My daughter's stairway has a ceiling light halfway down but basement landing area. It's dark... it needs light.

I installed one of the new LED lights in the suspended ceiling, and ran its feed over near the basement 3-way, thinking I could attach there. That 3-way has two cables in the box. A 2-wire power from basement light, and the 3-wire going to top of stairs. The box at top of stairs has only the 3-wire. Can I add this light to one of the 3-ways?

Getting to the light fixture would mean getting in the attic, which I've done several times, but at 77, I'd just rather not crawl on ceiling joists :)

  • Need to clarify - You want to add a light at the bottom of a staircase that will be controlled by two 3-ways but you can't tie in to the existing 3-ways because of lack of reasonable access. Right?
    – HoneyDo
    Feb 5, 2020 at 0:03
  • Are you saying there are only 2 cables in the basement 3-way? Or are there 3 cables - power, lamp, and other switch? You can edit the question to add detail, or add a comment, but be sure to use the same web browser you initially posted from. Feb 5, 2020 at 0:44
  • Can you post photos of the insides of the boxes please? Feb 5, 2020 at 4:09

2 Answers 2


The only way to do this would be to go in the attic. The basement 3-way has the neutral you need and the 3-way at the top of the stairs has the hot connection to the light. You need both wires to make your additional light work and those are only available at the existing light fixture. There's different types of steel raceway that can be surface mounted on the ceiling but doing that on stairs would be more dangerous than going into the attic. Maybe it's time to train a young apprentice.

  • This will probably make a real electrician cringe ...But I have the feed for the new light next to bottom sw box....any way I can attach the neutral there and run the other wire upstairs to the hot....without burning house down...thanks again carl
    – carl
    Feb 5, 2020 at 18:20
  • 1
    That would be a hack job and against code. Plus, you'd still have to go into the attic.
    – JACK
    Feb 5, 2020 at 18:45

The other possible option is to install smart switches. One switch at the hot location going to the new light. The switch at the other location is actually a remote that operates the switch at the hot end. You do have to make sure you have access to a neutral. Don't think that'll be a problem for you but wasn't sure from your description of the setup. If it is a problem then this may not work for you in which case refer to @JACK above. This will eliminate any surface wiring but may require expanding your existing wall boxes. If you're into high tech you can also control the switch with your smartphone. One possible downside is it won't operate with your current 3-way but you may be able to solve that by converting your current 3-way over to a smart switch and tie it all into one remote. Good luck.
Misunderstood OP's description of setup. There are smart switches that don't require a neutral, however, issue here is the lack of availabilty of power to the new light, not tieing it into the 3-way. Without a hot and neutral in one location @JACK has the only viable answer that I can see.

  • But as near as I can gather from what OP wrote, the setup is a switch loop, with both 3-way switches on a spur run. So the lamp to first 3-way is always-hot and switched-hot, and no neutral is in that cable. Feb 5, 2020 at 0:42
  • you're correct that this will require a neutral which I thought was carried into the box by the second cable.
    – HoneyDo
    Feb 5, 2020 at 0:53
  • Carl - Is there a neutral available in the downstairs box?
    – HoneyDo
    Feb 5, 2020 at 0:57

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