A Flushing Electrician Explains Four-Way Light Switches


4 way switches flushing mi electricianFrom the perspective of a homeowner, light switches probably seem like a fairly simple thing—you flip it on, and the light goes on. But when you’re an electrician, you are aware of what goes on behind the scenes (well, behind the walls), and know that there’s a lot that goes into making your light come on every time you flip that switch.

What Is a Four-Way Switch, and How Is it Different from a Three-Way Switch?

You’re probably familiar with three-way switches, though sometimes they are mistakenly called two-way switches. They are light switches that allow you to turn on a room’s light(s) from one location and turn it off from another. In other words, two different light switches control the same light or set of lights.

But did you know that there’s also such a thing as four-way light switches?

A four-way light switch enables you to turn a light on or off from three or more locations. You might be wondering why it isn’t called a three-way switch, since you may only have three switches (and why a three-way switch setup only has two wall switches). Well, it’s because the name has to do with the internal mechanism of the switch, and not the number of switches used.

In a three-way switch, there are three terminals. This means that there are three ways for the electrical current to travel to the switch. In a four-way switch, there are four terminals.

When you employ four-way switches, you can connect any number of switches and have them control the same light or set of lights. However, whether you have three light switches or 100 light switches, two of the switches will be three-way switches and all of the others will be four-way switches.

Our Flushing electricians go into a lot of homes where homeowners tried to install three- or four-way switches themselves, and now some of the switches don’t work at all. Somehow, they got their wires crossed (literally) and need a professional electrician to sort it out for them. Electrical work can be complicated, especially when you are dealing with multiple switches, but our electricians are highly trained and experienced. We have a lot of experience with things like three- and four-way light switches.

In What Types of Places Would You Have an Electrician Install a Four-Way Switch?

Three-way switches are much more common than four-way switches, but four-way switches can be very useful in certain circumstances. We install four-way switches most often in homes that have a t-shaped hallway, so that the hall’s lights can be turned on and off from all three “branches” of the hallway, and also in rooms with three or more entrances. For example, you may have a living room in your home that you can enter from a hallway, from the kitchen, or from a patio door. If you only have a three-way switch installed, you may have to walk across the entire room to turn the lights on or off. By installing four-way switches, you can control the lights from any entrance you choose.

Four-way light switches can offer homeowners a lot of convenience, and can keep you from having to stumble around in the dark while you search for a light switch.

If you own a home or business that could benefit from a four-way light switch, contact us at Electrician Express. One of our helpful, experienced electricians can come to your home or place of business in Genesee County and give you a quote for replacing your switches with ones that will make better sense for your space.

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