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Old 03-31-2012, 10:59 PM
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Best way for a homeowner to run a 4 conductor circuit

If my local Lowes sold 14-4 NM-B by the foot, no problem. Since I need about 16', even a prepackaged 25' coil would be within reason. If I can't come by what I need of it, should I go with ENT?

I have decided to add a third switch to a 3 way light circuit. No big deal, they sell switches that if you connect them to the travelers, you can stick in as many switches as you want. The 14-3 cable doesn't run near where I want the new switch. So starting at one switch, up to the attic, across the way and down to where I want the switch. It is just that I must have 4 conductors plus ground.
Old 04-01-2012, 12:16 AM
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Can you just run two lines of ordinary three-conductor romex in parallel?

ETA: On second thought, that might not be up to code. I dunno.

Last edited by friedo; 04-01-2012 at 12:16 AM.
Old 04-01-2012, 02:10 AM
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Could you do something like this instead?

http://electrical-online.com/wp-...witch-post.jpg
Old 04-01-2012, 09:18 AM
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Have you tried an electrical supply house? Some will sell to homeowners, some won't. I think a lot might have to do with how confident you seem when you go in there. Paying by cash might help too, since you won't have an account set up with them. You could always go through the yellow pages and call them all to ask.
Another option would be to look in the free newspapers for electricians doing side work. Those guys are usually needing the money and may sell you what you need from their stock.
Old 04-01-2012, 01:03 PM
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Originally Posted by engineer_comp_geek View Post
Could you do something like this instead?

http://electrical-online.com/wp-...witch-post.jpg
Ah, the old change the problem. Could work. Complication is that the accessible switch also has the incoming power and loop out to the light. I will have to do some scrawling on that.
Old 04-01-2012, 01:13 PM
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You could run two pieces of 14/2. Just tag the wires so you don't get confused, and make sure the white wires are identified so no future electrician thinks he's looking at a neutral.
Old 04-01-2012, 01:32 PM
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i do see two brands of 14 AWG wire that indicates that it is 4 conductor though it is 250' rolls at Lowes (other home improvement material stores may sell by the foot). maybe you could do a few more switch runs.
Old 04-01-2012, 01:50 PM
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I'm not seeing why you'd ever need four conductor plus ground wire for a three-way or four-way switch.
Old 04-01-2012, 02:21 PM
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a switch loop would need 3 conductor wire, this could be used depending on how the wire is now routed or could be routed. if the new wiring went direct to the load you would need four wires. depends on what you have and how much work each method would be.
Old 04-01-2012, 02:33 PM
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Originally Posted by johnpost View Post
a switch loop would need 3 conductor wire, this could be used depending on how the wire is now routed or could be routed. if the new wiring went direct to the load you would need four wires. depends on what you have and how much work each method would be.
i started and went to something and posted without typing the full thought.

a 3 way switch loop would need three conductors. a 4 way switch loop would need four conductors.
Old 04-01-2012, 02:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnpost View Post
i started and went to something and posted without typing the full thought.

a 3 way switch loop would need three conductors. a 4 way switch loop would need four conductors.
I always thought it was puzzling (and difficult to explain to students) why a 3-way is switchable from two locations, and a 4-way is switchable from three locations.
Old 04-01-2012, 03:33 PM
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Originally Posted by johnpost View Post
i started and went to something and posted without typing the full thought.

a 3 way switch loop would need three conductors. a 4 way switch loop would need four conductors.
I'm not seeing it. I went searching, and couldn't find any example where four wires plus ground was ever needed. This page, for example, gives a lot of wiring possibilities, but never needs more than three plus ground.
Old 04-01-2012, 03:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnpost View Post
i started and went to something and posted without typing the full thought.

a 3 way switch loop would need three conductors. a 4 way switch loop would need four conductors.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ZenBeam View Post
I'm not seeing it. I went searching, and couldn't find any example where four wires plus ground was ever needed. This page, for example, gives a lot of wiring possibilities, but never needs more than three plus ground.
if you went to a 4 way switch from two directions then you would use two 3 conductor cables.

if you went to a 4 way switch from one direction (to and from the box you were at) then you would use one 4 conductor cable.

these situations depend on what you have and where you want to go and what ways that you might get there.
Old 04-01-2012, 05:24 PM
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How is what you're describing different from the setup here, extending from the light, or from the diagram engineer_comp_geek linked to, extending from a switch, where only three conductor wire is needed? Can you find a diagram of this somewhere that you can link to?
Old 04-01-2012, 05:55 PM
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websites and books will illustrate common situations.

sometimes you get uncommon situations. you might have construction constrains due to materials or design or constrains in remodeling not wanting to create too much work.

imagine in

http://renovation-headquarters.c...llation-p3.htm

where one of the 4 way switches comes and goes to the same box and those wires travel from that box in a cable to other boxes used as illustrated. in that case you would want a cable with 4 conductors.
Old 04-01-2012, 08:34 PM
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I think the OP is simply thinking about the problem wrong. They want to add a 4way switch so they can switch from 3 locations.

If you choose to make the new box the box containing the 4 way switch you would indeed need to run a 4 conductor from one of the 3 way boxes to do so. You're sending the loop out and back again.

If you simply put the 4 way switch in one of the existing boxes you'd only need a 3 wire going to the new box.

