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By code, the number of conductors allowed in a box are limited depending on box size and wire gauge. Calculate total conductors allowed in a box before adding new wiring, etc. Check local regulations for restrictions and permit requirements before beginning electrical work. The user of this information is responsible for following all applicable regulations and best practices when performing electrical work. If the user is unable to perform electrical work themselves, a qualified electrician should be consulted. How to Read These Diagrams.

Check here for 4 way switch troubleshooting and help with 3 ways switches here. For circuits that control lights from two locations only, check the wiring diagrams at this link. In this basic 4 way light circuit, 3-wire cable runs between all the switches and 2-wire cable runs from the last switch to the light. The electrical source is at the first 3 way switch and the hot wire connects to the common there. The circuit neutral is spliced at each switch box through to the light fixture using the white wire.

The black and red wires running between the boxes are connected to the travelers on each switch. The common terminal on the 3 way switch at the end of the circuit connects to the black wire running to the hot terminal on the light.

4 Way Switch Wiring with Light First

Take note that the traveler wires from SW1 are connected to the T1 pair on the 4 way switch and the travelers going to SW2 are connected to the T2 pair. Each pair of traveler terminals on the 4 way must be connected to only one 3 way switch.

Don't mix up the pairs or the circuit will not work properly. This diagram illustrates wiring for a 4 way circuit with the electrical source at the light fixture and the switches coming after. Two-wire cable is run from the light to SW1 and 3-wire cable runs between the three switches. The source neutral wire is connected directly to the light fixture and the hot is spliced to the white cable wire running to SW1. At SW1 it's spliced to the white wire running to the 4 way switch box where it's spliced to the white wire running to common terminal on SW2.

The white wire is marked with black at each splice to identify it as hot. At SW1, the common terminal is connected to the black wire running to the light fixture hot terminal.

The black and red wires running between the switches are used to connect the travelers on each switch. Here the circuit source is at the first 3 way switch and the light fixture is between there and the other switches.

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Three-wire cable runs between the light and all the switches. The source hot wire is connected to the common on SW1 and the neutral wire is spliced through directly to the light fixture neutral terminal. The black and red wires from SW1 are used as travelers and at the light fixture they are spliced to the red and white wires running to the 4 way switch.

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The black wire running to the 4-way switch is connected to the hot terminal on the light and at the switch box it's spliced to the black wire from the common on SW2. The red and white are used as travelers between the 4 way and SW2.

The white wire is marked black at each end to mark it as hot. This wiring shows the light fixture and the electrical source together in the same box located between the switches. Three-wire cable runs throughout the circuit and the hot source is spliced to the black wire running to the common terminal on SW1.

The neutral is connected directly to the light fixture. The 4 way comes right after the light fixture, but before the second 3 way switch, making it fall between the two 3 ways as needed. It could also be installed on the other side of the light and the effect would be the same.

The red and white wires from SW1 are used as the travelers, at the light box they are spliced to the red and white running to the 4 way switch. The white wire is marked black on both ends to label it as hot. The black wire running to the 4 way is connected to the hot on the fixture and at the switch box it's spliced to the black wire running to the common on SW2.

The red and white wires running to SW2 are used as travelers and again, the white is marked black on the ends. Here two 4 way and two 3 way switches are used to control lights from four different locations.

The two 4-ways are located between the two 3-ways and the traveler wires run from SW1 to T1 on the first 4-way. T2 from that switch is wired to T1 on the second 4way and T2 connects to the travelers on SW2. The source is at SW1 and the hot wire is connected to the common terminal. Three-wire cable runs between all switches and 2-wire cable runs from the last switch to the light fixture.

The black and red wires running between the switches are all used as travelers in this arrangement.

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The white neutral wire from the source is spliced at each switch box to run it through to the neutral on the light fixture. The black wire from SW2 is used to connect the common terminal to the hot terminal on the light fixture. This is the wiring for a dimmer in a 4 way circuit. Three-wire cable runs between all the switches and 2-wire cable runs to the light. To make this circuit work, a 3 way dimmer can be used in place of one, or both of the standard 3 way switches.

In fact, a dimmer can be used this way in place of any of the 3 way switches on this page. A 3 way dimmer has 4 stranded wires: one common, two travelers, and a ground.

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These stranded wires are spliced to the cable wires from the house circuit. On a dimmer like this, the common wire is usually black and the travelers red. In any case, the traveler wires will be colored the same to distinguish them from the common. In this diagram the source is at SW1 and the hot is connected to the common terminal there. The source neutral is spliced at each switch box to run it directly through to the neutral on the light fixture.

