How to Wire a Three Way Switch

We research in-depth and provide unbiased reviews and recommendations on the best products. We strive to give you the most accurate information. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

There are many different types of wiring methods for three way switches. This article will discuss common, traveler, and ground connections and how to wire a three way switch. To make wiring your switch easy, start with the proper grounding. After this, you will want to install the outlet and ground screws. These can be purchased at any home improvement center. Listed below are some of the most common wiring methods for three way switches.

Common terminal

When wiring a three way switch, you should be aware of the Common terminal. A common terminal is a wire that connects the power source and the load. It is typically a darker color than the travelers, usually copper, black, or brass. The common terminal serves one of two purposes, depending on its position. In some situations, a common terminal may be a lead to the light fixture or the hot wire from the main board.

The green ground wire goes to the ground terminal. Older switches did not have this terminal. However, all light switches have one. You should connect the 14/2 cable’s ground wire to the green screw terminal of the switch. In each switch box, you will find two ground wires. Connect the ground wire from the 14/2 cable to the green screw of the other switch. Then, connect the bare copper and white wires with a wire nut.

If you have multiple 3-way switches, you may want to add an extra electrical box to the circuit. A larger electrical box will accommodate the additional wires. Remember to turn off the power to the panel before wiring the second 3-way switch. When connecting the common terminal to the switch, you can attach the other travelers to them. You must also connect the bare ground wire to the ground lug of the switch. You can check this wire with a voltmeter to make sure the connection is correct.

When wiring a three way switch, it is best to use the common terminal on the first switch. The second switch is connected to the light fixture’s common terminal. The white neutral wire will go to each junction box. Make sure that you use a white neutral wire in each switch box to avoid confusion. The black common wire is also connected to the light fitting’s common terminal. It is also important to remember that the third switch will always be connected to the same common terminal.

The Common terminal is the third screw on the 3-way switch. It connects the power supply to the load. It also connects to the power wire on the mainboard. Identify the screw terminals of the three-way switch. The common screw is the darkest, while the ground screw is usually green. Before disconnecting the wires, label the common screw terminal correctly. You must also identify which terminal is the common and which is the traveler.

Traveler terminal

In a three way switch, the neutral or black wire must be connected to the traveler terminal. The traveler terminal is the part of the switch that connects the incoming black wire to the light. When a switch is 4 way, the traveler wires are interrupted. The wires must be in the proper makeup and in the right order. To troubleshoot a broken switch, try checking the neutral on both sides of the switch.

Read More:   Types of hinges for boxes: How to Choose the Right Hinge for Your Box

The common terminal is darker than the travelers. It is usually black, copper, or brass in color. It serves one of two purposes depending on the position. It accepts the black wire from the power source and connects to the black wire leading to the light fixture. The common terminal is not always connected. Therefore, it is important to check both the common and traveler terminals to ensure that the switch works properly.

If there is a broken circuit, the light bulb and the electrical current cannot flow. The electrical current will flow when the circuit is intact. It will continue to flow if the switch is in the “up” position. The switch will be considered as having a common terminal if it is connected to the traveler terminal on the right side. But, if the switch is in the “down” position, the common terminal will be connected to the left side.

Wires connected to the traveler terminal on a three way switch should be labeled to prevent confusion. If you have a hot and a neutral wire, you should label them. You may be able to make a mistake when labeling the wires. A good rule of thumb is to label the traveler terminal with a marker. Then label the wires accordingly. Also, be sure to label them with the wire color they come from.

When replacing a three way switch, you should first check that the travelers are properly attached to the correct screws. The common terminal on a three way switch is the one that connects the incoming hot wire. If there are two travelers on the same switch, use the common terminal to connect the other wire. Ensure that the travelers have the proper color, otherwise, you may be installing the wrong switch. In case of confusion, you may have to change the switch.


A three-way switch is a handy way to control lighting from two different locations. Wiring one of these switches is simple, but if you don’t know how to wire a switch, you may want to hire an electrician. Before starting any electrical work, check your local building code for any electrical safety requirements. Here are a few tips to follow:

Before starting, make sure you unplug all wires and use a multimeter to check for voltage. If you see any voltage, your switch is intended to control another outlet, light, or appliance. If you notice no voltage at all, the switch is probably not meant to control this particular appliance or light. The three colored wires that are connected to the switch are likely connected to a ground that you can identify.

If you want to change the wires on a switch, first make sure that the breaker box is turned off. Then, strip the wires of insulation and straighten the connections. Connect the common lug to the traveler wire using a lineman’s pliers. Twist them together to make a mechanical connection. You may also want to leave some wire for a nut.

In addition to the hot and neutral wires, you should also make sure that the switch you are wiring has a neutral and “always-on” wires. If they aren’t marked correctly, the outlet will not work. If you are unsure, follow these instructions to wire a 3-way switch. It’s simple and easy! You can install a switch like this in a few hours.

To check if your wiring is correct, you should use a voltmeter or non-contact tester. Normally, the white wire is hot all the time and the other traveler is always cold. If you see a single wire in the middle, you should connect the other traveler to the same wire. Make sure to remove the fuses in the switch box. If you don’t have an electrician’s license, you should contact the local electrical authority and ask for help.

Read More:   How to Build Cabinet Doors With a CNC Router and Side Drilling Machine


When wiring a 3-way switch, you must ensure that all wires are grounded. To do this, you need to connect the hot wire to the common terminal on the switch, then use the travelers to attach each of the other terminals. To ensure that you’ve attached the wire correctly, you should strip it about half an inch. Place the wire into the pressure type connection slot, making sure to insert it with the insulation over the bare copper. Then, use long nose pliers to tighten the wire end around the screw.

If you are unsure if a switch has a ground, you can check the terminal screws. Typically, the three terminals are the same color, but there’s a third, darker wire that acts as the common ground. However, not all three-way switches have the same screw colors. While there are standardized colors, you may have an older switch without a fourth ground terminal. To check the ground of the switch, touch the probes to the known ground and then to each of the three colored wires. If the voltage levels are the same, the switch is meant to control another appliance, light, or outlet.

A three-way switch should have a grounding screw, which connects to a metal strap in the switch. This screw may be located on the bottom of the switch or on the side of it. If the switch is not grounded, replace it with a grounded one. The ground screw is also vital for electrical outlets. Grounding can reduce the risk of shock, which is why many states have laws requiring sellers to disclose any electrical deficiencies before selling the switch.

In addition to the LINE, LOAD, and Ground wire, there are also two travelers that run from the switch box to the first switch box. Each of these wires carries electricity, but it also carries excess electricity back to the power source. The other wire is the ground. When a switch is wired properly, the LINE and the LOAD wires will be brought together into one electrical box.

Why trust Handyman.Guide?

s written by Itamar Ben-Dor, who has 25 years of experience in renovations, carpentry, locks, creation, landscaping, painting, furniture construction, and furniture renovation, works with concrete, plumbing, door repair, and more.

Itamar Ben-Dor has been in the home improvement business for over 25 years. Itamar Ben-Dor is a jack of all trades. He's worked in the renovation field for years, doing everything from locksmithing to carpentry. He's a small repairs specialist. But his true passion lies in furniture construction and renovation - he loves seeing old pieces come back to life with some new woodwork or a fresh coat of paint.

He has taken courses on many topics in these fields at professional colleges in Israel. Over the years, Itamar has also become quite skilled in gardening, carpentry, and renovations. He's worked on projects of all sizes, from massive renovations to small repairs. No job is too big or too small for him!

Disclosure: participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for publishers to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.