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Thread: 3-way traveler color coding

  1. #1
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    3-way traveler color coding

    Hi, this is my first post here. Your forums have been incredibly useful to me in the past and I am proud to finally ask a question.

    Getting to the point, I had some questions about a set of three 3-way switches that I was recently surveying. One set of controls for these circuits is outdoors, with individual 12 AWG THWN conductors traveling through NM conduit. The unswitched hot to the 3 switches is black, but each switch has a pair of identical-color travelers coming from it (2 red, 2 blue, and 2 black-marked whites). I haven't been able to find anything in the NEC regarding the coloring of pairs of switched hots (and honestly I did forget ). Is it okay to have both travelers from a single switch be the same color? Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Sure. Aside from troubleshooting ease, there's no reason they can't be the same colors.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan527 View Post
    Hi, this is my first post here. Your forums have been incredibly useful to me in the past and I am proud to finally ask a question.

    Getting to the point, I had some questions about a set of three 3-way switches that I was recently surveying. One set of controls for these circuits is outdoors, with individual 12 AWG THWN conductors traveling through NM conduit. The unswitched hot to the 3 switches is black, but each switch has a pair of identical-color travelers coming from it (2 red, 2 blue, and 2 black-marked whites). I haven't been able to find anything in the NEC regarding the coloring of pairs of switched hots (and honestly I did forget ). Is it okay to have both travelers from a single switch be the same color? Thanks.
    With the exception of white and green they can be any color.

    Welcome to the forum...

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    Thank you for that quick response! I'm happy to be a part of such a helpful group of people

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan527 View Post
    Hi, this is my first post here. Your forums have been incredibly useful to me in the past and I am proud to finally ask a question.

    Getting to the point, I had some questions about a set of three 3-way switches that I was recently surveying. One set of controls for these circuits is outdoors, with individual 12 AWG THWN conductors traveling through NM conduit. The unswitched hot to the 3 switches is black, but each switch has a pair of identical-color travelers coming from it (2 red, 2 blue, and 2 black-marked whites). I haven't been able to find anything in the NEC regarding the coloring of pairs of switched hots (and honestly I did forget ). Is it okay to have both travelers from a single switch be the same color? Thanks.
    I do it that way all the time. Makes for easy identification of what goes to what. Switch A has pink travelers, Switch B has purple travelers.
    I do similar with line and load when the occasion fits.
    If Billy Idol or John Denver is on your Ipod go and re-evaluate your life.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan527 View Post
    Hi, this is my first post here. Your forums have been incredibly useful to me in the past and I am proud to finally ask a question.





    Getting to the point, I had some questions about a set of three 3-way switches that I was recently surveying. One set of controls for these circuits is outdoors, with individual 12 AWG THWN conductors traveling through NM conduit. The unswitched hot to the 3 switches is black, but each switch has a pair of identical-color travelers coming from it (2 red, 2 blue, and 2 black-marked whites). I haven't been able to find anything in the NEC regarding the coloring of pairs of switched hots (and honestly I did forget ). Is it okay to have both travelers from a single switch be the same color? Thanks.
    For 2011
    200.7 This will help with your situation somewhat.

    (C) Circuits of 50 Volts or More. The use of insulation that is white or gray or that has three continuous white stripes for other than a grounded conductor for circuits of 50 volts or more shall be permitted only as in (1) and (2). (1) If part of a cable assembly that has the insulation permanently reidentified to indicate its use as an ungrounded conductor by marking tape, painting, or other effective means at its termination and at each location where the conductor is visible and accessible. Identification shall encircle the insulation and shall be a color other than white, gray, or green. If used for single-pole, 3-way or 4-way switch loops, the reidentified conductor with white or gray insulation or three continuous white stripes shall be used only for the supply to the switch, but not as a return conductor from the switch to the outlet.

    For 2008 "existing"
    (C) Circuits of 50 Volts or More. The use of insulation that is white or gray or that has three continuous white stripes for other than a grounded conductor for circuits of 50 volts or more shall be permitted only as in (1) through (3). (1) If part of a cable assembly and where the insulation is permanently reidentified to indicate its use as an ungrounded conductor, by painting or other effective means at its termination, and at each location where the conductor is visible and accessible. Identification shall encircle the insulation and shall be a color other than white, gray, or green.


    (2) Where a cable assembly contains an insulated conductor for single-pole, 3-way or 4-way switch loops and the conductor with white or gray insulation or a marking of three continuous white stripes is used for the supply to the switch but not as a return conductor from the switch to the switched outlet. In these applications, the conductor with white or gray insulation or with three continuous white stripes shall be permanently reidentified to indicate its use by painting or other effective means at its terminations and at each location where the conductor is visible and accessible.
    Last edited by Gregg Harris; 07-12-13 at 10:40 AM.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gregg Harris View Post
    (2) Where a cable assembly contains an insulated conductor for single-pole, 3-way or 4-way switch loops and the conductor with white or gray insulation or a marking of three continuous white stripes is used for the supply to the switch but not as a return conductor from the switch to the switched outlet. In these applications, the conductor with white or gray insulation or with three continuous white stripes shall be permanently reidentified to indicate its use by painting or other effective means at its terminations and at each location where the conductor is visible and accessible.
    Which, if I am interpreting it correctly, effectively prohibits using one length of NM-2 w/g for a set of travelers. You would have to use two lengths or one length of NM-3 w/g instead.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by GoldDigger View Post
    Which, if I am interpreting it correctly, effectively prohibits using one length of NM-2 w/g for a set of travelers. You would have to use two lengths or one length of NM-3 w/g instead.
    Would all conductors be of the same circuit?

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gregg Harris View Post
    Would all conductors be of the same circuit?
    Yes. Two traveler wires running from switch to switch to implement a two-switch, three-way, control function. Or the corresponding switch-to-switch wires for any four-way (DPDT reversing) switches added.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by GoldDigger View Post
    Yes. Two traveler wires running from switch to switch to implement a two-switch, three-way, control function. Or the corresponding switch-to-switch wires for any four-way (DPDT reversing) switches added.
    Now throw in the requirement for a grounded conductor at most switch locations.

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