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I have two sets of LED lights and I'm looking for a single switch that will allow for the following options:

  1. OFF
  2. LED set 1 ON
  3. LED sets 1 and 2 ON (both on)

I don't have extensive training in electrical or circuits, but I am pretty handy and for the life of me can't figure out a way to wire the above scenario. Everything I think of will seemingly turn on both sets no matter what. I can't figure out how to isolate one LED set on the same switch as powering both. Anyone have any ideas?

  • May I ask what is wrong with simply using two switches? – Speedy Petey Nov 4 '14 at 1:24
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If you want a single control to do this, look at multi-position rotary or slide switches. It's fairly common to have a switch that connects a common to two outputs (let's call them A and B) and gives you the choices off, A only, A and B, or B only. Variants which drop one of those options are also readily available.

Switches of this sort are often seen in multi-bulb table lamps that offer several settings. They used to be common in stereo components to select which of two sets of speakers will be powered. They're also used in slightly modified form as the pull-chain switches that control ceiling fans.

A good electronics supply house should have several alternatives which meet your needs, differing in size, in how they're mounted, in the kind of knob they have (or the shaft to which you can attach a standard knob), how much voltage and current they can tolerate, and so on. You may still be able to find suitable switches at Radio Shlock, though they've phased out most of their hobbyist-friendly parts department.

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You'll need 2 switches, one that controls set 1 and one that controls set 2.

Remember a typical switch only has 2 states so there is no option to make that 3 states.

There are various ways to ensure set 1 is always on when set 2 is on. One of which is putting the circuit for set 2 behind the switch for set 1 so set 2 only comes on when switch 1 AND switch 2 is on.

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The other way is using a relay controlled by switch 2 in parallel with switch 1 so set 1 is on when switch 1 OR switch 2 is on.

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  • @Thebluefish except a 3-way is still a 2-state switch which would not allow 3 options for lights on and off – ratchet freak Nov 3 '14 at 17:45

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