I have kitchen lights that are controlled from 3 different switches (with one switch a dimmer). Now one of the switches (not the dimmer one) is wobbly and I would like to replace it. When I opened it, I got confused because it has 5 terminals (3 on one side and 2 on other). See pics of right and left sides of the switch. The top terminal is not connected while the 2 on each side are. And unfortunately they were all connected using same color wire so I can't tell what wire is what. Can I replace this switch with the Lutron 3-way switch shown? If so, what wires on the old switch should be connected to what terminals on the Lutron? If not, what other switch would be a replacement for the old one? Appreciate your insight. Thanks.

Right side of switch.enter image description here[left side of switch3enter image description here

  • This is the classic problem of: I want to install a dimmer/smart switch in a 3-way circuit, but the wiring in the walls is dictating that it be at a particular location, and I want a different one. Commented Feb 12, 2022 at 19:49
  • Can you post photos looking into the backs of all boxes involved in this switch circuit by the way? Commented Feb 12, 2022 at 21:44

1 Answer 1


That's a 4-way switch (which you need at least one of for your lights to be controlled from 3 switches, not 2) and the unconnected terminal is ground (which can be OK if it's in a metal box and "self-grounding." It picks up ground from the box.)

Stock 3-switches scenario is 3-way's at each "end" and a single 4-way in the "middle." Though it works out that 4, 5 or more can still be done with 3 ways at each end and as many 4-ways as required in the "middles" rather than needing 5, 6, 7... way switches.

So, no, you cannot replace a 4-way switch with a 3-way switch, at least not and have things work correctly as you'd expect.

  • So which switch is a one-to-one replacement for this one? I don't need a dimmer here, just a regular replacement. I was looking at 4-way switches online but they all seem to have only 4 terminals, not 5 (eg, Levitron 5604-2W 4-way). Is that ok to use? Commented Feb 13, 2022 at 1:44
  • 1
    The "fifth terminal" is the green grounding screw, which is not properly speaking a terminal, and won't be counted as such in the description of the switch. It will be there (Homely Despot even has a picture that isn't the stock picture which shows that on their website, but it's unlinkable.) The stock picture hides it.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Feb 13, 2022 at 1:54

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