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Home > Switches & Outlets > Fan/Light Combo > 3-Way Switches, Power Source at One Switch, Fixture Feed from Other Switch

Fan Always Hot, Light Switched - 3-Way Switches, Power Source at One Switch, Fixture Feed from Other Switch

By Donald Kerr
Fan Always Hot, Light Switched - 3-Way Switches, Power Source at One Switch, Fixture Feed from Other Switch

Fan always hot. Light - 3 way switches. Power source at one switch / fixture feed from other switch.

At the ceiling box - the ungrounded conductor {aka hot} from the fan connects to the black wire from the switch. The ungrounded conductor {aka hot} for the light connects to the red wire coming from the switch. The white wire from the switch is the grounded leg conductor {aka neutral} for both the fan and light. This will provide an constant unswitched ungrounded conductor {aka hot} for the fan and a switched ungrounded conductor {aka hot} for the light.

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 all documentation that comes with your fan / light combo fixture.

Wrap a piece of black electrical tape around both ends of the white wire going between switch 1 and 2 on the 3 wire + bare (black / red / white /bare) cable, as this wire is also being used as a ungrounded conductor {aka hot}.DO NOT wrap tape around the white on the 2 wire + bare (black / white /bare) cable as this is a ground leg {aka neutral} wire.

The red wire on the 3 wire + bare (black/red/white/bare) cable between switch 1 and 2 is not used, just cap each end with an insulated wire nut.

The reason for using a 3 wire + ground (black/red/white/bare) cable between switch box 1 and switch box 2 (and not using the red wire) is to ensure that it will be easy to distinguish the difference with the 2 cables coming from switch box 1 to help prevent the wrong two wires being connected. Using 2 wire + bare (black/white/bare) would make it more difficult to distinguish the 2 cables at the switches and could end up with a dangerous combination of wrong wires being connected together.


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

If you need onward power from the fixture then....

(1) If only switched power required onward then at existing fixture...

  1. onward cable - black/white/bare
  2. connect black from onward cable to red wire coming from switch.
  3. connect white from onward cable to white wire coming from the switch.
  4. connect bare from onward cable to the other bares and to electrical box if metallic.
  5. At the onward cables destination , the black is the switched ungrounded conductor {aka hot}, the white is the grounded leg {aka neutral}, and the bare is the equipment grounding conductor.

(2) If only unswitch power required onward then at existing fixture...

  1. onward cable - black/white/bare
  2. connect black from onward cable to black wire coming from the switch.
  3. connect white from onward cable to white coming from the switch.
  4. connect bare from onward cable to other bares and to electrical box if metallic.
  5. At the onward cables destination , the black is the ungrounded conductor {aka hot}, the white is the grounded leg {aka neutral}, and the bare is the equipment grounding conductor.

(3) If switched and unswitched power required onward then at existing fixture...

  1. onward cable - black/red//white/bare
  2. connect black from onward cable to black wire coming from the switch.
  3. connect red from onward cable to red wire coming from switch
  4. connect white from onward cable to white coming from the switch.
  5. connect bare from onward cable to other bares and to electrical box if metallic.
  6. At the onward cables destination , the black is the unswitched ungrounded conductor {aka hot} , red is the switched ungrounded conductor {aka hot}, the white is the grounded leg{aka neutral} and the bare is the equipment grounding conductor..

If you need onward power from the switch 1 location then....

(1) If only switched power required onward then at existing switch 1...

For this option you must now use that previously unused red wire between switch 1 and 2.

  1. onward cable - black/white/bare
  2. At switch 2 - The red wire from switch 1 connects to the red wire going to fixture.
  3. connect black from onward cable to red wire coming from switch box 2.
  4. connect white from onward cable to the white wire from the circuit power supply cable.
  5. connect bare from onward cable to the other bares and to electrical box if metallic.
  6. At the onward cables destination, the black is the switched ungrounded conductor {aka hot}, the white is the grounded leg {aka neutral}, and the bare is the equipment grounding conductor.

(2) If only unswitch power required onward then at existing switch 1...

  1. onward cable - black/white/bare
  2. connect black from onward cable to black wire coming from the circuit power supply cable.
  3. connect white from onward cable to white coming from the
    circuit power supply cable.
  4. connect bare from onward cable to other bares and to electrical box if metallic.
  5. At the onward cables destination, the black is the ungrounded conductor {aka hot},
  6. the white is the grounded leg {aka neutral}, and the bare is the equipment grounding conductor.

(3) If switched and unswitched power required onward then at existing switch 1...

For this option you must now use that previously unused red wire between switch 1 and 2.

  1. onward cable - black/red//white/bare
  2. At switch 2 - The red wire from switch 1 connects to the red wire going to fixture.
  3. connect black from onward cable to black wire coming
    from the circuit power supply cable..
  4. connect red from onward cable to red wire coming from switch box 2.
  5. connect white from onward cable to white coming from the circuit power supply cable.
  6. connect bare from onward cable to other bares and to electrical box if metallic.
  7. At the onward cables destination , the black is the unswitched ungrounded conductor {aka hot}, red is the switched ungrounded conductor {aka hot}, the white is the grounded leg{aka neutral} and the bare is the equipment grounding conductor..

If you need onward power from the switch 2 location then....

(1) If only switched power required onward then at existing switch 2...

  1. onward cable - black/white/bare
  2. connect black from onward cable to red wire coming from fixture (and also connected to switch 2).
  3. connect white from onward cable to the white wire from switch 1 on the 2 wire + ground (black/white/bare) cable.
  4. connect bare from onward cable to the other bares and to electrical box if metallic.
  5. At the onward cables destination , the black is the switched ungrounded conductor {aka hot}, the white is the grounded leg {aka neutral}, and the bare is the equipment grounding conductor.

(2) If only unswitch power required onward then at existing switch 2...

  1. onward cable - black/white/bare
  2. connect black from onward cable to black wire coming from switch 1 on the 2 wire +bare (black/white/bare) cable.
  3. connect white from onward cable to white coming from switch 1 on the 2 wire +bare (black/white/bare) cable
  4. connect bare from onward cable to other bares and to electrical box if metallic.
  5. At the onward cables destination , the black is the ungrounded conductor {aka hot}, the white is the grounded leg {aka neutral}, and the bare is the equipment grounding conductor.

(3) If switched and unswitched power required onward then at existing switch 2...

  1. onward cable - black/red//white/bare
  2. connect black from onward cable to black wire coming from switch 1 on the 2 wire +bare (black/white/bare) cable
  3. connect red from onward cable to red wire coming from fixture (and also connected to switch 2).
  4. connect white from onward cable to white coming from switch 1 on the 2 wire +bare (black/white/bare) cable
  5. connect bare from onward cable to other bares and to electrical box if metallic.
  6. At the onward cables destination, the black is the unswitched ungrounded conductor {aka hot}, red is the switched ungrounded conductor {aka hot}, the white is the grounded leg{aka neutral} and the bare is the equipment grounding conductor..

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.

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