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I'm adding canless recessed light fixtures to my man cave. Drywall ceiling with loose fill insulation within the trusses and batts over that. These are the lights with the small wiring box connected to the light itself, which snaps into a hole in the ceiling. The wiring box is very small, and contains hot and neutral pigtails with the fittings to insert supply wiring. My problem is that I want one of the lights on a three way switch circuit from the entry door to the exit door. With two 14/3 wires w/ ground, plus the factory pigtails, I can't imagine getting all those wires and wire nuts inside the little black box.

The black box is simply inserted into the hole for the light and rests on the drywall above. The only way I can come up with is to do the three wire wiring in a covered junction box, with a two wire drop from there to the little black box, then insert the whole assembly into the hole and rest it on the drywall. That goes against what I know about junction boxes (accessible and fastened to a structural member). Is there a standard way this is done?

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    Do you mind having a blank-cover junction box in your ceiling near the location of the can light? Commented Oct 7, 2020 at 1:38
  • maybe you can extend the little black box (eg by attaching a full size box to the front) or to the cable port.
    – Jasen
    Commented Oct 7, 2020 at 3:47
  • That question was so thought fully worded and is exactly the problem so many people are facing with those tiny junction boxes. The junction boxes on those LED’s are often 3 cubic inches and will violate code to have any other wires enter. Commented Jan 31, 2021 at 3:46
  • The question was not answered. IMO you would need to run the wires into a junction box then come out with only one 14-2 to the 4 in. Ultra-thin connection box. Unless we can come up with a way to expand that junction box…?
    – Atalo
    Commented Jun 26, 2022 at 23:36

2 Answers 2

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Don't even try to run the 3-way switch leg through all the lamp boxes.

Bring power into the "main" or more accessible entrance - the one where you would want to put a smart switch. Then, have a separate /3 cable that bypasses the lamps entirely and goes straight over to the other 3-way switch.

I have no idea why some sites recommend running the travelers through every intermediate light box... but this is very foolish for 2 reasons: #1 box fill, and #2 you would need /4 or /5 cable and they usually recommend using 2 cables instead, and that's a code violation. (heck you're using 2 cables anyway, why not just have one bypass the lamps altogether?)

Then, from that switch, you send "switched-hot" and "neutral" onward to the lamps, and daisy-chain the lamps in the normal way.

Mark your wires correctly

I recommend sending always-hot to the far switch -- if you do that, you MUST use white for always-hot, and you MUST re-mark both ends with black tape -- that's Code. I recommend marking the other 2 wires with yellow tape to designate them as travelers -- that's not Code, but it will make things vastly easier to hook up and troubleshoot later. (yellow = brass screws on the switches - get it? :)

If you're wiring it with travelers and switched-hot going to the far switch, you are not allowed to use white for switched-hot - Code again. Use red for switched-hot. Since you're using white as a non-neutral, you MUST mark it with a hot color - since you have to anyway, I recommend again yellow tape on both travelers.

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You say that you want "one of the lights on a three way switch circuit from the entry door to the exit door".

What do you want the rest of the lights to do? Are there more lights? Do you want them switched the same way, or controlled by a different switch, or ...?

Regardless, a 3-way circuit is a circuit that goes between two switches. It does not have anything to do with the controlled devices, unless you make a terrible mistake.

If you're old enough, you might remember "A/B switches" that were sold to connect a computer to more than one printer, or a printer to more than one computer. A 3-way circuit is just two "A/B switches" placed back to back:

                               --- A ---
                              /         \
--- LINE ----> A/B Switch #1 *           * A/B Switch #2 ---- LOAD
                              \         /
                               --- B ---

The point of the two A/B switches is that if both are connected to segment "A" then power can flow from LINE to LOAD. And if both are connected to segment "B" then also power can flow from LINE to LOAD. But if the switches are connected to different segments (A+B or B+A) then power doesn't flow.

Now, code wants you to have a neutral (white) wire available everywhere. So the way to do 3-way circuits now-a-days is to run a xx/3 Romex bundle from one switch to the other. But from LINE to the first switch, and from the second switch to LOAD, you can run 2-wire Romex. Which, with your puck lights being LOAD, means you should have 2 wires into your box. If you are not using a "system" that provides connecting wires, then you may also need 2 wires out of your box as well. You don't need 3-wire at all for that part of the circuit.

If you only want one of your lights connected to the 3-way switch, then there will be no need for an "out" wire at all. But, again, what will you do with the other lights, if you have them?

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