The Best 3 Way Switch Explanation Ever!

hello again I'm Terry Peterman the

internet electrician and welcome to

another one of my video shorts on

current topics at electrical -

online.com and of course right here on

youtube today i am going to finally

solve the 3-way switch for you now I did

a video a while back using rope lighting

to demonstrate the use of 3-way switches

and how they work and that video is

actually quite popular but it's not very

good quality it's shot and standard def

but it's a link is available here in the

description to that because it's

actually quite good and helping you

visualize how a 3-way works however what

I'm gonna do in this video is I'm going

to show you a practical situation of a

3-way switch on my demonstration wall

back here so we'll open up those switch

boxes and show you how those connections

are made in both the first switch the

second switch and then at the light

fixture I'm gonna draw it on a white

board a grease board for you but best of

all I'm gonna give you the animations

that are right out of my basics of

household wiring electrical program and

that's the best possible way to

understand finally solve and demystify

the three-way switch it'll show you it

animated version of how the current

flows through that circuit Hey and as an

added bonus we'll even show you the

four-way switch so again a practical use

I'm gonna tell you about it I'm gonna

draw it on a little grease board and I'm

gonna provide you the animations from

the basics of household wiring so if you

haven't bought that program yet you can

get it just a glimpse of how that works

and how the animations work in that

program coming right up so here it is in

a practical situation all right we have

our Neutral supply so that's our Neutral

it's coming into this circuit going out

to another part of the circuit

nonetheless there's a marette there's a

pigtail on this one that's our supply

neutral this is our supply hot ok

pulling out this 3-way switch we're even

going to show you two different types of

3-way switch a decorator style Decorah

and the standard style or tog

style so what's important here though is

that this hot splice that is going to

provide the common for our three-way

switch Network and this switch so if you

can see here black identified screw is

the common one of the travelers is on

top here in this case it's red the other

traveler is black on this side and you

can just double check to make sure that

common is tied in to the hot splice here

okay our grounds are tied off as normal

they are connected to the straps bonding

Grunk grounding straps in the in the

outlet box

there's tails provided for switches if

the switch has a termination connection

for it but like I say the important

thing to remember the common screw the

power in going to the black common on

this 3-way switch red and black are the

travelers neutrals spliced together

now there's a three wire cable leaving

this box that three wire is gonna show

up in the other switch box let me show

you here's the other end of that three

wire cable three wire plus ground

another three-way switch same principle

different style this is a toggle switch

looking on this side you see we've got

the black common we've got a black

traveler on this side flipping it over

we have a lonely traveler the red wire

on the other side checking to make sure

the black common is connected to this

two wire cable which goes up to the

light the travelers came in on the three

wire from the other switch location the

red and the black from the three wire

table or are the travelers the neutrals

are spliced through to the light let's

go to the light here's the light outlet

box neutral that's been spliced all the

way through the first box through the

first box where the first 3-way is

spliced through the second bar

for the second three-way is and it

arrives here at the light to provide you

a neutral for your light fixture here's

the black wire that's come through the

whole three-way network and it's ready

to tie on to the light fixture and a

ground for the light fixture if one is

required now again I'm gonna draw this

out on a board for you so you can

understand it and we're gonna add in all

our animations from the basics of

household wiring then you can actually

see an animated look at how the current

flows through this circuit now let's see

how a three-way switch works when in

action electrical current travels from

the power source and arrives at the

common screw on the first terminal the

current will either try to pass to the

traveler screw on the left or the

traveler screw on the right in our

example since the switch is in the down

position the current passes to the

traveler screw on the left and will then

try to travel along the black traveler

wire until it reaches the second switch

if the second switch is in the up

position the current will stop having

nowhere to go in this case the light

will be off if the switch is in the down

position the arriving current will pass

through to the common terminal screw and

continue out to illuminate the light the

same will work at the electrical current

arriving to switch number ones common

screw finds that the switch is in the up

position the current will attempt to

pass to the right traveler terminal

screw and will try to continue along the

red traveler wire when it reaches the

second terminal it will stop if the

switch is in the down position if the

switch is in the up position the current

will pass through to the common terminal

and then out to illuminate the light ok

I've showed you the circuit in

practicality where it's actually wired

up you've seen the animations now I'm

going to show you my drawing of how this

all works so again here let's call this

your white neutral

coming in spliced in the first box your

white neutral spliced in the second box

off it goes to the late fixture outlet

okay power comes in this is your hot

from the circuit feed wherever that

might be to the common black terminal of

the first three-way switch then you've

got a three wire cable that goes over

here white which already is used as a

neutral black and a red so that's just

for simplicity of the drawing let's draw

these going up and over so here common

screw in on the hot then a traveler over

to that traveler it could be the red

maybe we'll use the black for this one

it does not matter which two are used

for travelers black or red so this one's

black now okay and then a switch works

like this a 3-way it's either in this

position in one if the toggle is up or

you push the toggle down it connects

here so let's say it's in this position

for now and let's put this one in this

position and out of the black comm and

screw how and you hook up your light

here so let's follow this through power

coming in common terminal this switches

in this position it continues on this

switches in that position the light

doesn't work switch this switch the

light works you see you got a path for

your current all the way through again

change a position of this one now we

have no feed over here and the light is

off you could turn this one back to this

position now you do have a path for your

current to flow to the light and there

you have it my rudimentary drawing I've

got the animations for you if you wanted

to add a four-way switch in the

animation is gonna add that in it's

quite simple actually

that four-way switch would just go

in the middle of this circuit so you'd

bring a three-wire out of this first

switch box into another one and then

another three wire out to the far one

and in here the four-way switch just

works like this four terminals that

switch in when it's in one position it

goes like this and in the other position

it goes like this

so again if this one's feeding power on

to the three-way it's flowing here this

switches in this position good to go

light is on you can see we're turning

any one of these switches into a

different position is going to break the

circuit flip this one now you're going

like this power is coming in goes up

here nowhere to go the lights off

now let's see how this four-way switch

setup will function when electricity is

flowing through the circuit incoming

current will arrive first at the first

three-way switches common terminal with

the switch in the down position the

current will pass through to the left

traveler terminal and travel along the

black traveler wire until it reaches our

four-way switch here with the switch in

the down position the current will pass

down through the switch and continue

along this black traveler wire until it

reaches the second three-way switch once

the current arrives here it will pass

through to the three-way switches common

screw if the switch is in the down

position in this case the current has an

unobstructed path through the circuit to

reach and illuminate the light let's

back out so we can see this path clearly

the benefit of a four-way switch setup

is that at any switch along this path

you will be able to turn off or turn on

the light

notice how the path of the current is

affected as we turn off and turn on the

flow of current a complete circuit is

broken or created every time there is a

flip of the switch so thanks for

watching and don't forget to Like and

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also check out my website at electrical

dash online.com there's much more

information there as well as our store

where you can purchase the basics of

household wiring this is available in a

DVD or as an instant download and it's

simply the best electrical educational

program there is on the market we also

have my course available now at

udemy.com that's ude my dot-com it's

called learn the basics of household

wiring it's a fully comprehensive course

that'll help you understand your home's

electrical system and make you a more

safe and competent Weeknd wiring warrior

thanks again I'm teri Peterman the

internet electrician