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I am trying to wire a separate light into a light switch by connecting the wires into the switch, along with the ones already in there connected to our main light fixture. The problem is we have two light switches that control the same light, so the polarity is funky. The switch I am trying to wire it into has a black and a white on the right side, and a red on the other side. From what I know, the red wire is what passes electricity to the other switch depending on which switch is activated at any moment in time. I've tried every combination of wires into the switch, and what's happening is the secondary light will turn on when the main light is off, and vice versa.

That being said, what is the best way to get this to work? What am I missing? Any help is appreciated!

  • You have a three-way switch. The white and the red send electricity between the switches, depending on which position the switches are in. So you want to convert this into two switches? Do you know if the wires pass through the box the fixture is connected to, or do they just run to the other switch? – Machavity Jan 7 '17 at 4:22
  • Can you post photos of the insides of the boxes? – ThreePhaseEel Jan 7 '17 at 16:20
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Sounds like you might be out of luck, unless there happens to be a neutral in the box. When it comes to 3-way circuits, a white wire is likely not a neutral (and in your case I can say pretty certainly that it is not).


A 3-way switch has four terminals, none of which is neutral (unless it's a "smart" switch).

Common

This terminal is either connected to the line (power feeding in), or the load (feeding power to the device).

Traveller

There are two traveller terminals, which the switch selects between depending on the position. If power is fed to the common terminal, power will be directed to one of the travellers depending on the switch position.

Ground

This terminal provides a connection to the grounding conductor.

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