The black and red wires running between switches are used as travelers in this circuit. The black wire running to the light is used to connect the common from the dimmer to the hot terminal on the light. The most likely cause of circuit failure is an error in the wiring arrangement. Verify the circuit is wired correctly using the following guidelines. A 4 way switch must be wired between two 3 way switches as shown in the diagrams on this page.

A 4 way switch has five terminals: one ground and 4 circuit terminals divided into two matching pairs called travelers. Each pair of traveler terminals should be wired to the traveler wires from one of the 3 way switches in the circuit.

It is called a "pigtail" in electrical parlance. After making all your connections, fold the wires neatly into the box. You want to zig-zag them, so they come about a bit like an accordion. You can tuck the wires in the light switch back too - though they didn't get any work done. Your two switch boxes should each be wired identically, like so: Two white, neutral wires tied off by a wire nut.

Start with a 3-way switch at the start and a 3-way switch at the end of the switch path. Connect the hot source to the common terminal on the first 3-way and the hot wire from the lights to the common terminal on the second 3-way. Place each 4-way switch, one after another, between the 3 . Take a closer look at a 3 way switch wiring diagram. Pick the diagram that is most like the scenario you are in and see if you can wire your switch! This might seem intimidating, but it does not have to be. With these diagrams below it will take the guess work out of wiring. Interested in a 4 Way Switch Wiring Diagram?

Two grounding wires, plus one pigtail, tied off by a wire nut. A red wire, with the end stripped and curled. A black wire, with the end stripped and curled. Replace the drywall, coverings, etc. By now, the wiring part is actually done. You'll just need to attach the cables appropriately to the switches and light now - but the fixtures will be uncovered by your wall anyway.

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Everything "behind the scenes" is mostly done. Part 2 of Attach the black power cable from the wall to the general screw black in the three-way light switch. Hook the curled end of the wire under the screw, then tighten down the screw to hold the wire firmly in place.

This screw is usually in the upper left side of the switch and is painted black, but check the guide that comes with your switch if you're unsure. Not all switches are made for three-way wiring. Make sure you purchase accordingly. There should be two black wires in your box - one from the power source, one leading to the other box. Make sure you use the power wire. Attach the remaining black and red cables from 3-wire NM to the traveler screws on the switch.

These screws, often gold, will be on opposite sides of the switch. Hook the red one up to the side with you black power wire, and the black on the identical screw on the other side of the switch. Attach the hanging ground wire the pigtail to the green grounding screw. There should only be one screw left, and it is for that small, 6" free cable attached to the grounding wires.

Loop it around the screw and fasten it down like any other cable. Attach the black wire leading to the light to your general screw black. The wiring on the second switch is nearly identical to the first, except for this key difference: the black wire goes to the light, not to the power source. Attach the appropriate wires to your light fixture. You should have a space for a neutral wire whitea grounding wire, orange or green and a power wire black. They will screw on easily, and your light is set.

Replace the covers for the switches, screw them into place, and turn the power back on to be in business. Part 3 of Select the proper wire size.

If originating from an electric panel or fuse box, 12 copper is the minimum size when connecting to a 20 amp circuit breaker or fuse; 14 copper is the minimum size when connecting to a 15 amp circuit breaker or fuse aluminum wire on circuits of these capacities has been prohibited for many years. The size of all the wires in any circuit must be the same size. When obtaining power from a nearby electrical outlet or another circuit device, the new wiring must be the same size as those that supply the outlet.

Select the proper cable type. The power supply or feed cable should be "2 wire" or conductor cable plus a ground wire. See below for descriptions and uses of common cable types.

3 Way Switch Wiring Diagram

Shut power off. This is a very important step. Please do not skip it. Install a 2 wire cable between the power source outlet box, electric panel, etc and the first switch box. Leave inches Connect the ground wire to the circuit ground wire s with a wire nut or other approved connection see How to Connect Electrical Wire. The ground wire should be connected to the neutral terminal bar. If equipped with a separate ground bar, rather than connecting to the neutral terminal bar, the ground wire can connect to the ground terminal bar.

However, if all the existing ground wires connect to one bar and all the existing white wires connect to a different bar, maintaining separate ground and neutral connections is required.

Never introduce ground wire s to a terminal bar with only white or gray insulated wires connected or vice versa. If the power source is an electrical panel or fuse box, the cable should be cut at least long enough to reach the furthest termination point breaker or fuse, ground and neutral bar without the need of splicing.

Install a 3 wire cable from the first switch box to the light fixture's box. A 3 wire cable has an "extra" wire when compared to 2 wire cables, and this wire is nearly always covered in red insulation. This third wire is necessary for 3-way switch installations. Install a 3 wire cable from the second switch box to the light fixture's box. Connect ground wires.

