amateur Jack of all trades looking for something I'm not sure exists.

I have a mains lighting ring which means I can plug in lamps in my bedroom and turn them on at the door switch (if the lamps themselves are on).

What I would like is to be able to switch the lamps on from the doorway, off from the lamp itself, then on from the wall again (without turning the lamp back on).

I.e. go to bedroom turn the lamps on on entering the room, go to bed and turn the lamps off from bed and then the next night turn the lamps on on entering the room without having to go to the lamps themselves.

I was thinking about some sort of switch that would turn itself on when the power was lost from the wall switch so that I could flick the wall switch off and then on an again and the lamps should come back on.

The lamps should also be able to be turned off and on again overnight as needed from the lamp switches.

I don't want (nor have the skills) to run wires through the walls etc and so was hoping to do it all through a switch I could wire into the lamp wire

Thanks for any suggestions.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Don't work on mains voltage stuff if you don't know what you're doing, please. \$\endgroup\$ – Hearth Dec 17 '19 at 15:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ Maybe you are looking for multiway switching: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multiway_switching \$\endgroup\$ – Bart Dec 17 '19 at 15:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's certainly possible in theory. I don't know if there is one. \$\endgroup\$ – user253751 Dec 17 '19 at 16:17
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @Aaron Using 3-way switches requires an extra wire between the switches. The OP specifically said that they do not want to run wires through the walls. \$\endgroup\$ – Elliot Alderson Dec 17 '19 at 17:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ One easy way is to purchase a remote-controlled lamp or switch to control the light then put a wall-mounted control at the door and another at the bedside. You have complete control at either place. Such lamps usually offer timed control as well to turn on or off at specific times of day or events. No wiring changes needed, just plug in. \$\endgroup\$ – Kevin White Dec 17 '19 at 19:30

If you don't mind using a bit of power in a relay coil while the lamp is off you can do it like this:


simulate this circuit – Schematic created using CircuitLab

Using a DPDT relay, this circuit starts with the lamp 'on'. Pressing the button activates the relay, turning the lamp off. The second pole on the relay is used to hold the lamp in the off position until power goes away...at which point the whole thing resets.

  • \$\begingroup\$ A long time ago I did a similar thing with a toggle flipflop and a TRIAC instead of the DPDT relay. Also, there are touch-control modules you can add to almost any lamp that will do most or all of what you want. lowes.com/pd/Utilitech-Black-Touch-Lamp-Control/50063801 \$\endgroup\$ – AnalogKid Dec 17 '19 at 17:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks evildemonic, am I right in saying you wouldn't be able to turn the light back on with SW2. If so would a second switch in the DPDT loop allow this? \$\endgroup\$ – Dominic Shaw Dec 17 '19 at 23:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, a second switch on the LINE input will work. You want this switch/button to be a normally closed type. This would have the same effect as cutting power, and 'release' the relay. \$\endgroup\$ – evildemonic Dec 17 '19 at 23:42

Apologies for the poor look, I just cobbled this together quickly. The first part of your question is simple. Just tie two three-way switches together (one on the wall, and one by the lamp) with a neutral line. This is really common in homes. As for the second part of the question, do you really want something where you need to toggle a switch twice to turn the light on? With the below configuration, you could just toggle it once from either end to change the state of the lamp.

Switches image

Let's look at the 4 cases.

  1. SW1-LEFT, SW2-LEFT >> No connection, so the light is off.
  2. SW1-L, SW2-R >> Connection on the outside line turns the light on.
  3. SW1-R, SW2-L >> Connection on the inside line turns the light on.
  4. SW1-R, SW2-R >> No connection, so the light is off.

By doing this, you can turn the lamp on or off from either the wall or the lamp side.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The OP said they did not want to run wires through the walls, which your suggestion requires. \$\endgroup\$ – Elliot Alderson Dec 17 '19 at 17:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ElliotAlderson If he hasn't checked behind his switch plate yet, he might find that there are more lines in there than he knew about. When I was replacing a broken switch, I found a neutral line that ran to a different switch panel, but was disconnected on both ends. It may be possible that he doesn't need to run any new wires. \$\endgroup\$ – David Robie Dec 17 '19 at 17:23

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