HOW TO: Wire a DPDT Rocker Switch for Reversing Polarity

Introduction: HOW TO: Wire a DPDT Rocker Switch for Reversing Polarity

When you need to control a DC motor (such as a DC linear actuator) you usually need to be able to swap the polarity on the wires going to the motor.

A double pole, double throw switch is used for this purpose but you have to wire it up correctly to reverse the polarity going to the linear actuator.

Step 1: Required Materials

You need the following materials:

-DPDT rocker switch
-insulated disconnect terminals (female) x 6
-wire cutter/crimper/stripper tool
-a linear actuator or DC motor to control

Step 2: Connecting the Wires to the Disconnect Terminals

First you need to cut a bit off each wire that will be going to the motor. This is the jumper that will allow the polarity to swap.

I'm using blue and brown wire. THE COLOR OF THE WIRE IS NOT SIGNIFICANT. You can use red and black, or any combination of wire color. Because you'll be swapping the polarity back and forth on the actuator, the color of the wire, and whether they are on the right side or the left doesn't matter.

Twist together one end of the blue jumper wire and the end of the main blue wire. Then push this into the disconnect terminal and crimp with the wire tool.

Do the same for the brown wire.

At the end of the blue jumper attach another disconnect terminal.

Do the same for the brown wire.

Attach the main blue terminal to one of the poles on the side, attach the main brown termainl to the pole right next to it.

Attach the blue jumper connector to the opposite corner, and the brown jumper to the other corner to form an 'X' across the switch.

Step 3: Connecting the Wires to the Disconnect Terminals (for Power)

Similar to the last step take another wire that will go to the +12V DC (or whatever you are using). I am using blue wire.

Attach this to a disconnect terminal.

Do the same with another piece of wire (I used brown). This will go to ground.

Attach these to the center poles of the switch.

With my switch it doesn't matter which poles it's attached to, as there is no up and down for the switch. If you don't like it just turn the switch upside down. Otherwise test before installing the switch.

Step 4: Done!

Done! Now we can connect the power to the switch and wire the DC motor to the switch so it can reverse direction.

I use these for linear actuators (, but you can just as easily use these for any DC motor where you need to reverse the polarity to change the direction of the motor.


Step 5: UPDATE: Wiring Diagram

I've had a number of people ask me about a wiring diagram, as the photos may not be enough on their own.


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65 Discussions

I have two motors and 2 DPDT swith with 3 position and I want 4 possibilities 1- Both forward 2- Both reverse 3- 1st forward, 2nd reverse 4- 1st reverse, 2nd forward.can anybody provide me line diagram.

could I still add a potentiometer to this what for changing thes speed of a dc fan

This would be something good for you guys to post on YOUR website, which is where I went first to find how to wire the switch for your actuators. However, my switch has a 7th connector, for the ground, so I am still not sure how to wire the positive lead into the switch. Your diagram has the positive and negative going to the two positive terminals. Do I need to jumper the power between the two positive terminals also to make this 7 terminal switch work? Thanks!

Cool! Do you know of a way to make a DPDT rocker switch very very loose? I want to make a small wind vane polarity reversing switch, but I don't know how to remove the clicky latching mechanism for a rocker switch.

I have a DPDT centre off switch that controls a model railway turntable - see attached image - and I want to add 2 LEDs to indicate direction of travel of the turntable either clockwise or anti-clockwise. How do I do this? I believe blocking diode/s can be used. I hope you can help. Thank you


This is very helpful, i did wiring like this and its work perfect on my actuators forward and reverse. great job buddy. i recommend to place clear images of after wiring.

Thx for the wiring diagram. totally what i was looking for and fixed my switch and things work great now.

My 4 pin switch has jumpers to the opposite corners, with the positive and negative terminals in the middle of the switch. Can this switch be used to wire the actuator?


there, I hope some one can help, I am trying to sort out some
controls for a wheelchair I am building, I have sorted out all the
actuators to run from separate rocker switches (4 x 6 pin DPDT) they
are powered from the on board 12v batteries 2x =24volts what I want
to do is try to find a way I can wire up several actuators (the same
ones I need with separate controls too) so I can press one button and
have the seat riser the foot rests and the strand function all work
from the one DPDT button as all are required to make the chair get in
to the stand position. The problem is I need to be able to
automatically isolate the power from the separate buttons just in
case I activate them by mistake at the same time thus causing Pos+ &
Neg- being sent at the same time to the same connectors on the
actuators. As the functions are battery intensive it also needs to
operate from the on board batteries. Any help advice oh so welcome.

Excellent.: I applied this knowledge to a Ceiling Fan. This is exactly how the Reverse switch works on a Ceiling fan. Mine Broke and replaced the reverse switch for few bucks. Now the Ceiling Fan works like new.

i have something for yea i have 3 rocker switches running 2 jack motors (left & right) I want my center rocker to run both motors at the same time i wired this all together and i get all power to both legs from every switch what have i done wrong or what is my next step?

Hi there. I have come this far but have hit a road block. I am trying to run a linear actuator with a wireless winch control i bought off of ebay. The actuator only has 2 leads and the wireless receiver works by sending power through one of 2 leads depending on if you press the up button or the down. Is there a way I can make this work? thanks in advance.

I would like to use an electric drill (corded) as an actuator drive.

Is it possible to replace the reverse polarity switch on the drill so that i can turn it on with a rocker or toggle switch?

I would really appreciate your help.

Thank you.

I have an actuator and a choice of 2 separate power supplies, ( A and B ). Each power supply is able to change direction of the actuator. I want to protect (B) from power being pushed into it, when (A) is activated. Is it possible to use diodes to accomplish this? What would be the diagram for this? Thank you, Mike

1 reply

Not sure I fully understand, but do you mean you are using one power source to extend the actuator and a different one to retract? This might be useful if you want to extend slowly and retract fast, or vice versa. Is this is not the case, let me know.

One actuator two power sources.png

Please may I know .., how to wire a 3 pin toggle switch (on on) for reverse polority ? Thanks

PLZ ANSWER QUICKLY!!!!!!!!! how do you wire 3 dpdt switches to 3 motors with 1 power source?