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4-Way Switch Wiring - Power Source 1st switch, Fixture Feed 1st switch

By Donald Kerr
4-Way Switch Wiring - Power Source 1st switch, Fixture Feed 1st switch

1 4-way switch plus 2 3-way switches (total of 3 switches controlling same fixture) power at 1st switch, fixture feed from 1st switch.

Consider the following when wiring:

  • At the ceiling box - the ungrounded conductor (a.k.a. hot) from the fixture (could be a brass colored screw) connects to the black wire from the switch 1. The white wire from switch 1 is the grounded leg conductor (a.k.a. neutral) for the fixture (could be a silver color screw).
  • Wrap a piece of black electrical tape around both ends of all white wire going between switch box 1 and 2, and the white wire going between switch 2 and 3 as these wires are also being used as a ungrounded conductor (a.k.a. hot).
  • Bare wires are together and grounded to box (if metallic) and if the fixture has a green wire or a grounding screw, it gets grounded also. Bares and green wires are equipment grounding conductors.
  • Be sure to read any documentation that comes with your fixture.

If You Need Onward Power From the Fixture Then:

If Only Switched Power Required Onward Then at Existing Fixture:

  • Onward cable - black/white/bare
  • Connect black from onward cable to the black from switch 1
  • Connect white from onward cable to white wire from switch 1
  • Connect bare from onward cable to other bares and to electrical box if metallic
  • At the onward cables destination, the black is the switched ungrounded conductor (a.k.a. hot), the white is the grounded leg (a.k.a. neutral), and the bare is the equipment grounding conductor

If Only Unswitched Power Required Onward Then at Existing Fixture: Onward unswitched power is not possible with this configuration as not unswitched ungrounded conductor (a.k.a. hot) exists at the fixture location.

If You Need Onward Power From the Switch Then:

Onward power is only possible at the switch 1 location as no grounded leg (a.k.a. neutral) wire exists at switch 2 or 4 locations.

If Only Switched Power Required Onward Then at Existing Switch 1:

  • Onward cable--black/white/bare
  • Connect black from onward cable to the black from switch 2
  • Connect white from onward cable to white wire from circuit power supply cable
  • Connect bare from onward cable to other bares and to electrical box if metallic
  • At the onward cables destination, the black is the switched ungrounded conductor (a.k.a. hot), the white is the grounded leg (a.k.a. neutral), and the bare is the equipment grounding conductor

If Only Unswitched Power Required Onward Then at Existing Switch 1:

  • Onward cable - black/white/bare
  • Connect black from onward cable to the black from circuit power supply cable
  • Connect white from onward cable to white wire from circuit power supply cable
  • Connect bare from onward cable to other bares and to electrical box if metallic
  • At the onward cables destination, the black is the ungrounded conductor (a.k.a. hot), the white is the grounded leg (a.k.a. neutral), and the bare is the equipment grounding conductor.

If Switched and Unswitched Power Required Onward Then at Existing Switch 1:

  • Onward cable--black/red/white/bare
  • Connect black from onward cable to the black from circuit power supply cable
  • Connect red from onward cable to the black from switch 2
  • Connect white from onward cable to white wire from circuit power supply cable
  • Connect bare from onward cable to other bares and to electrical box if metallic
  • At the onward cables destination, the black is the unswitched ungrounded conductor (a.k.a. hot), the red is the switched ungrounded conductor (a.k.a. hot), the white is the grounded leg (a.k.a. neutral), and the bare is the equipment grounding conductor


The common screw on a 3 way switch is the odd color screw

If wiring multiple fixtures be sure to check the following guidelines concerning how to do it and what not to do: Wiring Multiple Fixtures.

If you are new at understanding the "politically correct" electrical terminology and need clarification of the terms used, we strongly urge you to read the Clarification of Definitions and Terminology guide. This will explain the terminology used in this article.

Also, be sure to read "Identifying the Correct Screws on 4-Way and 3-Way Switches".

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