We have a stairwell which goes from the first to third floor of the house, with a landing on the second floor. It's a straight shot all the way up, with the landing in the middle. There are switches at the top, bottom and on the landing, (there is a door to the second floor on the landing).

It's currently set up with two 3-way and a 4-way switch so you can turn the lights on and off from any of the switches. The problem is that these lights end up always being left on.

Any ideas on how to either replace one or all of the switches such that if the light is on for more than 10 minutes, it turns off?

  • Can you post photos of the wiring in the switch boxes? Commented Dec 30, 2017 at 16:31
  • You're up against building codes which absolutely require a way to turn the light on from each stairway entry. if the timer decides the light must be off, and the human decides the light must be on, the human must win. Also it's a codevio and liabilility for you if the light turns off while someone is traversing the stairs, That can't happen. Commented Dec 30, 2017 at 16:50
  • @Harper occupancy sensors at each level wired so that "any" can close the circuit with a 5 minute timeout should meet could, they also meet the manual on requiremment.
    – Tyson
    Commented Dec 30, 2017 at 18:44
  • 2
    @Harper here is a wiring diagram and discussion for using multiple motion and occupancy sensors. It works because when "any" sensor sees motion it holds the light on, when the LAST sensors time delay expires then the light turns off. Any other people causing motion at any sensor just keep the light on longer.
    – Tyson
    Commented Dec 30, 2017 at 22:47
  • 1
    @bpeikes generally 3/4-way wiring can be converted to work with multiple occupancy sensors. (My example was conceptual for Harper) in your case tho, more info is needed. Specifically whether or not you have a neutral in all 3 switch boxes. If you do, then one traveller will be repurposed as hot, the other traveller will be repurposed for load. If you don't have neutral in all 3 locations then you need to specifically tell us more about circuit and include photos with showing the insides of all the boxes.
    – Tyson
    Commented Dec 31, 2017 at 13:05

2 Answers 2


A leviton ods10 ID will do the trick or 3 of them. The ones I used years ago needed a neutral but a quick read on these stated they don't need a neutral and will work as 3 way and 4 way looks to be about 35$ I put these in 1 area that had 3 entries back in 2000 or 2001 still working today.


Without any actual wiring diagrams or a picture of the wiring itself I would suggest a light with a presence sensor that has a timer inside. Almost all lamps of this type turn on when power is applied to them, even though they don't sense anyone. Set the timer inside them to 10 minutes and when you switch the light on it will open. After 10 minutes of inactivity it will shutdown. If the lights are switched off and and the sensor does not 'see' you, simply switch the light twice. Once for power off then for power on.

If you post a picture with the wiring, we might come with a better solution.

  • I need the ability to have people turn the lights in the stairwell on manually from all three landings.
    – bpeikes
    Commented Dec 31, 2017 at 12:52

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