How to Wire a 3-Way Switch with Multiple Lights

How to Wire a 3-Way Switch with Multiple Lights


Wiring a 3-way switch allows you to control a light fixture from two separate locations, like at the top and bottom of a stairway. Things get a bit more complicated when you want to control multiple lights from multiple locations. In this guide, I will walk you through the entire process of wiring 3-way switches to control multiple lights.

What You'll Need

Before getting started, make sure you have the following materials:

Wiring Diagram

It's crucial to have a good wiring diagram to follow before wiring a 3-way switch circuit. Here is an example 3-way wiring diagram for multiple lights:

3-way switch wiring diagram

This shows power coming into light 1, then traveling to the 2 switches which control both light 1 and light 2.

Step-by-Step Installation

With the wiring diagram in hand, we can now walk through the full installation process step-by-step:

1. Turn Power Off

Before doing any electrical work, always turn off the power at the circuit breaker. Verify power is off at each light fixture before continuing.

2. Install the Switches

Install the 3-way switches at the control locations according to the wiring diagram. Pay attention to which terminations are common, travelers, and ground.

3. Run the Wires

Run 14/2 NM cables between the lights and switches. Leave plenty of extra wire at each box for connections.

4. Connect the Wires

Referring to the wiring diagram, connect the hot, neutral, travelers, and ground wires between the lights and switches using wire connectors.

5. Connect the Lights

Connect the black (hot) and white (neutral) wires to the light fixtures. Make sure to connect the ground wire as well.

6. Test the Circuit

With all wires secured, test the circuit by turning the power back on. Use a multimeter or circuit tester to confirm the lights turn on and off from each switch.

7. Finish the Installation

With the circuit fully tested and functional, tuck the wires neatly into the boxes, secure switches and fixtures, then replace the switch plates and light covers.

3-Way Switch Variations

The wiring diagram shown earlier illustrates one basic 3-way switch setup. However, there are many possible variations when adding multiple lights and control points. Common scenarios include:

The same basic principles apply regardless of the complexity. Just be sure to draw out the wiring diagram first so all connections are planned appropriately.


That covers the essential steps for wiring 3-way switches to control multiple lights. The most important thing is having a good wiring diagram to follow. This allows you to see how all the connections need to be made before touching any wires. If you plan out the circuit properly and connect everything according to the diagram, you should have no issues getting multiple lights to turn on and off from multiple locations. Just take it step-by-step and consult an electrician if you get stuck.