I have a box with 2 switches wired in it. One switch controls the front porch light; the other at least one half hot outlet. I want to replace the switch that controls the front porch light with a timer. The existing wiring is shown below

enter image description here

Currently, the black power wire is stripped about 6 inches down from where it comes into the box. The striped portion is bent into a u-shape and attached to the hot switch on the brass side of hot switch then the other and is connected to the front porch switch light.

I hope this makes sense. My neighbor thinks I should piggy tail the power wire to the two switches. What do you think?

  • visit tinypic.com, and then you can paste the address here
    – noybman
    Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 2:53
  • I uploaded a photo, but I don't see it in the post! What should I do?
    – runaround
    Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 2:54
  • [IMG]i67.tinypic.com/bgbjad.jpg[/IMG]y
    – runaround
    Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 2:57
  • I see the photo, can you take a new one that is higher resolution?
    – noybman
    Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 3:00
  • 2
    @noybman I think he means there is about six inches of black wire up to the point where it is stripped out. Not 6" of stripped wire. 😊
    – ArchonOSX
    Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 8:08

1 Answer 1


The current set-up with the wire bent into a loop and the same wire proceeding on is perfectly fine. You do not have to have separate pigtails for each switch. I have one 3-gang switch box where I used that connection method for the three switches. The city electrical inspector said it was fully acceptable.

EDIT But it could be that the installation of the new timer switch would be easier if the two switches were each fed by a separate pigtail from the line hot. Sometimes these timers have stranded wire leads and sometimes they have hard contacts. What does yours have?

  • I cant tell from the picture, was concerned he was talking bare wire
    – noybman
    Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 3:22
  • The timer has stranded wire.
    – runaround
    Commented Jul 21, 2017 at 5:07
  • Then you could continue to use the current hot feed only if the new timer switch is placed at the end and the other switch is fed by the "loop" in the feed. Obviously if you decide to use separate pigtails then you must cut the feed wire at the loop. Will that make the feed wire "too" short? (All the wires continuous with the cable in the wall are "supposed to" extend out generously past the wall ~ 6 inches.) For 39 years I have lived in a house where the original electricians cut off all the wires too short making repairs a challenge to put it politely. Commented Jul 21, 2017 at 10:20
  • We moved into this tract house in 1978; house built 1970. In the course of pigtailing the aluminum wiring, I discovered irregularities and called up the original electrical contractor to rectify them. They fixed the irregularities, but the expert troubleshooting electrician shook his head at the inadequate 2 or 3 inches (or less) of wire protruding past the wall of every single receptacle. The contractor didn't charge me for the 3 hours of work required. Commented Jul 21, 2017 at 10:29
  • If you wanted to preserve the wire and not cut at the loop you could use heat shrink tubing to cover the loop. I suppose you could wrap the stripped loop with electrical tape, but I'm not sure that meets code. Commented Jul 21, 2017 at 11:03

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