Wiring a 4-way switch
The wiring diagram for a four-way switch is similar to that for a single-pole button, except it has two sets of three-way connections.
In this article, we'll show you how to wire switches using a diagram - follow it step by step.
Make sure you have a four-way switch and not a two-way switch. Consult an electrician for further help.
The first step is determining whether you need a two-way or four-way switch. A two-way switch has two switches, and each one operates one light.
On the other hand, a four-way switch has four switches—but it's not as complicated as it seems at first glance.
Four-way switches have additional wires because when all are connected in a series (like Christmas lights), they result in a circuit that needs protection from overloading, like any other appliance in your home needs protection from overloading (like heating systems).
Depending on where you live, that can be accomplished using circuit breakers or fuses. Consult an electrician for further help if needed.
Before beginning this project, ensure all your tools are handy and ready to use! You'll also want safety glasses and work gloves so that nothing gets damaged during this process—and we wouldn't want anyone getting hurt, either.
Make sure everyone knows how much power they're dealing with here; electricity can kill people. It's best if someone else helps out since this job usually requires two hands."
Identify the standard terminals.
The standard terminals are the ones all your wires will connect to. These terminals are usually at the switch's top or bottom, labeled C, COM (standard), or COM.
They should be opposite any operation levers on your 4-way switch. The common terminal is often marked with a copper strip or colored copper to help you identify it.
-If you’re having trouble identifying which wire goes where check out our easy step-by-step wiring 4 way switch guide.
Determine the operation
- Look at the switch itself. As you can see, it has two sets of wires, one set labeled "traveler," and the other labeled "common."
If you don't have any labels on your switch as this one does, then look carefully at how the wires are connected to it.
You may find that some are permanently connected to the screws or terminals inside the box, and others are loose.
If so, those two wires will be used for different locations in your circuit.
- Determine which switches operate together by testing them with a multimeter set to ohms (R x 1).
Use a diagram if necessary; remember that travelers are always hot, and every day is a load.
Connect the travelers
First, connect the traveler wires to the terminals in the box. You'll need a wire stripper/cutter and electrical tape to complete this step.
The traveler wires should be long enough to reach from one switch to another. If you're wiring a 4-way switch, ensure they are connected to the common terminal on each side of the controller (usually marked with a different color).
Connect the ground wires
You've installed the ground wire for each fixture at this point, and you're ready to connect them.
-This simply involves connecting the ground wires so that they're all sharing a common connection point.
Ground wires are typically connected using a wire nut or twist-on connector. If you have multiple cables to connect, follow these steps:
- Strip off about an inch of insulation from each end of your ground wires
- Twist together two ends of a wire nut or twist-on connector (if you're using one) so that they meet in the middle of your stripped ends
Connect the common wire
Connecting the standard wire is easy. Connect it to the neutral bar in the box, and you're done. There are two ways to do this, though:
If you're connecting an existing load, such as a light fixture or receptacle outlet, to your new switch location (which will be "hot" all of the time), then simply run a wire from that load's hot terminal on one side of the switch box back out through another hole in that same box labeled "load."
You'll also need to run another wire from one side of your new switch location through yet another hole in that box labeled "common" or "COM."
If your new way doesn't have either of these labels but does have plenty of room for additional wires without obstructing other components within its reach, then just use it.
If you're wiring something brand new like a ceiling fan with no previous wiring attached (i.e., accessible from an attic above), then simply run both ends directly into their respective sides within the said box--one end toward each head-
-label them accordingly with black tape or colored markers so they don't get mixed up later when making connections at either endpoint when connecting multiple switches side-by-side within one gang space (as opposed to connected vertically overhead).
Install a faceplate and test
- Now that you've wired your 4-way switch, it's time to install and test it. Ensure the power is turned off at the circuit breaker, and remove the existing faceplate.
If you have a dimmer switch, modify the box (if necessary) by drilling holes through which wires can pass and installing a blank plate on top of them with screws or nails.
Always ensure that all power sources are appropriately identified before turning any circuit back on.
- Turn the power back on in small increments and test each function of your new 4-way switch.
If you installed an additional light fixture when wiring your 4-way switch, make sure not only to test all functions but also ensure that nothing else has been accidentally activated during installation or testing.
You can wire switches using a diagram - follow it step by step.
There's a right way to do this and a wrong way. If you wire it incorrectly, you could damage the switch or even start a fire.
So let's look at how to wire switches from scratch using a diagram.
Wiring a 4-way switch is easy. Follow the diagram and connect the wires to the correct terminals on each side of the switch. Talk to an electrician on Video Chat a Pro for more help wiring your 4 way switch.
You can test your work by flipping the switch, but ensure you have everything connected properly first.
If you still need help you can contact a local electrical contractor here on Video Chat a Pro.