Three-Way Switch


Definition of Three-Way Switch

A three-way switch is an electrical device that’s used to operate a single light fixture from two different locations.

It’s referred to as a “three-way switch” because it uses three terminals inside the switch, not because it has three push buttons. The three terminals include one common terminal for the neutral wire and two traveler terminals for the black and red live wires.

The two traveler terminals provide alternate pathways for the current to flow through the switches, which allows you to turn lights on and off in a flexible manner.

three-way switch circuit diagram

Three way switches are used in large areas where lighting control is needed from multiple locations to allow for safe navigation, such as:

For instance, a three-way switch can be used at each end of a long stairway on a yacht to enable lighting control at either end. As such, someone approaching the stairway can turn on the lights and shut them off on the other end, or vice versa.

Three-way switches allow for greater convenience in controlling the lighting in your space from two switch locations. This increases safety in areas where visibility is important by ensuring the lights can be switched on and off as needed.

This switch also helps reduce power consumption on your vessel since you can easily turn off lights when leaving a room or area.

Example of Three-Way Switch in a Sentence

"I used a three-way switch to dim the navigation lights of my boat from the cockpit and turned them off using a three-way switch in the hallway."

Related Terms for Three-Way Switch