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How To Install A 3-Way Motion Sensor Switch

How can I install a single pole motion sensor switch in place of an existing three-way switch? Wiring a 3 Way Motion Switch.

Home Electrical Wiring Video

How To Hook Up a Generator to the House Panel
Using a Circuit Breaker Interlock Kit
for Backup Power

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

This electrical question came from Ken, a Homeowner from Grand Junction, Colorado.

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

Installing a 3Way Occupancy Sensor

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

For more information about Wiring a 3 Way Motion Switch

3 Way Switch Diagram

This link is helpful as a Homeowner
Do-It-Yourself Electrical

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Dave's Guide to Home Electrical Wiring:

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Great for any Home Wiring Project.
  electrical wiring  

Complete Guide to Home Electrical Wiring

Perfect for Homeowners, Students,
Handyman, Handy Women, and Electricians
Wiring GFCI Outlets
Wiring Home Electric Circuits
120 Volt and 240 Volt Outlet Circuits
Wiring Light Switches
Wiring 3-Wire and 4-Wire Electric Range
Wiring 3-Wire and 4-Wire Dryer Cord and Dryer Outlet
How to Troubleshoot and Repair Electrical Wiring
Wiring Methods for Upgrading Electrical Wiring
NEC Codes for Home Electrical Wiring
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Be Careful and Be Safe - Never Work on Energized Circuits!
Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all Electric Wiring Projects.

Electrical Tips to Help You Wire it Right

The Safest Way to Test Electrical Devices and Identify Electric Wires!

The Non-Contact Electrical Tester
This is a testing tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and is the first test tool I grab to help identify electrical wiring. It is a Non-contact tester that I use to easily Detect Voltage in Cables, Cords, Circuit Breakers, Lighting Fixtures, Switches, Outlets and Wires. Simply insert the end of the tester into an outlet, lamp socket, or hold the end of the tester against the wire you wish to test. Very handy and easy to use.

The Quickest Way to Check for Faulty Electrical Wiring!

The Plug-In Outlet Tester
This is the first tool I grab to troubleshoot a problem with outlet circuit wiring. This popular tester is also used by most inspectors to test for power and check the polarity of circuit wiring.
It detects probable improper wiring conditions in standard 110-125 VAC outlets Provides 6 probable wiring conditions that are quick and easy to read for ultimate efficiency Lights indicate if wiring is correct and indicator light chart is included Tests standard 3-wire outlets UL Listed Light indicates if wiring is incorrect Very handy and easy to use.

Strip Off Wire Insulation without Nicking and Damaging the Electric Wire!

The Wire Stripper and Wire Cutter
My absolute favorite wire stripping tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and this is the tool I use to safely strip electrical wires.
This handy tool has multiple uses:
The wire gauges are shown on the side of the tool so you know which slot to use for stripping insulation.
The end of the tool can be used to grip and bend wire which is handy for attaching wire onto the screw terminals of switches and outlets..

The wire stripper will work on both solid and stranded wire. This tool is Very Handy and Easy to Use.

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FAQs Frequently Asked Questions and Comments

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

    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!

  2. 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!

  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. Dave Rongey says:

    Cindi, your exact 3-way wiring method will need to be identified in order to determine how this can be wired.

  5. 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?

  6. 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,

  7. 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?

  8. 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.