Electrician Training Electrical Certification
wiring recessed light fixtures Electrical Wiring Electrical Troubleshooting and Electrical Repairs wire outdoor light fixture Home Electrical Wiring Diagrams
wiring home generator and transfer switch wiring a 220 volt range cord outlet Wiring for GFCI Outlets Wiring Outlets and a Switched Outlet Wiring and Installing Ceiling Fans and Remote Controls wire dimmer switch wiring diagrams for switches wiring a dryer cord and 220 outlet circuit breaker panel
Electrical Wire and Cable

Wiring Diagrams for 3-Way Switches

By Dave Rongey - Summary:

The Key to Wiring 3-Way Switches – The Power Feed and the Switch Leg leading to the fixture(s) typically, one at each switch location, are attached to the screw terminal found at one end of the switch by itself

Three-way switch diagrams fully explained

Electrical Wiring 3-way switches are a convenient way to operate lighting fixtures from two locations.

The Key to Wiring 3-Way Switches.

The Power Feed and the Switch Leg leading to the fixture(s) typically, one at each switch location, are attached to the screw terminal found at one end of the switch by itself. This terminal is usually identified by a darker colored screw.

The pair of screw terminals at the opposite end of the switch are for the pair of wires known as “travelers”, (also known as “jockeys”).

The “travelers” actually pass the electricity between the two 3-way switches, as well as the 4-way switches, shown in the 4-way switching wiring diagrams.

Please note:

To illustrate the wiring of these 3-way switches, Switch Boxes and Fixture Boxes are not shown but are obviously required for every application. These diagrams are shown as using the Romex wiring method.

The Cable Contains a Ground Conductor

The ground conductor is required for all applications as well.

The ground conductors are always bonded together to insure the integrity of the ground path.

If you are using metal boxes, the ground conductor must be attached to each box by using a threaded ground screw or provided attachment.

The frames of the switches which have a ground screw are to be attached to the ground conductor as required.

See also the wiring pictures:
3-Way Dimmer Switch Wiring

Please contact me if you have any questions or comments regarding the wiring of 3-way switches.
[Questions or comments]

3-Way Switching
Take the Mystery out of Wiring 3-Way Switches with my New eBook!

3-Way Switch Wiring Diagrams


Easy To Understand Fully Illustrated and Documented

Eight 3 Way Switches Diagram Variations

[see more]

First my easy to understand chart helps to identify the 3-way switch system for the application:


3-Way Switching provides switching from two locations


Diagram #1 above, shows the electricity source starting at the left 3-way switch.

Wiring Diagrams for 3-Way Switches

3-way switch diagram #2 above, shows the electricity source starting at the fixture.
The white wire of the cable going to the switch is attached to the black line in the fixture box using a wire nut.
The white wire becomes the energized switch leg, as indicated by using black or red electrical tape.

3-way switch diagram #3

Diagram #3 above, shows the electricity source starting at the right 3-way switch box,
the same that has the Romex wire going to the fixture.

More Wiring Diagrams for Switches:
Single Switches

4-Way Switches
3-Way Dimmer Switch Wiring
Residential Wiring Diagrams

More About Home Wiring :
GFCI Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters
Wiring a Single GFCI
GFCI Wiring the Feed Through Method
GFCI Tailed Wiring Method – With Photos

Ask The Electrician Home Page

Learn How to Wire it Right with my
Complete Guide to Home Electrical Wiring
Perfect for Homeowners, Students,
Handyman, Handywomen, and Electricians
Wiring GFCI Outlets
Wiring Home Electrical Circuits
120 Volt and 240 Volt Outlet Circuits
Wiring 3-Wire and 4-Wire Electric Range
Wiring 3-Wire and 4-Wire Dryer Cord and Dryer Outlet
How to Troubleshoot and Repair Electrical Wiring
Wiring Methods for Upgrading Electrical Wiring
Electrical Codes for Home Electrical Wiring
....and much more.

» Click here to learn more about Home Electrical Wiring «
  repair electrical wiring  


Click the banner to Ask an Electrical Question:
electrical question