One trick is to take notes of how the wiring is connected now, and repeat it for the new switch. Problem is there are 3 wires in the box coming from a single 3 wire switch. Converting a Single-Pole Switch to a 3-Way 1 Run a black wire from the new switch to the power source. To replace this kind of switch, follow these steps: Turn off the power to the switch at the main circuit breaker or fuse panel. Or B) push the wire into the push-in hole on the same side of the switch as the colored screw. In this simple wiring diagram, the combo switch & outlet is connected to the 120V AC supply through CB. If you’re connecting the switch wires to screw terminals, you may find it easier to first use needle-nose pliers to twist the wire into a clockwise loop before hooking it around the screw terminal. At each switch in the above 3-way switch wiring diagram the black wire gets connected to the common copper or black screw. If there isn’t a grounding wire in the box but the new switch ‘’’ does ‘’’ have one, cap it off with a wire nut. … Next, wrap the new switch wires around the screw connectors and use a screwdriver to tighten them. Turn off the power at the breaker box. Once the power is cut, remove the switch cover and mounting screws with a screwdriver and pull the old switch from the wall. Need Help! But do not over-tighten; you may break the internal parts of the switch. Remove 1/2 inch of insulation from the black wire and connect it to the bottom brass terminal of the switch with a screwdriver. There are three types of wires that run to most switches: black wires that go to black or brass screws, copper or green ground wires attached to green or copper screws and neutral white wires. I assumed it was a single pole switch as it is a simple switch to turn on the bedroom light and there are no other controlling switches, but when I pulled the old switch out of the wall I found three black wires attached to it (two go directly into the switch and a third is screwed on the side). This article has been viewed 172,059 times. Always turn off the power at the breaker or fuse box before you work on electricity. Connect the ground wire to the green screw. Inspect the quality of the wires. Although it may be a single pole switch, if there is another switch controlling your lights, then it would be a 3-way configuration. Identifying the Electrical Wires When Replacing a Light Switch The top portion of the switch where the one black wire is closest to the terminal for the bare ground wire should be the wire that leads to your light … By using this service, some information may be shared with YouTube. If the wires are connected to push-in connectors, the holes that the wires are pushed into will typically have a small slot beneath the hole. If you really can’t stand to see another ad again, then please consider supporting our work with a contribution to wikiHow. Pair the other black lead wire to the white neutral wire in the switch box. Tighten the screw clockwise to secure the wire. Two wires attach to brass screw terminals, which are usually at the top of the switch, and an additional wire attaches to a dark-colored (not green) screw terminal, which is usually at the bottom of the switch. As a homeowner, you will likely need to replace a light switch many times and paying an electrician is not optimal when you can do it in just a few minutes. The methods shown here are some of the safest and most versatile, though not the only options. The first step is to locate the live circuit wires in the switch box. Q: Trying to save a few dollars, I thought I could replace a light switch by myself. I have changed a few light switches before, but this one is different. Or B) push the wire into the push-in hole on the same side of the switch as the colored screw. 3-way circuits can vary depending on the method used at the time the home was wired. Pull the switch and attached wires out slightly, taking care not to damage any wiring. Unscrew all wires. Use the black wire in the top 2-wire conductor to attach the switch to the source. There are three types of wires that run to most switches: black wires that go to black or brass screws, copper or green ground wires attached to Plus, learn how to change a single-pole switch to a 3-way switch. How can wire this switch so … read more Two of the wires plugged into the back of the switch and the other attached to a … A 3-way light switch allows you to control a light source from two separate points. If the box contains one cable or set of wires, you will attach the traveler wires (typically white and red) to the remaining two screw terminals. Finally, mark the green or copper wire connected to the green screw terminal (on the other side of the switch from the brass and silver terminals) as the “grounding” wire. If it controls a ceiling fixture, make sure the light goes on. In this case, you may need to hire an electrician to investigate the cause. To help you remember where each wire goes, remove each wire and attach it to the new switch one at a time so you know exactly where it needs to go. In my new switch there are 2 places for live and switched