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.

3way switch diagram

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.



4-way switch



3-way diagram

The easiest way to wire a 3-way light is where the light is in the middle.

three way switch

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.


4-way switch

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.

three-way-switch-diagram