How To Wire 3 Way Switch What Is The Best Way To Do It?

Three-way switches are used to control lights with two switches. Installing these switches is certainly more complicated compared to the frequently used single-pole switch making many people speculate on how to wire 3 way switch. The switch must create a complete circuit so that current would flow to light up the bulb. When both the switches are up or down, the circuit is complete; but if one is up and the other down, no current flows and no bulb will light because the current reaches a dead end.

A more notable difference compared to single pole switches is the fact that three-way switches do not have the on/off position. It is for this reason that every person who intends to install three-ways be well conversant to how they are wired before taking the risk of troubleshooting or replacement.Once you follow the accurate steps on how to wire 3 way switch, the whole installment can be completed within a few hours.

how to wire 3 way switch

How To Wire 3 Way Switch What Materials Will You Need

how to wire 3 way switch

Materials required

It is essential that all the materials required for the three-way switch wiring project are bought ahead of time so that you avoid the last-minute rush which can be costly at times. Thematerials include:

· Two three-way switches

· 12-3 or 14-3 cable

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Tools required

Before you start, it is important that you possess all the necessary tools so as to save the time and frustration on this DIY project:

• Utility knife 

• Electrical tape 

• Wire stripper/cutter 

• 4-in-1 screwdriver 

• Non-contact voltage tester 

• Needle-nose pliers 

What Are The Steps Involved ?

Whether you plan to have the power come to the light switch first or have the light fixture first, you need complete the following five steps on how to wire 3 way switch to have a successful installation:

Step 1:

Make sure that the correct circuit at the electrical panel if switched off.

Step 2:

An electrical box is added at the basement for the 2nd three-way switch. It is more likely that you will need a replacement for the existing switch box since you will need a larger space to house the extra wires used in the assembly of the three-ways.

What Are The Color Codes ? 

Step 3:

A 12-3 for 12-gauge wire connection or 14-3 type NM cable is fed between the switch boxes. Note that the 14-3 has three insulated conductors with color codes of red, black and white as well as a bare ground wire.

Step 4:

Use ground screws to connect the wires to the pair of new 3-way switches. The common terminal on the switches is identified by a label and/or there will be a different color for the terminal screw.

how to wire 3 way switch

Step 5:

It is imperative that all the ends of white wires used as travelers between the switches are sealed using black electrical tape. This will help you and your colleagues know that the wires are not neutral but “hot”.


In case you have aluminum wiring, or maybe you have difficulties working with these switches, make sure you have a licensed professional with the much needed certification do the work. 

Once you complete the above steps on how to wire a way switch, it is now possible to have your lights controlled by more than single switch which is a usual practice in home construction. Instead of using a single double throw switch, three-way switch is today an expert electrician’s choice of wiring. 

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how to wire 3 way switch

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