How to Wire a Parallel House Switch

Written by michael dempster
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How to Wire a Parallel House Switch
You can use more than one domestic switch to control a single light. (light switch image by Jim Mills from

From turning lights on or off from the top or bottom of the stairs to controlling power supply to a garage from your home, parallel switches allow you to use lights and appliances with greater convenience. By learning how to wire a parallel switch, you can configure the electrical flow so that you can control it from two different places. Replacing an existing switch with this circuit will provide you greater control over the lights and appliances in your home.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • 2 3-way switches
  • Domestic 3-core insulated wire
  • Wire cutters
  • Wire strippers
  • Screw driver

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  1. 1

    Turn off the domestic power supply. You should always be certain the domestic power is turned off at the source before working on any circuit.

  2. 2

    Feed the 3-core insulated wire between the two switch housings. Cut the wire to the correct length using the wire cutters. Strip back the main insulation with the wire strippers, exposing the three internal insulated wires. Strip 1/4 inch of insulation off the end of each wire, leaving enough insulation to see the colour coding.

  3. 3

    Wire the mains to the first switch. The switch has three terminals: common (C), L1 and L2. Insert the live wire into terminal L2 and tighten the screw to ensure a good electrical contact. Insert the neutral wire into L1 and tighten the screw.

  4. 4

    Connect the common terminals. Three-core wire usually has a different colour of insulation for each wire. Because there are no fixed international standards, use grey, brown and black wire to distinguish each connection. Connect the black wire into the C terminal in the first switch. Connect the other end of the black wire to the C terminal of the second switch.

  5. 5

    Connect wires to the L1 and L2 terminals. Connect the grey wire to terminal L1 on each of the switches. Connect the brown wire to terminal L2 on each switch. The terminals on the first switch already have the mains electric wires in them, so check that each wire is touching the screw by giving each wire an individual tug.

  6. 6

    Connect the earth wires to the earth terminals on each switch, if your home circuit contains an earth circuit.

  7. 7

    Install each switch into its wall housing using the screwdriver.

Tips and warnings

  • Double check the power is off before beginning.
  • Ask your hardware supplier which wire is appropriate to the circuit you're wiring.
  • Double check all connections before turning the power on.

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