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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

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

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

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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, Handywomen, 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.

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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