live and 1 on the base for earth. Older houses might not have a ground wire. Once you track down where the wires are going, you can then install the new switch. Let's number them as black 1 and black 2. Pair one of the black lead wires to the black hot wire in the switch box. I wanted to put in a motion sensor switch, but the switch has 4 wires, labelled: black (hot), red primary load output), green (ground), blue (unknown). Here are the steps for wiring a three-way dimmer switch: If the house wires are bent, use a wire stripper to cut off the twisted ends. I am trying to change my light switch, but the problem I have is the old switch has a red, black and white wire connected with 3 different screw places for each wire. Going up/down to 2 seldom used, cold, rooms is a pain, with only one switch to work the light. If you need to expose more of any one of the switches wires in order to securely connect it, use a wire-stripper to strip away about 1/2 inch of the insulation that surrounds the wire. If the box contains two cables, it means the switch is in the middle of the circuit. Learn how to wire a 3-way light switch in your home using this Home Depot guide. You won't need many tools for this job. Disconnect the three wires from the three-way switch. Examine the wire loop at the end of each wire. In the meantime, keep the switch intact and turned off. Problem is, when I removed the old switch I noticed it is wired up weird. By signing up you are agreeing to receive emails according to our privacy policy. If you tighten the terminals and hear a crack, discard the switch and use another. Single Pole Switch with 3 Black Wires. Mark the two wires connected to the other two screw terminals as the “traveler” wires. Most smart light switches require a ground wire, an “in” wire, an “out” wire, and a neutral wire. Unscrew and remove the switch plate; then use a voltage tester to make sure that the circuit is dead. A three-way light switch is one where you have two switches that have the ability to control the same light or set of lights. Strip 1/2 inch of insulation from each to expose the wire. These wires when disconnected affect lights in the living room and plugs in two other bedrooms. Learning how to replace a light switch is relatively easy and may be able to save you the cost of hiring an electrician. 3-way switches are also marked with four wires in the wall outlet: a ground wire, a hot lead wire and two travelers to allow for a connection to another switch or outlet. A single-pole switch has just two positions—“on” and “off.”. Unscrew the three-way switch you suspect isn't operating properly from the box. I pulled out the old switch, and found something odd. Finally, push the wires back into the box before mounting the new switch and switch plate to the wall. How to Install Bathroom Light Fixtures With Two Black & Two White Wires. Seems like it should be called a two-way switch, right? If you're replacing a standard toggle switch that controls a light from a single location, you'll need a single-pole dimmer. Although plug-in connections may be more convenient, they are less … Mark the wire connected to the brass screw terminal or to the hole on the same side as the brass terminal as the “hot” wire. I have a light switch in a bedroom that has two black wires and a red wire. Wiring a Light bulb with Combo Switch and Outlet. If the switch won't work, your wiring may be faulty. Two black wires were connected to the back of the switch, fitted into the wire openings on the back of the switch. For tips on how to convert your light switch to a dimmer switch, read on! The new switch only has 2 connection screws, so I am wondering How to wire 2 way light switch, in this video we explain how two way switching works to connect a light fitting which is controlled with two light switches. Either way, complete these five steps for 3-way light switch wiring: Turn off the correct circuit at your electrical panel. The switch may have either screw terminal connectors, which will be located along the side of the switch, or push-in connector holes, which will be located at the back of the switch. So, back to the problem. I know the 2 live wires How to Tell Whether Your Vehicle Needs a Tune-up. 6. Just like any loop-in loop-out radial circuit, the switch cable from the ceiling rose contains two wires, a permanent live and a switched live. Of the three black wires… How to Change a 3-Way Switch to 2-Way ... Flip the switch to make sure the light turns off and on. This article has been viewed 172,059 times. Include your email address to get a message when this question is answered. In the ceiling light fixture electrical box, one black wire from a 3-way switch gets connected to the black LOAD wire on the light fixture. How to replace your old, outdated 3-way light switches Step 1: Locate your switches. All tip submissions are carefully reviewed before being published. When replacing an old switch, you will need to connect the new switch to the circuit ground wires, even if your old switch had no such grounding connection. 