Three-way switches to control top outlet of multiple receptacles


I am in the process of renovating the livingroom in my 1930's era house which only has two non-switched outlets in one 12x12 room. I would like some receptacles to have one switched and one non-switched outlet so I can plug a lamp into the bottom outlet controlled from the wall.

My plan is to run 14/3 to each of these boxes with the Black wire as Hot and the Red wire as switched using two three-way switches and connecting the red as a switched wire through a junction box.

On the input-side switch box, I will run a 14/2 romex from the breaker (via junction box) and then use a 14/3 as a traveler to the outside switch box. 14/2 Black wire to common and black/red of the 14/3 for travelers. White wires I will connect together with a nut. Ground wires I will connect together with a nut.

On the output-side switch box, I will run that 14/3 with the travelers and a 14/2 romex to a junction box. Red/black of the 14/3 to the traveler screws. Black of the 14/2 to common....

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Quite simply, the tab merely connects the top half of the receptacle to the bottom half. There are two tabs, one on each side, so, depending on the need, you can connect the hot, the neutral, or both.

Here are some examples:
1. If you want both halves of the receptacle to be on the same circuit, and to be hot all the time (or to both be switched by the same switch), you want to be connected on both sides. This is the most common case.
2. If you want each half of the receptacle to be on separate unrelated circuits, you want both sides unconnected. This is pretty uncommon in the U.S., except in some kitchens.
3. If you want the two halves of the receptacle to be on the two sides of a multiwire (i.e., shared neutral) circuit, then you want the hot sides unconnected and the neutral sides connected. Each hot screw is connected to its own hot wire (the two legs of the multiwire circuit). This is common in Canadian kitchens, but not very common in the...

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Study the diagram below, photos and step by step procedure before attempting. Do not attempt unless you have a complete understanding of the job.


Shut off power to the circuit.


Test the circuit with a tester or lamp prior to working to be sure power has been removed.


Remove the wall plate from the receptacle and save the screws for reuse.


Unscrew the receptacle from the box and save screws for reuse.


Pull the receptacle gently but firmly away from the box.


Identify each terminal screw with a number written on masking tape, affixed close by. A booklet of adhesive numbers (like that in the photo) is great aid for a job like this.


Mark the silver or white terminals with even numbers 2 and 4; the green safety ground terminal (if provided) should be marked 5. The gold terminals on the other side should be marked with odd numbers 1 and 3. Be sure to...

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Turn off the power to the circuit you are working on.

Locate the power receptacle closest to the first switch, which we will call Switch 1. This receptacle, called Receptacle 1, will serve as the power source. Take Receptacle 1 from its box by removing the screws holding it in place. The second switch in the circuit will be called Switch 2.

Make the cuts in the drywall for Switch 1, Switch 2 and the new Receptacle 2. Use the switch and receptacle boxes as guides for the size of the cuts. Mount the boxes on the drywall using a drill with screw bit and screws.

Remove the baseboards between Receptacle 1, Switch 1, Receptacle 2 and Switch 2. Electrical cables run in the gap between the drywall and the floor behind the baseboards. Cut wiring access holes with a utility knife below each of the boxes.

Disconnect one set of wires and the green ground wire from Receptacle 1. It does not matter which set. Connect a short piece of black wire, 1 1/2-inches...

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With the increasing number of electrical devices being used in the home today, extending existing wall outlet circuits or installing new ones are common projects undertaken by the DIY electrician. There are several ways of getting power to the newly installed outlets: you can tap into an existing outlet circuit, you can run a new circuit from the service panel, or you can tap into a light switch circuit. The National Electrical Code permits this method as long as the point at which you make your connections contains a circuit neutral conductor.

Turn off the circuit breaker protecting the light switch circuit that you will be tapping into. Locate the switch box in which the cable coming from the service panel enters the switch circuit. By convention, electricians always run this cable to the switch box closest to the panel.

Check to make sure that the power is off and the circuit is safe to work on by bringing the non-contact voltage tester near the switch cover plate....

