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3 Way Switch Circuits

Power Source at Fixture [NEC 2011 compliant]

(2011 NEC new rule 404.2 (C) Compliant)
 For more information on this new rule read
 2011 NEC New Rule 'Switch Connections'

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Extensions to this Switch circuit...

Be Aware that there is a limit by code on how many wires can be in a given size electrical box, when adding more wires to the same box you may have to install a larger and / or deeper box to allow space for more wires coming and out of the box.

Here is an article / explanation in regards to box fill calculations (on our sister website 'Wiring Done Right') 'Box Fill Calculation'

The instructions here are based on the fact that the circuit has already been wired to the configuration shown in this article and we are now making the wiring changes for onward power.

From the switch locations....

Switch 1 Onward Options...

Option 1 - Onward 'Always On' Power

Onward Always On Power from Switch 1

Not shown in the diagram but the onward cable also has a bare wire (equipment grounding conductor) that also must be connected to all the other bare wires at the switch electrical box.

Connection Instructions for onward cable (always on state)

* a) Using an insulated wire nut, attach / join - the white wire of onward cable + the white wire coming from fixture + the white wire coming from switch 2.
* b) Using an insulated wire nut, attach / join - the black wire of onward cable + the red wire coming from fixture + black wire coming from switch 2.

Identification of wires in onward cable....

Black - Ungrounded conductor (hot)
White - Grounded conductor (neutral)

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Option 2 - Onward 'Switched' power

Onward Switched Power from Switch 1

Not shown in the diagram but the onward cable also has a bare wire (equipment grounding conductor) that also must be connected to all the other bare wires at the switch electrical box.

Connection Instructions for onward cable (switched)

* a) Using an insulated wire nut, attach / join - the white wire of onward cable + the white wire coming from fixture + the white wire coming from switch 2.
* b) Using an insulated wire nut, attach / join - the black wire of onward cable + the black wire connected to the common screw of switch 1 + the black wire coming from from fixture.

Identification of wires in onward cable....

Black - Switched ungrounded conductor (hot - switched)
White - Grounded conductor (neutral)

*******************************

Option 3 - Onward 'Always On' & 'Switched' power

Onward Always On and Switched Power from Switch 1

Not shown in the diagram but the onward cable also has a bare wire (equipment grounding conductor) that also must be connected to all the other bare wires at the switch electrical box.

Connection Instructions for onward cable (switched)

* a) Using an insulated wire nut, attach / join - the white wire of onward cable + the white wire coming from fixture + the white wire coming from switch 2.
* b) Using an insulated wire nut, attach / join - the black wire of onward cable + the red wire coming from fixture + the black wire coming from switch 2.
* c) Using an insulated wire nut, attach / join - the red wire of onward cable + the black wire connected to the common screw of switch 1 + the black wire coming from from fixture.

Identification of wires in onward cable....

Black - Ungrounded conductor (hot - always on)
Red - Switched ungrounded conductor (hot - switched)
White - Grounded conductor (neutral)

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Switch 2 Onward Options...
(only onward 'always on' power available)

Onward Always On Power from Switch 2

Not shown in the diagram but the onward cable also has a bare wire (equipment grounding conductor) that also must be connected to all the other bare wires at the switch electrical box.

Connection Instructions for onward cable (always on)

* a) Using an insulated wire nut, attach / join - the white wire of onward cable + the white wire coming from switch 1.
* b) Using an insulated wire nut, attach / join - the black wire of onward cable + the black wire coming from switch 1 + the black wire connected to the common screw of switch 2.

Identification of wires in onward cable....

Black - Ungrounded conductor (hot - always on)
White - Grounded conductor (neutral)

*******************************

From the fixture location...

Onward 'always on circuit power' and 'switched power' is possible from the fixture location.

Option 1: Onward Always On Circuit Power...
(showing bellow the fixture portion of the circuit)

Onward Always On Power from Fixture

Not shown in the diagram but the onward cable also has a bare wire (equipment grounding conductor) that also must be connected to all the other bare wires at the fixture electrical box.

Connection Instructions for onward cable (always on state)

* a) Using an insulated wire nut, attach / join - the white wire of onward cable + the white wire from the 'circuit power supply cable' + the white wire coming from switch 1 + the white wire going to the grounded conductor (neutral) connection at fixture - if screw connections then connect to silver color screw.
* b) Using an insulated wire nut, attach / join - the black wire of onward cable + the black wire of 'circuit power supply cable' + the red wire coming from switch 1.

Identification of wires in onward cable....

Black - Ungrounded conductor (hot)
White - Grounded conductor (neutral)

*******************************

Option 2: Onward switched power...
(example more than one light fixture controlled by the same 3 way switches)
(showing bellow the fixture portion of the circuit)

Onward Switched Power from Fixture

Not shown in the diagram but the onward cable also has a bare wire (equipment grounding conductor) that also must be connected to all the other bare wires at the fixture electrical box.

Connection Instructions for onward cable (switched)

* a) Using an insulated wire nut, attach / join the white wire of onward cable + the white wire coming from switch 1 + the white wire coming from 'circuit power supply cable' + the white wire connected to the grounded conductor (neutral) of fixture - if screw connections then connect to silver color screw.
* b) Using an insulated wire nut, attach / join the black wire of onward cable + the black wire coming from switch 1 + the black wire connected to the switched ungrounded conductor (hot) of fixture - if screw connections then connect to brass color screw.

Identification of wires in onward cable....

Black - Switched Ungrounded conductor (hot - switched)
White - Grounded conductor (neutral)

*******************************

Option 3: Onward 'Always On' & Switched Power...
(showing bellow the fixture portion of the circuit)

Onward Always On and Switched Power from Fixture

Not shown in the diagram but the onward cable also has a bare wire (equipment grounding conductor) that also must be connected to all the other bare wires at the fixture electrical box.

Connection Instructions for onward cable (always on & switched)

* a) Using an insulated wire nut, attach / join the white wire of onward cable + the white wire coming from 'circuit power supply cable' + the white wire coming from switch 1 + the white wire connected to the grounded conductor (neutral) of fixture - if screw connections then connect to silver color screw.
* b) Using an insulated wire nut, attach / join the red wire of onward cable + the red wire coming from switch 1 + the black wire from 'circuit power supply' cable
* c) Using an insulated wire nut, attach / join - the black wire of onward cable + the black wire coming from switch 1 + the black wire connected to the switched ungrounded conductor (hot) of fixture - if screw type connections then connect to brass color screw.

Identification of wires in onward cable....

Red - Ungrounded conductor (hot - always on)
Black - Switched ungrounded conductor (hot - switched)
White - Grounded conductor (neutral)

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