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How to Wire Three Way Switches Part 1

3Way Switch Wiring Diagrams

3Way Switch Diagrams #1, #2 and #3

wiring-a-3-way-switch Summary: The key to three way switch wiring depends on two main factors. These first three wiring diagrams in this series will help you identify the power feed and the switch wiring leading to the light fixture.


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3 Way Switch Wiring Diagrams



Electrical Wiring Video

How to Wire a 3Way and 4Way Light Switches

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The Key to three way switch wiring:

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.

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 Type-NM wiring method.

Electrical Wiring and the 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.

3-Way Light Switch Wiring


3-Way Switching provides switching from two locations
3-Way Switching Diagram

3-Way Switch Wiring Diagram #1 above, shows that the electric circuit source power is located at the left side 3-way switch box. The cable wires lead to a second 3-way switch box on the right side.

threewayswiitchdiagram#2

3-Way Switch Wiring Diagram #2 above, shows the electric circuit power source comes into the light fixture box. The white wire of the cable wiring is marked with black electrical tape, and is going to the switch. The other end of this wire is connected to the black wire of the light fixture in the light fixture box. The white wire marked with black tape becomes the energized switch leg.

3-way switch wiring diagram #3

3-Way Switch Wiring Diagram #3 above, shows the electric circuit source power located at the right 3-way switch box, and this switch box also has the cable that goes to the light fixture.


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Frequently Asked Questions

More about Wiring 3way Switches


How to Light Up a Dark Hallway

I have a 6 year old who is terrified to walk down the dark hallway at night to get to the bathroom. I wanted to switch out the 3-way switch for a 3-way dimmer switch so I can leave the light on but dimmed so the whole hallway is illuminated.


How to Control Walkway Lighting

Question: I am trying to control my walkway lights with motion sensor.


How to Install 3-Way RF and Smart Devices for Switching

How are Master and Slave switches wired to Control Light Fixtures? Wiring RF Smart Switches and 3-Way Switches, Installing Three Way Switches and Smart Switches for Light Fixtures.


How To Wire a Ceiling Fan and Light Fixture

How Do I Wire my Ceiling Fan and Light Fixture? The Pull Chain Switch for a Ceiling Fan Light Fixture, and the Fan Motor Capacitor.


The Key to Wiring Three Way Switches

My three way switches do not work right, how can I fix this? The key to wiring three way switches, Identifying the electric wiring.


See more at the Electrical Questions Category Listing.

Learn more about Wiring 3way Switches



Electrical Tips to Help You Wire it Right

The Safest Way to Test Electrical Devices and Identify Electric Wires!

The Non-Contact Electrical Tester
This is a testing tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and is the first test tool I grab to help identify electrical wiring. It is a Non-contact tester that I use to easily Detect Voltage in Cables, Cords, Circuit Breakers, Lighting Fixtures, Switches, Outlets and Wires. Simply insert the end of the tester into an outlet, lamp socket, or hold the end of the tester against the wire you wish to test. Very handy and easy to use.

The Quickest Way to Check for Faulty Electrical Wiring!

The Plug-In Outlet Tester
This is the first tool I grab to troubleshoot a problem with outlet circuit wiring. This popular tester is also used by most inspectors to test for power and check the polarity of circuit wiring.
It detects probable improper wiring conditions in standard 110-125 VAC outlets Provides 6 probable wiring conditions that are quick and easy to read for ultimate efficiency Lights indicate if wiring is correct and indicator light chart is included Tests standard 3-wire outlets UL Listed Light indicates if wiring is incorrect Very handy and easy to use.

Strip Off Wire Insulation without Nicking and Damaging the Electric Wire!

The Wire Stripper and Wire Cutter
My absolute favorite wire stripping tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and this is the tool I use to safely strip electrical wires.
This handy tool has multiple uses:
The wire gauges are shown on the side of the tool so you know which slot to use for stripping insulation.
The end of the tool can be used to grip and bend wire which is handy for attaching wire onto the screw terminals of switches and outlets..

The wire stripper will work on both solid and stranded wire. This tool is Very Handy and Easy to Use.





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