Adding a three-way switch to a room adds more functionality and flexibility for a room. A 3 way switch can control one light from two different locations. For example, the top of the stairwell or at the bottom of the stairs is more convenient to turn on/off lights. These instructions will help you wire up your three-way switch.
3 Way switches are polarized. All current must travel through one wire to reach the light fixtures. The other wire is hot only when the entirely “ON” switch is in use. If an “OFF” button is being used, power travels through neither set of wires until someone turns on that specific meter base circuit breaker to activate that again. This means each three-way switch is keyed with its orientation. The buttons need to be in a particular order for the circuit to complete itself in an intended manner.
How to wire a 3 way switch with multiple lights?
You will need the following tools and materials when wiring up your three-way switch circuit. Screwdriver Wire stripper, Voltage tester, Voltage detector Wire nuts, Utility knife Tape measure, Level Electrical tape, Hammer Drill bit set, Ruler/tape measure Screws, Wire connectors Masking tape.
Shut off the power supply to 3-way switch circuits at your home’s main service panel. You should see two wall switches controlling one light source, and both should be at the “OFF” position. Use the voltage detection tool to ensure no power is present in the circuit.
Determine if this question mark-looking black box is your existing switch or if it is another type of electrical box with an outlet, ceiling fan, recessed lighting, etc. This will help determine where you should place the new switch.
If there are multiple switches in line with your light source, in which case they would be in series, meaning all buttons must be in the “ON” position before any power reaches the final light fixture. The following steps will illustrate how to handle both parallel and series switching circuits. If this were a parallel circuit, draw an arrow pointing up representing hot wires coming into the switch box from the home’s main service panel.
Remove the two screws on the back of the old switch and carefully pull out the entire switch from the small electrical box. You should be able to see three colored wires (Black, white, and copper) connected to the bottom of your 2-wire cable coming from above this box. The black wire is called the “hot” wire because it carries voltage whenever a current flows in the circuit. The hot wire should be connected to one side of the screw terminal, where you will attach your new three-way switch (red wire for standard wiring).
The white wire is referred to as a “neutral” wire because it does not carry any electricity unless there is an intentional path for a return to complete a circuit. When both three-way switches are in the “ON” position, the current flows through both hot wires (black on the old button and red on the new one). When either one of these switches is OFF, power does not flow along either black wire. That means there will be no current traveling through this white neutral wire.
Notice how your circuit cable has a bare copper ground wire coming from the electrical panel (not attached to any screw terminal) that needs to be connected to the green grounding screw on the side of the new 3-way switch. Standard household circuits use white insulated wires, which carry voltage with them whenever voltage flows through this circuit source; however, if you look closely at the metal outlet box, you should see an exposed green screw (ground) located next to the hot, neutral wires.
Using the utility knife, tape measure, ruler, and level, you are using the utility knife, tape measure, and level mark out an area on the wall that will accommodate installing two new electrical boxes (one for the old switch and another for the unique three-way switch). You can use the old switch box as a template but make sure it is large enough to fit both buttons side by side with some room to spare.
Once you have marked out the proper dimensions of these electrical boxes, shut off the power and remove the outdated electrical box using your drill with a screw bit attachment. Be careful not to damage any part of this wooden surface with sharp edges on fresh-cut woodwork. This should be done in a clean working environment free from clutter so you can see clearly where your new switches will be installed.
Unwind the electrical wire from around screws on an existing switch, leaving enough to work with when connecting wires to new three-way switches. Use wire cutters to make quick work of excess wire and twist back each wire in separate sections (positive and negative), so they cannot reach out and touch each other, causing a short circuit.
Fasten the new 3-way switch into the wooden box (be careful not to cover any part of terminals where wires will be attached). Tighten down screws friendly and secure but do not over tighten these screws as this can cause damage to metal parts inside the switch once installed.
Attach one end of white neutral (wire capped off with a small fork connector or wire nut) to the “silver” screw terminal on the new three-way switch. Connect the other end of this wire to a copper ground wire from the switch box to the electrical panel (green screw).
Attach one end of black “hot” wire coming from the home’s main service panel (black-capped off with a small fork connector or wire nut) attached to a small pigtail clamp and route it out through electrical box, then connect it to a large “black” screw terminal on a new three-way switch. The pigtail is lengthy enough, so you have room for wiring between both buttons without any strain being placed on wires when connected.
Remove the red decorative plastic cover from the top of the old light fixture and set it aside.
Unscrew the metal wire mesh that surrounds the light bulb, then remove any excess wire mesh around the edges of the fixture. Note how this was attached, as you will need to reconnect it the same way after installing a new light fixture. Please dispose of all old parts as they are not required and can be taken to a local recycling center for safe disposal.
Attach black “hot” wire from the old light fixture onto a more extensive “black” screw terminal on the new 3-way switch. Cover with a small piece of electrical tape if any bare metal is exposed, so no accidental contact occurs between metal parts inside the box if the circuit becomes life again. Secure smaller pigtail clamp back into place connecting white neutral wire coming from main service panel to large “silver” screw on the new 3-way switch.
Attach grounding wire from the metal box into the electrical panel to the green ground screw next to the black “hot” wire previously attached to the new 3-way switch. If you are not sure whether your home’s main service panel is grounded, please consult an electrician for verification before continuing the installation of multiple light fixtures with remote control. Now you have installed a wireless remote-controlled three-way switching system with two switches controlling one light bulb, each with dimmable features allowing you to adjust lighting level inside a room at will without having to crawl behind furniture to change light levels.
How many lights does a 3-way switch control?
A 3-way switch is an electrical switch allowing you to control a single light or group of lights from two locations. Unlike a single-pole switch with only one on/off position, a 3-way switch has three positions: off, on, and a middle position that allows you to turn the light on or off from either switch. So, how many lights does a 3-way switch control? The answer is it depends on how the lights are wired. A 3-way switch can control a single light fixture or a group of wired lights.
If you have a single light fixture controlled by a 3-way switch, that switch will control only one light. However, if you have multiple light fixtures wired together and controlled by a 3-way switch, that switch can control all of the lights in the group. It’s important to note that the number of lights a 3-way switch can control is determined by the wiring of the light fixtures, not the switch itself.