How do you hook up a double light switch

Remember: a 3-way switch has two switches, not the 2-way To connect the power from the light switch.
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Don't put up with old three-way light switches like this.

Step 1: Locate your switches

Swap them out for something new and improved. Archaic light switches might as well be from the stone age. All they do is turn a light on and off. They can't dim lighting gently or remember the brightness level you prefer. Outdated switches don't play nicely with LED bulbs either. Swap them for modern switches. This guide will take you through the steps of replacing those aging three-way light switches with updated wall controls. This process can be tricky, so read through the steps before you start your project. In some cases, it might be best -- and safest -- to contact an electrician.

The most basic three-way switch setup has two switches that connect and control one light fixture, like switches on either end of a hallway, staircase or large living area. In most cases the light or array of lights they operate sit on the ceiling above. Specifically these are hard wired lights, not merely lamps plugged into outlets. You won't need many tools for this job. The necessary supplies though are critical so make sure you have them on hand. Safety should be a priority with this project and that starts with killing power to your outlets. Before you do anything, switch off the breaker on your main electrical panel.

Now it's time to get at your wiring. There is often a pair of screws holding each faceplate in place, at the top and bottom. Unscrew these screws then remove the plates covering each switch. A common practice is to wrap switch terminals with electrical tape once their wires are connected. In my case, the old switches had exposed terminals so I made a mental note to tape them later.

Just to be safe, use a voltage pen to check for a live current. With your voltage pen turned on, tap the edges of the switch. If the pen starts to flash and sound its alarm then watch out! There's likely high voltage volts electricity running nearby. Of course if you need to measure the actual voltage of live wires, a multimeter is the way to go.

This gadget can sniff out voltage and amperage of electrical circuits, components and connections. Learning to use this tool is a valuable skill. Once your pen gives the all clear you can proceed. If not you'll have to switch more breakers off at the main panel until the warnings stop. Next, remove the screws that hold the old switches in place.

Pole Switches

They're in tabs on the top and bottom of each switch. The screws also bore into holes on the electrical box behind them. To access the wiring, gently pull the switches out of the electrical boxes. Be careful not to dislodge any wires from the switch terminals -- the wires should still be firmly attached to the screws on the switch holding them in place. Before you dive in, take a second to snap a picture of the switches and visible wiring. In fact, take photos before and after you tinker with anything.

This way, you'll have a record of how everything was connected and working properly initially. Think of it as extra insurance in case you run into trouble along the way. You should now have a good view inside each box. I must stress that there are many possible ways a set of three-way light switches can be connected. This step-by-step is reflective of a common wiring scenario and the one in my own home. Inside each of the two electrical boxes you should see two bundles of wires.

3 Types Of Light Switch Wiring | Guide For Beginners

Let's call each box "Box 1" and "Box 2. If so then the direction wires enter each box is important. It will help you deduce their origin and ultimately identify them. In box 1, one of the wire bundles enters the box from the bottom. This three-wire bundle should consist of two colored wires black, white plus one of bare copper.

How to Wire Two Separate Switches & Lights Using the Same Power Source

These wires come from your home's main electrical panel usually in the basement below and provide power to your lighting circuit. The other 4-wire bundle will enter the box from the top and have three colored wires black, white, red and a copper bare one. They connect the switch in this box to the other switch in box 2. Here, both wire bundles should enter the electrical box from its top side. Besides their direction of entry the wires are constructed the same way.

Step 2: Gather your tools

One three-wire bundle will have two colored wires black, white plus one of bare copper. These link the switch to your light fixture. A second bundle four-wire should contain three colored wires black, white, red and a copper bare. The wires here connect this local switch to the other in box 1 across the room.

The wiring you see may not match what I've described. Better safe than sorry! Moreover, we have two types of switches: There is only one simple difference: The simplest switch to wire is a one-way switch. One-way switches are commonly used for bathrooms, small rooms, and short hallways, wherein you only put one switch in the room.

A one-way switch can be attached to many lights, but can only be turned on and off with one switch. If you are a beginner, I suggest trying a basic one-way light switch at first. This article will teach you how to install a one-way light switch in detail. Before tinkering with your lights, or any other electrical appliance for that matter, disconnect it from power. Now, what you want to do is connecting all the pieces together and there are two cases for that: When you are connecting power to the switch from the source, you are going to connect the ground wires to the box.

Then, you will twist the white neutral wires together and put on a wire nut. The two black wires you have will go to the two terminals at the top and bottom of the box this will connect the light to the power source. Via Build My Own Cabin. On the other hand, an easier option is to connect a switch from another light. To do this, hook up the ground wire, put the black wire on the bottom terminal, and the white neutral wire to the top terminal. If you have lights in a large room or long hallway that you want to control with more than one switch, you may want to have a three-way switch. This is common for staircases and landings, medium-sized living rooms, bedrooms, and kitchens, and other types of rooms with multiple entrances.


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This type of switch allows you to turn your lights on and off from two points in the room. Say, if you have a light switch beside your bedroom door and another near your bed, life will be easier, right? The only difference is: Like the basic one-way switch, you can connect the power from the light fixture to the light switch or connect the power to the light fixture from the light switch. Via How to wire a switch. In summary, to connect the power from light fixture to the switch, connect the power source to the first switch by screwing in the hot wire into the black screw; tie the white and ground wires together, and then connect the remaining black and red wire to the traveler screws.

To connect the power from the light switch, connect the hot wire coming from the light fixture to the common screw of the 2nd switch. Tie the ground and white wires together. And again, connect the remaining black and red wires to the traveler screws. And this site to explore more methods for 3-way switching.


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Now we go to the 4-way switch. This method is employed for large rooms and long hallways; basically any room that is too large for just one or two switches.

Who wants to walk a long way just to turn off a light switch? So use 4-way switch wiring to have 3 switches for your lights. When installing a 4-way switch , you need to have an existing 3-way switch pair.