How to Wire and Install 3-way Switches

If the switch or junction box is metal, it too must be securely grounded with a green ground screw or approved grounding clip. This must be done at each and every box that a cable enters and at each device that provides a termination point for ground.

It is highly recommended that you complete these ground connections first, and then gently fold them into the rear of the box - out of the way - leaving only the shorter ground leads out for easy connection to devices. No ground connection is made to plastic, fiber or another non-conductive box.

Connect feed wires in the first switch box. First, connect all ground wires as previously described. The 2 wire cable feed from the power source enters the bottom of the switch box and the hot black wire connects to the common or shunt terminal on the 3-way switch. There is only one such terminal on a 3-way switch, and it is usually identified as the one having a different color terminal screw often significantly darker from the other two terminal screws not counting the green ground screw.

Connect the 3 wire cable's white insulated wire neutral directly to the 2 wire 'feed' white insulated neutral wire with wire nuts there is no connection of any white wires to this switch. Connect 3 wire cable in the first switch box.

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The 3 wire cable enters through the top of the first switch box. The red insulated wire connects to either one of the 2 unused terminal screws shown in the image above to be on the top left and right sides of both 3-way switches. It does not matter to which terminal screw this wire is connected.

Connect the black insulated wire to the remaining unused terminal screw on the switch. Connect wires in the light fixture's box. Again, connect all ground wires as previously described, if not already completed. In the light fixture's box, there will be two 3 wire cables.

One 3 wire cable originates at the first switch box and has its white insulated wire as a neutral. The other 3 wire cable originates at the second switch box and will become the "switch leg". Mark both ends of this wire by wrapping it with black electrical tape to alert others working on the circuit later that it is no longer neutral. Connect the two red insulated wires together with a wire nut.

Connect the black wire coming from the first 3-way switch and the white "switch leg" wire coming from the second 3-way switch has black tape wrapped around it together with a wire nut. Connect 3 wire cable in the second switch box to the switch.

Connect all ground wires as previously described, if not already completed. Connect the black insulated wire to the shunt or common terminal screw of the switch once again, the common screw terminal is the different colored screw from the rest of those on the switch.

Connect the red insulated wire to one of the two unused terminal screws it does not matter which. Connect the "switch leg" white wire with black tape to the remaining unused terminal screw on the switch. Connect the fixture. The light fixture's box should have only a black wire, a white wire and a ground wire to supply power to the fixture. Finish up. Check all wire nuts for tightness and exposed neutral and hot conductor surfaces. Fold all wires carefully into the boxes and secure devices and fixture with screws.

Install plates and covers. Restore power and test. Part 4 of Understand non-metallic cables. NM cable is easier to work than other cable types, requires no special tools or preparation, and costs less. For these reasons, it is widely used. It is not, however, authorized for use in all installations, such as being embedded in concrete or where exposed to the risk of physical damage. Armored cable types are very similar with only slight variations.

They consist of a metal jacket formed by an interlocking, helically wound band of steel or aluminum around two or more insulated wires - including one white, one black, and often one green. Cables lacking a green insulated wire use the outer metal jacket as the ground conductor. Type AC is fabricated with a continuous internal bonding conductor in contact with the metal sheath.

Of these armored cable types, only Type NM can be installed outside or for direct burial underground, and only if listed tested and labeled for that purpose.

How do you hook up a 3 way light switch

Know the restrictions of each cable type. There are unique precautions and instructions for each type and special connectors for armored cables. For example, do not use a Romex Type NM connector on an armored cable, even though many connectors appear similar.

If the power source is from an armored cable that lacks a full size 12 or 14 ground wire, use a metal box to extend the ground from the armored shell to the box and to the circuit's ground wire.

Do this by threading a special green, hex-headed grounding machine screw into a pre-tapped hole in the metal box, or use a special green ground clip. Become familiar with cable naming conventions.

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All of these cables have "trade names" which are basically derived from the number of insulated non-ground conductors, construction type and manufacturers' names. Some types of BX are also tested and approved for using the sheath as a grounding or bonding conductor. A basic two-way switch is pretty straight forward. You'll only have three screws.

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The green is for the ground wire and the other two on either side are for the black hot wire. The white neutral wire is not connected to it it is typically just wire-nutted in the box. The idea behind a switch is that it opens or closes the connection on the black wire when you flip it. Not Helpful 0 Helpful 1.

Yes, but it's probably better to replace it with a regular, single-pole switch. Then you'd connect the black power wire to one side of the switch and the black wire from the light to the other side of the switch and connect the white neutral wires together. Not Helpful 3 Helpful 2. Include your email address to get a message when this question is answered.

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Diagnose and treat problems with the switches differently depending on the relative placement of the switches and the power source.



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