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The Basic 3-Way Switch Wiring Diagram

This is the most common, and the easiest wiring diagram to follow of any of the wiring diagrams for a 3-way switch circuit.  This wire diagram shows the wiring for source power into the first three way switch, then 3-wire cable to the next 3 way light switch, and then on to the light or light fixtures.

The 3-way circuit is a very common system found within most residential installations.

3-ways are used any time that you want two switches to operate one light (or lights).

The best example of this would be at either end of a long hallway, or at the top and bottom of a stairwell.

(For complete instructions on wiring a basic 3-way switch, see our ‘Wiring a 3-Way Switch’ article. Click here to access …

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.

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  • Olusegun Osoja

    Please i want to know how to connect two switch with one lighting point and to be control at two different way.

    My Regards
    Olusegun Osoja Mr.

  • Mark Ashley

    I’m trying to rewire my bathroom to separate the single switch installed that controls both the light fixture and a separate exhaust fan. I do not have access to the wiring at the fan other than knowing there is a feed coming from the fan to the light fixture. At the light, there are 3 sets of 14/2 wires. 1 coming from the light switch, 1 coming from the exhaust fan, and 1 coming from the breaker. In its original configuration, the housing at the light fixture had 3 white wires connected together & 3 black wires connected together. There was a 4th pairing of a single white wire and a single black wire coming from 2 different feeds that were also connected. The 4th pair of wires in the box are from the fixture obviously. I purchased a 3 way switch to add to the switch box as I was told I could “piggy back” off of the 3 way switch onto a single pole switch and separate the two items that way. I am in no way an electrician. But, how do I make this work? Do I need a 14/3 in the switch box to go from the 3 way to the single pole? And how do I reconfigure the wiring at the light fixture? Why is there a white and black paired together there? Thanks for your help.

  • james

    how to instol that three way

  • Joe Redd

    I have a 200 W overhead lamp. It is controlled by two switches on each end of the room. I want to use and have two light dimmers that can be used for three way wiring. How would this differ from the diagram above? I live in a ~1945 year old house. Can you shed some light on my situation? Thanks. //… Joe

  • Cunanan_arlieloyd

    can you give me a favor about the control diagram of triplex water pump

  • Joe

    I was trying to repair scrambled eggs untill I came across the wiring diagram
    It gets 5 stars. It was piece of cake… thanks.

  • Liezelcarnevali

    elow ples help me i want make thee way switch

  • Jeff

    I put a switch at the bottom of my garage stairs years ago thinking it would be on when I’m up there and off when not.  Now we’re putting a work office up there and would like to switch it at the top of the stairs as well.  Can I create a 3 way switch circuit if I have 12/2 w/gorund in the wall now. 

    • yuuuppp

      both switches need to be 3 way switches and you need a 14/3 with ground between them

  • Traceythomas339

    my switch has live 1 live 2 and common what is common

    • yuuuppp

      draw a triangle and label the tips 1 2 and 3 , now remove the line between 1 and 2  , 3 is the common point , power supply connect to the or connects to the light  (switch leg)

  • Raf 123

    How do I control my water pump (on/off) from three different location in my house? A wiring diagram will be helpful.

  • Eric

    Really like the diagram – it’s simple and easy to follow.  One thing I noticed in the pic is the switches have the correct terminals for a 3-way switch, but the toggle switch itself are NEVER labled “On” as these switches are.  Click on the pic to enlarge and you’ll see what I mean.  Because they are 3-way switches, on could be in the up or down position.

  • Gary

    I am trying to wire a generator that I can start from two switches.
    It currently has one onboard switch. It has a 12 volt battery and a electric starter similar to a car.
    How can I do this

  • Pat

    I have multiple lighting in pole barn ceiling I would like to run 3 way switch’s
    off 14 2 wire ? do I just run jumper from switch to switch?


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
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