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3 Way Switch Circuits

WHILE EXTREME CARE HAS BEEN IMPLEMENTED IN THE PREPARATION OF THIS SELF-HELP DOCUMENT, THE AUTHOR AND/OR PROVIDERS OF THIS DOCUMENT ASSUMES NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR ERRORS OR OMISSIONS, NOR IS ANY LIABILITY ASSUMED FROM THE USE OF THE INFORMATION, CONTAINED IN THIS DOCUMENT, BY THE AUTHOR and / OR PROVIDER.

3 way switch circuits are use to control one or more lighting fixtures from 2 different locations. Common uses include switching a staircase light fixture from both the top and bottom of a staircase, really helpful when walking to a different floor at night. Another use could be on different ends or sides of a large room or a long hallway.

3 way switch animation There are a variety of different ways to wire a 3 way switch circuit, factors that can influence your selection can include...
* Personal preference

* Where the existing source of power is located

* Ease of routing new wire cables

* Number of wire cables required for a particular wiring selection which can also include box fill concerns

* Some wiring scenarios in instances where the new 2011 NEC 404.2(c) compliance is required could mean that at least in some parts of the switch wiring circuit, you will require a 4 wire (plus bare) cable. Although these types of cables are available they are not sold everywhere. If you have difficulty in obtaining a 4 wire (plus bare) cable or simply wish to avoid the need to get that, then choose a wiring selection that can comply with the new NEC rule (if compliance is required) and yet does does not require a 4 wire cable (plus bare), some wiring scenarios only require a 3 wire (plus bare) cable and will still comply with the new 2011 NEC 404.2(c) rule. 3 wire cables (which includes a bare wire) are sold in more places and therefore easier to get.

Please take advantage of our experts on our forums if additional help is required.

Select from the options bellow for a step by step instruction articles on how to wire these types of switch circuits.
For those that live where the new 2011 NEC code is in effect, please read '2011 NEC New Rule 'Switch Connections'

If this applies to you, the switch wiring options that is in compliance with this new rule will be indicated bellow as '2011 NEC compliant'

If 2011 NEC 404.2 (C) is not applicable to you or if you fall under an exception to this new rule 2011 NEC 404.2 (C) Compliant Switch Circuit Options
Power Source at Fixture
Power Source and Fixture Feed at Same Switch
Power Source and Fixture Feed at Different Switch
Power Source at Fixture
Power Source and Fixture Feed at Same Switch
Power Source and Fixture Feed at Different Switch

By: Donald Kerr
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