I have a 3-way setup and I'd love to make it smart, but I'm not sure how. Here's my setup:

Box #1: 2 Wire Cable (Black, White) + 3 Wire Cable (Black, White, Red)
Box #2: 3 Wire Cable (Black, White, Red)
Fixture (2 light bulbs): 2 Wire Cable (Black + White) + 2 Wire Cable (Black + White)

Here how everything is hooked up:

Box / Switch #1:
Box / Switch #1

Box / Switch #2:
enter image description here

My fixture seems to be having 2 x 2 wire cable with only black and white. The black of one is hooked to the white of the other, then the remaining white act as the common and the black as the hot I believe.

At my fixture level, I don't see the red traveler wire, so it looked very similar to option #5 from https://www.easy-do-it-yourself-home-improvements.com/3-way-switch-wiring-diagram.html, however, looking closely, it seems like my switch #1 is mixing the white from the 2 wire cable with the black from the 3 wire cable. Is it just a simple switcheroo where they decided to use a white and a black while they could've use either? How does that affect the rest of the circuit?

3-Way Option #5

EDIT: After some analysis of my pictures, it seems like this is what I have, which is a modified version of the Option #5: 3-Way Option #5 Modified

My goal here is to install some smart switches. I have some smart switches that require a neutral and some that don't. I'm fine with using a combination of both if needed. I don't mind breaking the physical 3-way and making it a logical one using Home Automation. What that means is that I would be fine making this a single-pole switch and using one of the two switches as a companion (where I would only hook the line, neutral, and ground, not the load, meaning my switch wouldn't actually control anything, but I could make it control the light I want using Home Automation).

How would I do that?

I'd appreciate the help here! Thanks!

1 Answer 1


First of all, VERY nice job of documentation, pictures, and explanation of what's going on. You are correct in that you have the setup as it is shown in number five. They have the black and white mixed around from the two wire going up to the fixture which really makes no difference. Both of those wires going to the fixture are a common on either switch. To answer your question, you would have to use a Smart switch that does not require a neutral. And you would only be able to use it in the box with the two wire to the fixture. The reason being, you have no neutral in either of these boxes and no way to get one there. The incoming power is in the light fixture and you only have the two wire going to the switch boxes. In your particular installation the white wire in the two wire in the switch box is your constant hot and the black wire from that two wire is your switch leg going back up.

  • Thank you so much 😊 I really appreciate the kind words on the documentation, I wanted to make it as easy as possible for someone to help! So, I would need a smart switch that doesn't require a neutral, however, would there be a way to convert the traveler into one and make it single pole? I assume I can't because the power comes to the fixture first. To summarize, I should be able to make it smart, but I would need one that doesn't require a neutral, but that does support 3-way, I'll have to dig to see if that exist. Any idea or suggestions? Dec 16, 2023 at 4:32
  • Correct me if I'm wrong, but what I could also do is use 2 single pole smart switches that don't require a neutral. The first one, would replace Switch #1 in my example and would really turn on / off the fixture, but I would make it a single pole while still giving power to the second switch (hot). Then at the second switch, I would only connect black (hot) and ground, that way that switch wouldn't actually control anything, but using home automation I could make it control switch #1. How does that sound? Dec 16, 2023 at 4:43
  • That will work, I do believe. Sounds like you have good grasp of the project. Good luck!
    – Keith
    Dec 17, 2023 at 1:22

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