How to Wire a 3-Wire Switch

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Three-wire electrical switches are very useful in a home, as they allow a light or outlet to be controlled by two different light switches instead of just one. Either switch can turn a light on or off independently of the other. This is ideal for stairways and large rooms, where you may wish to turn a light on from one location and off from another. Wiring a 3-wire switch requires some experience working with electrical components and it is important to follow safety precautions to keep yourself safe.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • 14-gauge wires, red and black in color
  • 2 3-wire light switches
  • Turn off the main breaker in the breaker box before beginning any electrical wiring project. This ensures no electricity is running through the system and keeps you safe from electrocution.

  • Wrap the black wire coming from the main electrical box around the bottom-right screw of the first 3-wire switch and use the screwdriver to tighten the screw and secure the wire.

  • Wrap the white wire coming from the main electrical box around the positive terminal of the light fixture or outlet and use the screwdriver to tighten the screw.

  • Wrap a black wire around the negative terminal of the light fixture or outlet and the other end around the lower-right screw of the second 3-wire switch. Use a screwdriver to tighten each screw.

  • Wrap a black wire around the upper-right screw of the first switch and the other end around the upper-left screw of the second switch. Use a screwdriver to tighten both screws.

  • Wrap a red wire around the top-left screw of the first switch and the other end around the upper-right screw of the second switch. Use a screwdriver to tighten both screws.

  • Inspect all connections to ensure wires are tight and secure, then turn on the main breaker. Your 3-way switches will now independently control the light or outlet.

Tips & Warnings

  • Be careful to never touch exposed wires or the screw terminals of a switch or outlet while the power is turned on.

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References

  • Photo Credit Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images
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