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I have a switch with indicator in my basement for a shared backyard light. It appears to work fine. The backyard is a shared yard with neighbors in downstairs unit and I would like them to be able to turn the light on/off any time they like. To this end we are going to install a wireless relay with one of those self-activated switches. I want to understand what is currently set up before we start changing stuff.

The switch is wired right now like this. There are two white wires and two black wired to the switch. There are two bare wires twisted together in the back of the box. The switch says Leviton and googling turns up Leviton 5226-ISP that looks identical, but mine might be an older model. switch with indicator lamp wiring

There's no obvious ground screw on the switch, So one of these black ones is hot, the other is load, and then white is neutral, is that correct?

Are the wires twisted together inside the box, the ground wires?

The wiring diagrams I find for the switch online don't show two neutral wires attached to the switch so that's where I got confused.

  • The photo you have provided is not enough, we also need to know what's going on inside the boxes where those two armored cables go to. I can see one sensible way to wire this, but the wiring looks wrong to be that. Are there any clear markings on the switch/light which would show which terminals are switch and which are light? – Harper Sep 14 '17 at 15:40
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    looks like it is wired as a double pole switch. Also the bare wire should be attached to the metal box instead of just floating like that. – ratchet freak Sep 14 '17 at 15:46
  • one of the cables goes through the wall and up to the backyard light. the other goes off into the neighbor's basement, it is on their circuit, rather than mine. It is a little wacky. The switch does have "Line +" on one screw (black wire, assume this is hot wire), and "Line -" on two screws (white wires). The fourth screw with black wire is the one heading out to the light fixture. – M. Montgomery Sep 14 '17 at 15:50
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    Question: how does the current indicator light work? Is it lit when the light is on or when it is off? – DoxyLover Sep 14 '17 at 17:57
  • One more note, which tells me an electrician probably didn't wire this,is the black (hot) as pictured, is left hand wound on the screw terminal and this is blasphemy, it should be right hand wound so tightening the screw does not push the wire off the screw terminal – noybman Sep 15 '17 at 3:29
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I would guess it is a double pole single throw switch. Both the neutral and hot are switched. The ground wires in the box should be attached to the metal box , when the switch is installed it will be grounded by the yoke / strap.

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    This answer is incorrect! If you google for "Leviton 5226-ISP" as the OP referenced, you'll see that the top two terminals are for a SPST switch and the bottom two are for the indicator light. – DoxyLover Sep 14 '17 at 17:49
  • On the other hand, looking at the wiring, the referenced switch doesn't make sense, unless there's an unswitched neutral not going through the box. I'm suspecting that his switch doesn't actually match the reference. – DoxyLover Sep 14 '17 at 17:55
  • I agree doxylover that's why I said it was a guess, but do believe it is a dpst I took a quick look and could not find that exact switch but other pilot dpst were available. + the later comment from the OP that that line goes to the light. – Ed Beal Sep 14 '17 at 18:37
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Ok. So the indicator lamp is on when the light is on. And if either your or the neighbor switch the light on, it's on. This is unusual, but workable, and your description in your comment makes it all fit together.

The location of the pins on the switch/lamp is what gave me pause.

The switch and lamp are totally separate. They don't even have tabs to break off.

The cable coming from the other switch goes to your switch. It carries hot and switched-hot. It is wired in parallel with your neighbor's switch. Your switch's two terminals go to the same place as your neighbor's switch's two terminals. Eiher your switch or your neighbor's can give current a path to the light.

The cable coming from the light goes to your indicator lamp. It is in parallel with the lamp, so the indicator gets power when the lamp gets power. The two wires are switched-hot and neutral.

What struck me is it's a little bit wasteful. The switched-hot is logically the same wire on both the switch and the lamp and could have been done with a single /3 cable.

But this method is also alright, it's visibly obvious what is happening from how the cables are routed, so you don't have to logick it out.

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