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Explanation of home electrical switches and outlets - shapes, features, uses

By Kyle McKeown Mansfield

If you're involved in a DIY remodeling project or are about to tackle a new addition to your home, this simple guide will explain the basic styles of electrical devices you are likely to encounter. The plethora of descriptions used for identifying switches, outlets and dimmers can easily cause confusion and lead to expensive mistakes, so we've created this guide which includes photos, alternate names and common jargon. We even have tips with answers to common questions so that your wiring project will go as smoothly as possible.

Shapes - Decora, Duplex, Toggle, etc.

Electrical devices with similar functions come in many shapes. Here are the basic ones:

Toggle Devices - Let's start with the standard switch for turning lights on and off that we've seen for years - the toggle switch. This is the small squared-off switch that protrudes about 5/8"...
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I get many questions regarding adding an outlet or a receptacle from a switch box. This question comes up fairly often, and causes a lot of frustration for our visitors. Here is the most recent question on this subject:


The power is connected to my light and then to the switch with #14 wire. Black white and ground. I want to add a receptacle, how would I wire it from the switch? I want to run wires from switch box to receptacle box?


You cannot wire this outlet by connecting it to the switch box in this situation. This light outlet and switch are wired as a switch leg drop, and this leaves you without a neutral wire at the switch. Let me show you with a diagram.

Note that the power comes into the light fixture outlet box. The neutral is connected to the light fixture only. The hot (black) wire coming in is spliced to the white wire going to the switch (and is identified as such with black tape or felt marker as shown). The...

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In building wiring, multiway switching is the interconnection of two or more electrical switches to control an electrical load (often, but not always, lighting) from more than one location. For example, this allows lighting in a hallway, stairwell or large room to be controlled from multiple locations. While a "normal" light switch needs to be only a single pole, single throw (SPST) switch, multiway switching requires the use of switches that have one or more additional contacts and two or more wires must be run between the switches. When the load is controlled from only two points, single pole, double throw (SPDT) switches are used. Double pole, double throw (DPDT) switches allow control from three or more locations.

In alternative designs, low-voltage relay or electronic controls can be used to switch electrical loads, sometimes without the extra power wires.

Three-way and four-way switches[edit]

A double pole, double throw switch wired to act as a four-way...

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Gallery of 3 way switch to outlet diagram

3 Way Switch Wiring Diagrams -

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3 Way Switch Wiring Diagrams -

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Wiring Diagrams for Household Light Switches -

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Power Outlet 3 Way Switches Half Switched Switch Outlet Electrical ...

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3 Way Switch Wiring Diagrams -

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How do I go about wiring two split circuit outlets controlled

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Power Outlet 3 way Half Switched

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How Do I Wire a 3-Way Switch to Control a Light PLUS Keep a Duplex ...

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3-way Switch...

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If you are undertaking a home improvement that involves electricity it is important for you to completely understand electrical switches and outlets (receptacles).


The most common and least expensive switch, is the toggle on/off switch, as shown in Figure 1.

This switch controls the power running in an electrical circuit. With the switch in the off position the continuity of the circuit is broken with the switch in the on position the circuit continuity is completed.

In some cases it is desirable to have a switch in 2 separate locations, both of which can turn the same circuit on or off. This type of switch is called a 3-way switch, as shown in Figure 2 (this may sound confusing, because a 3-way switch can only be used in 2 locations, however if you consider that the basic switch has 2 positions, on and off, then the nomenclature of "3-way" has some sensibility.

Additional information on 3-way switch installation

There are also...

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[Summary]How Do I Wire a 3-Way Switch to Control a Light PLUS Keep a Duplex Receptacle Hot : Electrical Online This is a question from a site visitor who was wanting to know how to wire a specific 3-way configuration. The twist comes with the addition of a ne


How Do I Wire a 3-Way Switch to Control a Light PLUS Keep a Duplex Receptacle Hot : Electrical Online

This is a question from a site visitor who was wanting to know how to wire a specific 3-way configuration. The twist comes with the addition of a new duplex receptacle which he wanted to keep ‘hot’ all of the time, while still controlling a light with the 3-way switch. This article describes the possibilities of this scenario and the steps to take.


Wire 3 way Switches and other Wiring Diagrams

Below are some of the most common wiring diagrams you will encounter in your home for outlets, switches, and major appliances. Wiring 3...

