I have two switches in my kitchen, one on each side, that each turn on two lights at the same time. What I want to do is change it around so each light is turned on separately but still from both sides of the kitchen. I am assuming I have to add in a switch at both ends. Just unsure of the wiring part.

1 Answer 1


First of all: You will absolutely have to pull new wires for this, and it will involve opening the drywall in several places.

You'll also have to patch the drywall after, and almost certainly repaint each wall you put a hole into. You may be able to get away with painting just a section of the ceiling without it being noticeable, but very rarely can you get away with it on a wall.

Current wiring

What you have now is one of these two wiring variants:

3-way switch (Multiple lights) #1

3-way switch (Multiple lights) #2

Necessary Changes

You essentially need two separate 3-way circuits (take a look here for different wiring variants: http://www.buildmyowncabin.com/electrical/wire-3-way-switches.html).

  • In variant #1, you'd have to pull a new 14/2 between each light and switch, and change the wiring at each light.
  • In variant #2, You'd need a new 14/2 between the two switches, and another 14/2 between the switch and first light or to replace the current 14/2 with a 14/3.

Making diagrams for these is not simple, so if you describe or draw your current wiring diagram (or at least post pictures of the wires inside each box) then maybe I can provide some more concrete instructions.

  • Basically, the situation is that there is a light in the kitchen and one, with a fan, in the smaller attached dining room. I would like to be able to turn on just the fan without having the kitchen light on as well. I probably should have mentioned this to start. Sorry about that. Does that make it any more straight forward?
    – Andrew
    Commented Jun 18, 2014 at 21:58
  • @Andrew That is also possible, but a bit different from what I showed and different from what you asked. There are many options, and it really depends what you're willing to go through -- eg are you okay with opening drywall? You can have 3 switches at two locations to control each light AND the fan independently (which means a few new wires and lots of holes in drywall), or depending on the current wiring you may be able to have one switch control both lights, and the other switch control the fan WITHOUT having to open walls up.
    – gregmac
    Commented Jun 18, 2014 at 22:38
  • As an alternative you could replace the existing switches with 'smart' switches or keypads (eg, Insteon, UBP or Z-wave) and install in-line modules in the fan to get independent control everywhere, without opening walls. The hardware is more expensive and it's a bit more technologically complicated, but it may work out depending on the difficulty fishing wires and the types of repairs you need to do after.
    – gregmac
    Commented Jun 18, 2014 at 22:41
  • Thanks for the response. I will have to take a more detailed look at how everything is wired first. I was just curious to see how complicated it all would be.
    – Andrew
    Commented Jun 18, 2014 at 22:57
  • Andrew seems to want two switches on each end. Both would be three way and would treat each light as a separate circuit. Your illustrations show only one circuit with both lights going on and off at the same time, not independently
    – bib
    Commented Jun 19, 2014 at 1:27

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