What is a 4-Way Light Switch? See How It Works Below!

A 4-way switch is an electrical switch used to control a light fixture from three or more different locations.

It is used in commercial or residential homes, mostly on staircases, hallways, and large rooms.

Four-way switch requires three-way switches to work. And with proper connection, you can switch on/off a single light from anywhere in your room.

How it works

how 4-way switch worksimage credit: matthews.sites.wfu.edu/

A four-way switch usually comes with 4 terminals called the travellers, and a ground screw. These terminals provide 2 sets of toggle positions.

When the toggle switch is in the up-position, the current flows through the two terminals. If it is in a down position, currents flow through the other terminals.

Can you use a 3 way switch as a 4 way?

It all depends on what you want. if you want to control a light fixture from two different locations, use a 3 way switch. But if you want to control the lights from three or more locations, use a 4 way switch.

How and when is a 4 way switch used?

A four-way switch is used when you want to control a single light from three or more different locations.

Difference between a 3 way and a four-way switch

3 way switch4 way switch
A 3-way switch allows you to control a light fixture from two different locations.4-ways or intermediate switch controls a light from three or more different locations.
It has three terminals with an earth screw.has 4 terminals with an earth screw.
Can work without a four way switchRequires two 3-way devices (switch or dimmer) in order to function

Can you use a 3-way switch as a 4-way?

No, 3-way switches are for controlling a light fixture from two locations. You will need a 4-way switch to control the same lights from three or more locations.

How can you tell if a switch is 4 ways?

You can tell if a switch is 4 ways by looking at the terminals. The four-way switch comes with 4 wire terminals (two brass and 2 dark) and a ground screw.

How do you wire a 4-way switch?

To wire a 4 way switch circuit, you will need to run an electrical wire from the light source to the three-way switch. This red or hot wire will pass through the traveller terminal of the four-way switch to the second switch.

From there, you can use another wire depending on your country code to connect the traveler terminals of the first, second and third switches.

The first set of wires is used to extend out and connect with these other switches, while the second set is used to extend back to the original switch, which was connected directly to the lamp.

This setup provides you with three or four different locations where you can control a single light fixture. You’ll simply flick the toggle of one of the three or four switches for that location, and your light will turn on!

For complete details on how to wire a light switch showing all wiring diagrams, check out:

About mariaelectricals

Hi, I am Emmanuel Nwankwo, a commercial electrician and the founder of mariaelectricals.com. I established this blog to share my decades of work experience in electrical installations and repairs.