Wire How To: 4-Way Switch

There are 2 diagrams below, the first one is a diagram of how to wire 3 switches to the same light.  You use a combination of two 3-way switches with a 4-way switch in between.

The second diagram shows how to wire 4 switches to the same light by adding another 4-way switch in series.

You can hook up as many switches as you want by just adding 4-way switches, as long as you have a 3-way switch on each end.

The white neutral wires all tie together to supply the light with a return (neutral) path, and the ground wires all tie together as well.  If the switches have a ground screw, it would be good to connect the bare ground wires to them as a safety factor, but not absolutely essential for the circuit to work.

Just remember that with connecting two 3-way switches, the hot wire goes to one of them and the switch leg goes to the other one, with two travelers in between.



Wire How To Wiring Diagram: 4-Way Switch (3 switches)

Wiring Diagram: 4-Way Switch (3 switches)

Wire How To Wiring Diagram: 4-Way Switch (4 switches)

Wiring Diagram: 4-Way Switch (4 switches)


If the power feed (hot wire cable) and the switch leg (light wires) go into the same box, you can connect the wires like this:
Connect the white neutral wire coming from the light, into the white neutral wire coming from the power feed.
Connect the black hot wire from the power feed, to the third leg of the 3-way switch in that box.
Connect the black wire that comes from the light, to the white wires in your travelers.
Connect the white wire from your traveler in the last switch box, to the 3-way switch there.

Since your light can pick up the neutral from the power feed in the same box, the white wires in your travelers can be used to transfer the switch leg to the last switch in your circuit.

BUT – Be careful to mark the white wire you use for this somehow, like with a piece of black tape toward the end.

Click here for a diagram that will give you a basic idea of what I’m talking about.



14 comments to Wire How To: 4-Way Switch

  • Andrew Reed

    Hi I guess the hot wire on the diagram is the live feed from the exsisting light switch? If I require more than one light to work with these switches then I guess I would just wire from the first light to any others, would that be correct.

    Thanks for your help look forward to hearing from you soon. Andy.

  • Randy

    Hi Andy,

    “the hot wire on the diagram is the live feed from the exsisting light switch?”

    Yes, that is correct. Now if the switch leg (light wire) is in the same box as the live feed, you can look at this diagram and it will show how you can use the white wire of the cable to transfer the switch leg (light wire) to the other 3 way switch, then put 4-way switches in between the two 3-way switches as you need.

    http://www.connecthowto.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/3-way-switch-branded-alternate.gif

    I will note, however, to be VERY careful not to connect this white wire to the neutral white wire from the live feed cable or the white wire to the light fixture.

    “wire from the first light to any others”

    Yes, you can connect as many lights (or other devices) together as you want, provided you don’t exceed the rated current capacity for your wires and switches.

    If you’re using 14 AWG copper wire, the max would be 15 amps. (or 1,650 watts at 110 volts).
    If you’re using 12 AWG copper wire, the max would be 20 amps. (or 2,200 watts at 110 volts).

  • Calvin

    In a three or four way switch, shouldn’t any switch be capable of turing on or off the light(s)?

  • Phillip

    I have a 3 switch (2 x 3way + 1 x 4way) and 1 light set up here at home but it doesn’t work as it should so I started investigating using your diagram as a guide (thanks very much). The switches all tested ok and the wiring was as per your diagram and yet I couldn’t make sense of what my tester was telling me until I realised that some idiot who probably calls himself an electrician (I’m in Spain so that probably says it all) has hooked up the feeds (active and neutrals coming into the dwelling) back to front. The neutral feed cable (coloured blue here) is active (i.e. live!) and the active cable (brown here) is neutral. As a result all wiring in my house is back to front (i.e. blue is active and brown is neutral). I suppose the first thing is to get the feeds changed over (at the electricity meters at street level of the building) and then I’ll be able to go chasing further. Just thought I’d share this with you.

  • Randy

    It might be easier to fix it within your breaker/fuse box, unless you know for a fact that it’s wrong at the meter.

  • anthony

    ok so i placed all three switches and they all work but not to turn on the light. the first one initiates the second two but not the light itself unless one of the other two switches are on. Like its just a power feed to the other two. how do i change it to power the light too?????

    • Randy

      One detail I didn’t cover here (sorry) is that some 3-way and 4-way switches are put together a little differently than what I have pictured. The important thing to remember is to connect each pair of travelers to like colored screw terminals. For example, looking at the 3-way switch on the right in my diagram, I have the travelers connected to the 2 top screws which should be colored the same (usually dark). Some switch manufacturers put the dark screws on the side instead, which means you would have to move the travelers to the side and the switch leg to the single screw on the other side (usually brass colored). I hope this helps. Let me know.

  • Dan Nguyen

    I just hooked up 4-way switch ceiling light using your diagram and everything is working great. Thanks so much !!!!

  • gary

    Hi Thanks for the information. Can I have the wires to the light coming off the four way switch? htat’s the switch nearest the light. Thanks Gary

  • I have a ceiling light with the power,and wires from three switches at the light. how do i wire the all of the threeways,with all the wires coming from the fixture to the switches?

  • Jeff

    I am replacing the switches in a remodeling project, and have a light controlled by 3 switches. Not all the switches were the same, and I got confused. Thanks to this page, I understand that there are two 3-way switches, and one 4-way switch. That explains the extra lead on the oddball switch! Thanks.

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