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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.

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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.

The traveler wires go from switch to switch connected to the traveler terminals, it doesn't matter which. As long as you keep this in mind, a 3-way circuit becomes really simplified.

Video on how to wire a three way switch

And of course the neutral will always go directly to the load. Wiring a 3-Way Switch How to wire a 3-Way switch.

Wiring a 3-way switch is a little more tricky than wiring a 2-way switch. First of all we need to go over a little basic terminology on switches. Go to my Switch Terminology Page where I discuss the terms used for the different types of home electrical switches.


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It should also help in understanding the functions of each type of switch. At each end of a hallway. Each 3-way switch in these examples are controlling the power source to the same load. When wiring a 3-way switch circuit, we will be using a 3-wire cable known as romex coming from the source such as the breaker box.

Help wiring a 3 way switch

Then a 4-wire cable going between the two 3-way switches and then a 3-wire cable going from the switches to the load. The 3-wire cable consist of a black wire, a white wire and a bare copper wire, while the 4-wire cable has an added red wire which is hot as well. A 3- wire NM connects the traveler terminals of the first and second 3- way switch together.

Traveler wires are interchangeable on each switch.

Wiring a 3 way 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. Electrical outlet boxes can have numerous NM cables going in and out.

3 Way Switch Wiring Diagram

See Actual Switch Box Wiring. Ground connection diagram is shown separately. With conventional wiring, line voltage enters the first 3- way switch box. Black common wire is usually wrapped around the two traveler wires on a 3- way switch. Multiple Switch Wiring 3- way and Single Pole.


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Alternate 3- Way Switch Wiring. Alternate 4- Way Switch Wiring.