This story features diagrams that show how to wire three-way switches. The wiring is more complicated than a traditional single-pole switch, but we'll explain how to make the connections. Once you're done, you’ll be able to control a light from two switches.
By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine:March 2000
The wiring of three-way switches is certainly more complicated than that of the more common single-pole switch, but you can figure it out if you follow our diagrams. With a pair of three-way switches, either switch can make or break the connection that completes the circuit to the light. The whole project can be completed in a few hours if you don’t have to do any drywall removal and repair.
To add the switch, you’ll use one of two wiring diagrams, depending on whether the power comes to your light switch first (the most common situation) or to the light fixture first. Either way, complete these five steps:
Caution: If you have aluminum wiring, call in a licensed pro who’s certified to work with it. This wiring is dull gray, not the dull orange that’s characteristic of copper.
This diagram shows how to wire the switches and the light when the power is coming to the light fixture.
This diagram shows how to wire the switches and the light when the power is coming to the light switch.
Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.
Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.
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