Diy light switch ideas

Not every lights are created equal. Based on the filament in the bulb, lights can appear “cooler” or “warmer” on camera. This is perceivable with the human eye as well.

Consider how a doctor’s office looks (cool fluorescent light) compared to a comfortable living room setting (warm tungsten light.) This concept is called color temperature and can be measured on a scale of kelvin (see image below.)

If avoidable, it’s best not to stir lights of diverse color temperatures.

If lights are mixed temperatures, it can lead to improper color balance which can lead to unnatural looking footage.



Watch video of this step.

If you own access from above, you can make and install your own support brace using a length of 2×4 lumber nailed to the ceiling joists on both sides of the box location (Image 2). Position the brace directly above the ceiling box. From under, use wood screws to attach the ceiling box securely to the brace.

If you do not own access to work above the ceiling, you can install an expanding metal brace from under to support the ceiling box and fan.

First, remove the existing box, then insert the brace up through the hole and secure it in position by ratcheting the mechanism into put. As the ratchet is turned from under, arms on the brace extend until they contact the ceiling joists on both sides of the hole (Image 3 demonstration). The spikes on the arms anchor securely into the wood. Some braces are available with a ceiling box attached, or you can attach the existing ceiling box to the brace.

This method also may be used to mount a fan on a ceiling where no electrical fixture was previously installed. After a hole is cut in the ceiling, electrical wiring is routed to the hole from a convenient nearby junction box, then the brace and a new ceiling box are installed as described above.

With pilot switches, you can get any combination you desire, simply by wiring it differently.

  1. Top: the pilot is on when the switch/light is on.

  2. Middle: The pilot is on always.

    Diy light switch ideas

  3. Bottom: The pilot is on when the switch/light is off. However, this works by leaking power through the bulb. So it only works if the bulb is not burned out, and is capable to tolerate this leakage (incandescents can for sure.)

In these drawings, ground is omitted for clarity, neutral is white, always-hot is black, and switched-hot is red for clarity. The internal arrangement of the pilot switch is shown, so you can see why it works.

Note also the «upper correct terminal» in my drawings. See how it serves both the switch and the light.

In some pilot switches, this actually comes out to two screws on the side of the pilot switch with this side considered «common». In that case, the «sides» on your switch won’t be in the same places, not that they ever are.

way Switch Troubleshooting & Diagrams

How complicated can 3 way switch troubleshooting be? Consider this. Since a 2-switch system has 3 wires to be connected to 3 terminals at each box, it works out that only 1 out of 9 possibilities will work.

Each 4 way switch in-between would worsen the odds by a factor of 3. And any faulty switch or connection further complicates things. What is going to be easier — trial and error or understanding the 3 way switch system? … (Or maybe calling an electrician in your area?)

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Wire Colors in a Multiple Switch System

I will attempt to describe here what color the insulation on the wires of multiple-switch systems will commonly be, if they are not miswired. Lately, Code is wanting any «factory» whites serving as travelers or as the hot-end boiling to be re-marked black or red. Here I am only telling what you will commonly discover in most homes.

The boiling wire at the common terminal of the hot-end switch will be black (or rarely: red or white). The light-leg wire at the common terminal of the leg-end switch will be black or (rarely) red. Each traveler pair is contained in one cable, and will be either black and white, black and red, or red and white. Most other white wires present in these switch boxes are neutrals that are connected to each other and not to any of the switch terminals. Any bare or green wires are grounding wires connected to each other. If the switch has an additional green screw, to meet Code a bare piece should be run to it from every the grounds.

The Standard 4-way Switch Arrangement

Normally encountered 4-way switch systems every share this scheme-theme:

— S === S === S — O

where the «S»s, the «O», and the lines are as described above.

Here then are two ways you might see this basic scheme, finish with neutrals, boxes, and cables:

-way Switch Variations

As you can see, this picture corresponds to the diagram for the basic 3-way switch system above. Numerous variations of this basic theme are possible. For instance, the 3-way switch schemes (A, B, C above) will permit a 4-way switch and box (or any number of them) to be interposed between the 3-way switch boxes. Then every three switches will work the light(s).

Remember, one 3-way switch needs a constant boiling, the other needs to be ready to «heat up» a wire to the light, a neutral needs to reach the light, and two travelers need to be passed between each switch in succession. Without taking up too much space, here are a few 4-way schemes in extremely simplified form, inspired by A, B, and C above:

— S === S === S
|
O

— O === S === S === S

— S === S === O === S

— S === O === S === S

— O === S === S
|||
S

Next, as an example of more possibilities, I show a 4-way system in which the boiling wire enters at the 4-way switch’s box:

If you own begun to grasp the thought of 4-ways, you may be getting the impression that you could invent your own way to wire such a system.

It is true. Whatever works, is not against Code, and is safe is possible. This site is not to advise you about design, Code, or installation.

