How to Wire a Three-Way Light Socket

Updated February 21, 2017

A three-way light socket works with a three-way bulb to shine light at three different wattages. Any lamp that doesn't have a three way socket cannot switch between the various brightness settings on a three-way bulb. However, most lamps have sockets that can be removed. The electrical wiring can be reattached to a three way socket with a light switch that works at three settings. Install a three-way light socket into a lamp and enjoy lighting a room at three different levels.

Turn off the lamp and unplug the power cord.

Remove the hardware around the original socket. Take off the lamp shade and pinch the shade support rib together to loosen it from the side mounts, and pull up. Remove any hardware surrounding the socket. Look for a small clip on metal socket hardware. Release the clip and pull upward. Plastic parts near a socket are generally threaded. Remove plastic parts by turning them counterclockwise.

Take off the old socket. Unscrew the terminals holding the electric wires onto the socket base with a slotted screwdriver. Take note of the colour of the wire that is attached to the brass coloured terminal. That is the hot wire. Pull the wires away from the socket, and pull the socket and switch off the lamp.

Place the new three-way socket and light switch assembly on the lamp. Connect the hot wire to the brass coloured terminal by wrapping it around the screw post clockwise and tightening the terminal screw. Connect the other wire to the silver coloured terminal. Cover all bare wire threads with the terminal screw head.

Reattach the hardware surrounding the socket and replace the lamp shade. Install a three-way light bulb. Plug in the electric cord and check the light switch settings.

Things You'll Need

  • Slotted screwdriver
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About the Author

Jonra Springs began writing in 1989. He writes fiction for children and adults and draws on experiences in education, insurance, construction, aviation mechanics and entertainment to create content for various websites. Springs studied liberal arts and computer science at the College of Charleston and Trident Technical College.