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At the top of my stairs leading to my basement, I have one light switch (Top Switch) that powers two separate light switches at the bottom of my stairs.

At the bottom of my stairs, the left light switch (Left Switch) controls a receptacle (Left Receptacle) to the left of my stairs. The right light switch (Right Switch) controls an overhead light fixture (OL) to light the bottom of my stairs.

How it works now:

If TS is on position and LS (or RS) is on position = LR (or OL) power is on

If TS is on position and LS (or RS) is off position = LR (or OL) power is off

If TS is off position and LS (or RS) is on position = LR (or OL) power is off

If TS is off position and LS (or RS) is off position = LR (or OL) power is on

If I remove the light switch at the top of the stairs and make that permanently hot, how do I change the two 3-way switches at the bottom of the stairs to single-pole switches? I am upgrading the two switches at the bottom of the stairs to Lutron dimmers which are single pole. I plan to use the power from the Left Receptacle to power a set of new recessed lights. I plan to use the power from the overhead light fixture to power a second set of new recess lights.

I'm using LUTRON P-PKG1W-WH Caseta Wireless 600-watt/150-watt Multi-Location In-Wall Dimmer with Pico Remote Control Kit.

Presently, the left switch controls a receptacle. I plan to use the power from the receptacle to power one set of recessed lights that I am installing. I will put a blank face plate on this receptacle.

And presently, the right switch controls an overhead light fixture that lights the bottom of the staircase. I was planning on using the power to this overhead light fixture to power a second set of recessed lights that I am installing.

There are neutrals available in all boxes.

Photo of the light switch at the top of the stairs Photo of the light switch at the top of the stairs

Photo of the two 3-way switches at the bottom of the stairs Photo of the two 3-way switches at the bottom of the stairs

  • Yup, that's what they did. Red and black are the messengers, and they split the messengers to the two switches. Weird but OK whatever. Is this a stairway? I believe Code requires you to have a switch at the top of the stairs. You can't require an occupant to descend a dark stairway to reach a switch, generally you need 3-ways at top and bottom of a flight. – Harper Jul 28 '17 at 2:43
  • Beware 3-way switches - 2 are messengers 1 is common. Look at the colors of the screws to determine which is which. Every manufacturer moves them around randomly, position is totally inconsistent from one to the next, so disregard position. – Harper Jul 28 '17 at 2:45
  • I appreciate the warning about code requiring a switch at the top of the staircase. The 2 new Lutron dimmer switches I am installing at the 2 old switches at the bottom of the stairs each have a remote control which I will mount at the top of the stairs. – Ethan N Jul 28 '17 at 2:58
  • Don't do anything irreversible, you may need to roll back these changes if you ever sell the house. A sharp inspector may not pass a remote if it's a battery wireless thing. – Harper Jul 28 '17 at 3:00
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    Also, keep in mind that the Code takes a dim view of dimming ordinary receptacles because some (many?) non-lighting loads take a rather dim view of being dimmed :P – ThreePhaseEel Jul 28 '17 at 3:23
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Go for the Pro model

I spoke with Lutron's tech support online via livechat and the Lutron Pico remotes do support being paired with more than one Maestro or Caseta dimmer. With the correct parts, you also can leave the mechanical switch in place upstairs to allow a houseguest or first responder quick control of the lights.

You'll need a black pigtail (match the existing wire gauge) and a few more wirenuts for this, as well as two Lutron PD-10NXD (this is the pro model, which adds the hardwired switch support) dimmers and a Pico remote with a wall mounting kit.

  1. Turn off power at the breaker (if it isn't already off that is)

In the upstairs box:

  1. Remove the two black wires from the old switch and nut them together with the black pigtail.
  2. Attach the other end of the black pigtail to the black screw on the upstairs switch. (This effectively uses the 3-way switch as a single pole switch.)

In the downstairs box:

  1. Remove the top (in your photo) black wire from the left 3-way switch. Nut it to the red wire on the dimmer that's going in the left side.
  2. Remove the top (in your photo) black wire from the right 3-way switch. Nut it to the red wire on the dimmer that's going in the right side.
  3. Pull out the neutral bundle from the bottom box. Connect the white wires from both dimmers to it. (This will yield improved dimming performance and avoid flickering or other misbehavior if CFLs or LEDs are installed.)
  4. Remove the bottom (in your photo) black wire from the right 3-way switch. Nut it to the black wires from both dimmers.
  5. Remove the red wire from the right 3-way switch. Nut it to the blue wires from both dimmers.
  6. Pull out the ground bundle (if present) and nut the green wires from both dimmers to it. If no grounding means is present in the box, nut the green wires to each other but do not connect them to any other wires in the box.

Back at the upstairs box:

  1. Install the Pico remote and wall mounting means adjacent to the upstairs switch box.

  2. Button both boxes up.

  3. Turn the power back on at the breaker.
  4. Pair the Pico remote with both Caseta dimmers as per the supplied instructions.

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