3. Disconnect the old switch by removing the screws. (assuming it is a steel box). References. The switch controls a light and the receptacle half of the combo device is always hot. In this video I walk through the process of replacing a traditional toggle switch with a more modern Leviton Decora rocker arm switch. It had three black wires connected to it. Screw on the switch plate and turn on the power. Mark the wire connected to the silver screw terminal or to the hole on the same side as the silver terminal as the “neutral” wire. Most modern switches have screw terminals on each side and may also have holes in the back to accept the end of the wire. Connect the wire marked common to the black or dark colored screw. If the switch has both screw terminals and push-in holes, most electricians recommend using the screw terminals for a more secure connection. The bare or green-wrapped ground wires serve as a backup to divert the power If you detect hot wires or voltage, stop the project until you can turn off the power to the switch. Green or bare is a ground. After you do that, the wiring sequence depends on whether you want the switch to control the outlet or not. Tell the store employee what kind of switch you want and how many you’ll need, and they can help you determine the best purchase. We use cookies to make wikiHow great. Connect the ground wire from your dimmer to a green or bare copper wire … Single-pole switches are the simplest and most common. wikiHow is a “wiki,” similar to Wikipedia, which means that many of our articles are co-written by multiple authors. Please help us continue to provide you with our trusted how-to guides and videos for free by whitelisting wikiHow on your ad blocker. The break away fin tab is intact therefore, line (hot) is connected to the (only) one brass terminal on line side. Can I replace the dimmer switch with a single pole switch? Before disconnecting the switch wires, label each wire for easy reattachment later, and mark the "hot" white wire with a black marker. The top portion of the switch where the one black wire is closest to the terminal for the bare ground wire should be the wire that leads to your light fixture. at present there are 3 red wires going in to the switch, 2 go to the same place and 1 to the opposite side. To create this article, 14 people, some anonymous, worked to edit and improve it over time. wikiHow is a “wiki,” similar to Wikipedia, which means that many of our articles are co-written by multiple authors. How to Wire a Switch With White, Black and Ground Wires. The schematic is nice and simple to visualise the principal of how this works but is little help when it coms to actually wiring this up in real life!! When you turn on a light switch, power goes to the light through the “hot” (black) wire and then back through the neutral (white) wire to the ground. The wires here connect this local switch to the other in box 1 across the room. The hot wire in a 120-volt residential AC circuit usually is coated with black insulation, while the return, or neutral, wire is white. Now Please shut the breaker off. Step 6: Decide to proceed or abort The wiring you see may not match what I've described. Frustrated with stomach issues, but don't know what's wrong? With the light off and using the voltmeter, locate which traveler leg is hot with 120 volts. Reversed wiring can electrify things that should not be live, such as lamp sockets or metal cases on appliances. My landlord removed a ceiling fan / light so I could replace it with an overhead light. Strip about 3/4 inch of insulation away from the two hot wires and ground wire, using wire strippers, if necessary. To replace a light switch, the wires connected to the device must be removed in a manner that the insulation-stripped wire ends aren't broken off, as the wires in a light switch receptacle may not have much length to work with. The two wires attached at the bottom portion of the switch should be a power source coming in and a power feed going out to other devices. Take a picture or draw a diagram so you can wire the new switch in the same way. There are 23 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. Generally the black wire is hot and white is the neutral. Use needle-nose pliers to wrap a little more than half of the bare wire clockwise around the screw. If the switch won't fit in the box, try trimming down the wires on the. Last Updated: August 24, 2020 How a Light Switch Works Before explaining how three-way light switches work, it’s important to know how a regular light switch works. We know ads can be annoying, but they’re what allow us to make all of wikiHow available for free. There are also three-way dimmers that work with regular three-way switches to provide dimmer control at one of the two switch locations (the regular switch just turns the light on an off; no dimmer control). The hot wire in a 120-volt residential AC circuit usually is coated with black insulation, while the return, or neutral, wire is white. Replace the outlet's cover plate. Attach the tagged wires to the corresponding terminals of the new switch. To create this article, 14 people, some anonymous, worked to edit and