How to Wire a Three-Way Electrical 12-volt Switch

by Phil Altshuler
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toggle switch image by Sergey Danilov from

Three-way low-voltage switches are available in several different varieties. There are rocker, toggle and push-pull styles, and they come in a large number of colors and designs. These switches are in automobiles, boats and recreational vehicles. They control accessories that require a two-position switch. Some are available with a light, indicating when the device is on. This is particularly useful when the accessory is not visible from the switch location.

Step 1

Disconnect the positive battery cable. Locate an appropriate switch-mounting location. Drill or cut an opening to accept the switch.

Step 2

Mount the switch by removing the outer lock ring on the top of the switch. If you are mounting a rocker switch, you may have to trim the opening with a file to get the switch to fit correctly. Rocker switches snap in without a lock ring.

Step 3

Use a continuity tester to verify the switch configuration. Route the wires to the switch. You will have one wire connected to a positive 12-volt source, and two wires that go to the loads.

Step 4

Strip the wires back 3/8 inch. Insert them into the crimp end of the spade connectors. Crimp the ends onto the wires.

Step 5

Wire the switch by connecting power to the center terminal(s). The loads attach to the other two terminals. Push connectors onto the switch terminals.

Step 6

Connect the battery and verify that the switch works correctly.

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