Generic 4-way and 3-way Switch Diagrams

If you need to review what a circuit is or the function of a neutral wire, see Background. But here you see a diagram of the layout of 3-way switch wiring and what goes on inside the switches… In your mind, frolic with pivoting the contacts differently and notice that either switch is capable to override what the other one did final. Between each switch box and the next, the travelers will both be contained in the same cable with each other.

At most switch boxes there will be other wires serving other purposes — one or two other wires in the travelers’ cable itself and wires in other cables. Generally, but not always, the cable carrying the travelers has another insulated wire, which may be a neutral, a boiling, or an extension of the leg wire (to the light). Occasionally a traveler cable will make its way to the next switch by running through the light box itself.

Diy light switch ideas

The possibly strange routes these cables take and the various functions the non-traveler wires frolic does not change anything I own said here or will tell. In simplest terms, every normal multi-switch system needs a neutral at the light box, a constant boiling at one switchbox, travelers between it and the final switchbox (passing through any 4-way switches on the way), and a switched leg going from that final box to the light box.

How this is every arranged in practice can vary greatly.

There are two abnormal and rare 3-way systems that may be encountered. They are called by various names (California, Hollywood, coast, farmer’s, French, Chicago, Carter, lazy Susan, lazy neutral). The names are confused between the two kinds. One is illegal and presents possible shock harm. The other (British, I think) seems allowed by code and is so diverse in its concept that few electricians here would even recognize it. What I am saying about 3-way systems is not meant to apply to either of these.

Basically, the illegal one attaches a boiling permanently to one traveler and a neutral to the other; the commons each extend from their terminals to the light fixture. The legal one likewise attaches a boiling to one traveler but the leg (to the light) to the other; another wire runs between the common terminals.

Diy light switch ideas

Here is a diagram of these Rare 3-ways.

Since there is a wide variety of ways that multi-switch systems are wired in practice, I give, under, a number of 3-way and 4-way switch diagrams, so you can perhaps recognize your own version. To see some 3-ways in the context of a whole circuit, see the Typical circuit.

Terminology and How a 3-way System Works

Multiple switches may be located at several approaches to a room in order to turn the room’s lights on or off from any one of those locations.

They do this by continuing hotness toward the light on two alternate paths — wires called «travelers«. Hotness (voltage) enters into the system at one «three-way» type switch, which we will call the «hot end.» According to the position of its handle, hotness «travels» on to the next switch on one of the two traveler wires. If this next switch is the only other switch, it is also of the 3-way type and can be called the «leg end.» It will pass the hotness on to the light(s), but only if its handle happens to be in the position that puts the light’s wire in contact with the specific traveler that is bringing the hotness.

Video. If there were any more switches between these two (electrically), they would simply pass hotness along but are capable to change which traveler wire the power continues on; to do this, these (third, fourth, etc.) switches must be «four-way» type switches, a diverse animal than the first and final switches in the system. Four-way switches own four terminals to join two traveler pairs to (the incoming pair and the outgoing pair). Three-way switches own three terminals, with the one that is not for the two travelers being called the «common«. At the boiling finish, the incoming boiling wire is connected to the common terminal.

At the leg finish the wire attached at the common is the one that goes to the light(s). This will every be made clear in the diagrams that follow.

The British perhaps use more common sense in naming these «2-way switches», but in North America we are stuck with more technical terms. I ponder I’ve noticed some Canadians and others talking about «tree-way switches». Anyway, I refer to these switches, wires, and the lights they control as a 3-way «system» not a 3-way «circuit», because that can be confused with the branch-circuit and breaker that such a system is part of.

-way Switch Variations

There are several common variations on this basic theme, which may glance love deviations from it but are not.

The main difference is that the following examples every own some of the switch-related wires spliced through boxes on their way to actually connecting to the light or switches. The wire colors shown in the switch diagrams under are not the only ones possible. They are some of what you may encounter, not necessarily how it should be done to current Code. These wiring schemes are often given names but the names are not consistent.

A. Here the boiling arrives at one switch box.

It can then be connected through to the other switch to be its hot-all-the-time common, or instead it can attach as common of the switch where it arrived to start with. Either way, the travelers between the switches finish up giving hotness or unhotness to the light «leg.» This leg either comes directly off the common of the switch nearest (electrically) to the light, or is tied through to the light from the switch furthest from it. This arrangement is a common one.

B. Here the boiling for the system arrives at the light box, but its functional connection is at whichever switch it is connected through to.

The other switch ends up sending the decision of the travelers back by way of the same cable that brought hotness below from the light box.

C. Here the travelers from one switch to the other are simply routed through the light box, where connectors pass them on through.

