3-way switch hookup

In the 1st diagram below, a 2- wire NM cable supplies power from the panel to the first switch box. The black line wire connects to the common terminal of the first 3- way switch. A 3- wire NM connects the traveler terminals of the first and second 3- way switch together. Traveler wires are interchangeable on each switch. The common terminal of the second 3- way switch connects to the light fixture s. The white neutral wires are connected together in each switch box. Diagrams shown on this page are simplified for clarity.

3 Way Switch Wiring Diagram

Electrical outlet boxes can have numerous NM cables going in and out. The upper left screw gets the red wire from the left box 4-cond. The upper right screw gets the black wire from the left box 4-cond. Follow along with the mouse pointer as we go through this. The source power black wire is coming in from the left. It ties into the common on the left switch.

Video on how to wire a three way switch

When the left switch is toggled, it connects to the upper circuit and now the circuit is open at the right switch which turns off the light. Toggle the right switch and it connects to the upper circuit and now closes the path and turns the light back on and so on. In my mind wiring is one thing, but to look at a diagram as the one above and understand the principle involved, that is the key to do-it-yourself house wiring.

If you're simply replacing a 3-way switch, the diagrams below will show the different scenarios on how your circuit could possibly be wired. What is common in the diagrams above and with any 3-way switch circuit is that the power hot wire coming into the circuit will always go to the common terminal of the first switch. The hot wire from light always goes to the common terminal of the second switch. Yes three ways switches on both ends.


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  • Wiring A 3 Way Switch?;

There are a few ways to wire a three way. Not just the way I show. Use the question section to where you can post pictures. In my garage, power comes into a junction box in the middle of the garage. From that junction box a cable goes to the front of the garage where the switch is, another cable goes towards the back of the garage with several outlets daisy chained. These are what our shop lights plug into. The switch turns the outlets on and off. I wanted to add a switch to the back of the garage where the door goes into the house so I can turn the lights on when i enter the garage from the house.

If I replace the current switch to a 3 way, I understand I would need to connect the two 3 way switches with It makes sense to me how to wire the switch in the new location, but what about the switch in the old location—it does not have power coming in one way and going to a light. Will I need to connect both black and both whites to the terminals the ones coming from the junction box and the ones going to the 2nd switch?

Thank you so much for pointing that out.

I have fixed that. Dominick — Thank you for the diagrams. In the top diagram — the diagram where the switches are labelled S1 and S2 — the wiring to the bulb is backwards. For safety, the hot wire should always go to the tip of the bulb, and the neutral to the threads of the bulb.

Wiring a 3-Way Switch

I bought the switch yesterday from Lowes. I will proceed with connecting my High to the dark screw, since you have seen this before. Thank you for your response and video. That would really depend. And how old your switch is. I remember seeing some funky older switches before.


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  • 3-way Switch Wiring - Electrical .

My three way switch has the dark screw common across from a traveler and the other traveler at the bottom of the switch where the common is in your illustration. Is this a difference in brands of switches? Each light would just come off of each other. But watch this video. Hi Dominick, How would I wire 2 lights to 2 3 way switches?

Wiring a 3 way switch

I have a light at the top of the stairs and a light at the bottom of the stairs. So i want to put a switch at the bottom of the stairs and at the top of the stairs. A led as you know uses very little electric and just a little will give it some light. First make sure you wired the light correctly.

Meaning the hot is on the hot side. Try switching them around maybe. And make sure if you have a ground on the fixture that it is connected. Dominick, I understand the basic wiring for a 3-way switch and your video helps to reinforce my understanding. My wife asked me to install new LED fixtures in the hallway. One is on a separate 2-way switch works fine and the other is connected to 3-way switches. The power seems to be coming into the light and running into the switches. Would using 2 different switches matter? One is a reg switch on off and the other is a toggle.

Would this make it not work right? However watch my 3 way and 4 way switch videos. Dominick, my son thought he would help out in replacing the old fashioned up-down toggle on-off wall switches to the new fancy large fascia switches. Here in lies the problem. He and his mom went and bought the wrong type switch. After burning up a few circuit breakers I put a stop to their effort as I was afraid they could have done worse.

When I went back to try and re-install the original switches till I get the correct ones, I noticed the wiring to be different and am trying to figure out the proper way of re-connecting the wires to the on-off switches.

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