Staircase wiring - two switches, two lights.

Discussion in 'Electricians' Talk' started by plasterer69, Nov 15, 2013.

  1. plasterer69

    plasterer69 New Member

    Hi all,
    I am in the process of rewiring my staircase lights. My question is this, i want to be able to control both lights (landing upstairs & hall downstairs) with two switches, one on the upstairs landing and one in the downstairs hall. I intend to add the downstairs light to the upstairs circuit but i am unsure of how to do this.
    Any suggestions please?
  2. plasterer69

    plasterer69 New Member

    I basically want to control both lights from either switch. The upstairs light circuit will terminate at the downstairs hall light. Its wiring the rest that i am unsure of. Any help much appreciated.
  3. Hi Plasterer.

    It's a basic 2-way circuit.

    You will need a 2-way light switch in each location - up and down stairs.

    You'll then need to run 3core+e cable from the downstairs switch to the upstairs one. From the upstairs switch you will also run a 2core+e cable to your 'wiring point', ie: wherever it's convenient to fit a junction box.

    The two lights will be connected in parallel together - basically join them together with 2core+e - and continue this cable to the junction box.

    Finally, you'll need yer akshull power - you take this from your existing upstairs lighting supply circuit.

    This looks like a clear diagram to start with:

    2-way wiring is a weird thing. It is actually quite straight-forward, but at the same time surprisingly confusing.


    That's the basic principle explained up there. There are other ways to actually 'join' all these wires together. For instance, instead of taking the 3-core wire AND a 2-core wire to the upstairs light switch, you could make do with just the 3-core wire. What you'd then do is bring this 3-core wire to your junction box on its way to the upstairs switch, and connect the brown and black wires from the 3-core cable to a couple of terminals inside it. These become your 'switch' wires.

    If you look at that diagram above, the brown and black wires effectively become your 'switch' wires in the junction box - all you then need to do is connect the wires going to your 2 lights and the power supply to these 2 wires - all in series.

    I hope that's clear?

    If it isn't, you need a sparky.
    FatHands likes this.
  4. daver34

    daver34 Member

    Thats a great drawing`(not) for the uninitiated, you can see them wiring it up and nothing works, no supply shown at light.
  5. plasterer69

    plasterer69 New Member

    Hi, Ty for your advice.
    When you say wiring point do you mean the light pendant?
  6. Daver, you are right - up to a point.

    If you want to do your own wiring, and find that diagram confusing, then you shouldn't be doing your own wiring.

    Most people know what a basic light switch is, and that it has two terminals. Most people don't know what a 2-way light switch is or how to wire them up. So what that diagram (and it has nothing to do with me) shows is how to wire up a couple of 2-way light switches so that you end up with the '2 terminals' you need to switch the light.

    You then have the job of connecting these 2 wires up to the rest of your circuit. And that's the test - if that bit's confusing, you shouldn't be doing it.

    Plasterer, what I mean by 'wiring point' is where you are going to connect it all together - ie: a junction box. It doesn't have to be a junction box - some people 'loop-in', and others will do their wiring behind the switch. I cannot go over every possibility.

    So, I'm assuming that you have:
    (1) Two 2-way light switches fitted, one up and one down.
    (2) You have wired between them using 3core+e cable (and the 'e' is important)
    (3) Two light fittings fitted, one up and one down.
    (4) You have wired between them using 2core+e cable, so's they come on together.
    (5) You have continued this 2core+e cable to a point near where your upstairs lighting wires are running, so that you can tap into it for power. This is the 'WIRING POINT' I was referring to - most likely you'll use a junction box.
    (6) You have run a 2core+e cable from the upstairs light switch back to this wiring point.

    You wire up (1) (2) and (6) in the manner shown in the diagram above.

    (There are, as I said, other ways of doing this, but life is too short...)

    So, at this junction box you will now have three 2core+e cables; one has come from the light fittings, one from the upstairs light switch, and the third from your existing wiring - your 'live feed'.

    You join them all up inside your junction box. A 4-terminal jobbie.

    Not forgetting to wire up all the 'earths' - especially the one from your existing wiring since that's the only one connected to 'earth'.

    You wire them all in series:

    (a) The brown from the power supply goes to the brown of the light switch.
    (b) The blue from the light switch (which should now have a ring of brown tape stuck on its end to indicate that it becomes 'live' when the switch is switched) goes to the brown of the light fitting wire.
    (c) The blue from the light fitting goes to the blue of the power supply.
    (d) All the 'e's go together, with yellow/green sleeving covering all their naked bits.

    Finally, inside the upstairs switch, you should put a ring of brown tape on the blue wire to indicate it goes 'live' at times.
    Steve Richards and FatHands like this.
  7. Sean_ork

    Sean_ork Screwfix Select

  8. daver34

    daver34 Member

    Make sure joint boxes(if used) are accessible, then again dont use them.
    Who calls unsleeved earths "naked bits"
    Steve Richards likes this.
  9. Sean, 10/10 for reading it.

    Daver, I do.
  10. plasterer69

    plasterer69 New Member

    Thanks for the advice guys.
    To clarify,
    1-connect the bottom hall switch to the top landing switch using 3 core & earth.
    2-connect the bottom hall light ceiling rose to the top landing ceiling rose with two core & earth.
    3-connect top landing switch to top landing ceiling rose using 2 core & earth.
    4- connect top landing ceiling rose to nearby ceiling rose(which happens to be the last upstairs light on the radial.) using 2 core & earth for power supply.

    Sorry if i'm repeating myself but i really appreciate the advice.
    ps. how would i wire up 2 gang 2 way switches in this manner?
  11. To confirm,

    1 - yes (using the diagram above as your guide)
    2 - yes (using your common sense as your guide)
    3 - no
    4 - possibly.

    It really all depends what you have at the moment. I guess there are light fittings, switches and wires? All my ponderings above were based on a fresh start...

    IF your top landing light fitting has power going to it (which it may well have), then you can miss out (5) in my post above - ie: you already have power there so probably don't need even a junction box.

    Your top landing switch - is there one there already? If so, it'll have a cable going to it. You can use this cable - it'll be the one referred to in (6) up there^.

    You will need to get the 3core+e cable from the lower light switch to the upper one.
  12. plasterer69

    plasterer69 New Member

    Thx again.
    Current set up is light ceiling rose at top of the stairs. New fittings are;
    Top landing light switch.
    Bottom hall light switch.
    Bottom hall light ceiling rose.
  13. Easy peasy squeezy lemon, then.

    Hang on - where's the switch for the current top landing light?
  14. Sean_ork

    Sean_ork Screwfix Select

    a picture paints ....

  15. Sean_ork

    Sean_ork Screwfix Select

    note the intermediate switch
    FatHands likes this.
  16. What the...?

    But.. where does the third wire... how does...

    Aawwwwwwee maaaaaaaaaaan, I'm confused.:(
  17. Sean_ork

    Sean_ork Screwfix Select

    this might help visualise what is actually happening

  18. The diagram in post 14 is not very convential as they are using the black which is normally the switch wire as the feed.
  19. plasterer69

    plasterer69 New Member

    There is no switch as yet for the top hall light, it's all new.
    the current upstairs circuit ends at the upstairs hall light fitting.
  20. plasterer69

    plasterer69 New Member

    Hi, If i use two-gang switches at both ends do i duplicate wire D between the two switches?

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