Adding a pilot light to a 3-way switch

I need a stack switch with one standard switch and one 3-way switch with a pilot light. I called the electric supply warehouses around town and found none. They do carry one without the pilot light. It looks like I have to add the pilot light myself.

I believe what I need is a 120 V diode with a really small amperage, less than 1 mA if possible. Is that correct? I haven't thought about how to wire it. I have the impression that that part should not be too difficult.

Thanks for any help.

Reply to
John Smith
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I would use a small neon panel lamp mounted in the corner of the switch plate. Keep in mind there may be code issues with anything of this nature so check local codes and do not proceed unless you know what you're doing. How to wire it depends on how the circuit is laid out, but you need one side to the neutral, and one side to the hot wire out to the light.

You can also get a pilot light which is designed to hold a standard C7 incandescent lamp and mounts in place of a wall switch, you could use an LED retrofit lamp in one of those, but it would require an additional gang in the junction box or a separate box. Again this isn't something you should try yourself if you aren't sure.

Reply to
James Sweet

It depends on how the switch loop is wired. If one switch is a dead end (2 travellers and a switched return in the box) you could connect the neon to the switched return in both boxes. If this is wired the other way where the switches are in line carrying the neutral and 2 travellers the only place a pilot could be is in the far box.

Reply to

Sounds like an illuminated switch (lighted when off) might work. I believe illuminated 3-ways connect a neon lamp between the travelers.

If a commercial combination is not available one way to do this in a single opening is to use Despard devices, which are interchangeable devices that mount on a strap with 3 openings. You could combine a standard switch, a 3-way switch and a *neon* pilot light unit. Wire the neon light across the 3-way travelers. You could have a light at each end. The light will be on when the switched load is off. There needs to be some load to light the neon light. Google for Despard. If you are at the load-end 3-way, and a neutral is available, you can connect the light across the load as a pilot light.

I would not recommend do-it-yourself. You might be able to find space for a UL listed commercial pilot light unit with leads.

You could try the question at There are several good electricians and some other sharp people. Someone might know of a commercial device.

Reply to

Look in the catalogs... e.g. Hubbell HB1203PL. Stock item at Grainger and probably at the big electrical suppliers if you give them the part number :-).


Reply to
Tim Shoppa

That won't work on one of the ends. Neon lamps are voltage devices, and all the voltages at the switch closest to the main stay exactly the same as the switch closest to the load is toggled. See my post with wiring diagrams.

I wouldn't advise that. It will be hard to find replacements. Better to redo the box to allow standard devices.

Reply to
Guy Macon

If there is a load (like a light bulb or fan), and the switches are in an off combination, there will always be 120V between the travelers (the

2 wires connecting the switches). A neon light connected between the travelers will light up. That works at both ends. It works when 4-way switches are added. It works when wired with the with the less common "California 3-way" setup.

Despard devices *are* "standard devices" available from several manufacturers. They have been around for a real long time. Even Roy can find them.

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