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My existing conventional light switch was connected only to the red (top, painted over somewhat) and black (bottom) wires shown here. I just bought a Lutron motion-sensing switch and its instructions say it requires grounding.

The new switch has a bare wire and a green wire coming out of it for grounding, but I'm not sure what to do with those. I tried leaving the ground wires dangling in the back and merely connecting the red and black wires from the wall to the switch, as was done with the existing switch, but it did not work.

From what I can understand, the wiring coming from the wall is already grounded because it is attached to the electrical box itself in two places (see photo) using a screw. Do I need to unscrew that and attach the new switch's ground wires to that connection point?

Original wiring Close up of box

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  • The new Lutron switch has a bare wire AND a green wire? That's odd. What is the exact Lutron model number so we can look at the installation instructions (Lutron has a great online library of all documentation).
    – Tyson
    Jul 16, 2017 at 21:37
  • @Tyson Lutron MS-OPS2H. The manual is here: lutron.com/TechnicalDocumentLibrary/0301654.pdf They want me to connect the bare wire and green wire when connecting it to ground.
    – Stewart
    Jul 16, 2017 at 23:15
  • That's interesting, and unusual. Follow harpers directions and create a pig-tail and attach both the bare and green of the switch to the bare copper attached to the screw at the back of the box.
    – Tyson
    Jul 16, 2017 at 23:19
  • Is there a reason you're using the MS-OPS2H instead of the MS-OPS6M2N? The latter is a better fit for your install as it doesn't do the naughtiness of putting current on the ground wire, and you have a neutral... Jul 17, 2017 at 3:11

1 Answer 1

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You're required by law to follow the labeling and instructions. This is not optional.

Fortunately, your box contains both real neutral and real ground, so you can provide whatever any smart switch will require. The switched hot is a red wire, which makes it even more straightforward. Unfortunately your drywaller or painter painted all your wires, very sloppy, so you'll need to scrape a bit to identify colors.

You can't put two wires on the same screw. You would need to pull the solitary ground wire off the screw to the left, put a 6-8” pigtail ground wire n that same screw, then splice the pigtail, freed ground and smart switch grounds together.

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  • Ok, that makes sense. And I can disregard the white wires that are just capped off? The only ones I need to connect to my new switch are red and black? (and are red and black interchangeable in this case?)
    – Stewart
    Jul 16, 2017 at 23:29
  • Yeah, you can ignore the white wires if you don't need neutral. You may want it, though. By the way is this motion sensor going to a receptacle? Jul 17, 2017 at 1:55
  • The motion sensor is for a light bulb. Why might I want the neutral? The switch manual is here, by the way lutron.com/TechnicalDocumentLibrary/0301654.pdf
    – Stewart
    Jul 17, 2017 at 9:18
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    SE's format is to answer questions not only for you, but for others who also have a similar question. Most quality sensors made to switch LED want neutral. Just tween you and me, I have a feeling the Lutron was built to need neutral, but got a waiver from UL permitting them to bootleg off ground, so they changed white wire to green, hence two grounds. Still, hook it up according to instructions. Jul 17, 2017 at 9:28
  • @Harper -- I'll have to poke at Lutron tech support in the near future and see if they can give us an official word about what the idea is with this configuration. Jul 17, 2017 at 22:38

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