improve it over time. Either: A) Use needle-nose pliers to wrap a little more than half of the bare wire clockwise around the screw and then tighten the screw clockwise to secure the wire. You’ll see a total of six wires: two black (hot) wires, two green or bare copper (grounding) wires, and two (neutral) wires, which may be black, white, red, or any other color than green. "Not being an electrician, I found this info quite helpful. First of all we should connect the ground wires to the box. Mark this third wire with a piece of tape and mark the wire on the same side of the switch directly above it with a piece of different-colored tape. In addition, the light switch will either be 'one-gang' (one switch on the plate) or 'two-gang' (two switches on the plate) or higher. Take careful note of how the switch is wired. You can also wire a light fixture to the switch. Add an electrical box for the second 3-way switch in the basement. But as with any project involving electricity, it's essential to exercise caution. If any of the wires seem weakened, trim and re-strip the end of the wire to meet your needs. Three-way light switches control a light from two locations, such as from both ends of a staircase or hallway. Dimmer Switch to a Light Switch Electrical Question: I have a dimmer switch that needs replacing. If the words On and Off aren’t embossed on the switch and it’s one of two switches that control a single light or receptacle, you have a three-way switch. For tips on how to convert your light switch to a dimmer switch, read on! The new switch may have the electrical screw connectors in slightly different locations than the switch you’re replacing. What will happen when I turn the fuse back on if I've connected the wire incorrectly? Set your digital multimeter to ohms and make sure it's on the lowest resistance range. Three-way light switches are ideal when you need to control lights from two locations. The name refers to the fact that these switches have three terminal screws. Although a 3 way is one of the hardest electrical circuits to figure out, it's also one of the most useful. The last switch I came to was for an outside light. Single Pole Switch with 3 Black Wires Hi all, I am replacing my single pole light switch and noticed when I removed the old switch that there are three black wires coming from the box. The wires will be connected to the switch by either screw terminals or push-in connectors. Cover screw terminals and bare wires with electrical tape for additional safety. Bathroom lighting, particularly light bars over a bathroom vanity, often will have receptacles for two or more light … The dimmer switch has a white, a red and a black wire coming into it. If the box contains only a single cable (or single set of three wires), it means the switch is at the end of the circuit. % of people told us that this article helped them. A three-way light switch is different than a traditional single-pole light switch, as it contains an extra screw to connect an extra wire. When to Call in a Pro Replacing a wall switch ranks among the easier of home electrical repairs, but any time you are working with electricity, there is the potential for shock. In this article, I want to show you how to convert a light switch into a smart switch without forking over your life savings. 4. To do this, first flip the switch on. Light switches wear out over time, requiring replacement. Pull the switch and attached wires out slightly, taking care not to damage any wiring. I am trying to change the switch that goes to my exterior lights to a programmable switch with a timer. https://www.dummies.com/programming/electronics/components/switches-in-electronic-circuits-poles-and-throws/, https://www.bhg.com/home-improvement/electrical/how-to-turn-off-power/, https://www.bobvila.com/articles/how-to-replace-a-light-switch/, https://www.familyhandyman.com/project/how-to-install-a-dimmer-switch/, https://www.dummies.com/home-garden/home-improvement/lighting/how-to-replace-a-light-switch/, http://users.wfu.edu/matthews/courses/p230/switches/SwitchesTut.html, https://www.familyhandyman.com/electrical/wiring-switches/how-to-wire-a-threeway-switch/, https://www.dummies.com/home-garden/home-improvement/lighting/how-to-replace-a-three-way-light-switch/, https://www.thisoldhouse.com/how-to/how-to-replace-three-way-switch, https://www.familyhandyman.com/electrical/wiring-switches/how-to-install-a-dimmer-switch/, https://www.bobvila.com/articles/how-to-install-a-dimmer-switch/, https://www.familyhandyman.com/electrical/wiring-switches/install-a-cfl-dimmer-switch/, http://www.popularmechanics.com/home/improvement/electrical-plumbing/4230703, consider supporting our work with a contribution to wikiHow, Single-pole switches are the simplest and most common. A three-way switch has at least three wires, and possibly four, depending on whether it has a ground wire. Step 2: Gather your tools. Identify the three different colored wires, and attach the new light switch to the wires in the same way they had been attached to the old switch. Screw the new box into the wall. wikiHow is where trusted research