The three variations above (A, B, C) come about from several factors:

  1. The physical relation (direction, order, distance) among the switches and lights
  2. The direction from which the circuit is approaching the area
  3. The Code restrictions on how the cabling can be done
  4. The fact that house-cable comes with either two or three insulated conductors
  5. The available sizes of electrical boxes to hold the wires, lights, and switches
  6. The electrician’s preferred tradition

The Standard 3-way Switch Arrangement

Normally encountered 3-way systems (3-way «circuits,» as some call them) every share one scheme-theme:

— S === S — O

where the «S»s are the switches, the «O» is the light, and the lines shown are wires carrying constant (the line on the left) or switchable (the rest) hotness.

The neutrals, not being involved in the switching operation, are not shown yet, since they can come into the picture in a variety of ways. Nor are boxes or cables containing the wires shown yet; nor any additional lights switched with the one shown; nor any 4-way switches, which would interrupt the path of the two traveler wires at any point. Above are two 3 way wiring diagrams of this scheme as you might see it in the flesh, finish with neutrals, boxes, and cables.

way Switch Troubleshooting

Things that commonly cause a malfunction include:

  1. The connection of a wire at one of the switches can become loose.

    Both this and the previous problem can often be checked without disconnecting anything. With one prong of a neon tester in your hand, touch the other prong to the common terminal of each three way switch in turn. If one of those lights the tester up (is hot) regardless of every possible switch-positions of both switches, that is the boiling finish. Then just follow whether the next switch (even if it is a 4-way) is passing this hotness on through as expected, based on the diagrams above. Wherever it does not pass through is the bad connection or bad switch.

  2. The two travelers are in the same cable with each other.
  3. Any pair of switch screws (or dimmer’s wires) that are the same color as each other are for a traveler pair.

    Leviton’s instructions for their rocker-style 4 way switch will confuse people by how they call one pair of terminals «IN» and one pair «OUT»; they own these identified backwards, but it doesn’t even matter.

  4. One of the switches itself can fail.
  5. Someone replacing a switch can do so incorrectly or can install a switch that only has two (non-green) terminals. Replacing a toggle-handle style switch with a large decorator style «rocker» switch can also invite a problem. The location of the terminals on the rocker is fairly diverse. Here the foolproof way to join is to own the travelers attach to the two same-color screws, and use the remaining common screw for the other wire.
  6. The only wire in a multiple-switch system that is boiling every the time when every the switches of the system are disconnected from their wires, is the boiling.

    It will attach to the common terminal of the «hot end» switch.

Remember three things while doing 3 way switch troubleshooting:

  • The two travelers are in the same cable with each other.
  • Any pair of switch screws (or dimmer’s wires) that are the same color as each other are for a traveler pair.

    Diy light switch ideas

    Leviton’s instructions for their rocker-style 4 way switch will confuse people by how they call one pair of terminals «IN» and one pair «OUT»; they own these identified backwards, but it doesn’t even matter.

  • The only wire in a multiple-switch system that is boiling every the time when every the switches of the system are disconnected from their wires, is the boiling. It will attach to the common terminal of the «hot end» switch.

If you own removed ancient switches but lost track of the wires’ original connections to those switches, I ponder the troubleshooting tips above should be enough for you to make things correct.

More advice can be found at Rick Matthews’ sheet. But if someone has undone other wires besides those that had been attached to the switches, see every the diagrams of this sheet, the Typical circuit sheet, the Connections Tutorial, the Electrical connections catalog, or contact me.


Searchers who need to read the material on this sheet may be using phrases found in this statement: «When you replace a two way switch with a tree way switch, the 3 way electrical switch turns the 3 way circuit off.»

«My husband disconnected several light switches without writing below how they were connected initially.

Your youtube video about 3 way switches and home cicuit diagram were just what we needed to be capable to figure out how to reconnect everything correctly.» -Betsy

«Your site was instrumental in helping me reapair a previously mis-wired 3-way switch. I understood how they worked but didn’t know what I was looking at until checking out your diagrams.» -Shane

©2005-2020 Laurence Dimock

If you’re just starting out with video production, lighting your video shoot can be tricky. There is a large difference in how our eyes perceive light compared to a camera lens.

Cameras need WAY more light to produce a quality image than you might imagine.

But there are further nuances to light and shadow to consider when planning a video shoot.

The biggest favor you can do for yourself is to prepare and plan properly. We’ll guide you through the process we use to get the perfect lighting for every your videos.

Free Lighting Course: TechSmith Academy offers you free video courses. Basics: Lighting Your Video, walks you through the entire process.

If you own removed ancient switches but lost track of the wires’ original connections to those switches, I ponder the troubleshooting tips above should be enough for you to make things correct.

More advice can be found at Rick Matthews’ sheet. But if someone has undone other wires besides those that had been attached to the switches, see every the diagrams of this sheet, the Typical circuit sheet, the Connections Tutorial, the Electrical connections catalog, or contact me.


