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Electrical Wire and Cable

Wiring 3 Way Switches and Dimmer Switches

How are 3-way switches wired? The Key to Wiring 3 Way Switch and 3 Way Dimmer Switch Wiring, Key Wiring Configurations for 3 way Switch Wiring.

Home Electrical Wiring Video

How to Wire a GFCI Outlet
without a Ground Wire

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3Way Dimmers and 3Way Light Switches
Electrical Question: How are 3-way switches wired?

I am confused, can you please help?

This electrical wiring question came from: Andrew, a Handyman from Tower City, Pennsylvania.

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical wiring question Andrew.

How to Wire 3Way Dimmers and 3Way Light Switches

Application: Wiring 3Way Light Switches.
Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced – Best installed by a Licensed Electrician.
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 working with the wiring.
Notice: Installing additional 3-way switch wiring should be done according to local and national electrical codes with a permit and be inspected.
Materials: Make sure replacement 3-way light switches have the same amperage and voltage rating as the original three way light switch, and is the switch is fully compatible with the electrical circuit, the light fixture and the type of light bulbs being used.

The Most Common Mistake When Replacing 3 Way Switches

One of the biggest problems that occurs when replacing 3 way switches is when the existing switch is removed before identifying the wiring and taking too many wire connections apart.

Three way switch wiring for a dimmer and a standard 3 way switch is the same except that the dimmer switch has a set of wires and not terminal screws to make up the wiring.

Question about Wiring 3-Way Switches:
I understand how to wire a single pole or 3 way switch, but I am having trouble replacing a single pole and adding a 3-way switch.

This electrical wiring question came from Wally, a Homeowner, in Newman, Georgia.

NOTE: There are only three connections for both the 3 Way Dimmer and the 3 Way Switch.

  1. The Power In or Power Out
    • The Dimmer Power is typically the Black Wire.
    • The Switch Terminal is typically the single screw terminal at one end of the switch and is usually a Black Screw.
  2.  The Two Travelers (or Jockeys-electrician terminology)
    • The Dimmer Travelers are typically the two Red Wires.
    • The Switch Travelers are typically the two screw terminals at one end of the switch and are usually brass.
    • The Ground Wiring is typically a green insulated wire on the dimmer switch and green or bare copper wire in the switch boxes and they bond together and a pigtail wire is attached to the green ground screw on the 3 way switch frame.

Wiring Configurations for 3 way Switch Wiring

When the wiring has been taken apart or the configuration is unknown the electrician should start by using a voltage tester to identify all of the cables with regard to the key connections as described above.

Please Note: These are typical connections for standard 3 way switches. This does not apply to wireless dimmer switches and some Lutron Light Switches.

More about Wiring 3 Way Switches and Dimmer Switches

How to Wire a 3Way Dimmer Switch

3 Way Dimmer Switch Wiring Diagram

Fully explained 3 way dimmer switch wiring diagram will take the mystery out of wiring a 3-way dimmer switch.

How to Wire a Dimmer Switch
3way switch

Wiring a Light Switch – Diagram 1

Wiring Diagrams

Fully Explained Light Switch Wiring Diagrams. Detailed Electrical Wiring Diagrams and Pictures assist your Home Electrical Projects.

How To Wire 3-Way Switches Video
Electrician Explains Electrical Contractor Explains the basics of wiring 3 Way Switches for your home light fixtures

Electrical Switches: Wiring a 3-Way Switch
Electrician Explains the Basics of Wiring 3-Way Switches

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.

More articles about 3-Way Switch, Dimmers and 3-Way Switches, Electrical Wiring and Home Electrical Wiring:
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