Three-way switches allow for controlling a light fixture from two separate locations, these are usually used at the top and bottom of a flight of stairs or at two different entrances to a room. On this page are several wiring diagrams that can be used to map 3 way lighting circuits depending on the location of the source with relation to the lights.
Here two 4 way and two 3 way switches are used to control lights from four different locations. The source is at SW1 and the hot wire is connected to the common terminal. Three-wire cable runs between all switches and 2-wire cable runs from the last switch to the light fixture. The light hot connects to the common terminal on SW2.
Here the source is at the receptacle and 2-conductor cable runs from there to SW1. The hot source is spliced to a pigtail that connect to the bottom, always-hot, half on the receptacle and to the white cable wire which continues on to the bottom terminal on SW1. The black cable wire is connected to the top terminal on the split receptacle and runs to the top terminal on SW1. The circuit neutral wire is connected to one of the neutral terminals on the receptacle, it doesn’t run to the switch.
Here the source is at SW1 and the light fixture comes immediately after. The source neutral is spliced through to the light fixture. At the light the travelers are splice together and run to the 4-way switch. At the 4-way, the hot wire from the common terminal on SW2 is splice through to the hot on the light fixture.
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