. Assuming 1, 2, and 3 above just might look funny, but are actually ok, I still don't quite understand how the new switch hooks up. Any tips there?

Thanks!
 
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Old 07-09-18, 11:03 PM
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Well written post and diagram. Unfortunately what you have there for switch 2 is a three way switch. The common is the dark screw which is always live and the other two wires on the gold colored screws are called the travelers. When the switch is in one position..... power is sent on either red or black to the garage. When the switch is changed.... power is sent out on the other wire.

You won't be able to add a pilot lit switch because there are two switched lines instead of the one that the switch requires.
 
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Old 07-10-18, 08:35 AM
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Thanks for the reply. Just curious, why do you think they would use a 3-way switch here? I thought that was only in applications where the lights are controlled from two switches, like the top and bottom of a set screen of steps? In this case, the garage lights are only controlled from this one switch.
 
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Old 07-10-18, 09:10 AM
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You need to check the garage thoughly for another switch. If you don't use it you may be abel to eliminate it.
 
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Old 08-03-18, 05:24 PM
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So I took your advice and searched my garage, and then I searched some more for this elusive "2nd switch" that would be controlling the overhead lights. Lo' and behold I found it. There's another wall switch that controls the overhead lights. The reason I didn't realize it before is because the switch is malfunctioning. When you turn it on, nothing happens. If you give it a little bit more of a push in the on position, the lights come on! Unbelievable. So obviously I'm going to replace it with a new 3-way switch.

Before I go, are there any other ways to have an indicator light up when the switch is in the on position? Maybe add an LED to the cover or maybe a switch that has an LED built into it? Or is this not possible since it's a 3-way switch?

Thanks again guys!
 
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Old 08-03-18, 07:04 PM
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In order for a pilot light to work properly in a three way circuit..... it needs to be connected to the load (light) side of the circuit. In your case.... that would be the black/dark screw terminal of the switch in the garage.

If you had the room in the box you could use something like this to detect current flow. You'd run the black wire thru the doughnut to the black/dark screw of the inside switch.
CR-Magnetics-Remote-Current-Indicator
 
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Old 08-04-18, 10:34 AM
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Ok, so I'm losing my mind. I replaced the faulty 3-way switch in the garage with a new 3-way switch, but it's not working correctly. I tried changing the wiring again, and still no luck. What's happening is that if the switch in the garage is in the "up" position, then the switch in the kitchen does nothing. When the switch in the garage is in the "down" position, the switch in the kitchen works the garage lights just fine. I'm hoping that statement will be a hint to you experts out there.

The faulty 3-way switch in the garage only had 3 terminals. Two gold terminals on the right side for the black and red wires respectively. And one brass-colored screw on the right side for the black wire from the other cable entering the box. There was no green screw, but the copper wires in the box were just tied together and put under the metal clip in the metal box. See attached diagram.

The new 3-way switch from Home Depot has four terminals. (Click the link to see the switch).

If you look at the right side of the drawing below, you'll see how the garage was previously connected with the old switch, and then how I connected the new switch. What am I mixing up here?

(For reference, the left side of the diagram shows how the two switches are hooked up in the kitchen. The left switch controls a light in the kitchen. The switch on the right is the 3-way switch for the garage.)
 
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Last edited by John Palatzo; 08-04-18 at 12:59 PM.
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Old 08-05-18, 11:41 AM
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Hey guys, sorry to sound desparate here, but any thoughts would be great. Still canít figure this out so Iím assuming I have it wired wrong. Please see previous post before the wife electrocutes me :-)
 
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Old 08-05-18, 12:31 PM
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The two three way switch diagrams are reversed from each other. Rotate one diagram 180 degrees. ( You need to switch places with the red and black on the right side of the new 3-way switch in the garage as shown on the current diagram)
 
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Old 08-05-18, 12:42 PM
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I am looking at the new three way switch diagram at the far right of my drawing. When you say to switch the red and black wires, are you talking about the red and black wires that are both coming out of cable #1? Or do you mean switch the red wire from cable #1 with the black wire from cable #2?
 
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Old 08-05-18, 01:36 PM
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When we discuss wiring..... the ground is understood to be there and it is NOT counted. You have a three terminal or screw switch which means it is a three way switch.

I like pictures as I never know if a diagram is drawn correctly. You have a black wire on the black/dark screw on the inside switch. This is the hot source to the circuit. That leaves you two (traveler) wires to the garage switch. The traveler colors are usually the same at both ends and will travel in the same cable. At the garage end the travelers go on the brass screws leaving the load/lights connected to the remaining dark/black screw.

In your diagram...... the black wire from cable 2 is the common wire.

The common wire is ALWAYS on the dark/black screw. It does not matter where it is located on the switch as every manufacturer puts it in a different place.
 
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Old 08-05-18, 02:04 PM
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Thanks guys. Ok, just want to confirm before I make the change. Again, this is focusing on the diagram on the far right for the new 3-way switch in the garage.

1. CABLE #2: Black Wire goes to the Black screw on the new switch.

2. CABLE #1: Black Wire goes to the gold screw in the left side of the switch.

3. CABLE #1: Red Wire goes to the gold screw on the right side of the switch.

Sound right?
 
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Old 08-05-18, 02:07 PM
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Y\es.... the black in cable 2 must go on the dark screw. With the other two (the travelers) it makes no difference.
 
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Old 08-05-18, 06:26 PM
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You guys rock, that did the trick. Thanks again!
 
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