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How Do I Wire A 2 Way Switch To Change Btw Xmas Light Strands?


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Hey gang! This is my first post. Thanks so much for taking a look. I need your creative electrical genius!

 

Please forgive my lack of electrician terminology.

 

I'm attaching christmas light strands to a costume (a vest for the prototype this week). Normally they will be battery powered, but for the speed I need this prototype done, they'll be standard wall powered strands. Poking through the vest, I want to have a GREEN set of lights and a WHITE set of lights. I want to have the 2 color strands go to a switch that I can flick back and forth between and have only 1 color strand shining at one time. Does that make sense?

 

Please help! I need to have some sort of working model by this weekend to show to a prospective client. I'm open to all suggestions, things I can wire, things I can buy. I know how to solder audio cables and I'm told soldering for lights is quite similar.

Thanks so much everybody!

 

Your in Xmas, Aaron.

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a 3 way wall switch will do ecactly what you ask you would hook the power to the common screw it has a different color and one wire of each string to each of other two screw then flip the switch to select

Be very careful if you are waring costume with 120ac power on it especially if you hack switch like this

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a 3 way wall switch will do ecactly what you ask you would hook the power to the common screw it has a different color and one wire of each string to each of other two screw then flip the switch to select

Be very careful if you are waring costume with 120ac power on it especially if you hack switch like this

 

If the electricity doesn't kill you, the heat from incandescents will! Make sure you choose LEDs.

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How many lights? each?

 

Putting 120 VAC on you not a good idea,,,,, :blink:

 

The stores have battery operated LEDs you could pick up

 

If you had more time RBG would also work of battery or low voltage

 

Any how

 

Welcome to the madness but please be carful

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Thanks for the help guys! I bought a 3 way rocker switch to test out things tonight with a few strands.

 

And just to be clear, Yes I'm using wall power for this prototype vest because I can't get an online order in time for the weekend, but No I do not plan on Wearing it with the power running through it. It'll be on a hanger for me to show off what it can do, and then for next month, all the vests (there will be 5) will have battery operated lights in them.

 

I'll update with problems I run into with my testing. Quick question, would battery powered lights go through a toggle switch the same way as 120vac strands?

 

Thanks again!

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Please Help!! I've learned a few things from my experiments today.

I have a 100 light mini strand of white lights, The same kind of strand for green lights, And a six-foot indoor extension cable with no third prong. I assume that means no ground.

To experiment, I've been able to cut off the male plugs of the light cables and cut off the female end of the extension cord. I've spliced the male plugs back on to the lights and they've worked. I've spliced the lights directly to the extension cord and they've worked. I've spliced both sets of lights to the extension cord and they've worked at the same time. I've cut off the female end of the white lights and Reversed it to splice its own mail end to its female end and plugged it in to test and that's worked.

All very basic concepts, I know. But I wanted to experiment with what I was sure would work before I moved into the unsure territory, which is the 3 way rocker light switch.

In the picture, you see on either side my two sets of green wires for the two sets of Christmas lights, and my one set of white wires which is the extension cord, and the back of the three-way Light switch.

I have the male end of the extension cord plugged into the wall for power. My thought is to attach the female end to the light switch And wire in each of the two Christmas light sets, and switch between the two with the light switch toggle where only one is powered at a time. Zero success on that front so far. Zero :(

How do I attach the two wires in of a strand of lights to one screw?! Clearly this is incorrect, as twisting the ends together makes the lights not work. There must be some correct puzzle way to route my six bare wires in the picture through the three screws on the light switch! Maybe I need another switch To route to as well?

This is where I'm stuck! Your electrical creative genius is welcome and pleaded for! Thoughts?post-18962-0-76494300-1382582406_thumb.jpost-18962-0-78690600-1382582540_thumb.j

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Three hot to switch
Three neutral tied as one

 

Hot white - wire leading to first bulb on string Switch terminal

Hot green - wire leading to first bulb on string second terminal on switch

Hot power - Power in from wall plug third terminal on switch

 

other three return (white, L-2, neutral) tied togther

Edited by DSE
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in your pic the dark terminal is the 'common.  You will have 2 wires going from your male plug one of these goes to that screw. 

