Three way light switch on stairs

Was there a time when a three way light switch was not required for a stairway to an upper floor (not basement)? Just did a 1975 condo and could not find a stairway light switch on the second floor. I am gonna recommend a night light:p

Regardless …I would write it up as a safety hazard and it needs to be corrected … CYA … all the time … Roy

Do they do things differently in Canada, here the NEC does not require 3-ways for stairs, just a switch at each level when there are six or more stairs.

You’re being tooo soft in your reporting…


A fixture controlled from two locations requires 3 way switches to function.

3-way switches are not required, at each level when there are 6 or more risers or at a landing with an entrance a switch is required.

You could have a single pole switch at the bottom of the stairs controlling a light down below and a single pole switch at the top of the stairs controlling a light above.

If the intent is to light the treads, what’s the point?

So, when one went upstairs to bed, the light down below would stay on all night?

Ha ha, that explains it, there was a landing with window, so less than 6 steps on each stair, what a contractor wouldn’t do to save a nickel in the 70’s, not the good old days.

From Mike Holt

Not sure when that was from but the hyphen in the code section hasn’t been used since 1999 NEC. Anyway here’s the 2011 code wording, what Mike said in that quote is incorrect, at each floor level does not say 3-way switches.

If the intent of the code is to assure stair lighting is controllable at both ends 3 ways are how you accomplish that.

I’m not a code inspector and will continue to call it out if you cannot control the stair lighting at each end.

That’s fine, people pay you for your opinions but from a code perspective it’s simply not required. A switch controlling a light on each level, even if that means it highly inconvenient, is all that’s required.

I think you are wrong.

What is the intent of the code requirement?

BTW- the copyright on the Mike Holt article was 2011

©Copyright 2011 Mike Holt Enterprises, Inc.

Again the words in the section I posted are very clear and do not make any mention of requiring switching of the same light from multiple locations with 3-way switches. Mike Holt can make mistakes too, which he has in this case. :slight_smile:

The originally referenced in your earlier post,* Section 210-70* is from a format not used in the NEC since 1999.

Well ya see Mike, unlike the 10 commandments or (ahem) the US constitution, codes are made (not handed down from on high) by imperfect people (not supreme beings) representing interests that tend to conflict with each other, resulting in compromises now and then.

Never said anything else Mr. Socialist.

You really need to work on your comprehension skills.

I’ll put that on the top of my todo list.

I’m not disagreeing with Mike that it’s not a good idea. My personal litmus test is how would I install something in my own home even if it wasn’t require by the code. Certainly I would install a 3-way at the top and the bottom of a staircase.

For whatever reason the CMP that is responsible for the make up of this article of the NEC chooses to leave switch locations up to the designer. You could control a bedroom switched control outlet from a switch in the kitchen and still be NEC compliant. There have dozens if not hundreds of proposals to change this over the years and they have all been summarily rejected by the CMP as a design issue.


thank you Robert.

You know how much I respect your opinion and your helpful posts. :wink: