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This is known as "staircase wiring". It uses two two-way switches. A two-way switch has one common terminal and two alternate switching terminals. Say C1 being common, A1 and B1 are alternate terminals. second two-way switch has C2 common terminal and A2, B2 alternate terminals. Connect the live phase wire to C1. Wire up A1 to A2 and B1 to B2. Connect a load (say a lamp) to C2 and the other end of the lamp to neutral. The wiring is complete and now the lamp can be controlled by these two switches.

s for USA, Canada and countries using similar 60Hz mains suppliesIf this is a standard 120V light fixture controlled by two light switches, for more information, including a wiring diagram, see the Related link shown below.


If, and ONLY if, there is an on/off switch for a 120 Volt lighting fixture installed onto a wall box containing wires, it is possible that the Red and Black wires in this situation are:

a) the "hot" feed wire coming from the mains breaker panel to the switch and

b) the "switched hot" wire going to the lighting fixture.



Only someone who knows how to use a test lamp or voltmeter safely will be able to confirm if the Red wire in the wall box is a) and the Black wire is b), or if they are actually wired the other way round, meaning the Black wire in the wall box is a) and the Red wire is b).


A Red wire can be the first "Hot Leg" of a 240 volt supply. It could also be one of a pair of hot wires connecting two switches controlling one or more 120V lighting fixtures.

A Black wire can be the second "Hot Leg" of a 240 volt supply or the "Hot" wire of a 120 Volt supply. It could also be one of a pair of hot wires connecting two switches controlling one or more 120V lighting fixtures.

A White wire is normally the "Neutral" wire. It is common to both hot legs on a 240 Volt supply.

A Green wire (or bare wire with no insulation) is normally the local "Ground "wire.


As always, if you are in doubt about what to do, the best advice anyone should give you is to call a licensed electrician to advise what work is needed.

Before you do any work yourself,

on electrical circuits, equipment or appliances,

always use a test meter to ensure the circuit is, in fact, de-energized.




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โˆ™ 2015-07-16 18:58:05
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Q: How are the wires connected to the switches where there are two switches that can operate a single light?
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Related questions

Are light switches connected in a series or in parallel?


What will happen if the two switches connected to light up a single bulb are on?

It is dependant on whether the switches are in wired in a parallel or series configuration. If the switches are wires in parallel then both switches would have to be off to turn the light bulb off. Either switch could turn the light bulb on. If the switches are wired in series then both switches would have to be on to turn the light bulb on. Either switch could turn the light bulb off.

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Yes you can. There are three ways of doing this. Two are incorrect and one is the correct way of doing it.The two switches can be paralleled together to make the light fixture respond. Both of the two switches will always have to be in the on position. Either switch will turn the light off but the second switch will not turn the light on. Very inconvenient when you enter a room through one door and leave by another.The two switches can be wired in series. Both switches have to be on to operate the light but again if one of either switch is left in the off position the other switch will not operate the light fixture. Very inconvenient when you enter a room through one door and leave by another.The correct way of wiring two switches to control a central light fixture is with a three way switching system (two way in the UK). The two positions have to have special three way switches in each position. These types of switches sort out the problems of leaving a switch in a certain position to operate properly. The only criteria is that there be a three conductor cable joining the two three way switch boxes together.See related links below.

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How to wire single switch to operate 2 lights?

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