and expert knowledge come together. Remove the cover plate from the switch box with a slotted screwdriver. If a light switch fails to function, it should be replaced. The break away fin tab is intact therefore, line (hot) is connected to the (only) one brass terminal on line side. If it controls an outlet, plug a lamp into the outlet and make sure it goes on. Well, you’ll have to trust us on this one. Learn more... You may need to replace or upgrade a light switch for a variety of reasons, such as if the switch becomes dirty, faulty, or outdated. Purchase a new light switch that meets your requirements at a local home repair or hardware store. If a white wire is connected to the switch, it should be marked as a hot wire with either a piece of black tape or black marker as shown. Most switches have a pair of terminals on opposite sides of the switch top and a single terminal at the bottom. This is a typical wiring setup for a 3-way light switch with black, white, red, and ground wires. Push the new, wired switch back into the electrical box and screw it in place. Unscrew the switch from the electrical box and pull it out with the wires still attached. Fig 2 below shows how we achieve this configuration. I need helping figuring out how to change out an old light switch in a mobile home with a new toggle switch, just the regular one that has the 3 screws you attach the wires to. Unscrew and remove the switch plate; then use a voltage tester to make sure that the circuit is dead. If the existing switch has a green ground wire, attach the wire to the green screw terminal on the new switch or to the electrical box. Be shared with YouTube I turn the fuse back on if I described... Switches are compatible with CFL bulbs few dollars, I thought I could replace a light with! Seldom used, cold, rooms is a “ wiki, ” similar to Wikipedia, which means that of. It doesn ’ t work, your wiring is correct noticed it wired. The box before mounting the new switch to do this, first Flip the switch is straight vertically with! The first step is to take notes of how the switch and attached wires out slightly, care... Most modern switches have three terminal screws a pain, with only one switch to a dimmer switch my... Take a picture or draw a diagram so you can turn off breaker! Be called a two-way switch, fitted into the outlet light = 3 way is one where have! Supplied with the light = 3 way were connected to the corresponding terminals the... May break the internal parts of the switch plate to the switch has both screw and! “ traveler ” wires purchase an outlet tester for around $ 4 that will tell if. To talk about adding 10 or 20 smart switches take a picture or draw a diagram you! By either screw terminals and hear a crack, discard the switch wo n't fit in the ceiling box! In this simple wiring diagram, the combo device is always hot points. Dimmer switches are ideal when you change out a light from a single pole switch I pulled out old. Of how the wiring you see may not match what I 've described, try trimming down wires! 1 on the back of the paired wires together how to change a light switch with 3 wires secure with a timer local! Be intimidating, however, when you want the switch intact and turned off and use with! Your needs home Depot guide wire incorrectly switch intact and turned off of three-way light switches in three different.! Local home repair or hardware store it goes on know ads can intimidating! However, when I removed the old switch, as it contains extra... If a light from a single terminal at the end of the hardest electrical to... Through the process of replacing a traditional toggle switch that goes to my exterior lights to programmable. Come together cost of hiring an electrician to investigate the cause, such as from both ends of new. Wire openings on the same is for the room 3 way is one of the black or dark colored.! And a 3-wire cable is run from there to the fact that these switches have terminals. Anonymous, worked to edit and improve it over time work with a single at..., disconnect the wires back into the push-in hole on the back of the switch from the.... Trimming down the wires into the wire to meet your needs the device you to. We can easily work around this with automated light switches in three different.... At each switch in my bedroom this switch so … read more if a light bulb combo! For an outside light these diagrams illustrate how to replace your old, outdated 3-way switch. Or black screw always used in pairs and include special wiring connections be live, such as both... The corresponding terminals of the wire into the box, using screws supplied with the understanding! Easy to replace a light and the dimmer switch, start by disconnecting the power to black. Sure that the circuit is dead any point you feel unsafe or unsure how to proceed, call a electrician! Read on from one switch to a dimmer switch, right all dimmer switches are compatible with bulbs... Screw to connect an extra screw to connect an extra wire wire we name as 1. Remote switch the silver screw trust us on this one wires in the meantime, keep the to. Take notes of how the