How to wire a 3 way switch with video

Before you begin anything with a three way, you must understand that in order for you to have a three way circute you must have three way switches. They are not the same as a regular switch at all. And a four way is very different again. But that’s on a different page.

How to wire a 3 way switch

When most Diyer’s think of installing a 3 way their brain starts to melt. The fact is it’s very easy. You just need to over come all those extra wires. Look at the diagram below. You’ll notice we now have travelers. These are the extra ones. But wait, your 3 way switch has two extra screws. So basically you just need to add those wires to those screws and both switches. Yea it’s that simple.




However on each 3 way switch you have a black screw, this is the special one. On the power coming in from the panel you would connect that black wire to the one black screw. And on the other switch you would connect the black wire coming from the light to that black screw. The the black and red wires in that 14/3 wire would connect to the other two screws.


You connect all white wires together in each box. But of course the light it self will need that white wire (neutral) to power up. All grounds are tide together and connected to each switch in the box it is in.


Very simple, don’t you agree now.



3 way wire diagram

3 way switch wiring diagram


This is veryeasy and common how to wire a 3 wayswitch




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25 Comments on "How to wire a 3 way switch with video"

September 28, 2015

Would using 2 different switches matter? One is a reg switch on off and the other is a toggle. Would this make it not work right?

May 23, 2015

Dominick, my son thought he would help out in replacing the old fashioned up-down toggle on-off wall switches to the new fancy large fascia switches. Here in lies the problem. He and his mom went and bought the wrong type switch. (was supposed to be a 3-way switch) This for two places where they control power to (1) a light in the middle of a long hallway and (2) a light controlled by switches at top and bottom of staircase. They made the change without me being present so I couldn’t figure out the original wiring connections. After burning up a few circuit breakers I put a stop to their effort as I was afraid they could have done worse. When I went back to try and re-install the original switches till I get the correct ones, I noticed the wiring to be different and am trying to figure out the proper way of re-connecting the wires to the on-off switches. The circuit to the hallway uses 2 red wires and 1 black wire. The circuit to the staircase uses two red and two black wires. In both circuits there are no white wires connected to any of the switches. Your help would be immensely appreciated.

Jim Robinson
May 18, 2015

Great video and diagrams! I’m retrofitting the wiring around my home and this was a life saver. Thanks man!

January 6, 2014

Enjoyed your video on the three way switch.
Where I am still confused is…..isnt the wiring done differently depending on where the light is in relation to the switches?
I mean, if there is the switch…then the light….then the switch….( light is between the two switches) isnt that wired differently than…..

if there is the switch…..then the next switch……then the light…(light is at the end of the line)

Hope that makes sense.

Joseph Carroll
December 8, 2013

I enjoy your movies, and the way you explain things. I have a 12/2 wire running to my out building and I want to hook up a three way switch to my light,could you tell me how to do this, thanks.

November 13, 2013

Wondering what the difference would be when power source enters the middle switch. I understand the source and three wires using travelers as detailed in your video. So, I have three cables, two 14/2 and one three wire. I’ve connected source to the black and travelers as instructed as well as connecting the two white wires to each other. Now I have the two remaining wires from the cable going to the light. Where do I connect those? Do I connect the white with the other whites? Where would black be connected? Thanks for taking the time to share your knowledge in an excellent video!

July 18, 2013

Good video.

Hot to black screw on switch is all you need to remember.

July 24, 2012

Hey Dominick,

Great videos, you give very good explanations in a simple manner easy to understand. I'm wondering if you could help me with something. In my bedroom, I have a light at the ceiling. Now, I have a first switch by the door that can turn the light on or off. I also have a second switch located by the bed that can also turn the light on or off, so that you could turn the light on as you walk in the room and turn it off once you're in bed. Only here's the weird part, when the switch by the bed is off, you can't turn the light on with the switch by the door. I wonder if it's a three way switch wired wrong or simple switches. I admit that I haven't opened the switches to see how it was wired. But in the case that those are normal switched, is it possible to replace them with 3 way switches with the existing wiring or do 3 way switches have to be thought of when the wiring to the light is done? Cause I really don't want to open my wall and do new electrical wiring.

Thanks and great job on the videos!

February 29, 2012

Hi I wouldn't think you'll find a junction box. I would start all over again and trace out each wire to see what they are and where they are coming from.

Rob Bruce
February 26, 2012

ok so im just changing switches with new ones. did it one wire at a time so i didnt get wires mixed up. didnt work. i found your video. big help. now i see what my problem is. i have a 2 wire and a 3 wire in the first box like you said. black and white coming in. black white and red going to the other box. but no other wires going to the light? in the first box they have the incoming white and outgoing red together? incoming black to black screw. outgoing black and white as jumpers? how does that work? only thing i can think of is they either have a junction box in the attic or it works off the light somehow. i just had surgery so i cant get my ladder out to look. any ideas?