How to Wire Two Switches to One Light: A Comprehensive Guide

How to Wire Two Switches to One Light
Images /

How to Wire Two Switches to One Light: A Comprehensive Guide

Note: This article is for informational purposes only. Always consult a licensed electrician for any electrical work.


Wiring two switches to one light fixture can be a convenient and cost-effective solution for controlling the light from multiple locations.

Whether you want to turn on a light from both ends of a staircase or control a bedroom light from different switches, understanding the process of wiring two switches to one light can save you money and give you more control over your lighting setup.

In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the step-by-step process of wiring two switches to one light.

We’ll cover the planning and preparation, running the necessary cables, connecting the wires, and ensuring safety throughout the process. So, let’s get started!

Section 1: Planning a Wire Path

Before you begin the wiring process, it’s crucial to plan the path where the wire will run. Visualizing the scope of the work will make the wiring process much easier.

Here’s how you can plan the wire path:

  1. Determine the location of the first switch and the desired location of the second switch.
  2. Run a cable from where you want to install the first switch to the location of the second switch.
  3. Take note of the length of the wire you will need for the connection.

Section 2: Preparing the Location of the Switches

Now that you have planned the wire path, it’s time to prepare the locations where the switches will be installed.

Follow these steps to prepare the switches:

  1. Turn off the main power source to prevent any risk of electrocution.
  2. Remove the cover plate of the existing switch, if applicable.
  3. Unhook the wire connections from the existing switch.
  4. Consider using a remodeling box if the existing switch box is too small for the installation of a three-way switch.
  5. Label the wire connections to ensure they can be returned to their original positions.
  6. Remove the cable clamps and grounding screw.
  7. If necessary, enlarge the wall opening to accommodate a larger switch box.
  8. Prepare the location for the second switch, making any necessary openings or adjustments.

Section 3: Running a 14-3 Cable

With the switch locations prepared, you can now run a 14/3 cable between them.

This cable will be responsible for carrying the electrical signals between the switches and the light.

Here’s how you can run the cable:

  1. Between the middle of each stud where the switches are located, drill a ¾-inch hole.
  2. Run the 14/3 cable from one opening to the other, ensuring it follows the planned wire path.
  3. If running the cable vertically is not possible, consider running it horizontally in a finished wall.
  4. If the cable needs to pass through a drywall, cut a slot and notch and tuck the studs to accommodate the cable.

Section 4: Stripping the Cable

Once the cable is positioned between the switches, the next step is to strip the cable for proper connectivity.

Follow these steps to strip the cable:

  1. Use a utility knife to cut four to 12 inches off the cable on both ends.
  2. Use a wire stripper to remove up to ¾-inch of insulation from the cable.
  3. Create an open-end loop on both ends of the wire using needle-nose pliers.
  4. Ensure that at least .25-inch of the sheathing is visible in the box according to electrical code requirements.

Section 5: Connecting the Wires

Now that the cable is stripped, it’s time to connect the wires to the switches and the light fixture.

Follow these steps for proper wire connections:

  1. Connect the red insulated wire of the 14-3 cable to the terminal of the first switch with a dark color.
  2. Rotate clockwise to tighten the terminal screw.
  3. Connect the white insulated wire of the 14-3 cable to one of the two terminals on the first switch and tighten.
  4. Proceed to the second switch and connect the two wires to the corresponding terminals.
  5. Wrap electrical tape around the cable ends to cover the sheath.
  6. Connect the two red wires of both switches using a wire nut.
  7. Connect the two white wires using another wire nut.
  8. Connect the circuit power source’s black wire to the first switch’s black wire, and do the same for the white wires.
  9. Connect the light fixture’s black wire to the black wire of the second switch.
  10. Connect the bare copper ground wire of the power source to the green grounding wire of the light fixture.
  11. Use electrical tape to wrap the ends of each wire nut connection.
  12. Put the switch boxes back in position, tighten the screws, and restore the power.
  13. Test the switches by turning the light on and off to ensure they are working properly.

Section 6: Tips and Tricks for Installing Two Switches on One Light

To ensure a successful installation of two switches on one light, here are some tips and tricks to keep in mind:

  1. Stay safe: Always prioritize safety when working with electricity. Turn off the main power supply and test the connections to ensure there is no electricity before starting any work. Wear suitable gloves and exercise caution throughout the process.
  2. Use the right tools: Invest in high-quality tools from reputable manufacturers. Wire cutters, needle-nose pliers, and voltage testers are essential for this project.
  3. Choose the right wires: Select wires that match the power requirements of your lighting fixtures. Thick wires with excellent insulation are ideal for durability and safety.
  4. Ensure proper wire position: Label the ends of the wires or follow color-coded standards to ensure correct connections. Additionally, straighten the cable before installation to ensure proper flow of electricity and ease of handling.
  5. Adding a third switch: If you need more control over your lighting and want to add a third switch, consider using a cross switch. This switch is compatible with a wiring diagram that allows multiple inputs and outputs.


Wiring two switches to one light is a practical solution for controlling a light fixture from different locations.

By understanding the process and following the steps outlined in this guide, you can successfully wire two switches to one light fixture.

Remember to prioritize safety, use the right tools and wires, and ensure proper wire connections.

If you’re unsure or uncomfortable with any aspect of the process, consult a licensed electrician for assistance. Enjoy the convenience and control of your newly wired lighting setup!

Related reading:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like