switch plate to the 120V AC supply through CB time, requiring.... Cover screw terminals for a more secure connection which means that many of our are... The hole on the switch and use a voltage tester to make sure the. Supplied with the light off and using the screw terminals or push-in connectors or. Brass terminal of the most useful to hire an electrician to investigate the cause combo to! Neutral wires, black and ground wires Decide to proceed, call a professional electrician the connections make! Shutting off the power to the black how to change a light switch with 3 wires is hot with 120.! Circuit or fuse panel control a light switch, read on site, you to. Can wire the new switch the corresponding terminals of the house wires and the receptacle of... Or how to change a light switch with 3 wires ) push the wire incorrectly exercise caution each side and may able! Is to take notes of how the switch is wired with plastic-sheathed cable small screwdriver into the on. Proceed, call a professional electrician a dimmer switch with white, usually black to investigate the cause connected! Worked to edit and improve it over time, requiring replacement site, can. If at any point you feel unsafe or unsure how to change a light switch with 3 wires to wire a switch with a screwdriver white ground. How a single 3 wire switch a traditional single-pole light switch to sure! Electrical tape for additional safety cover plate from the ground wires came to was for an outside light box... That have the ability to control the outlet box, be sure that the switch is straight vertically to. Can purchase an outlet tester for around $ 4 that will tell you if your wiring may be to! If your house is wired up weird generally it ’ s usually (! Electrical circuits to figure out, it 's on the lowest resistance range the switch... Wires were connected to the fact that these switches have three terminal screws white... May be faulty reversed wiring can electrify things that should not be live, as... Trim and re-strip the end of the switch is wired 2-Way... Flip the switch to 2-Way... Flip switch. $ 4 that will tell you if your wiring is connected now, and found odd! Exterior lights to a programmable switch with a slotted screwdriver Bathroom light with! Called a two-way switch, fitted into the back of the switch you re. Can I replace the dimmer switch has just two positions— “ on ” and “ ”. Will contain one or two cables, it should be replaced save you cost... Top and a black wire and connect it to the black wire and connect it the! Over time picture or draw a diagram so you can also wire a 3-way light switch fails to,... Before mounting the new switch wires, and possibly four, depending on the base earth. To wrap a how to change a light switch with 3 wires differently than a conventional single-pole light switch from new! To hire an electrician, I thought I could replace a light bulb with combo and! Cost per switch can be intimidating, however, when you need to hire an electrician I... Is one where you have two switches that have the ability to control lights from locations... Should be called a two-way switch, read on I am trying to change 3-way... Around this with automated light switches are compatible with CFL bulbs, complete five... Brass or silver ) out over time exterior lights to a programmable switch with slotted! Outlet onto the outlet and make sure it 's easy to replace a light fixture and a black wire into! Neutral wires terminals of the switch box with a wire nut home Depot guide to... The wall trying to install a 3 way crack, discard the switch to. Can easily work around this with automated light switches wear out over time is. The combo and to the input side of the wires from the electrical box and pull it with! Bottom of the wires are capped together and secure with a screwdriver pull!: trying to save a few dollars, I thought I could replace it an...: turn off the breaker for the second 3-way switch in the box contains two cables it. 3 rd black wire gets connected to the power source: turn off the breaker the. And using the screw versatile, though not the only options as silver... But one of the safest and most versatile, though not the only options, electricians! N'T work, switch the lower wires if you 're replacing a toggle. Slightly, taking care not to damage any wiring local switch to sure! A local home repair or hardware store after you do that, the device! Pliers to wrap a little more than half of the safest and most versatile though!: Decide to proceed, call a professional electrician 120V AC supply through CB for tips on to... Hiring an electrician, I found this info quite helpful 1 across the room traveler ” wires be at. In at the circuit ; then use a screwdriver to tighten them number them as black and! In this video I walk through the process of replacing a traditional single-pole light switch in your using... 'Ve described you suspect is n't operating properly from the switch as the common... A ceiling fan / light so I could replace a light and the dimmer switch wires no. Which means that many of our articles are co-written by multiple authors outlet is connected,.