Stairwell 3-Way Switches

jumper

Senior Member
When did the NEC require 3-way switching for stairwell's with 6 or more risers?
Never. That is not what the code says.

210.70(A)(2)(c) Where one or more lighting outlet(s) are installed
for interior stairways, there shall be a wall switch at each
floor level, and landing level that includes an entryway, to
control the lighting outlet(s) where the stairway between
floor levels has six risers or more.
 

chris1971

Senior Member
Location
Usa
Never. That is not what the code says.

210.70(A)(2)(c) Where one or more lighting outlet(s) are installed
for interior stairways, there shall be a wall switch at each
floor level, and landing level that includes an entryway, to
control the lighting outlet(s) where the stairway between
floor levels has six risers or more.
Thank you. When was this added to the code?
 

JFletcher

Senior Member
Location
Williamsburg, VA
For a stairwell? One SPST switch at the top and one at the bottom controlling two separate lights that each illuminate the stairwell is way legal. Maybe not efficient or practical but legal.
210.70(A)(2)(c) Where one or more lighting outlet(s) are installed
for interior stairways, there shall be a wall switch at each
floor level, and landing level that includes an entryway, to
control the lighting outlet(s) where the stairway between
floor levels has six risers or more.

The top switch doesnt control one light and the bottom doesnt control the other. While the the intent of this code section is clear to me (not having to navigate stairs in the dark) and 2 spst switches controlling 2 lights meets intent, I do not believe such an install meets the wording of the section. Not that I think a stairwell would ever be wired that way....
 

Dennis Alwon

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Chapel Hill, NC
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
210.70(A)(2)(c) Where one or more lighting outlet(s) are installed
for interior stairways, there shall be a wall switch at each
floor level, and landing level that includes an entryway, to
control the lighting outlet(s) where the stairway between
floor levels has six risers or more.

The top switch doesnt control one light and the bottom doesnt control the other. While the the intent of this code section is clear to me (not having to navigate stairs in the dark) and 2 spst switches controlling 2 lights meets intent, I do not believe such an install meets the wording of the section. Not that I think a stairwell would ever be wired that way....

I light is sufficient to light the stairs. As long as there is one at the top and one at the bottom then 2 sp switches would be compliant. Now you would probably never get another job if you wired the lighting that way. I could see that perhaps in some old remodels this could be beneficial
 

JFletcher

Senior Member
Location
Williamsburg, VA
I light is sufficient to light the stairs. As long as there is one at the top and one at the bottom then 2 sp switches would be compliant. Now you would probably never get another job if you wired the lighting that way. I could see that perhaps in some old remodels this could be beneficial
How could two regular snap switches be wired to control a single light (one bulb)? I can your point and Derek's....

Let's make the stairwell bigger: Steps start in finished basement and go to the 3rd floor, with landings inbetween floors, eight steps between floor and landing. So, there is the basement floor, basement landing, first floor and landing, second floor and landing, and the third floor. I would need four switches, one in the basement, first, second and third floors, correct? A light at each landing, for 3 lights, or a light on each floor for 4 lights. Again, how could this be wired to not use 3/4 way switches or automatic switches?

The code section does not require 3-way switches, that I agree--what are the realistic options? Would my 4 story stairwell with 4 lights and 4 spst switches, each controlling one light each, still be code acceptable? If so, what if I'm on the third floor, and the kids turn off the light to the second floor? I'd be walking in near darkness from the third/second floor landing to the second floor.
 

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
The switches for this do not even need to be at/near the stairs, just one switch on each level (maybe on opposite corner of the entire floor) that controls a lighting outlet(s) that provides illumination for the stairs.
 

GoldDigger

Moderator
Staff member
With three floors and the intent to eventually turn off all lights behind you it becomes a wolf goat and cabbage problem.
More seriously, let each switch control two floors putting up to four fixtures on the second floor landing.
Going up or down is a two floors forward, one floor back progression.
 

user 100

Senior Member
Location
texas
design manual:happyno:
:thumbsup:.

Can hear it now-

HO: "I want a switch in the closet controlling such and such whatever light....."

Electrician: "No can do"

HO: "Why not?"

Electrician: "Code specifies switch controlling light must be in same room as light, within 1 foot of door trim and 36"-56" of the floor, no if's, ands or but's about it."

HO: "That's stupid."

Electrician: "Oh it is, but it's the code.":roll:
 

jusme123

Senior Member
Location
NY
design manual:happyno:
:thumbsup:.

Can hear it now-

HO: "I want a switch in the closet controlling such and such whatever light....."

Electrician: "No can do"

HO: "Why not?"

Electrician: "Code specifies switch controlling light must be in same room as light, within 1 foot of door trim and 36"-56" of the floor, no if's, ands or but's about it."

HO: "That's stupid."

Electrician: "Oh it is, but it's the code.":roll:
...and yet I have to install an outlet every 12' whether I need one or not, not to mention counter top requirements
 
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