How to Wire a Three Way Switch

A lot of the problems when wiring a three way switch stems from lack of knowledge about wiring facts. Before installing the pieces, make sure you procure the appropriate utilities.

Required Tools and Materials

  • 3 way switches (2 pieces)
  • Wire stripper
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Screwdriver
  • Wire 14/3 with ground

Note: the wire size you use hinges on the load that will be put in the circuit.

Facts about Three Way Switches

There are fundamental differences between the three way and the regular switches. For one thing, three way switches have three terminals. These don’t have any on/off switch either. To avoid mistakes, ensure the circuit breakers are shut off prior to starting.

Setting up the Terminals

Look for the switch with the “common” sign. The other two are designated travelers. Start wiring a three way switch by hooking the hot wires (red or black). Connect the hot wire into the electrical source. Set the hooks from the wire to the fan or whatever appliance you want to link it to. Connect the travelers on one hook to the other. Link the white / neutral wire to the fixture from the electrical source. Don’t forget to ground the wires. The process may not be the same in different appliances. The key point is to connect the common switch to the hot wire. The travelers should be linked to the travelers and the circuit will work properly.

Benefits and Advantages

Wiring a three way switch has plenty of benefits. It allows you to manage a light switch using two switches. These can be in different locations. Simply put, you can turn off the bathroom light from the bedroom, or the living room lights from the dining room. It can thus be very convenient.


Be careful when dealing with electrical wirings. These can be very dangerous. Always follow the diagram when handling the wirings. Hire the services of a professional electrician if you aren’t comfortable with connecting the wires. It’s essential you get the right types of wires for the job. To recap, you need four wires: the neutral, the traveler, the cable and the 3 way switch. The three terminal screws are situated on the backside of the housing. If it’s not there, check the sides. When wiring a three way switch, remember that there are three terminals. These are the conductors of the traveler wirings. In other words this is where the electricity flows. They also act as receptacles for the switches.


For indoor wiring, #12 wires are recommended, but in other places #14 is suggested. Check the local electrical guidelines in your area to get the right information. Before you start making these switches, go over the layout of your house. Decide where you want the switches to be. Having a blueprint of the switches will be necessary. Of course you need to make sure that the existing wirings and sockets are all functioning. The process of wiring a three way switch is actually very straightforward. You just need to take your time. After making one switch, creating the other ones will be easy.

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