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 circuit 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.

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 overcome 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.

3-way switch install

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 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 itself will need that white wire (neutral) to power up. All grounds are tied together and connected to each switch in the box it is in.

Very simple, don’t you agree now.

3 way
3 way wire diagram
3 way switch wiring diagram
3wayswitch_wiring_diagram

This is very easy and common how to wire a 3-way switch

If you have Lutron dimmer you might want to read this PDF file.

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45 thoughts on “How to wire a 3-way switch with video”

  1. 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.

  2. 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?

  3. I need more detail on what you're asking. If you're only looking to add a additional light then you would just connect your wires from the existing light and not the switch. If I have you right here.

  4. Hello Dominick,
    I was wondering if you can display a 2 way switch but add an add'l light off the switch. I currently have a 2 way switch in my hall with one light now but want to add add'l light , getting power off the one of the light switch. Thanks

  5. hey thanks for ur demonstration really help me alote ! im in trade school here in hawaii learning wana become an electrician but sometimes i dont get these instructors , but ur website and ur demonstrantion really help me alote . hope i can get some help from u to apply it in this field thanks .

  6. Hi Ed. Thank you so much. It's always nice to hear.
    Yes all grounds get terminated together and then grounded to the ground screw of the switch and the outlet or light fixture.

  7. Hey Dominic! – Quick question about your 3way switch wiring – I don't understand where the grounds go? Do ya take both of them and screw both to the green grounding screw on the switch or do ya wire nut them together and put them somewhere else? Can you help me out? BTW, thanks for youtubing! I've done SOOOO much around my house because of what you taught me through your videos. Saved a TON of money. Thanks again boss! Ed

  8. That is a great idea for a video. As soon as I can I make one. Thank you for your input. The easiest way to do what you want would be to install a remote control in the light. Otherwise you'll have to run a new wire from the switch to the light with a extra hot, known as a /3 wire.

  9. Hello Dominick:

    I enjoy watching your videos and reading your installation instructions but wish you had a video on installing a lighted ceiling fan with a dimmer switch.

    I would like to replace my current light in the ceiling with a ceiling fan that has a light.
    I have 1 switch on the wall that control the currently installed light but I would like to replace that switch with one that would independently control the new fan with light. Further, I would like to install a dimmer switch for the light.

    What is the best way to go about this, please?

    Thank you!

    Jay

  10. thanks Dominick for all your videos once apon a time i did no ab electrical cud of do it on my own i study it gain my certificate with no job just home i forget about how much i did love electrical , i just want to learn it over but i don't want to learn from scratch and I'm glad i see your website now i no i could go on youtube and watch listen understand and remember

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