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Guide: Installing Three-Way X10 Compatible Switches by ASIHome Staff

Most folks use multi-way switches every day, with no idea that there's anything special about them. Multi-way switches are usually found in locations such as stairwells, long hallways, and large rooms, to allow control of the lighting from more than one location.These are all ideal candidates for installing X10-controllable switches.

The changeover from a standard multi-way switch is not as simple as a standard switch replacement, however. But if you follow the instructions below, you can make the switch in record time, with a minimum of hassle.

What You'll Need:3-way switch wiring diagram

1 Phillips screwdriver
1 Slotted screwdriver
Voltage tester
1 Leviton 6383 Switch
1 Leviton 6294 Slave Switch
Optional: Decora-style trimplates
15-20 minutes

How to Get Started:

Step 1.- Turn off the power to the circuit at the circuit breaker panel. If you haven't taken the opportunity to label your circuit breakers, this is a good time to do so. It'll save you lots of time in the future by not having to go through every circuit breaker to figure out which one you need to turn off.

Step 2.- Use the slotted screwdriver to remove the trimplates from each switch location.

Step 3.- Use the Phillips screwdriver to remove the mounting screws from each switch. You can use the slotted screwdriver in many cases, but we prefer the Phillips for speed.

Step 4.- Disconnect each switch from the house wiring. Separate each wire physically from the others at each switch location. You should have a total of six wires coming out the boxes at this point, either four in one and two in the other, or three in each.

Step 5.- With all the wires physically separated from each other, turn the circuit breaker back on. Go back to the switches. Test each wire in each box for voltage. You should find one, and only one, wire that is hot. This is your "Hot" wire. Temporarily place a wire nut on this wire to protect it. One hint to speed you along: If your wiring is in the four-two configuration, the hot wire will be in the box with four wires.

Step 6.- Turn off the breaker, and return to the box. In the same box, look for a red wire. If there is, great - cap it off with another wire nut. If not, connect one of the remaining wires to the "Hot" wire.

Step 7.- Turn the circuit breaker back on. One of two things will happen - Either the light will come on, or it won't. If the light comes on, turn off the breaker, disconnect the hot, and connect it to one of the other wires. Use a wire nut to identify the wire that went to the light. This should only happen if you had four wires in the box. Otherwise, go to the other box, and you'll find that one of the wires in that box is now hot. Put a cap on this wire to identify it. We'ret just about ready to install switches.

At this stage, the installation will differ slightly, depending on wiring. We'll start with the four-two configuration.

Four-Two Wire Configuration

Step 8a.-Turn the breaker off. Pick up the 6383 switch, and you'll find three wires  - Blue, Red, and Black. First, connect the Black wire to the Hot wire in the box. If the light came on in Step 7, connect the Blue wire to the wire that went to the light. Connect the Red wire to either of the remaining wires, and the last wire remaining in the box should be connected to the Black and Hot wires.

If the light did not come on in Step 7, connect the wire you identified as hot in the remote location to the other wire, and turn the circuit breaker on. Now, test the two remaining wires for voltage. One will be hot. Put a wire nut on this wire, and turn off the breaker. You now should have one wire connected to the hot wire, one with a wire nut on it, and one last wire. This last wire is the wire to the light. Connect it to the Blue wire on the switch. Take the wire nut off the next wire and connect it to the Red wire.

Step 9a.- Make sure both wires in the other box are disconnected, and turn the power back on. test, and you'll find one of the two wires is hot. Put a wire nut on it. If the light didn't come on in Step 7, you'll already have a wire nut on it. Turn the breaker off, and connect the wire with the wire nut on it to the Black wire on the Slave switch, and connect the remaining wire to the Red wire on the Slave Switch.

Three-Three Configuration

Step 8b.- Turn the breaker off. Connect the Black wire on the 6294 Slave Switch as well as one of the other wires to the "Hot" wire. Connect the Red wire on the 6294 to the remaining wire.

Step 9b.- Turn the breaker on. Test the wires in the box. There should be one hot wire. Connect the black wire on the 6383 switch to this wire. Connect the Blue wire on the switch to one of the other wires and turn the breaker back on. Tap the top of the 6383 switch. Note whether the light turns on. Turn the breaker back off. If the light did not come on, disconnect the Blue wire from the switch and connect to the other free wire. In either case, connect the last free wire to the Red wire on the switch.

Both Configurations

Step 10.- Reinstall the switches into the wall. If your original switches were "toggle" style switches, you will need Decora-style trimplates to fit over the new switches.

Turn the power back on, and you're done! By following these steps, you should be able to finish this job in about 15-20 minutes every time!

This article was published on Wednesday 03 November, 2004.

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