14/4 nm exists most any electrical supplier will have it. It's normally in a corner collecting dust as there is rarely a need for it.
Old 04-01-2012, 08:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnpost View Post
imagine in

http://renovation-headquarters.c...llation-p3.htm

where one of the 4 way switches comes and goes to the same box and those wires travel from that box in a cable to other boxes used as illustrated. in that case you would want a cable with 4 conductors.
So if the one that "comes and goes" is the second from the right, then the other 4-way switch goes directly to the box on the right. But in that case, you'd switch the three-way and four-way switches, and only need three wire romex. If you had a five-way switch (with the switch on the right a 4 way, and another switch to the right of that), then you couldn't do that, and you'd need the four wire romex. But I suspect any three-way or four-way setup only needs three-wire romex.
Old 04-01-2012, 10:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnpost View Post
imagine in

http://renovation-headquarters.c...llation-p3.htm

where one of the 4 way switches comes and goes to the same box and those wires travel from that box in a cable to other boxes used as illustrated. in that case you would want a cable with 4 conductors.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ZenBeam View Post
So if the one that "comes and goes" is the second from the right, then the other 4-way switch goes directly to the box on the right. But in that case, you'd switch the three-way and four-way switches, and only need three wire romex. If you had a five-way switch (with the switch on the right a 4 way, and another switch to the right of that), then you couldn't do that, and you'd need the four wire romex. But I suspect any three-way or four-way setup only needs three-wire romex.

a 4 way switch needs 4 conductors connected to it. imagine wanting that 4 way switch in a location that you could run only one cable to, that cable would need 4 conducting wires. that 4 conductor cable could come back to a box just used to connect other cables together or a box with other things in it.
Old 04-01-2012, 10:54 PM
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OK, got it. If there were three or four of those, you couldn't just use the three-way switches in all those cases.
Old 04-01-2012, 11:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Chefguy View Post
I always thought it was puzzling (and difficult to explain to students) why a 3-way is switchable from two locations, and a 4-way is switchable from three locations.
Good question. Maybe it has to do with the terminals on the switch. 3 way switches are simple spdt with a common, NOC, and NCC terminals. 4 way switches are a specialty item with 4 terminals on them that reverse the connections from one position to the next. Perhaps even Zen Beam can master the idea that a switch with 4 contacts has to have 4 wires.

I have though some more about it, and think what engineer_comp_geek first suggested in post #3 will work and be the cheapest and easiest way. Thanks.
Old 04-02-2012, 02:33 AM
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Your circuit should have 3-way switches at the ends, and a 4-way switch in between. In that design, you should only need 3 conductors (+ ground) in any of the cable runs. You don't need 4-conductor cable (which is why it's hard to find in stores).

Sounds like the OP is trying to put the 4-way switch at one end of the circuit, instead of in the middle.
Old 04-02-2012, 05:11 PM
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Perhaps even Zen Beam can master the idea that a switch with 4 contacts has to have 4 wires.
And yet in most cases, only 3-wire romex is needed. As in every wiring diagram in the links I gave.
Old 04-02-2012, 11:09 PM
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A couple of you need to go back and read my original question.
Old 04-03-2012, 12:03 AM
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A couple of you need to go back and read my original question.
Maybe you could explain what in your original question we aren't understanding?

We are not exactly answering your question about ENT, but trying to explain that we don't think you need to do that.

If you replace the current 3-way switch with a 4-way switch, and then run 14-3 cable to the new location, and install the old 3-way switch there, and then run 14-2 from that to the light or power), you can wire this circuit without needing any 14-4 cable.
Old 04-13-2012, 10:05 PM
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Originally Posted by engineer_comp_geek View Post
Could you do something like this instead?

http://electrical-online.com/wp-...witch-post.jpg
Well I finally finished the job today. Your link was very helpful. Progress was delayed by spending 3 days in the hospital dealing with complications of my cancer. I am sent home with orders to take it easy. The next day the kitchen faucet springs a leak.

The black hot wire from the switch loop for the light was connected to the common of the switch. I connected it to the black wire to the new switch location. I connected both reds and whites to the new switch. Note, $3.79 including shipping on Ebay for a Pass and Seymour brand one. Lowes wanted $17.

Why do electricians run switch loops for everything? In many cases, it would save wire to run power to the switch and then on to the light. The lower switch in much closer to the breaker box than the light. I also noticed the bedroom light has 2 cables running to it, the power, and then a second switch loop back to the switch. That switch in in the same wall cavity as the relocated switch. Fortunately I though about that before cutting a hole in the wall board.

The old switch doesn't have a screw to ground the switch frame. I doubt any of the ones in the house built in 1970 do. Does reinstalling it in a new location violate code? At least the house is new enough it is wired with w ground cable and 3 prong outlets.

Note, nobody here sells 14-3 by the foot either. I had to go with a 25' coil. You can buy 15' coils too.
Old 04-13-2012, 10:50 PM
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The old switch doesn't have a screw to ground the switch frame. I doubt any of the ones in the house built in 1970 do. Does reinstalling it in a new location violate code? At least the house is new enough it is wired with w ground cable and 3 prong outlets.
Since about 1970, the code was changed to allow the screws that hold the switch into the box to be rated as sufficient grounding. Assuming that it's a metal box, and the ground wire is attached to the box. If it's a plastic box, then wrapping the ground wire from the cable under that screw is your best choice -- it will ground the switch frame. That isn't much risk anyway -- when the cover is on, there is no exposed metal on a switch.

Quote:
Originally Posted by thelabdude View Post
Note, nobody here sells 14-3 by the foot either. I had to go with a 25' coil. You can buy 15' coils too.
Given the cost of setting up a measuring/cutting station, and the wages of the store employee for the time taken to do this, and to mark it for the cash register clerk, it just not cost effective. The store would probably have to charge as much for a 6-foot cut to order piece as a 15 or 25 foot prepackaged coil.
Old 04-13-2012, 11:53 PM
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Originally Posted by thelabdude View Post
The old switch doesn't have a screw to ground the switch frame.
older switches are grounded by the metal yoke touching the metallic grounded box.
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