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I have two separate 3-way lights that need to be powered from the same power source in one box (in addition to using the box as a junction to supply power to a different box, but I can't see why that would matter). So I have the 14-2 cable coming in from the panel, and its hot lead is pigtailed to the power going out, and to the top (brass) screws of each of the 3-way switches. The neutrals are all tied together. The red and black travelers from the bottom two screws (brass and black) of the switches are going out to the other 3-way switches in two different boxes, and then a 14-2 switched leg goes up to power the lights from there, just like this diagram:

enter image description here

I thought it would be pretty straightforward, to just pigtail the hot line, and wire up two circuits this same way. And when I only had one of the 3-way circuits wired up, it was functioning like it should. But when I put the other circuit together, now something is screwy, where the 3-way of the first circuit is affecting the functioning of the second circuit.

Where did I go wrong, and what is the correct way to wire up two separate 3-way circuits powered by the same 14-2 cable going back to the panel?

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  • The true Homer Simpson d'oh! moment is when you realize the answer was in the picture you provided. You'll note that the hot line in is connected to the black screw in the picture and that the switched hot out is also connected to the black screw, while the travelers are both connected to the gold/brass screws.
    – FreeMan
    Apr 7, 2023 at 14:28

2 Answers 2

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hot lead... to the top (brass) screws of each of the 3-way switches... The red and black travelers from the bottom two screws (brass and black)

I think you're in for a big surprise on that configuration. "top" and "bottom" don't mean a thing on a 3-way switch (not least the switch can be flipped over). What designates the common is the black screw.

I've held 4 random 3-way switches in my hand, oriented the ground screw "down", and I was looking at 4 different arrangements of terminals. It's amazing. Even 2 switches in the same bin can differ. (probably something to do with economically using the brass they stamp the pieces out of).

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    Wow, yes that was it. Thank you. This qualifies as a Homer Simpson "Doh!" moment. Apr 6, 2023 at 19:06
  • Also, don't 3-way switches usually have the common labeled? Apr 6, 2023 at 23:20
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Try like this:

2x 3ways in same box

The power "line" leads from each set of 3-ways are wire-nutted together to the wires from the panel in parallel.

Grounds are all connected, too, of course.

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    Thank you, this is exactly how I thought that I had it wired. On my switches, the black screw is in a different location than this diagram, and that's what had me confused. Now it's working. Apr 6, 2023 at 19:09

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