I have found diagrams that are almost what I’m looking for but not quite. Maybe because it isn’t logical/feasible? I’m wiring three switches to control multiple LED panel lights in the ceiling.

I have found a diagram that’s close that shows a sequence of Source - Switch 1 - Light - Switch 2 - Switch 3.

What I’m looking for, if feasible, is a little different. Referring to the diagram attached, I’d prefer the route from the Source, to Switch 2, Light 7, L6, L5, Switch 3, L4, L3, L2, Switch 1, L1, L9, L8.

Is this feasible/rational, and if so, what would be the wiring diagram?

Additional notes: The LEDs are line voltage. The intention is that each switch will turn on or off the all the lights. Ideally, Switch 1 would be a dimmer


enter image description here

  • What is the functionality you are trying to achieve? Flipping any switch turns on/off all of the lights? Are the LEDs line voltage or low voltage? If low voltage where are the power supplies? – HABO Apr 21 at 19:15
  • Thanks for the clarification request @HABO. I have updated the post. – Oldoldhouseguy Apr 21 at 19:37
  • There are systems like Lutron Maestro that let you have a single dimmer with multiple remote control devices so that you can have something that behaves as a single dimming circuit controlled from S1, S2 and S3. The control devices are connected together and feed the string of lights. A typical installation manual is for the Maestro C·L family. – HABO Apr 21 at 21:54
  • Are the boxes and wires already in place, or is this all new construction? – ThreePhaseEel Apr 22 at 1:53
  • You could wire it as a standard 3 way lighting circuit, but you would need to use 4 wire cable for sections of it for odd arrangements. Conceptually, the easiest way to think about it is panel -> switch -> switch -> switch -> Lights. This arrangement requires 3 wire cable only between switch to switch connections and 2 wire for the rest. 3 and 4 way switches make for long wiring runs, so you may want to figure out length and consider upgrading 1 wire size, although for a dedicated lighting circuit, LEDs are a small load so standard guage would be adequate. – K H Apr 22 at 6:36

Strings not required. Trees=yes. Loops=no.

Some people get really hung up on the idea that circuits must be in a linear string. That's not true at all.

You can have as many "Tee" branches as you please. The circuit can look like a grand old oak tree if that's what your wiring needs. What you can't do is loop back.


 A---B---C       H----I
     |           |
     |                |
     M---N---O        L

you can do that all day.


     |           |

Certain smart switches are the only way to do it straight with /3.

You need certain very specific smart switches which have wireless networking.

In that case, you wire every single connection with /3+ground cable.

  • Black = always-hot
  • Red = switched-hot
  • White = neutral.

The master smart switch takes from all three. The remote smart switches take from always-hot and neutral. The lamps take from switched-hot and neutral.

You need always-hot and neutral at all these switch locations.

If you wire with traditional 3/4-way switches, you will need neutral at all locations, not just one as is normally required. That is because the room area is too complex and the lights are too spread out. The neutral rule exists for a variety of devices, but one of them is motion sensors. The rule on 3-ways says that if both/all the 3/4-way switches all have line-of-sight to the whole room, then only one of them needs neutral (because the motion sensor could just be there). However, in your case, the room is too large and complex for that to work, for instance S1 and S2 cannot see the area around L8 and L9. You would need multiple motion sensors for full coverage, and so you need neutrals at those locations. Looks like "all of them" to me.

Best bet for traditional 3-ways

As you can tell, I'm not a fan of traditional 3-ways in this instance. If you are hellbound to do it on your route, you will need smurf tube or other conduit, because you will need ground, always-hot, switched-hot, neutral and 2 travelers in a number of places. And they don't make /5 cable.

However if you are flexible on routes, you can go

 supply -> S1 -> S2 -> S3 -> all the lights

Yes, that involves a fair bit of circuity. (running all over the place; the word only distantly relates to "circuit").

The most efficient "traditional 3-way" method would probably be a conduit "backbone" from S3-S2-S1, and then and then simply "tee" off /2 Romex to the various lights as convenient. You could throw any wires you need into the conduits, even after the drywall is up. Conduit is nice that way.

  • Thanks for the detailed and thought out answer Harper. I think will go with the Supply - 14/2 - S1 - 14/3 - S2 - 14/3 - S3 - 14/3 - L5 - 14/2 - L6 ..... Sound good? I (well, actually my wife) would like to use smart dimmer switches. The only ones I can find in canada that are 4 way is by Martin Jerry | SmartLife App from amazon (Sorry, don’t know how to link). I can’t tell if these are CSA approved or not. – Oldoldhouseguy Apr 23 at 13:11
  • @Oldoldhouseguy anything on Amazon Marketplace won't be CSA approved. But you're looking for the wrong thing. On a new build like this, all you need is any of the loads and loads of smart switches which use a master + a remote, and allow 2 or more remotes. Their instructions will show how to wire this. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Apr 23 at 20:53
  • Ohhhhh! I think I’ve been having a brain gap! Since this is essentially a new build, I have additional options which I had not considered/fully understood/differentiated. So, is this understanding correct: I could install (wired) a single smart switch then have multiple remote (meaning not wired) switches mounted where ever I like. This way, I don’t need to actually wire to the S2 and S3 switch locations. – Oldoldhouseguy Apr 24 at 14:32
  • @Oldoldhouseguy Depends what tech you go with. Wireless switches will eventually have their battery run flat, and your AHJ may not accept them for mandatory switches. However many wired smart switches (e.g. Insteon) are powered but have wireless and/or powerline networking, which means they only need always-hot and neutral. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Apr 24 at 16:50

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