Replacing a 3-Way Switch in the Kitchen

A 3-way switch cannot be replaced by a standard single pole switch, as explained by Terry Peterman, the Internet Electrician.


Q: In the process of remodelling our kitchen, we have disconnected one of the switches from our 3-way switch to our ceiling lights!

We are now told by our “electrician ???” that we need to replace the old switch with a three way switch instead of a one way switch.

Duh! Even though I’m obviously ignorant of these matters, it seems to me that this is sheer nonsense!

Doesn’t a three way switch simply interrupt the “hot” wire? In that case, why do we need to replace the old 3 way switch with another one instead of simply replacing it with a single switch??

Please send info how to accomplish this! Your help would be greatly appreciated!

A: Your “electrician” is correct. You could use a single pole switch, but the circuit will not work as designed.

Here is a diagram of a simple 3-way switch network that should illustrate why. You must replace a 3-way with a 3-way, and pay attention as to which wire was connected to the identified ‘common’ terminal.

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