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Mike G.
Mike G., Master Electrician
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 7104
Experience:  Proven Professional 46 years Experience
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I would like to remove one switch in a 3 way switch

Customer Question

I would like to remove one switch in a 3 way switch controlled exterior light. I would like the photocell to replace one of the switches and leave the other switch in place so that I can turn off the source to the exterior lights if possible. The photo cell is a 3 wire photocell (black, white, and red)
JA: I'll do all I can to help. How long have you been dealing with this?
Customer: Just wired everything. I removed one of the 3 way switches and extended 12/3 thru a junction box to the exterior of the garage wall. I installed the photocell and connected the 12/3 to the photocell color to color. I turned on the breaker, turned the remaining 3 way switch up and down (not sure which way is off or on because I removed the other 3 way switch and replaced it with the photocell. I must be missing something, because I have tried to trouble shoot the switch position and covered the photocell lens and nothing is happening.
JA: Do you plan on doing the work yourself?
Customer: I already have done everything. Conduit, wiring, junction box, etc
JA: How old is the system in question? And have you consulted an electrician yet?
Customer: system is 1991 and I have not consulted. I have done wiring before, although I am obviously not seasoned at it. I must be "missing" something conceptually with the 3 way switch.
JA: Anything else we should know to help you best?
Customer: Just to summarize: I have removed a switch in a 3 way wired circuit that controls the exterior porch lights. I have replaced the switch with a 3 wire photocell. i would like the lights to come on at dark, as long as the other remaining switch in the 3 way circuit is "on"
Submitted: 3 months ago.
Category: Electrical
Expert:  Mike G. replied 3 months ago.

Hi, I'm Mike G and I'll be assisting you.

  1. What type of fixture or fixtures are there?
  2. If both switches are inside, you'll have a problem using a photo cell.
Customer: replied 3 months ago.
There are four exterior lights on the exterior garage wall. They are controlled by a 3 way circuit, one switch in the laundry room and one in the foyer of the front door. I removed the switch in the laundry room, put in a junction box, connected the 12/3 from the laundry room switch and extended through conduit through the garage and to the exterior of the garage wall. I installed a 3 wire photocell (black, white, and red) and connected the 3 wires from the photocell to the 12/3 that was extended from the switch in the circuit that I removed from the laundry room. I connected the photocell black to the 12/3 black, white to white, and red to red. I obviously am missing something in the theory because I trouble shoot it with the existing switch in both positions ( about 20 minutes tests each) while the photocell lens was covered with tape. Could you please help
Expert:  Mike G. replied 3 months ago.

You need to have the photo cell outside, in order for it to work properly. Tell me what type of fixtures are there. When installed on the exterior the lights will come on at dusk and a a double flip of one of the switches will over ride the photo cell and the light will remain on.

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