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Home 'Switch and Outlet Wiring Made Easy'

4 Way Switch Circuits

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4 way switch animation

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'

The most common use of 4 way switch circuits is to control one or more lighting fixtures from 3 or more locations. There really is no limit to how many switches that can be used, however on this site I have created wiring scenarios for 3 switches, if more is desired then read the article at the link bellow in regards to adding additional 4 way switches. Three way switches are also required at the beginning and end of the circuit, with 4 way switches between these.

 There are a variety of different ways to wire a 4 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.

Click on the desired selection bellow

Identifying the Correct Screw on 4-Way and 3-Way Switches
Adding Additional 4 way switches
If 2011 NEC 404.2 (C) is not applicable to you or if you fall under an exception to this new rule
Power Source at Fixture Feed to 1st Switch
Power Source at Fixture Feed to 2nd Switch
Power Source at Fixture Feed to 3rd Switch
Power Source 1st switch, Fixture Feed 1st switch
Power Source 1st switch, Fixture Feed 2nd switch
Power Source 1st switch, Fixture Feed 3rd switch
Power Source 2nd switch, Fixture Feed 1st switch
Power Source 2nd switch, Fixture Feed 2nd switch
Power Source 2nd switch, Fixture Feed 3rd switch
Power Source 3rd switch, Fixture Feed 1st switch
Power Source 3rd switch, Fixture Feed 2nd switch
Power Source 3rd switch, Fixture Feed 3rd switch

2011 NEC 404.2 (C) Compliant Switch Circuit Options
Power Source at Fixture Feed to 1st Switch
Power Source at Fixture Feed to 2nd Switch
Power Source at Fixture Feed to 3rd Switch
Power Source 1st switch, Fixture Feed 1st switch
Power Source 1st switch, Fixture Feed 2nd switch
Power Source 1st switch, Fixture Feed 3rd switch
Power Source 2nd switch, Fixture Feed 1st switch
Power Source 2nd switch, Fixture Feed 2nd switch
Power Source 2nd switch, Fixture Feed 3rd switch
Power Source 3rd switch, Fixture Feed 1st switch
Power Source 3rd switch, Fixture Feed 2nd switch
Power Source 3rd switch, Fixture Feed 3rd switch

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