3-way switches


Old 10-03-05, 01:58 PM
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3-way switches

Hi. I have a light that works of two different switches and they don't work anymore. What should I do to check them out? What should I look for? How does two swithches work together exactly?
Thank you.
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Old 10-03-05, 02:33 PM
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Dry Side of Washington State
Posts: 738
How did you determine the switches are bad?
Old 10-03-05, 03:09 PM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central New York State
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3 way switches have three terminals. Two are called travelers and one is called a common. The switch makes a connection between the common and the first traveler or between the common and the other traveler.

You put two three way switches together to control the light (or other load) from two places. The power enters the common of one three way switch. Two traveler wires then go to the second three way switch where they connect to the travelers. The load is attached to the common of the second three way switch.

The three way switches need to be oriented so that the connections are both from the common to the same traveler for the load to get power. This occurs in two out of the four possible combinations. When the switches are in the other positions, the electrical path is broken and the load gets no power.

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