About Two-Way Light Switches

Written by brian brown
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Two-way light switches are handy devices for any home. They allow a light or electrical socket to be operated by two separate light switches. There are many potential uses for a two-way light switch, but they are mostly used for lights near stairs. Two-way light switches are easy to install and add a great deal of convenience for any homeowner.

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Function

The function of a two-way light switch is to have a light or electrical socket controlled by two separate switches. The easiest way to do this is by wiring the light or outlet into an electrical junction box and then splitting the wire coming from the junction box and running each of the wires to a light switch, which is then connected to the house's electrical panel (usually through another junction box). Once this is done the light or outlet can be switched on and off simultaneously from two different locations.

Significance

The biggest advantage to using a two-way light switch is having a staircase light controlled by a switch at the top and bottom. The light is wired into a two-way switch at the top and the bottom of the stairs so when a person goes up the stairs the light can be turned on at the bottom and switched off at the top. This helps with safety when walking up and down the stairs and will also help with energy conservation as the light can be turned off when not in use.

Considerations

A two-way light switch does not need to be used exclusively with single switches. For example, if at the bottom of the stairs you have a multiple switch plate, controlling the intended two-way light and other lights, one of those receptacles can be converted into a two-way switch. Simply run the wire from the light's junction box to the multiple switch plate and connect the wire to the desired switch. The rest of the receptacles can be one-way switches, but the one connected to the light at the top of the stairs will function as a two-way switch.

Potential

Two-way switches can be used for other outlets besides lights. For example, two-way switches can be used to create a shutoff switch for a furnace. Using a two-way switch, the furnace can be wired into a switch in the basement of a home and it can also connect to a switch near the top of the basement stairs. They can also be used with electrical sockets. such as a light plugged into the outlet using a two-way switch, with one switch near the person's bed and another could be near the door. This would allow the light to be switched on when a person enters the room and switched off when going to bed. This could be particularly useful for a mobility-challenged person.

Warning

It is advised that both switches are connected to the same circuit in the house's main electrical panel. This is necessary to ensure that the electricity is turned off in case work needs to be performed on the outlet or fixture. If a two-way switch is wired into two different circuits and only one is shut off, electricity is still going to the light, creating a potential hazard. Wiring a two-way switch to the same circuit eliminates this possibility.

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