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How To Install A 3-Way Motion Sensor Switch


By Dave Rongey - Summary:

How can I install a single pole motion sensor switch in place of an existing three-way switch…


Electrical Question from Ken about 3 Way Motion Switch Diagram

Question: How can I install a single pole motion sensor switch in place of an existing three-way switch.

Background: Ken, a Homeowner from Grand Junction, Colorado.

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical question Ken.

This is best accomplished by installing a 3-way Occupancy Sensor Switch.

Installing a 3Way Occupancy Sensor

I have located the switch listed below that should work for your application:

  • Leviton PR180-1LW – (The W designates the color)
  • The switch should be available at your local hardware store.
  • This switch should be installed in the main occupied or traffic location.
  • As per the instructions, adjust the Duration of Time to remain On and Field of Vision and your set.

The Following links will assist you with your electrical question:

For more information about 3 Way Switch Diagram
3 Way Switch Diagram

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8 Responses to “How To Install A 3-Way Motion Sensor Switch”
  1. Kelly says:

    How do I wire a light sensor switch with four wires: red, yellow, black and white, to two or three black wires coming from the wall?

    • Dave Rongey says:

      Hi Kelly,
      The wires you have described for this light sensor are the following as used here in the USA:
      The white wire is the neutral, yellow wire is the ground, black wire is the line, and the red wire is the load.
      The connections to the other black wires at the wall will depend on the application. Keep in mind that the Line is the power source, and load is for the light fixture. The neutral wire and ground wire is required for both the light fixture and the light sensor, and these specific wires are typically connected together.
      Make sure this complies with the exact light sensor that you have by consulting the provided documentation.
      Dave

  2. chuck gorby says:

    I have a hallway with two three way switches and a four way switch. Do I need to replace all three switches with motion sensor switches to make this circuit work?

    • Dave Rongey says:

      Hi Chuck,
      Most any area where switches are installed may be converted to have motion detectors or occupancy sensor switches to enable automatic operation of ON and OFF switching. Occupancy sensors are available for single switches and 3way switch applications. For this to work the existing wiring will have to be compatible with the wiring requirements of the type of motion switch or occupancy sensor that will be installed. For example, some of these types of switches may require a neutral wire. Keep in mind that a White Wire that is found within a 3way and 4way switching circuit may not actually be a Neutral Wire.
      I hope this helps,
      Dave

  3. Cindi Moreau says:

    I want to put an outside motion detector light on the end of a two three-way switches. The problem is the line that feeds the outlet has two three-way switches. How do I get the motion detector to work?

  4. Cindy DeCouteau says:

    Hi,
    We built a log home and the electrican was a nice guy, but knew nothing about wiring a log home. He drilled holes completely thru 10 inch log walls to install switch boxes, hung lights from ceiling beams in the wrong place, all of our outlets the polarity reversed-except for the ones I did in the garage and the kitchen. He no-showed when the electricial inspection was done etc,etc.
    Now for my problem. Our stairway has 3 way switches at the top and bottom of the stairs. The way he installed the switches, the switch at the bottom of the stairs in under the log handrail and is hard to reach. Rather than try to move the switch above the handrail (where a normal electrician would have put it), I want to replace both regular 3 ways with motion sensor switches. Will I need 3 way motion detector switches or will 2 way motion sensor switches work or will I need to get 3 way motion sensor switches? Thanks!

    • Dave Rongey says:

      Cindy, I’m sorry about the bad experience with this other person, I will not call him an electrician because he really was not one. This should be a lesson to anyone reading this post – Ask to see the electricians License, and ask for referrals! This continues to be a problem where someone says they know how to do something when they are not qualified at all.
      Ok – so what you need to help with your situation is to purchase two 3-Way Occupancy Sensors or Switches. The concern is that they will need to be positioned correctly in order to be triggered to turn on. These switches are commonly used in areas such as bathrooms, but should work well with your application. The switches typically have adjustable internal sensing shutters and timeout settings. One such switch would be an Occupancy Sensor. I hope you enjoy your Log Cabin home. I had the opportunity of wiring a few log cabin homes in Lake Tahoe and the Sequoia National Forrest in California, and I know that log cabin homes cannot be wired using conventional wiring methods, but I really enjoyed the process.
      All The Best!
      Dave


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