11:47AM | 08/22/07
Member Since: 08/21/07
1 lifetime posts

I live in a two (2) story townhouse with a detached garage - the outdoor lighting is controlled by three switches:

One (1) 3-way within the entrance foyer across from service panel.

One (1) 4-way at the glass sliding door to the courtyard that is located between the townhouse and detached garage.

One (1) 3-way that is located in the garage.

The outdoor lights control four (4) incandescent 60 Watt lights are located at: front entry door, garage rear service door, each side of overhead door.

I am looking for a way to maintain the original function of the three (3) switches and at the same time have the lights to turn on automatically at night and off during the day.


Can I wire a photo switch across the runner yellow leads at the 3-way switch in the garage to complete the circuit and turn on all of the lights at night when the photo cell is activated? - While maintaining the original function of the three switches? – How would the three (3) wires from the photo switch need to be connected?

As an alternative, can I wire the normally open contact of a timer across the runner yellow leads at the 3-way switch in the garage to complete the circuit and turn on all of the lights at night when the timer contacts are activated to the closed position? - While maintaining the original function of the three switches?

If this will not work - is there another method to controls the lights at night while maintaining the original function of the three switches?


06:15PM | 08/22/07
Member Since: 04/25/05
1918 lifetime posts
One of the problems is that there are 12 different ways to wire a 3/4 way switch and light.

Now the basic concept of connecting a "switch" across the travelers will work.

But a photocell most often requires a hot and neutral and outputs a switched hot.

That would need to drive a relay which would be across the travelers.

Depending on how the circuit is wired. not all of the boxes will have hot, neutral, and travelers.

A mechanical time clock the isolated switch could be put across the travelers. But again you need hot and neutral for the timer motor.

"Can I wire a photo switch across the runner yellow leads at the 3-way switch "

Wiring with cables would not have a yellow wires. That implies that, at least part of the system, is wired conduit. That has an advantage that you can pull other wires in the conduit if needed.

There is no standard color for travelers so you will need to verify that they are the travelers.

I think that an alternated system using home automation would be better.

There are other systems, but it could be done with a INSTEON/X10 system.

Here is one supplier.

Replace the switches. They will have a master and salve that the master listens to.

Then there are several simple standalone timers that could be used to send on and off controls.

I believe tha there are also sensors that will control off of light.

You need to go through the different parts and download the manuals and check the details of the different units.


10:55AM | 08/27/07
Member Since: 09/17/02
527 lifetime posts


02:36PM | 08/28/07
Member Since: 08/27/07
23 lifetime posts
a simple way for a home owner to fix this problem is to buy new fixtures that have photo-cells built in from the factory, you can pick them up at most building supply centers, short of that if your not sure of what your doing hire an electrician, is it worth a 75 dollars to be able to sleep at night and not worry?


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