I have a standard circuit with a 3-way switch on each end and one 4-way switch in the middle. Will it work if I run power to the 4 way switch instead of one of the 3-way switches? The light is also connected to the 4-way switch.

[UPDATE] Before I have to fire up paint and draw something see if this helps:

Current setup:

12/3 wire: 3waySwitch -> 4waySwitch -> 3waySwitch.
12/2 wire: power -> 4waySwitch -> light bulb

I have a light fixture coming off the 4wayswitch. Can I bring power to the 4waySwitch instead of one of the 3waySwitches like it's typically done? This is new construction and I already ran the wire. I haven't tested it because the power is not live. I could re-run the power wire if I have to. The question is, do I have to?

The goal of course is to allow all 3 switches to turn the light off/on (goes without saying).

  • Can you post a diagram of your existing setup? Feb 26, 2016 at 4:52
  • 2
    What are you looking to accomplish? If you're getting rid of the first three-way, then replace the four-way with this old switch. I.E. Use 2 three-way switches. If you're wanting to leave the current setup, but feed power to it all from the four-way, it's not possible, you'll have to extend the power to the first three-way still.
    – TFK
    Feb 26, 2016 at 5:45
  • @TFK -- what he wants is possible now that we know something about the existing wires -- we just need to get this reopened Feb 27, 2016 at 17:11
  • I think the key idea is that the line & load must be somewhere along the common wire - not along either of the travellers. But line & load could be anywhere on the common. At one end, in the middle, together, separate, doesn't matter. Jan 9, 2017 at 2:14

2 Answers 2


Did I hear somebody say 'drawing'?

Three switch loop, power at middle, load at middle

Note: this diagram represents equipment and cables generally available in the USA. I have used blue to represent the white wires because white does not show up without a black outline, which I can't be arsed to draw.

  • I do have a related question, though. I have been wiring multi-way circuits in my house with both the hot and switched hot carried by the black wires, and the travelers carried by the red and the tape-marked white. Is this counter to any convention? Will it confuse future maintaining electricians? Feb 29, 2016 at 0:33
  • Well, you should use the convention where blue is always cold (actually, you should never have blue in a switch!). For this reason, there are wires with different color coding: red, black, gray (as far as I remember), to avoid using blue for something that can be hot.
    – yo'
    Feb 29, 2016 at 8:11
  • @yo' He only used blue in his drawing because white would not show up. The blue wire on the drawing is actually the white wire. In the US gray is not normally used in residential wiring.
    – ArchonOSX
    Feb 29, 2016 at 12:17
  • 1
    @A.I.Breveleri your wiring method is the normal method. The red and white of a 3 wire cable are used as trevelers with the white re-identified as another color. I personally might use blue for the reidentification but if you don't have blue tape then I would use red. Either way any electrician worth their salt will realize what you have done very quickly. Nice drawing too.
    – ArchonOSX
    Feb 29, 2016 at 12:21
  • 1
    This is what I was looking for. Trying to find a diagram for these not so common scenarios is a pain. Where did you find this? Feb 29, 2016 at 17:41

You can wire a setup like this literally any way you want. The power and switch leg can be at any boxes, you just have to know how to wire it.

Edit: Incorrect drawing removed. Sorry,can't ind a suitable one to your situation.

  • This drawing shows the neutral being switched. That is definitely NOT legal according to the code here in the US.
    – ArchonOSX
    Feb 28, 2016 at 18:29
  • @ArchonOSX, HA! I never even noticed that. Good catch! Feb 28, 2016 at 19:40
  • I was hoping it was possible. Good to know I can put the power and switch leg anywhere in the circuit. Feb 29, 2016 at 17:39

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