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When connecting wires to each outlet and running them through the walls, use an electrical stapler to secure each wire to the wall stud to prevent the wires from hanging or becoming loose. At the junction box located next to each outlet, staple an extra 8-inch loop of wire next to the box.

Remember that a home circuit should have no more than 15 separate loads on it. Each outlet counts as one load. Also, check local building ordnance codes to determine if a particular wall outlet height is specified by law. When installing multiple outlets, line up all of the junction boxes at a similar height to make installation easier.

Homeowners and electricians who wish to install a ground fault circuit interrupter typically run a two-wire cable from the ground fault circuit interrupter to each receptacle individually. The interrupter's line terminals need to be connected to the circuit source, while the load terminals must be connected to each of the receptacles with a pigtail...

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Ceiling Fan Installation

I have just installed a ceiling fan (with light kit)in my gameroom but I am not sure about the wiring. The fan has a black and white wire and the electrical box has a black, red and white. I am putting the fan on a dual switch so I what the fan controlled on one switch and the light on the other. But the problem comes in on how to do the wiring when I only have one hot wire coming from the fan. Does anyone know how I should handle this so that each switch controls a functions?

Depending on what products you used and how you connected everything, the light kit should have its own black (sometimes blue) wire. You may have connected this to the fan's black resulting in only one hot wire. You can connect the hot wire from the light kit directly to the hot wire from the switch.

Ceiling Light Wiring

I have a ceiling light with a pull chain switch. I want to add a second porcelain keyless lamp base to another part of the...

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To create lights that operate with two separate switches, the electrician uses two special pieces of equipment in the circuit:

Special switches known as three-way switchesSpecial wire that has an extra red insulated wire along with the black and white wires within the sheath

A normal switch has two terminals that are either connected or disconnected. A three-way switch has three terminals, and the switch connects the first terminal to either the second or the third terminal, as shown here:

You use two three-way switches to control the light, and wire it up as shown below:

In this diagram, a normal piece of wire comes from the fuse panel to the first three-way switch. The black "hot" wire enters the switch on the left. Three-way wire(which includes red, black and white wires) runs from the switch on the left to the switch on the right, with the white wire carrying ground and the red and black wires carrying the output from terminals in the left switch. Normal...

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Three-way switches find their best use in large rooms, with more than a single entry and exit, where light needs to be controlled from multiple positions. They are best suited for hallways and staircases. If you want to turn on your hall light at the bottom of the stairs and turn it off at the top of the stairs, you can make use of three-way switches. Before you go about installing them, it will be beneficial for you to understand their working. It will help you know how to wire a pair of switches, in order to control a single lighting fixture. With the information given below, you will know how do three-way switches work.

Working Of A Three Way Switch

Four posts (or terminal screws) are included in three-way switches. These are meant for connecting the wires. One of the terminal screws — the green colored one — is meant for connecting with the ground wire, while the other is used for electrical current. The rest two posts are used as control and traveler...
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Someone enters the same room near the switch at the right of the graphic. He or she flips that switch. Now there is again a pathway for the electricity. This time it flows over the second of the two wires running between the switches.

When you encounter what was supposed to be a three-way circuit, and you can turn it "on" at one of the switches, but not at the other switch, unless the first switch is already "on," the problem is usually that one of the wires going into the switch is on a terminal for one of the two wires going out of the switch.

Not all three-way switches are the same, either. All of them have two screws on one side of the switch and one screw on the other side. But, the screws for the wires running between the switches may be on the same side of the switch, or they may be on opposite sides of the switch at the same end of the switch. You cannot make assumptions. It is not uncommon to find that one switch in a three-way circuit uses one arrangement,...

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Let the Natural Handyman take the mystery out of 3-way circuits... and get you out of the dark!

This scene is repeated in hundreds... maybe thousands of homes every evening...

A long day... really tired... and all you want to do is go upstairs to lie down. Oh, how her feet hurt! The upstairs is dark, and as she flips the switch at the bottom of the stairs, she howls... as nothing happens! The dang 3-way switch isn't working. So, to turn the light on, she carefully negotiates the stairs to the top, and flips on the switch. That's just not the way it's supposed to be, is it?

3-way circuits can be a formidable opponent.

