Easy to understand 3 way switch wiring diagrams

Electrical wiring diagrams for 3 way light switches are an important part of home wiring systems because they show the different ways to do home lighting controls from different locations. It also works for ceiling fans and electrical outlets controlled by two locations. Home cabling for lights is easier to understand if you have a good image to look at. Be sure to make sure all circuits are turned off before you start any work on electrical systems.

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3-way wiring

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A picture is worth a thousand words, but this pic is kind of fuzzy, so here’s the thousand words:

  • At the first switch, tie the white neutral wires together.
  • Tie the copper ground wires together.
  • Attach the red traveler wire to the travel terminal.
  • Attach incoming black wire to the bottom switch terminal.
  • Attach outgoing black wire to the top switch terminal.
  • At the light fixture tie the copper wires together.
  • Attach the red traveler wires together.
  • Code outgoing white wire hot by painting it black.
  • Connect incoming black wire with outgoing white wire that’s coded hot.
  • Connect the white and black wires to the corresponding wires on the light.
  • Now on the last switch, connect the ground wire to the green ground screw on the switch.
  • Connect red traveler to traveler terminal.
  • Connect white wire coded hot to the switch’s top terminal.
  • Finally, connect black wire to bottom terminal screw.

Ok, did you get all that? 3-way switches are a little confusing at first, but once you do a couple of switches, you’ll get a feel for it. There are a few different ways to
wire 3-way switches,
but at first, just pick one method and use that to keep from getting overwhelmed. 4-way switches are a little more complicated, but as I say in other parts of this site, a 4-way switch always lies between 2 three-way switches.


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