I have gone through multiple diagrams on the internet but not able to understand my dining room 3-way switch wiring setup. Any insight or next steps would be helpful.

What do I want to achieve? I would like to install a 3-way smart dimmer switch that requires a neutral wire. Can I still do that by doing making some adjustments to existing wiring?

What I have?

  • Light Fixture
  • Switch Box 1
  • Switch Box 2

Switch Box 1 has two wire bundles and a 3-way standard switch

  • Wire bundle 1 has 2 wires - Black and White
  • Wire bundle 2 has 3 wires - Black, Red and White
  • White wire of Wire bundle 1 which seems hot connected to the Black wire of Wire Bundle 2 with a wire nut
  • Black wire of Wire bundle 1 is connected to the Common screw of Switch 1
  • Other two wires of Wire bundle 2 are connected to the Switch 1 (travelers)

Switch Box 2 has 1 wire bundle and a 3-way dimmer switch

  • Wire bundle has 3 wires - Black, Red and White
  • All three wires are connected to three parts of the 3-way dimmer switch

It goes without saying that there is a ground wire in both switch boxes.

What do I know so far?

  • I think Power seems to be getting to the fixture first
  • Do not see any neutral wire

What do I not know so far?

  • Not sure why the white wire of Wire Bundle 1 in Switch Box 1 is hot?
  • Not opened the fixture to see what is in there.

Thank you for your time. Himanshu

  • Look (not very far) for the concept of a switch loop, and go LOOK in the light fixture junction box. You have a switch loop on a 3-way switch - but other than that, yup, it's a switch loop, power comes into the light and goes to and from the switch on a /2 wire
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Oct 5, 2020 at 2:21
  • What make and model of smart dimmer do you want to install? Commented Oct 5, 2020 at 3:12
  • @ThreePhaseEel thanks for your time. I would like to install Feit Electic Smart Wifi Dimmer switch. Here is the link feit.com/product/smart-wi-fi-dimmer Commented Oct 7, 2020 at 1:16

1 Answer 1


Yup, you have a switch loop in a 3-way switch configuration. The wiring is

Supply ------ Light -------- Switch1 ====== Switch 2

  • The wires from Supply to Light are always-hot and neutral.
  • The wires from Light to Switch1 are always-hot and switched-hot.
  • The wires from Switch1 to Switch2 are always-hot and 2 travelers.

Your smart switch needs always-hot, switched-hot and neutral. Those are not located at any switch location.

It won't be possible to install a smart switch in the normal way. You'll need a smart switch module that sits in the lamp box and serves as the master, and smart-switch remotes at the physical switch locations.

  • Thank you for explaining with a diagram. Do you have a recommendation for a 3-way smart switch that can support this kind of configuration? I have checked multiple 3-way switches in my home and they all seemed to have a similar configuration. Thank you again! Commented Oct 7, 2020 at 1:36

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