Ask Electrical Question
E Books

3-Way Switch Wiring Diagram Variation #5

Power to Switch Box #1, Switch Box #1 to Light, Light to Switch Box #2

In the following diagram, we show power entering switch #1, from switch #1 to the light, and from the light to switch #2.

In this case, you will need a 3-wire from switch #1 to the light, and the light to switch #2.

NOTE:  This diagram is a thumbnail.  To view it in full size – click on the diagram.

Watch a Video Explaining 3-Way Switches

Confused by the 3-way switch?  Terry Peterman, the ‘Internet Electrician’ provides a visual explanation of 3-way switches in this short, informative video.  Click here to view.

This entry was posted in Indoor Wiring Diagrams and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
  • Steve

    I’m trying to continue a circuit past the three way light. It goes like this
    Power 3 way switch – 3 way switch – light – 2 wire circuit continues.
    Not sure how to do this.

  • J_n47

    can you please tell what software is used to draw the diagrams as shown

  • Dbthanner

    If a 3-way switch is in the down position in one box, the other box is a dimmer switch that will not work. Why? If a 3-way switch is in the up position, the dimmer switch will turn on and off.

    • Rob J Gould

      The dimmer switch will work if the 3 way is sending power to the common of the dimmer switch, (one traveller wire) however if power is on the other traveller (the down position on your switch) power is not travelling to the common point on your dimmer and the light will not work.  Hope that helps

    • Biff-n-Sully

       This happens if you have one of the traveler wires connected to the common screw instead of the common wire on one of the 3-way switches.

  • Al98899

    Diagram #5 is invalid.  It requires Switch #1 to be on in order for switch 2 to be operable.  A real 3-way switch does not matter which state either switch is in.

  • Gary M

    Is it okay to use the brass screws (travelers) interchangeably?
    Can the brass screw on the ground screw side go to the brass screw on the black screw side?
    What is the difference?

    • Biff-n-Sully

      The “travelers” are interchangeable on standard 3-way switches. The brass screw that the electricity is going out of is determined by whether the switch is up or down. Up = one brass screw, down = the other brass screw.

  • M_b_m08

    In your diagram, is the common screw on the top right of the switches?  By the way don’t forget to ‘recode’ the white wire (to black) running to the second switch.

    • Biff-N-Sully

      In the diagram, the common screw is the bottom right screw on both units.

  • Raymon Chacon

    Why is switch on left side hsa a black wire and switch on right side has a white wire why not use a black wire all the way accross

  • The diagram is not invalid. This will work perfectly, and is referred to in the trade as a “broken 3 way” (not because it doesn’t work, but because the travelers are “broken” at the light box). The white wire is used going to the switch on the right because you want a black wire returning to feed the light. And when you are wiring switches, you are not required to tape the white wire. It is to be understood that a white wire spliced to a black one is not being used as a neutral (canadian electrical code 4-034 (2)).


The Basics of Household Wiring DVD

"If you're looking for a good reference to help you understand simple home wiring, I personally recommend 'The Basics of Household Wiring' DVD".

Terry Peterman, the Internet Electrician
Electrical Wiring
Electrical Diagrams
How To
Electrical Tools
Electrical Videos