my fixture has a black and white wire. ceiling has 2 blacks(twisted together), 2 whites (twisted together) and 1 red. There are 2 fixtures in the room with 2 wall switches. Only one wall switch has a red wire. If I hook white to white and black to black and red to either than both fixtures come on with either switch. What am I missing?

  • 2
    A licensed electrician to trace the lines properly. Please stop experimenting with electricity in your home, unless you like fires and death. Aug 17, 2013 at 14:12
  • I want to elaborate on this a bit. Here's the problem - we know black should be hot and white should be neutral - but we can't be sure unless they're tested. We don't know what red goes to - you don't usually see red used w/o a second switch involved somewhere else. And we know you've wired the switches together and already gotten bad results. This scares the pants off of me. You don't know what you're doing - and you can kill someone as a result - so please, stop. Aug 17, 2013 at 14:21
  • DIYers can learn to do electric safely, but as The Evi Greebo says, in less than crystal clear situations, a novice is at serious risk. Best to learn by watching someone knowledgeable do it a few times, learn the logic of wiring and how to test to make sure that the existing wiring is correct to begin with.
    – bib
    Aug 17, 2013 at 14:38
  • Are the 2 switches intended to turn on/off both fixtures from 2 locations or are they intended to switch each fixture independently?
    – HerrBag
    Aug 17, 2013 at 18:00
  • @TheEvilGreebo This is a do-it-yourself exchange. The OP already knows the have-somebody-else-do-it option. Jun 11, 2015 at 13:09

1 Answer 1


enter image description here Three way wiring diagram for 2 switches (courtesy @tester101)

In this diagram, power enters from the left. If the switches are clock faces, the common terminal is at 7, the two travelers are at 11 and 1 and ground is at 5.

Power flow: Power enters left switch on black wire at 7, depending on switch setting, it leaves either on the black wire OR the red wire (This is the key to 3-ways: power can get to the light by either switch, and can be turned off by either)

The power enters the right switch by either the red or the black. It leaves the right switch on the black-tagged white wire at 7. It then enters the light fixture(s) and returns to the neutral (white), back at the left switch location.

Fortunately, electrons move at the speed of light (nearly) and don't get dizzy.

There is another scenario where the power enters at the light and and the hot (black, ungrounded) is 'sent' to the common of one switch and the white(neutral) is 'sent through the light and down to the common of the other switch. Both travelers still must traverse between the two switches.

In simplified form, two 'three-way' switches (SPDT) in schematic form (grounds omitted for clarity): enter image description here

  • An electrician sorted it out fixture white ti white, fixture black to red, leave 2 blacks alone in mars connector
    – Barry
    Aug 17, 2013 at 22:14

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