Have some carriage lights outside my garage that can be turned on from inside the house. It's common that the switch will get flipped and the lights will stay on when they're not wanted.

Is there some way I can add an indicator to the light switch so I can know if the light is on?

Note: the carriage lights are on a 3 way switch.

  • I always preferred the light sensing fixtures and they were just always on. A light in the house might solve the issue (depends on how noticeable it would be to you). – UnhandledExcepSean Oct 14 '13 at 0:25

You need one or two 3-way switches with pilot lights. These are also called 3-way switches, illuminated ON. Some have an illuminated toggle, some are decorative style and some have a separate light. These are examples

3way ill onswitch pilot toggle3waysep light

These switches generally need a neutral wire at both switches. Conventional unlighted switches do not need a neutral. They also need three wires (other than neutral) running between the switches.

If you only want the pilot light in one location, you still need two 3-way switches, but only the lit one needs a neutral.

  • You shouldn't need a neutral for the pilot light in this case. Wire it from one traveler to the other -- that way, it's controlled by both 3-way switches. – ThreePhaseEel Dec 10 '14 at 2:21

You may need an extra wire between switches

Normal three-way switch
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Three-way switch with pilot light
enter image description here

Ignore that the incoming power is from different sides in these diagrams.


Based on your situation I would offer a three way dimmer switch. I have these in my basement and they work great and they are relatively cheap. You can see if the light is on from each location. Both locations can control the dimming, although one location is the master and shows the exact dimming amount. So on the slave switch you will just see a green light if it is on or nothing if it is off. For the master you will see which level the dimming is on. If you already have a three way switch configuration you are good to go.

Another way you could go here if your lights are on at the same time every night is a 3 way timer.


What you are looking for is a switch with a pilot light. Not to be confused with a lighted switch ( they typically illuminate when off so you can find it in the dark). They are available at most big box stores or your local hardware store. It mounts in a standard box but the switch moves from side to side versus up and down. Most use a duplex outlet cover plate. The switch is in one of the holes and the indicator light is in the other. I have them installed on my attic and basement switches.

  • Based on comment by "mike" I was wondering if any special wiring would be required for my application? – Steve Horn Oct 14 '13 at 1:24
  • @steve: wikipedia says "if the multiway switch also incorporates a pilot light or a receptacle, additional hot or neutral connections to the device may be required." – RedGrittyBrick Oct 14 '13 at 9:33

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