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Video: Understanding Single-Pole and 3-Way Switches

This informative video will have you understanding single-pole and 3-way switches.  The basics of single pole switches and 3-way switches, including a visual of the flow of electricity through these switches are explained and demonstrated by Terry Peterman, the Internet Electrician.

To read the step-by-step article covering 3-way switch wiring, CLICK HERE.

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  • Raj

    3way(3diefrrent location) switch control, 3 0r 4 light point , my ? is , how u make earth boning as per BS standard(show me diagram from the Distribution board)

  • Frank

    Thank you for the very clear instructions.

    • The Internet Electrician

      Thanks for the comments!

    • Anonymous

      Thank-you Frank!

  • Rachel Dutton

    Thank you so much! This was extremely helpful.

  • Great video…but it didn’t help me! Here’s my situation:

    On my stairway there is a light with two switches on either end, one upstairs and one downstairs. The downstairs switch was not working well (you’d have to jiggle it to make a connection) so I decided to replace both switches.

    FYI – This is an old house with the old fabric-covered wires that have no color.

    Now, I am a computer technician and I am extremely careful about noting which wire goes where before I disassemble! In fact, I removed a wire at a time and attached it to the new switch before removing the next wire, so the wiring is the same as it was before.

    Both switches are the toggle type. Here’s the problem:

    With the upstairs switch in the UP position, the downstairs switch does nothing. If I put the upstairs switch in the DOWN position, the downstairs switch works fine. The downstairs switch turns the light in when it is in the DOWN position and off when it is in the UP position.

    It’s probably staring me in the face, but I can’t figure it out. Help!

  • If this makes more sense…if both toggles are down, the light is ON. flipping either toggle UP will turn off the light. But once either toggle is UP, the other toggle does not function.

  • Haha! Success! Whoever wired the old switches did it wrong.

    There are two cables coming into the box. One had two leads to the switch, and one had only one lead.

    The cable with the two wires was wired to both connectors on the right side of the switch. The cable with only one wire was wired to the connector on the left. When I visualized it, I realized that the cable with one wire should be connected to the common (the brass screw, bottom right).

    Your diagrams and video helped kick-start my brain on this one. Thank you!


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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