Three-Way Switch Wiring | How to Wire 3-Way Switches – HomeTips

This mail may contain affiliate links. For more data see our disclosures hera. A three-way switch is the type that turns on lights from both ends of a hallway. These diagrams clearly show how to wire a pair of three-way light switches in three different situations. Three-way light switches control a sparkle from two locations, such as from both ends of a stairway or hallway.

A tripartite switch is built and wired a little differently than a conventional single-pole unaccented switch. For starters, it doesn ’ t have “ OFF ” and “ ON ” printed on the toggle, and it doesn ’ t have a top and penetrate. It besides has one more terminal. Rather than having two terminal screws and a ground sleep together like a regular ( “ single-pole ” ) light switch, a tripartite switch has three concluding screws and a ground sleep together. note : many contemporary switches have holes for plugging-in the wires alternatively of screws that lock the wires in position. however, the rationale is the same.

On most 3-way switches, two of the terminals are the lapp color ( typically silver or brass section ), and the third terminal, called a “ common end, ” is a different, much dark, coloring material. not all tripartite switches have these terminals placed in the same configuration, so you have to pay attention to their colors ( and the instructions that come with the box ) when wiring them. The switch shown here has silver and gold screws diametric one another and a tan cheat in the third status. The green screw at one end is for the ground telegram. Bare 3-way light switch without faceplate over a white background.

When replacing an existing tripartite light switch, be sure to return the wires to the proper screw terminals. Put a piece of tape on the electrify that goes to the common terminal screw. The other two wires can attach to either of the identical terminals. refer to the illustrations below for doing the rough-in cable for each of these situations. note that these diagrams assume that you ’ re following all recommended practices for dependable facility of electrical circuits. Always turn off the power to the circuit before working with exposed wires. 

How a 3-Way Switch Works

It ’ south important to recognize that a light throw is designed to interrupt the “ hot ” wire when it ’ s turned off. With this in take care, the white wire from the world power source always goes continuous to the light repair and the bare grounding wires are constantly fastened to grounding screws. But the “ hot ” or “ charged ” wire coming from the world power source is routed through the switches.

With a tripartite switch, three wires connect the couple of switches—two blacken “ traveler ” wires and a third “ coarse ” wire. When the circuit ’ south power is turned on, any of these may be “ hot, ” depending upon how the switches are toggled.

Because “ 3-wire-with-ground ” nonmetallic electric cable television such as Romex is much used to wire switches, a flimsy change is often made during installation. This character of cable contains a white wire that needs to serve as a black electrify. For this reason, the white wire is painted or taped total darkness to identify it as a black ( hot ) wire when the cable is used to connect two tripartite switches and lights .

How to Wire 3-Way Switches

There are three basic ways tripartite switches may be set up to control one or more lights. The right one for you will depend upon where the office enters the racing circuit ( at one of the switches or at the light repair ), and the placement of the switches and lights. Please note: All switches that have a green grounding screw or wire must be grounded to the metal electrical box or to the circuit’s bare or green ground wire. A) The wires from the power source may enter one switch box first, then travel to the light, and then terminate at the other switch. notice in this illustration that the inbound white wire travels through the first switch box and terminates at the light regular.

B) The wires from the power source may enter the light fixture box first, travel from there to one interchange, and then connect that switch to the early switch. In this configuration, the inbound white wire connects directly to the light repair. The black cable connects to a taped white wire that passes through the first switch box and connects to the coarse terminal on the second base interchange. Red and black travelers then connect the paired traveler terminals on both switches.
C) The wires from the power source go from switch to switch,
and then go to the light. In this configuration, the ability enters the first switch, and the sparkle fastness is placed after the second switch. The white wire, connected by wire nuts in each switch box, is continuous from the generator to the ignite fastness. The charge black wire connects to the common terminal of the first switch and is then carried by pair travelers to the mated terminals of the moment switch. The common terminal of the moment switch sends the black wire to the light fixture.

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About Don Vandervort Don Vandervort has developed his expertness for more than 30 years, as Building Editor for Sunset Books, Senior Editor at Home Magazine, author of more than 30 home plate improvement books, and writer of countless magazine articles. He appeared for 3 seasons on HGTV ’ s “ The Fix, ” and served as MSN ’ s family adept for respective years. Don founded HomeTips in 1996. Read more about Don Vandervort

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