4-Way Light Switch Wiring

Free Graphic. (Please check I could have screwed something up)


Looks good. :+1:

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Thanks again, Randy. :slight_smile:

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Just curious do you make these yourself? If so what software are you using?

And now that we have nice graphics, maybe a good explanation would be in order, as to why they call them 3-way and four-way switches when there are only 2 and 3 switches. LOL

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always wondered that myself…

I think it’s just so the sparkies can charge more myself…


3 way switches are single pole double throw (SPDT) switches with 3 connections. 4 way switches are double pole double throw switches (DPDT) with 4 connections. It always made more sense to me to simply call them SPDT or DPDT but then the electricians wouldn’t know what you were talking about. LOL

2 on positions, one off position = 3 Way

3 on positions, one off position = 4 Way

A true DPDT switch would have 6 terminals not 4 terminals like a 4-way has. Us electricians know that it’s incorrect to call a 4-way a DPDT switch.

Many applications of DPDT switches only use 4 electrical inputs same as a 4 way switch (DC motor direction control). The 4 way switch merely crosses the connections internally, as a result each discrete pole actually has two connections just like a DPDT. The fact that two of the connections are concealed doesn’t make it any less a TRUE DPDT. Note also that the designation DPDT designates the two discrete positions (Dual Throws) of two discrete electrical poles (Dual Poles) NOT the number of external wire connections.

Bob, if I go to the supply house as ask for a DPDT switch I’m not getting a 4-way and if I ask for a 4-way I’m not getting a DPDT switch either. You implied that electricians are too dumb to know what it is when someone says a DPDT switch (which is not a 4-way) and the term DPDT is not a correct substitute name for a 4-way switch.

Robert, I use Corel Draw, but Adobe Illustrator is a good alternative.


Joe, there is two on and there are two off isn’t there?

Thanks. I’ve been wanting to make some graphics similar to yours but when I look at them they seem so complicated. When I have some time I’ll look at the software you’ve mentioned. Thanks again.

I didn’t imply that at all. Sorry you took it that way. But I knew you’d want to argue the whole deal. You are so predictable. The fact that you have to order a part in a jargon that is understood by jobbers doesn’t mean it’s not a DPDT switch. It has two poles each with two positions;.you can call it anything you like.

I’ll let this one go, but will make one further comment. You did say “It always made more sense to me to simply call them SPDT or DPDT but then the electricians wouldn’t know what you were talking about. LOL” For the sake of others who are here trying to learn a DPDT switch and a 4-way are not the same thing. There’s my one and done comment. :zipper_mouth_face:


But in the same token for those who want to know how it works the equivalent schematic will show a DPDT switch regardless of how many connections you draw or how you draw it (2 poles with two positions each).

Very nice and helpful …thank you