Searchers who need to read the material on this sheet may be using phrases found in this statement: «When you replace a two way switch with a tree way switch, the 3 way electrical switch turns the 3 way circuit off.»

«My husband disconnected several light switches without writing below how they were connected initially.

Your youtube video about 3 way switches and home cicuit diagram were just what we needed to be capable to figure out how to reconnect everything correctly.» -Betsy

«Your site was instrumental in helping me reapair a previously mis-wired 3-way switch. I understood how they worked but didn’t know what I was looking at until checking out your diagrams.» -Shane

©2005-2020 Laurence Dimock

If you’re just starting out with video production, lighting your video shoot can be tricky.

There is a large difference in how our eyes perceive light compared to a camera lens.

Cameras need WAY more light to produce a quality image than you might imagine. But there are further nuances to light and shadow to consider when planning a video shoot.

The biggest favor you can do for yourself is to prepare and plan properly. We’ll guide you through the process we use to get the perfect lighting for every your videos.

Free Lighting Course: TechSmith Academy offers you free video courses.

Basics: Lighting Your Video, walks you through the entire process.


Step 3: Set up 3-point lighting

The most common setup for lights is called 3 point lighting. This configuration consists of a key light, a fill light, and a backlight which can also be called a hairlight.

The key light should be the brightest of the three and provides the bulk of light to your subject.

The fill light eliminates shadows caused by the key light.

Your fill should be less intense than your key so while it still eliminates shadows, but doesn’t aflat looking shot due to the fill and key lights matching too closely.

The backlight separates your subject from the background, creating depth and also preventing a flat looking shot.

Diy light switch ideas

Your backlight can be hard light (no diffusion), as it won’t create shadows visible to the camera on the subject’s face.

3 point lighting will serve you well if you desire to make YouTube videos, promo videos, webinars, and a variety of other shooting situations.


Step 5: Glance out for glare

Glasses wearers, while generally considered to be amicable and friendly folks, can be your worst enemy when it comes to lighting.

Glare on glasses can be a large issue, especially lights with larger diffusion boxes.

One trick that helps with glasses is raising up your lights higher on their stands.

If you own someone who can help, own them lift the lights and glance through the camera viewfinder until the light is no longer visible in the glasses lens. If raising the lights doesn’t assist, attempt moving your key and fill lights farther out, while keeping them relatively equal to one another.

In the 3-point lighting image above, your key would be closer to 3:15 and your fill would be 8:45. If your talent is comfortable with removing their glasses, that’s always a excellent final resort but certainly not always an option.
It’s best to accommodate your shooting subject as best you can before asking them to adjust their appearance for a technical reason.


Step 1: Prepare for the shoot

Whether you’re doing photography or video, it’s a excellent thought to scout your location ahead of time.

Consider the natural lighting entering through windows and casting shadows – be wary that weather can change quickly.

If you own an adequate set of lights (we’ll get into what qualifies as adequate shortly), it’s best to avoid natural light due to its volatile nature. Natural lighting can change in an instant if the sun decides to hide behind clouds, and for video, this can be a large issue as lighting changes from shot to shot.

The best shooting environment is one in which you own as much control over lighting as possible.


Step 2: Pick out your lighting options and types

Video lighting on a budget

At TechSmith, we own a drawer full of cheap clamp lights.

At around $10 each, these lights are versatile and can be mounted in a variety of ways. Unfortunately, the lack of dimming control and diffusion can lead to harsh lighting.

There are a few types of lighting to be aware of as well. Light with no filter is known as hard light. Diffusion helps spread light evenly, creating soft light, and can be improvised even on a budget. So when working with clamps lights, we highly propose using some type of diffusion material.

These lights can also be bounced off a surface love a wall, ceiling, or reflector to create soft light, which is infinitely preferable to blinding your subject and creating an unflattering image.

The mid-range lighting option

Sets of purpose-built studio lights can be acquired for $100-$500 with everything you need to set up.

These studio lighting kits commonly use large florescent lights and include effective diffusion material.

Kits with included light stands are much better for quickly setting up lighting, and generally provide higher entire light output. These lights often own a few switches on the back to control the number of lit bulbs, which provides a greater level of control over your entire output.

The best lighting option

In the higher price range of video lighting kit options, it’s likely you’ll be paying as much for one light as you would for a whole mid-range kit.
In turn, you’ll discover numerous more fancy features, such as full range dimmers, wireless control, ability to change color on the fly, better diffusion and stronger output.

Before investing in these lights, it’s a excellent thought to rent them locally or online and ensure they’ll suit your needs.

If shooting video is something you plan to do on a regular basis, it may be worth the investment. But unless you own specific requirements for these fancier features, it’s a waste of money to invest in such expensive lights when something cheaper will do just as well for basic shoots.


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