In this diagram the electrical source is at the first switch and the light is located at the end of the circuit. Three-wire cable runs between the switches and 2-wire cable runs to the light. The black and red wires between SW1 and SW2 are connected to the traveler terminals. The hot source is connected to the common terminal on SW1, and the common terminal on SW2 connects to the hot terminal on the light.
Three-way switches have 3 terminals to carry circuit electricity and one terminal for a ground wire. Of the three circuit terminals, one is called the common and the other two are known as travelers. The common terminal may be labeled and is usually a different color than the traveler terminals. Depending on the manufacturer, the travelers may be on opposite sides of the device or the two terminals may be on the same side. In any case, the common terminal will be distinguished from the travelers in some way.
With this configuration any wire in the circuit may be hot at all times and there’s no protection against electrocution. When replacing an ungrounded device in an older circuit like this, use the polarized one above and not the grounded receptacle at the top unless it is grounded to a metal outlet box that is itself grounded to the house electrical system through a continuos metal conduit.
This diagram is the same as the one above but the dimmer comes first in the circuit. This arrangement is provided for easy reference when dealing with a circuit wired like this.
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