I would like to use two switches to operate two lights, where as one light goes off the other light goes on so there is always one light on. When you flip either switch one light turns on and the other turns off.

  • What you request is easily accomplished, but you should provide some scope of your objective. I can build a circuit on a panel containing some batteries, two switches and two lights. With suitable and simple wiring, your objective is met. If your goal is to accomplish this within house wiring, please provide the current wiring layout within which you have to work. If you are able to pull new wires to accomplish your goal, please also provide that information.
    – fred_dot_u
    Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 23:22
  • Im looking for a wiring diagram using a standard single phase panel and new wire pulled in conduit.
    – user65336
    Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 23:46
  • I'm going to amend my previous comment here and suggest that I shoot myself in the foot instead. I had expected to pop out a nice clean diagram which would allow you to place the switches anywhere, considering the new wire info, but the only diagram I can make work requires that the switches be in the same location. I can think of a few other methods I would consider impractical, as they involve more complex electronics. Perhaps I'll come up with a better approach just as I fall asleep tonight.
    – fred_dot_u
    Commented Jan 19, 2017 at 0:29

1 Answer 1


This is easier than it sounds

Basically, what you want here is an "open ended" multi-way switch, where each light is wired to a traveler.

In other words, you wire up a 3-way and a 4-way location to each other and to power as normal, but leave the load-side 3-way off. Instead, the two "travelers" from the load side of the 4-way location are turned into switched hots, one for each light.

The downside is that you'll need to turn this arrangement off at the breaker to change a lightbulb, unless you provide a separate disconnect switch somewhere in the line feed to this funky setup.

  • Exactly. Lay out a 3-way switch circuit with 3 switches. Then, delete the third switch. Now you have two travelers dangling, send those to the lamps. Also carry neutral along, and branch it at the second switch to the 2 lamps. Commented Jan 19, 2017 at 2:31
  • @Harper -- yeah, or you can wire it as a switch loop for that matter if you were so inclined :) (hence my rather generic description) Commented Jan 19, 2017 at 3:14

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