You also have 2 wires from each lite string take one wire from each and put on the other two screws - one each

You now have 3 remaining wires one from each lite string and one from the male plug tie these together with a wire nut.

now plug in and the switch will toggle between the two strings

Beware all of the screws will have live power dont touch!

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HOW THE PROBLEM WAS SOLVED .... (for those out there with little experience like me)....

 

  • I took Bobby Menard's advice from the top of the page and picked up a 3-way rocker light switch from Walmart.
  • Then below that, as I experimented, you see my long "scientific process" with pictures. I was stuck. Couldn't wire the light switch properly. A deceiving puzzle it became.
  • Then DSE popped up with those beautiful and specific instructions on the "wiring puzzle". How to use the neutral terminal and to use the wire that leads to the 1st light on the light strands (wouldn't have thought of that one.)  I had to immediately go back downstairs and try his instructions.
  • So close! One side lit up, the other didn't.
  • The Bobby Menard dives in for the assist further defining DSE's instructions and pointing out that in my picture the BLACK screw was the common that the power should've gone to. I switched my #2 light strand with the power, putting them finally in their proper places. AND POOF!! Magical switching of lights! (well it will be when I have them battery powered and in costumes in a month or so.)

 

Attached is the final product defined with text. I tried to put everything I learned in the picture, both for my future sanity, and to help anyone looking to figure this out.

 

PS. I know the wiring in the pictures is ugly. That wiring was only temporary to learn the process. I'll go back and solder, and wire nut, and tape it up more properly.

 

SPEAKING OF THAT! ... Do you have any suggestions as to how to "package up" the backside of this so I don't shock myself when handling the light switch and trying to show it off? I'm going to solder the connections and tidy up the wires. I have liquid tape to help with insulation as well. I was thinking of doing that and then electrical taping and duct taping the back to make something I could hold without worry.     

                                                                       ...Thoughts??

 

post-18962-0-96731400-1382593278_thumb.j

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good job but one important thing don't hook the 3 neutral wires to the green screw that is the chassi ground and is directly connect to the metal plate that you are touching in the picture if the switch were wire in your house that is where the separate ground wire would attach you don't have a ground wire in this set up so dont attach anything to that screw

instead take these 3 wires off the switch and just put a wire nut on them or tape them together they don't even need to connect to the switch.

Leaving it the way you have it will work but is a safetey issue as if there is a fault the whole switch metal would be electrified

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good job but one important thing don't hook the 3 neutral wires to the green screw that is the chassi ground and is directly connect to the metal plate that you are touching in the picture if the switch were wire in your house that is where the separate ground wire would attach you don't have a ground wire in this set up so dont attach anything to that screw

instead take these 3 wires off the switch and just put a wire nut on them or tape them together they don't even need to connect to the switch.

Leaving it the way you have it will work but is a safetey issue as if there is a fault the whole switch metal would be electrified

+1

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PS. I know the wiring in the pictures is ugly. That wiring was only temporary to learn the process. I'll go back and solder, and wire nut, and tape it up more properly.

 

SPEAKING OF THAT! ... Do you have any suggestions as to how to "package up" the backside of this so I don't shock myself when handling the light switch and trying to show it off? I'm going to solder the connections and tidy up the wires. I have liquid tape to help with insulation as well. I was thinking of doing that and then electrical taping and duct taping the back to make something I could hold without worry.     

                                                                       ...Thoughts??

 

Twist the "b" lines together and twist on an electric wire cap.  Drop it into a plastic wall box and put a cover plate on it.  Don't need to tape or solder (although some electricians will wrap the sides of the switch in electric tape.

Edited by cacoulter
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