12v 3-Way Switch for Your RV
A 3-way switch will allow you to turn the lights in your RV from two locations. For example, a 3-way switch can allow you to turn off all the lights in a room from a wall switch, or turn the lights on individually at the source. This can be very convenient, making life on the road that much easier.
A 3-way switch will control lights and accessories that need a two-position switch. Three-way 12-volt switches come in several different styles and colors, so you can get one to match your interior. You can get a toggle, rocker, or push-pull style. Some even come with a light to indicate when it’s on.
For a DC electrical system, don’t use AC household 3-way switches. Direct current has a higher arcing and that could burn out that type of switch very quickly. You can find DC 3-way switches at an RV or auto supply store.
One difficulty is that a 3-way switch won’t have any indication of what is on and what is off marked on the handle. There will simply be three connector screws on the switch, in addition to the green grounding screw. Two of the three screws should be the same color, typically brass. These are called the “travelers”, and they go from one switch to another. These are not attached to anything else. The other screw will usually be black and is known as the “pivot”. The pivot of one switch will connect to your 12-volt power source. The pivot connector on the second switch connects to the second wire that came off of the original single switch.
Please note that if you attach the wires from the 3-way switch to a DC volt meter you won’t get a reading. That’s because you need to have both a positive and a negative wire in order to get a voltage reading.
When you’re installing the 3-way switch, where the wires from the original switch go, or the polarity, doesn’t matter. The wires can be connected to either pivot connector. The second switch’s pivot connects to the remaining wire of the original single switch. The two traveler connectors on the original switch go to the second switch.
If you do not understand how to do this, please hire a qualified RV technician experienced in electrical work. Miswiring a circuit can cause serious problems, and you are better off hiring someone who knows how to do it.