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Wiring 4-Way and 3-Way Switches

Controlling light from two or more locations is certainly convenient and can be accomplished by wiring 4-way and 3-way switches.

For most homeowners, these two particular types of switches seem too complicated to wire, requiring a skilled electrician. But like any electrical concern, you can actually do it yourself. The trick is learning the principle behind it.

Special Switches

Compared to the standard single-pole switch, the 4–way and 3-way switches can be considered to be special. Instead of having just two screws (plus the ground screw – usually colored green), the 3-way switch has one extra switch while the 4-way switch has two additional switches.

In addition to this, you should also know that:

  • 4-way switches should always be placed between two (2) 3-way switches.
  • Placement of the 4-way switch is considered to be very important.

How to Wire Circuits

Basically, 3-way switches and 4-ways switches are wired by following these steps.

  • 1.Nail three (3) electrical boxes on your wall studs. Your circuit should have the required 4-way switch and two (2) 3-way switches.
  • 2.Number the three (3) electrical boxes accordingly (#1, #2 and #3); and assume that they will be in a single line like switches in a long hallway.
  • 3.Electric box #1 will be responsible for feeding power or electricity from a cable, which contains the bare ground wire, a neutral wire (white) and continuous –hot wire (black). The continuous hot wire will be controlled by the fuse or circuit breaker.
  • 4.Another cable will originate from electric box #1 and proceed to electric box #2. This particular cable will have four wires: red, black, white and the bare copper.
  • 5.A third cable will originate from electric box #2 going to electric box #3 containing the same set of wires.
  • 6.A fourth cable will leave electric box #3 to the target light fixture.
  • 7.All the white wires in the three electric boxes should be connected using wire nut. The bare copper wires should be connected as well, creating a tailpiece that is connected to each green ground screw.
  • 8.The remaining red and black wires should be connected to the switches’ terminal screws. Looking at your 4-way switch, you should connect the first pair of red and black wires to the two screws located at the bottom of the switch and the other pair of red and black wires to the screws located at the top.

By following these instructions, it will now be possible to have as many as 10 switches to control a single light fixture. Just make sure that each of the circuits is connected properly.

Happy wiring!

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