Rooms with more than one entrance and a dominant ceiling fixture need multiple switches to control the fixture. This type of wiring is called a three-way switch and is not a difficult project. It does require patience as most of the work involves threading electrical cable above the ceiling and behind walls.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Utility knife or keyhole saw
- Fish tape
- 2-wire non-metallic sheathed cable
- 3-wire non-metallic sheathed cable
- Electrical connectors
- Switch boxes
- Brace bar
- Junction box
- BX cable (optional)
- Hammer (optional)
- Ceiling fixture (fan or light)
Plan how you will run the circuit. The easiest way to connect to an existing branch circuit is to place one of the switches directly above a working outlet. If this is not possible, run electrical cable behind the floor moulding from the outlet to a switch.
Make the cuts for the circuit. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding the ceiling fixture. For the switches, use the switch box as a template. Above the switches, where the ceiling and wall meet, cut a 1-by-2 hole in the wall to use when threading the electrical cable.
Install the hardware, affixing the switch boxes to the wall. Slip the brace bar for the fixture through the ceiling hole and attach it to the ceiling joists. Attach the fixture junction box to the brace bar.
Run the three-wire electrical cable. Feed fish tape through the 1-by-2 holes and run it across the ceiling to the junction box. Attach the wire to the fish tape and pull it back toward you. Leave about 8 inches of wire exposed on each end.
Drop the two-wire electrical cable from Switch 1 to the source outlet if you are not running cable along the floor.
Kill power to the circuit.
Make the wire connections at the fixture junction box. Connect the red wires together and then connect the black wire from the Switch 1 to the white wire of Switch 2. Wrap some electrical tape around the white wire to indicate it is hot. The remaining wires will connect to the fixture.
Connect the wiring at Switch 1. Connect the white wire from the power supply to the white wire from the light fixture. Connect the power supply black wire to the terminal labelled “common” on the switch and the remaining hot wires to the other terminals.
Connect Switch 2. Connect the black wire to the common terminal. Wrap a piece of black electrical tape around the white wire to indicate it is hot and attach it, along with the red and white wires to the remaining terminals.
Connect the fixture by attaching the black and white wires at the fixture box to the fixture. Affix the fixture to its junction box.
Cut power to the electrical circuit.
Remove the baseboards between the source outlet and the switch.
Pull the outlet from the electrical box. Remove the knockout on the bottom the box with a hammer and screwdriver.
Cut a notch, no larger than the height of the moulding, at the base of the drywall to pull the BX cable through beneath the outlet and the switch.
Connect the BX cable to the unused power supply terminals on the source outlet.
Drop the BX cable down behind the wall and through the notch. Run it along the base of the drywall to the new receptacle.
Pull the BX cable through the notch at the new switch and up to the switch.
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