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Electrical Wire and Cable

Wiring Diagrams for 3-Way Switches

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

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Three-way Switch Diagrams Fully Explained
Wiring 3Way Switches 3-way switches are a convenient way to operate lighting fixtures from two locations.

Electrical Question: How would this be wired?

This electrical wiring question came from in St. Marys, Ohio.

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 diagrams with 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

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

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Basic Home Electrical Wiring by Example

Dave's Guide to Home Electrical Wiring:

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Complete Guide to Home Electrical Wiring

Perfect for Homeowners, Students,
Handyman, Handy Women, and Electricians
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Wiring Light Switches
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Be Careful and Be Safe - Never Work on Energized Circuits!
Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all Electric Wiring Projects.

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