How to control a light from 3 locations.

Control a light from 3 locations
control a light from 3 locations

How can I control a light from 3 locations? is a question that I encounter in the field. Today I am going to walk you through step by step how you can control a light from 3 locations.

Table of Contents

When do you control a light from 3 locations?

Well, there are a few situations when you are required to control a light or more from three locations.

  1. When you have a long hallway
  2. Staircase
  3. A room with three doors.

Long hallway

A long hallway or corridor is an ideal place where you can control a light or more lights with three switches. Why is it necessary to control lights from three positions?

You may find that when you are entering a hallway, you switch on the light. Then you find the room you want to enter is midway, what do you do? Do you go back to switch off the light at the entrance switch? No, you don’t have to go back, that’s the reason you need to put another switch near your room.


I know most staircases, use two switches to control the lights on the staircase. But there are some instances, where two switches are not enough or convenient to control lighting in the staircase.

A room with three-door ways

I know you have seen rooms with three doorways. The idea is regardless of the door that you use, you should control the lights.

When you enter the room you switch on the light and when you leave the room using another door, you are able to switch off the lights.

How do you control a light from 3 locations?

Controlling a light from 3 locations is quite a simple task. What do you need to accomplish this task?

  1. (2),2-way switches(3-way switches)
  2. 1 Intermediate switch(4-way switch)
  3. Cables.

How do these materials work?

2 WAY SWITCHES: These are switches that have three terminals on each gang of a switch and they don’t have an on/off position.

INTERMEDIATE SWITCH: An intermediate switch is a switch that has 4 terminals on each gang, like the 2-way switch, it does not have an on/off position.

CABLES: These are conductors that you use to construct a circuit that is able to control a light from three locations.

In answering the main question how do you control a light from three locations? I am going to guide you through the process that I use.

Allow me to say that the light that you want to control from 3 locations, is in the staircase, hallway and a room with three doorways.

When you are doing electrical house wiring, I can say that you have a number of circuits in a house. One of the particular interests when it comes to electrical house wiring is the lighting circuit.

Just like I have stated above, you will need to have three switching points. Then you run your electrical cables through the 3 switching points.

How do you wire the three switching points? The first step that you need, is to know what wires to run through the 3 switching points. You will need to run the following wires.

  1. Strappers or travellers
  2. Live or hot wire
  3. Neutral.
  4. Switch wire.

Intermediate switch or 4-way switch.

Intermediate or 4-way switches are used to control a light from 3 locations. 4-way switches or intermediate switches are used in combination with 3-way switches(2-way switches).

I must make it clear that a 4-way switch is the same as an intermediate switch. In America, you call it four-way while in the UK and Europe it’s called an intermediate switch. The same apply to a 3-way switch in America you call it a 3-way switch while in the UK and Europe it’s called a 2- way switch.

For you to control a light from 3 locations, you will require one intermediate switch and two 2-way switches. Therefore, an intermediate switch is a key switch in controlling lighting from 3 locations.


Travellers are the most important wires in a 2-way switching system. This is what I have found to be true for me. Once you mess up the travellers, your circuit will fail to operate normally.

Travellers are a pair of cables. In short two wires. You run travellers from one switch point to the other. When you want to control a light from 3 locations, you run travellers through all three switching points.

Live or hot wire.

This is a cable that carries current from the distribution board to the switch. Here you run your live wire from the DB, to the 2-way switch. You don’t have to run a live wire from the DB to all switches. You only run it through one switch.

Neutral wire.

A neutral wire is the return path of current from various loads back to the source. You don’t run the neutral wire through any of the mentioned switches. You run it directly to the light point.

Switch wire.

A switch wire is a wire that supplies current to the light point from the switch. You connect the switch wire on one of the 2-way switches.

Putting everything together.

control a light from 3 locations

Well, all the materials are in place. In practice when running cables to control a light from three locations, you don’t run cables one by one. You pull all the cables at once, that is, the travellers, switch wire, live wire and neutral wire.

when you are done pulling cables through the conduits and the switching points. You should have a live wire, a pair of travellers and an earth wire on one 2-way switch. You should have a switch wire, a pair of travellers and an earth wire on the other 2-way switch point.

It must be noted depending on the wiring system you are using, in some cases, you might not need the earth wire. But when you are using metal switch boxes you must ensure that they are properly earthed.

On the switch box where you will mount the intermediate switch, you should have 2 pairs of travellers and earth wire. The light point area should have a neutral wire, switch wire and earth wire.

How do you run the strappers/travellers through the switch?

From the discussion above you know that in all three switches, they are travellers. How do you run them to ensure that your circuit operates normally?

You run a pair of travellers, from one 2-way switch to the intermediate switch. Then you run another pair of travellers from the other 2-way switch to the intermediate switch.

When you run the cables like this, you will be able to control a light from three locations.

how to wire a 3-way switch.

a 3-way switch is the same switch as a 2-way switch. A 3way switch is used in the USA while a 2-way switch is used in Europe and the UK.

With this type of switching system, you have a light point or 3-way switch wiring multiple lights that are controlled by two switches. usually called one gang two-way switch. and from two positions. check the diagram below.

3-way switch wiring diagram.
2 way switch
2-way switch

Watch the video below by engineering mindset, explaining how a 2way switch works.

Wemo WiFi switches 3-way control.

What can you do with the Wemo 3-way switch?

  1. Control single pole and 3-way(2-way) lights from the wall with either the app or your voice.
  2. You can make schedules and timers. The app allows you to set different lights in your home to turn on at the time you want them to be on, even when you are not home.
  3. You need one smart light switch per 1 3-way (2-way) circuit.
  4. Wemo light switches can replace traditional 3-way(2-way) switches, found in hallways and staircases. Where two switches control one light.
  5. When you are not home, turn the Away mode on. This feature allows the switch to turn on the lights randomly, making onlookers think that you are home.
  6. The switch requires a neutral wire to operate properly.

Finally, how can you control a switch from 3 locations?

It’s not a secret, all you need is three switches, namely 2( number), 2-way switches(3-way switches) and an intermediate switch (4-way switch).

You should also be competent to wire the circuit that will enable you to control a light from 3 locations. If you are not able to wire the circuit yourself, seek the services of a qualified and licensed electrician.

The information I have shared with you is based on my personal experience doing electrical installation work. I know there are other ways of controlling lights from 3 locations. Feel free to share with me your experience. In the comments section below.

How to control a light from 3 locations.

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