Countless homes across the country are plagued by miswired 3-way circuits causing not only inconvenience but a genuine safety hazard. They are very simple in function, yet ingenious in design. It only takes a few minutes, a little patience, and a healthy respect for electricity to get this job...

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Install or Replace New Dimmer

Light dimmers, provide added control to your lighting design and extra savings on your electric bill. Lighting dimmers allow you to adjust the intensity of the light to meet each individual's needs. Dimmers are also a quick and easy way to make a big difference in the visual presentation any room.

Our electricians also install wireless lighting dimmers that allow you to control your lighting intensity remotely. With our wide selection of light dimmers and the experience and skill of our professional lighting technicians, we can provide you any lighting environment you want.

If your existing dimmer is not working properly contact our electricians to diagnose your problem and replace the dimmer if needed.

Install or Replace Ceiling Fan Controller

Remote controls have become an affordable option for controlling ceiling fans. While some models do employ this as their sole form of operation, model-specific kits can be...

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InspectAPedia tolerates no conflicts of interest. We have no relationship with advertisers, products, or services discussed at this website.

Guide to types of electrical receptacles (wall "outlets" or "wall plugs"):

How to choose the right type of electrical receptacle when adding or replacing a wall outlet in a building. Here we describe matching 15-Amp receptacles to 15-Amp circuits, 20-Amp receptacles to 20-Amp circuits, two-wire receptacles where no ground is present, GFCI and AFCI electrical receptacles, and the proper electrical box to hold and mount these devices.

This article series describes how to choose, locate, and wire an electrical receptacle in a home. Electrical receptacles (also called electrical outlets or "plugs" or "sockets") are simple devices that are easy to install, but there are details to get right if you want to be safe.

Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2017, All Rights Reserved.

Choose the...

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Determine which devices are not connected to GFCI.

Some devices should not be connected to GFCI receptacles because of the possibility for "nuisance tripping"; for example, refrigerators, fluorescent lights, laser printers, garbage disposals, trash compactors, dishwashers, clothes washers and dryers, home heating and cooling systems, artesian well and driven point jet type pumps,microwave ovens and freezers are some of the more commons items.

For switches: Label the wires with some sort of identifying mark on masking tape wrapped around each wire. Use the same mark for each wire connected to the same terminal screw of the device Determine the type of switch you have. A single-pole switch (one switch controls the light fixture(s)) will have two screws and be marked "ON" and "OFF" if a toggle type, a 3-way switch (two switches control the light fixture(s), typically at each end of a stairwell) will have three screws, one of which is black, and a 4-way switch (three switches...
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This is an important point to remember in home-electrical-wiring. If you’re doing your own electrical work, you are an electrical contractor because you will do everything according to a national standard. You will need to follow code for cable, circuit breakers, and wiring methods.All licensed electricians know the rules really well, but they still have to be approved by inspectors just like everybody.

If someone comes a few years later and works on your electrical system, that person will assume that when he or she grabs a plain, white neutral wire, his or her hair won’t get curled.That’s because everybody follows code, or at least, is supposed to follow code. Personally, I keep my voltmeter handy when testing any electric supply. Black wires are hot. They are wired only to hot terminal screws or other black wires.Red wires are hot and are usually either a traveler wire (for 3-way switches), or an extra 120-volt line to double voltage for a 240-volt appliance. Red wires...

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Our pick

HomeSeer HS-WD100+

This model works with all Z-Wave hubs and goes beyond standard Z-Wave in-wall dimmers with multitap features, which allow it to control several devices.

Every single one of the Z-Wave in-wall dimmers we tested could remotely turn lights on and off, dim, set scenes, and trigger lighting based on time of day. But the HomeSeer HS-WD100+ is the only dimmer with Z-Wave Plus certification (a step up from standard Z-Wave certification, adding increased range and the promise of easier integration with future Z-Wave devices) and instant status feedback.


Just like the other products we tested, the GE Z-Wave In-Wall Smart Dimmer (model number 12724) lets you control it remotely with an app and allows for dimming, scenes, and scheduling. However, GE is the only company that claims to have tested to make sure its device works with SmartThings, Wink, Iris, Staples Connect, and several other Z-Wave gateways. Like other models on our...

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