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How to Control One Light Bulb From Two Different Locations?

2-Way & 3-Way Switching Connections – Electrical Wiring Diagrams

What is Two Way & Three-Way Switching Circuits?

Two-way switching or (three-way circuits in the US) connection is used to control electrical appliances and equipment like fan, lighting points etc. from different places using 2-way & 3-way switches. The most common use of 2-way switching connection is staircase wiring where a light point can be controlled from two, three or even many locations. No matter what is the position of flowing electric current in the two way switch (ON or OFF), the connected appliance like bulb can be switched ON / OFF by pressing the button.

Two Way or Three Way Switch?

Two Way Switch or Three Way Switch: “Three-way” is the North American (USA) term for this type of switch used in the following tutorial. Most English-speaking countries (UK/EU) call them “two-way”. The term for the pair of wires connecting the two switches also varies: “strappers” to the British and “travelers” to the US.

Please don’t kill me to mention it 2-Way switch instead of 3-Way switch as whatever we have used is the same thing for specific applications.

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Construction & Working of a 2-Way & 3-Way Switch

In North America, the 2-Way switch is also known as Single Pole Single Through (SPST) while 3-Way switch is known as Single Pole, Double Throw. The basic construction and working principle of 2-way switch is illustrated in (fig 1) below.



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For this kind of wiring installation, you will have the following requirements.

  • 1 No of 4-Way Switch (Intermediate as 3-Way in IEC)
  • 2 Nos of 3-Way Switches (Two-Way Switches in the NEC)
  • 1 No of Light Bulb
  • Wires and cables as needed.

How to Wire a 2-Way Switch (3-Way – US)?

Below is a given schematic wiring diagram that shows how to wire a 2-way (or Three-Way – US) switch and control a light bulb from two different places.

Staircase-wiring-diagram-How-to-control-a-lamp-from-two-different-places-by-two-2-way-& 3-way-switches


  • The same purpose can be achieved by using the following two way switching connection in fig 3 as well.
  • Connect the Earth Wire to the connected electrical appliance as well as switches (always on Hot (Line or Phase) as per electrical regulation in your area.

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How to Control Light from Two Places?

The following two way switching connection can be used for the same purpose as mention above in fig 1 i.e. to control a light point from two different places by using 2-way switches

2-way light switching or 3-way light Circuit

The following wiring shows to control a light bulb from two different locations using SPDT switches (also know as 3-Way switch in NEC and 2-Way switch in IEC.)

NEC wiring Diagram

How to Control a Light Bulb from Two Places using 3-Way Switches

IEC wiring Diagram

How to Control a Light Bulb from Two Locations using 2-Way Switches

Additionally, you may use two 3-way combo devices (3-Way switch & outlet) to control a light bulb from two places (NEC – US) as follows where (both outlets always on.)

How to Wire a 3-Way Combo Device

Moreover, you may use combination of Double three-way switches to control a single or two light bulbs from two locations as shown in the following diagram:

Controlling Two Bulbs From Different Places using Double 3-Way Switches

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Two Way Switching to Control Light from Two Places in Staircase

As we discussed above, that the most common use of 2-way switches is to control a light point from different places like upper and downstairs i.e. lower entering door and upper door. This circuit is shown below:

Staircase wiring circuit diagram - How to control a lamp from two different places by two 2-way switches?

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  1. To operate a single bulb from two different locations, you will need to install a three-way switch circuit. This circuit consists of two three-way switches, one at each location, and a single bulb connected to the circuit.

    The wiring for this circuit involves running a traveler wire between the two switches, and connecting the hot wire and neutral wire to the common terminals of each switch. The traveler wire is used to carry the electrical signal between the switches, allowing you to turn the light on or off from either location.

    When the switches are wired correctly, flipping either switch will change the state of the circuit, turning the light on if it’s off or turning it off if it’s on. This allows you to control the light from either location, making it a convenient and practical solution for many home lighting applications.

    SD Smith Electric is a reliable and professional electrical service provider that can provide solutions to all your electrical problems. Whether you need repairs, installations, or maintenance services, their team of experienced electricians can handle any job, big or small.

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