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How to Replace a 3 Way Switch with a 3 Way Dimmer Switch

How to Wire 3Way Dimmer Switches: Common 3Way Dimmer Switch Wire Connections and Light Level Adjustments, Wiring Two 3Way Dimmer Switches.


Home Electrical Wiring Video

How to Wire a GFCI Outlet
without a Ground Wire

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Guide for Wiring a 3 Way Dimmer Switch
Electrical Question: I replaced the switch that we use most often with a dimmer switch. Now the switch that does not have the dimmer has to be on in order for the dimmer switch to work.


This electrical wiring question came from: Robert, a Homeowner from Gloucester, Virginia.

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electric wiring question Robert.

How to Wire a 3Way Dimmer Switch

Application: Wiring for a 3Way Dimmer Switch.
Skill Level: Beginner to Intermediate. This electrical work is best performed by a Licensed Electrical Contractor.
Tools Required: Basic Electricians Pouch Hand Tools and Voltage Tester.
Estimated Time: Depends on personal level experience and ability to work with tools.
Precaution: Identify the lighting circuit, turn it OFF and  Tag it with a Note before wiring the new dimmer.

3Way Dimmer Switch Wire Connections

More about Wiring a 3Way Dimmer Switch

Wiring a switch
Wiring a Light Switch – Diagram 1

Wiring a dimmer switch

See More information about 3 Way Switch Diagram
3 Way Switch Diagram
3 Way Switch Diagram

The following may also be helpful for you:

Dave's Guide to Home Electrical Wiring:

» You Can Avoid Costly Mistakes! «

Here's How to Do It:
Wire It Right with the help of my Illustrated Wiring Book

Great for any Home Wiring Project.
  electrical wiring  

Complete Guide to Home Electrical Wiring

Perfect for Homeowners, Students,
Handyman, Handy Women, and Electricians
Wiring GFCI Outlets
Wiring Home Electric Circuits
120 Volt and 240 Volt Outlet Circuits
Wiring Light Switches
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
NEC Codes for Home Electrical Wiring
....and much more.

Learn more about Home Electrical Wiring
with my Online Video Course:
Basic Home Electrical Wiring by Example

Be Careful and Be Safe - Never Work on Energized Circuits!
Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all Electric Wiring Projects.

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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FAQs Frequently Asked Questions and Comments

2 Responses to “How to Replace a 3 Way Switch with a 3 Way Dimmer Switch”
  1. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Max,
    The Lutron Maestro dimmer is a great high quality dimmer switch, however when more than one switch will be installed in the same area or room, you must install the Lutron Maestro compatible switch as well for the other switch locations as well, because the Maestro dimmer is not compatible with a standard 3-way switch, or with other non Lutron brand dimmer switches. The good thing is that the Lutron Maestro dimmers are great for retrofitting any room, and you may add up to 10 companion dimmers as well. So Max, you will need to purchase one more Lutron Maestro switch to replace your other standard switch, and then you will be able to enjoy all the features of the Maestro dimmer switch.
    I hope this helps,

  2. Max Tarakhovsky says:

    I am trying to replace one of the 3-way light switches with a Lutron Dimmer switch (Lutron Maestro 1-1/4-Amp Light Almond Digital Dimmer, Model #: MACL-153MH-LA). I am not sure what I am doing wrong, but unless I turn on the other 3-way light switch, dimmer switch does not work. The other concern, what if this Lutron dimmer switch can only replace 3-way light switch, which gets the AC power line.
    Please help!
    Thank you very much!