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Thread: 3 way wiring to multiple fixtures

  1. #1

    Default 3 way wiring to multiple fixtures

    Hi I am wiring (or trying to) two recessed lights with two 3 way switches...

    What is the proper way to do this? I have the power supply at the fixture and then going to the first switch with a 14-2 wire and then to the second three way with a 14-3 wire. But I can't seem to get the wires just right... Help?
    I can get one light to work or both work but they are dimmed what am I doing wrong?

  2. #2


    YOu are wiring your lights in series not parallel. When lights are wired in series they dim. Look closely The white of the power cable coming into the light box must be connected directly to the white going to the second light box. Inside each light box the white wires including the white wires of hte light fixtures all connect together except that 14/2 white wire found in the light box that is going the the switch. That white wire of the cable going to the light switch that is in the light box must connect by itself to the black wire of the power cable. The black wire going to the switch in the light box must connect directly to the black wire of the light fixture and the black wire going to the second light box also connected to the second light fixture black wire.

    See the wiring diagram linked below and study each wire and each connection. Also pay close attention to the fact that black wire of the wire going to the light box from the switch must connect to the odd colored screw of that switch. The white wire going to the light box must connect inside the switch box to the black wire going to the second switch box and connected to the odd colored screw of the second switch. The red and white wire connects to the two brass wires of each switch not caring which brass screw is which.

    Study each wire in the diagram and match wire for wire.

    Good Luck


  3. #3


    Thanks I'll give it a shot.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2002


    In your opening post you said 3way switches and then you said you have 14/2 going to 1st switch you need a 14/3 to both switches. Check link as mentioned by WG.

  5. #5


    Wannabee, all you need is a power of a white wire of the switch leg from the light box to the first three way switch then power from the last three way switch back to the light fixture on the black wire of that switch leg. The black red white and bar being three wire cable is only need between the two switches if power is in the light fixture.

    I suspect what is happening is the person posting this quesion is not following each wire one at a time on the drawing link we provided. He or she is missing something [just one wire most likely] mis wired in his or her design. It can be frustrating. What many people do that are novice with electricity is look at the hole picture which if forboding when they need to follow how the current flows and where one wire at a time. Common mistake many less skilled people make that doesn't do it every day. Each time the look at the problem the overlook the same spot where the mistake in wiring lies in the circuit. Boy that brought back a few memories to me from many years back. You have no idea how many days I spent looking for my mistake while it was right in front of my face the entire time.

    Hope this helps


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2002


    WG, see what you're saying assumed 99 meant he ran a 2wire to 1st switch and 3 to the second. Guess I'd of just ran a 3 to each switch rather than a 2 and a 3 to one of the switches.

  7. #7



    I followed your directions and wala... instant success!

    Thank you for your help!


  8. #8


    Congrats see you on your next project.


  9. #9


    A picture is worth a thousand words...

    I can not seem to find the wiring diagram for using 3 way switches and multiple light fixtures. I do not want to wire the lights in series....

    Can someone show me a diagram? I tried the link that Wgoodrich suggested but site shows that it has moved...????

    I appreciate your help.

  10. #10


    How's this for starters, without a diagram?
    Steps are ordered to minimize errors.

    1. Run "2-wire" from one light fixture to another, daisy chain fashion. By connecting blacks to blacks and connecting whites to whites, you avoid the mistake of connecting in series.
    2. Run "3-wire" between the two switches, directly.
    3a. If power comes to a light fixture, run 2-wire from that fixture to one of the switches. Connect the power cable white to the fixture neutrals (whites), connect the switch cable black to the fixture blacks, and connect the remaining wires, one white and one black, to each other. Down at the switches, use red and white of the 3-wire for the travelers. Connect black from the fixtures to black of the 3-wire and connect white from the fixtures to a switch common screw .

    3b. If power comes to a switch, you can run 2-wire from either switch to the nearest light fixture.

    3b1. If power and the fixture cable come to the same switch, connect the power black to the switch common and connect the power white to the fixture cable white. Use red and white of the 3-wire for the travelers and black for the other switch common. Connect black from the fixtures to black of the 3-wire.

    3b2. If power and fixture cables come to opposite switches, then connect all whites together as neutrals. Use red and black of the 3-wire for the travelers. The remaining wires, power black and the fixture black, go the commons of the respective switches.

    4. Regardless of which steps in 3 you did, both ends of any white wire connected to a switch screw or to a non-white wire (white wire not used as a neutral) need to be taped or painted black (or a color other than green).

    Sometimes the 3-wire cable used for the travelers is routed through one or more light fixture boxes. While this is not illegal, it may cause confusion and may result in too many wires within a box.
    If power comes to a light fixture box, it is best if only one cable goes off from here to daisy chain to other fixtures so as to make it easier to work with the wires including those going down to a switch.
    Last edited by AllanJ; October 1st, 2007 at 11:52 PM.

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