Now that you’ve wired a 3-way switch, say, you want to take it a step further and are looking on how to wire a 4-way switch. Of course, a 4-way switch won’t exist without a 3-way, and I personally think that wiring a 4-way is easier than wiring a 3-way. Therefore, I’m going to tackle how to wire a 4-way switch in this step-by-step, easy to understand tutorial.
With a 4-way switch in the room, you can control your lights from three light switches instead of two, which can be thoroughly useful for extra-large rooms, especially for lighting under cabinets. If you haven’t installed your 3-way yet, go to this article to get that done firsthand.
Here are the tools and resources you’ll be needing for this project. Most of these materials are probably already present in your toolbox and are relatively cheap, so you’ll find this project very low-cost.
How to Wire a 4-Way Switch
Step One: Safety first
This is the most important step and it is essential that you don’t overlook it. Before working on anything else, disconnect your circuit from power by turning off the corresponding switch in the circuit panel. Test if your lights still turn on, and if they don’t, you can proceed to the next step.
Step Two: Cut the cable between the two 3-way switches
As I’ve said before, you need to have a pre-installed 3-way switch system before you can install a 4-way switch, because you will be putting this 4-way in between the pair of 3-ways.
At the point where you want your third switch to be, cut the 14-3 or 12-3 cable running in between your two 3-way switches. When you make this cut, you’ll be seeing two ground wires (bare), two white wires, two red wires, and two black wires. Using your needle nose pliers, make a loop at the ends of the wires.
Step Three: Make your connections
1. Tie the ground and white wires together
Like in the 3-way switch system, you need to tie the two ground wires together with a wire nut. Do the same for the two white wires you find. Push them out of the way so you can see the rest of the wires clearly.
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At this point, you will be left with two black wires and two red wires.
2. Connect the red wires to one side of the switch
Once you have your 4-way switch in hand, notice that you have four terminals instead of three. What you need to do is connect your red wires to screws on one side of the switch. The wire from the first switch will go on top and the wire from the second switch on the bottom. Hook the looped wires onto the terminals and tighten the screw.
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The order matters this time, unlike in the 3-way switch system, so make sure you take note of the position of the wires on your 4-way switch.
3. Connect the black wires on the other side
This next step is important. The black wire from the first switch will go on the top screw, parallel to the red wire that came from the first switch. Then, the black wire from the second switch will go on the bottom screw.
4. Make sure that for one side, you see two red wires.
On the other side, you see two black wires. The order is essential. Make sure the wires from the first switch go on the top and the wires from the second switch go on the bottom.
If you are a visual learner, watch this video to learn how to install a 4-way switch
Step Four: Close it up!
Now that you’re done, do a test on all switches and see if they work. If not, check your wiring, especially if the wires on your 4-way switch are in order. Make sure there are no wires disconnected that can discontinue the electrical circuit. Remember to not be discouraged; it won’t hurt to start over again.
If you are successful, screw in the third switch in its box and then put on the cover.Congratulations! You have successfully installed your 4-way switch.
As you can see, wiring a 4-way switch is not a complicated task — quite far from it, actually. All you need is patience and the simple skill of not mixing up you wires. Quite simple, isn’t it? All the reason you should install your 4-way light switch yourself instead of spending on professional help!
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