A 3-way switch is ideal for turning anything on from one side and then switching it off from the other, whether in the hallway or on the stairs. Wiring a 3-way switch with a single light is simple, but most people become confused while trying to figure out how to wire a 3 way switch with multiple lights. We’ll walk you through the process step by step.
First and foremost, ensure that you have the genuine “three-way switch” in your hands! The reason for this is that if you don’t pay attention, you may accidentally switch to a 2-way switch. The primary distinction between 2-way and 3-way switches is that the three-way switch lacks “ON” and “OFF” marks.
Because it allows you to switch lights “ON” in one area and “OFF” in another, you don’t really know where will be “ON” and where will be “OFF.” If you have a large house, this is quite useful.
#1. Materials for wiring
Among the materials required to install 3-way switches are:
- Cables (14-3 or 14-2). If your circuit is 15 amps (as most houses are), you’ll need a 14-gauge wire (14-3).
- The real three-way switches (2pc)
- Wire nuts made of plastic
- Tape for electricity
#2. Tools for connecting wires
You will require the following tools:
- Voltage Tester Without Contact
- Pliers are a type of tool (needle nose)
- Stripper for wires
Do not do any work until you have determined that no electricity is flowing via the cables! Turn off the power by switching the relevant circuit breaker, then double-check the voltage using a non-contact voltage tester.
Working with electricity is hazardous and, if not done correctly, may be lethal. If you do not feel confident in your abilities, you should seek the advice of a professional.
How to Identify the Screws on a 3-Way Switch
Each switch has four terminals (screws), although some older models may be missing the ground terminal.
Ground terminal (green screw) (1 pc) – This section of the switch is not insulated and is linked to the metal structure directly. Green is the most common color. The ground wire, which is generally green or uninsulated plain copper, is connected to this terminal.
Common terminal (dark or black screw) (1 pc) – This terminal is used for attaching a hot (black) wire from your circuit breaker panel.
Traveler terminals (brass screws) (2pc) – These terminals are interchangeable and are intended for use with traveler wires which are red and black wires from a common cable connecting two switches.
Identifying a 3-way switch’s wires
Green wire, often known as bare copper wire, is a kind of wire (ground wire). This is usually a bare copper wire connected to the switch’s green screw (or terminal).
Wire in white (neutral or common wire). This wire’s purpose is to transmit power straight to the light bulb. The white wire from the switch cable must be linked directly to the common cable’s white wire (and then goes all the way to the appropriate terminal of the bulb).
Wire in black (hot wire). The black wires originating from the 3-way switches are divided into three sorts (when wiring multiple lights). The first wire is linked to the main power supply, and its final destination is the common terminal (or black screw) of one of the 3-way switches. The second wire is linked to the common terminal (or black screw) of the second 3-way switch, with its destination being the bulb’s matching connection (black). The third wire connects one of the two 3-way switches’ traveler terminals.
The red wire (Traveler or switch wire). This wire is linked to the main power supply, and its destination is the 3-way switch’s black terminal (or a screw).
***Refer to more: How to wire a light switch and outlet in the same box?
How to Wire a 3 Way Switch with Multiple Lights
We illustrated our circuit by using two lights. The techniques are simple enough, and after you’ve mastered connecting two lights, you can add more to the string by repeating the process. We utilized your mind as a canvas, and as we go, you’ll notice a diagram being painted. Wiring was done with 14/3 and 14/2 cables.
Step 1: Connect the Battery to the First Switch
Connect the black wire from the 14/2 power cord to the black screw of the first 3-way switch. If you leave the white wire alone, you should have bare copper wire for the ground. Connect the white wire from one end of a 14/3 cable to the preceding white wire from a 14/2 cable.
Twist-on wire connections can be used here. After that, connect the black and red wires from the 14/3 cable to the first switch’s two golden screws. Connect the bare copper wires from the 14/2 and 14/3 cables to the first switch box’s ground screw.
Step 2: Connect the Battery to the First Light
Keep the three wires at the opposite end of the recently used 14/3 cable where they are for the time being. Identify the white and black wires on a 14/2 cable. Connect the black wire from the 14/2 cable to the first light’s golden screw.
Join the two white wires from the 14/2 and 14/3 cables to form a junction. You may simply connect the connection to the first light’s white screw. Alternatively, you may use another white wire to link this wire junction to the light’s white screw. It is recommended that you use a twist-on connector here.
Step 3: Finish the First Light
You must still connect the red and black wires from the initial 14/3 cable. Take another 14/2 cable and connect its black wire to the 14/3’s black wire. Connect the white wire from the 14/2 to the red wire from the 14/3 using a black marker. It is preferable to utilize wire connections.
Step 4: Connect the 2nd Light
Proceed to the other end of the first 14/2 cable. Connect the black wire to the golden screw of the second light. The white wire is still in your possession. Take another 14/3 cable and construct another junction of white wires, then connect the junction to the light’s white screw. The alternate approach can also be utilized in this case.
Connect the black wire from the other 2nd 14/2 cable to the black wire from the 2nd 14/3 cable in the same manner as in the previous approach. Mark the white wire of the 14/2 with a black marker and connect it to the red wire of the 14/3.
Step 5: Connect the Circuit’s Second 3-Way Switch
Mark the white wire on the other end of the second 14/3 cable with a black marker and connect it to the golden screw of the second 3-way switch. Connect the red wire to the other golden screw as well. Finally, connect the black wire to the switch’s black screw.
***Refer to more: How to wire multiple lights together? [Expert’s guideline]
Connections to the Ground
The two 3-way switches we utilized lacked a ground screw. However, if yours does, connect the bare copper wires from the 14/3 cables to the ground screws. You can also use the ground screws to connect the bare copper wires at each light fixture.
If you are unfamiliar with electrical equipment or how everything works, you should hire a professional to assist you. They will have a greater grasp of the two-way, three-way, and four-way switching.
Make careful to turn off the electricity while you’re working. Before turning on the circuit, double-check all of the connections.
Hope our post has provided you with useful information about how to wire a 3 way switch with multiple lights. Once you’ve finished the circuit with two lights, you may extend it to three or four lights, or even to a USB wall outlet. Repeat the third procedure for your new lights and you’ll be ready to go. The ground connections on the screws are optional, so make your choice.
If you have any more queries, please share them with us in the comments section below. We will respond to your inquiries as soon as possible. Thank you for taking the time to read!