three way switch diagram
Seeing a three way switch diagram is the only way for most people to figure out the complex wiring procedure for controlling a light from multiple locations. Don't get discouraged, it's really quite easy.
It takes a little concentration at first to see how it all works. Here is a rundown on how to connect a 3-way switch.
- Here at the first switch, join the white wires together with a wire nut.
- Twist the ground wires (copper) together.
- Connect the red wire to the traveler terminal on the light switch.
- Connect the incoming hot wire (black) to the bottom terminal on the light switch.
- Connect the outgoing hot wire (black) to the top terminal on the light switch.
- Now, at the middle in the light box fixture, attach the ground (copper) wires.
- Join the traveler wires (red) together with a wire nut.
- Mark the outgoing white neutral wire as hot by wrapping both ends with black tape.
- Twist together incoming hot (black) wire with outgoing neutral (white) wire that's coded as hot with black tape.
- This will leave a black wire and a white wire to connect with the wires from the light fixture.
- At the last switch, attach the ground (copper) wire to the green grounding screw on the light switch.
- Attach the traveler (red)wire to the traveler terminal on the switch.
- Attach the white wire that is coded as hot with black tape to the top terminal on the switch.
- And last, attach the black wire to the bottom terminal screw on the switch.
A 3-way switch is different than a single pole switch. A single pole switch controls a light from only one location. A 3-way controls a light from two locations.
The easiest way to wire a 3-way light is where the light is in the middle.
You can also wire a 3 way light where the light is at the end of the switches. It's a little more confusing though.
You will need to use 4-way switches if you want to control a light from more than two locations. A 4-way switch always goes between two 3-way switches.
For example, if you wanted to control a light from five locations like in a garage, then you would need to use 3 four-way switches in between two 2 three-way switches.