I replaced my 3-way switches. Is it possible to have either switch shut the light off, by pulling down on the toggles Either switch does shut the light off, but then one toggle is up, and the other is down. I want both to be down after shutting the light off. If there is a way, can you give a diagram of how to wire it?

  • 1
    Yeah, just swap the travelers on one end.
    – Hot Licks
    Dec 22, 2014 at 3:26
  • "Either switch does shut the light off, but then one toggle is up, and the other is down." if that is all you want to accomplish then just rotate one of the switches. In that case they would either be both up or both down when the lights was off. If you want both switches always down when the light is off, then that is more complicated as explained by others below,
    – sborsher
    Dec 24, 2014 at 18:41
  • I'm currently going for an even nicer solution to satisfy my OCD. As mentioned by some others, there are switches that are simply a single button which toggles the switch with no indication of which state it's currently in. Using these with 3-way switches seems perfect to me. They're hard to find, but Zoro makes one and Legrand has one in its Adorne line of products. They aren't cheap, but they're also not exorbitantly expensive.
    – bubbleking
    Jul 27, 2016 at 21:45
  • Just flip the switch over. Unhooking wires? No need! May 10, 2018 at 13:36

3 Answers 3


There are four possible combinations of two 3-way switches:

  1. Both up
  2. Both down
  3. First up, second down
  4. First down, second up

Two of these will have the light or fixture on, two will have it off. I prefer #1 and #2 to be "off", with #3 and #4 on.

If your light is off for #3 and #4, and you'd prefer it the other way, you can exchange the traveller wires at (only) one of the two switches. The travellers are generally connected to two silver screws, with the common wire on a darker screw.


Just mount one switch bottom-up, or invert the two travelers if you can't mechanically 'rotate' the switch.


There is no way to achieve what you want with 3-way toggle switches, either thru wiring or physical orientation of the switch. During use they will often be mismatched. The only solution to get them to be uniform and to match the current lights operation is to use a push button type switch, lutron and creston make some nice ones, but they are not cheap. Google Image Search "Lutron Maestro Switch".

  • 2
    See @TomG's answer. It's certainly possible to have both down mean light off with standard 3-way switches -- but then both up will also mean light off.
    – keshlam
    Dec 21, 2014 at 23:01
  • Yeah until somebody goes to the other switch location and flips the switch. I've this discussion with more than one customer. Its true for a time they can be synced, but in practice they quickly become out of sync.
    – Brian Duke
    Dec 21, 2014 at 23:07
  • 2
    Sure. Point is, you can have either of two conventions -- on if equal, on if unequal -- and sometimes that's sufficient. If it really isn't, then I agree that moving to an intelligent switch system is the simplest fix (and allows expansion into a full home automation system over time.)
    – keshlam
    Dec 21, 2014 at 23:10
  • 7
    (And in fact "equal" is what the original poster requested.)
    – keshlam
    Dec 22, 2014 at 0:53
  • +1 to restore to 0. I think TomG's answer is a case of an entirely true and accurate answer that never-the-less fails to answer the real question. This answer is closer to what I think the OP is asking. Personally, I don't know why push-button 3ways are not the standard. Dec 23, 2014 at 13:53

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