A 3-way switch is a light switch, which is commonly used to control the light from two different locations in the room. For example, in the large room or a staircase, a 3-way light switch is installed at two ends that allow you to turn the light on/off from two different locations. 

The 3-way light switches are used in pairs and require special wiring connections.When they are used in combination with the 4-way switch, you can control the light fixtures from 3 or more locations.

In a 3 way switch, there are three different ways the switch toggles can be arranged:

  • When both toggle levers are up or down, the circuit is complete, and the light fixture is illuminated.
  • When both toggle levers are up, the circuit is complete, and the light fixture is illuminated.
  • When the toggle levers are in opposite positions, the circuit is interrupted, and the light fixture is turned off.

Tools required to Wire a 3-Way Light Switch

To get started on the DIY wiring a 3-way switch project, you need to have the necessary tools handy. Here’s the list:

  • 4-in-1 screwdriver
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Electrical tape
  • Utility knife
  • Non-contact voltage tester
  • Wire stripper/cutter

Steps to Wire a 3-Way Light Switch

  1. Power off the circuit at the breaker box.
  2. Power off the circuit at the breaker box.

    Confirm it with the help of a non-contact voltage tester, and then take off the wall plate.

  3. Unscrew the switch out of the wall box and gently pull it out.
  4. Unscrew the switch out of the wall box and gently pull it out.

    Examine the wiring. Check for a loose or a broken wire. Then, disconnect the wires. If you’re having problems disconnecting, just cut them off.

    However, mark the wires on the black or dark-coloured screw as ‘common’ and the wires on the light-coloured or brass screws as ‘travellers,’ before disconnecting them.

    Before removing the old switch, make sure to take notes or a picture to confirm the connections.

  5. Prep the wires to connect them to the new switch.
  6. Prep the wires to connect them to the new switch.

    Take off the insulation of the wire to show ¾-inch of copper conductor. With the help of long nose pliers, make a hook at the end of the wire by bending it. Ensure the hook is made to fit around the terminal screw tightly.

  7. Connect the wires to the new 3-way switch.
  8. Connect the wires to the new 3-way switch.

    First, screw the terminal screws of the new 3-way switch firmly. Using the loop in the wires, connect the ground wire to the green screw. Then, connect the wire marked as common to the black or dark-coloured screw. Next, connect the two traveller wires to the two brass or light-coloured screws.

    Make sure the end of the loop points clockwise. With the help of long-nosed pliers, squeeze the wire tight around the screw and then tighten the terminal screws.

  9. Use electrical tape to cover the open terminlas of wire
  10. Use electrical tape to cover the body of the switch

    Wrap all terminals and bare wires with the electrical tape.

  11. After wiring the new switch, insert it in the wall box.
  12. After wiring the new switch, insert it in the wall box.

    With the help of the screwdriver, tighten the wall plate screws firmly.

If you get stuck at any step of wiring the 3-way light switch, contact a professional for help.

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