I’m replacing my light switches with Lutron Caseta switches. When I pull the old ones out I noticed they don’t have grounds. The box they are in is plastic. Is it okay to not ha e a ground in the new light switch?

Also are there switches where the wire is part of the switch. I loosened the screws but the wire wouldn’t come out. I’m assuming it’s attached to the switch itself and that I’ll need to cut the wire. enter image description here

  • 1
    Those wires are the unreliable "back stab" connections". It is best to avoid them altogether and use the side screws. Note also how they left exposed bare wire outside the backstab, very sloppy and hazardous. You can tell the work was amateur done, because pros don't pay 79 cents for a switch. Backstabs, once released, are ruined and you must throw the device in the trash (or use the screws from then on). Do what most of us do; never use backstabs. Screw-and-clamp is alright. Dec 23, 2017 at 14:00
  • When you loosen a screw, it will start to bind about 3/4 of the way out. Don't power past that. This binding is intentional, it is a "captive screw", a useful feature that means you don't need to fumble with screws. Dec 23, 2017 at 14:02

3 Answers 3


Yes, they should be grounded. You have ground wire in the box. Just twist some bare copper on to it for each switch and then nut it off

  • Is that what the bare twisted wire is going to the bottom right of the box is? Dec 23, 2017 at 3:48
  • Correct. Bare wires are always ground
    – Machavity
    Dec 23, 2017 at 3:50

Insert a screwdriver in the small rectangular opening in the back of the switch, just below the wire, and push / twist until the old black plastic switch breaks into pieces. Eventually the wire will come out. I despise these back stab switches and outlets, which the builder of this 1989 home I purchased in 2012 used exclusively.

  • 2
    Hello, and welcome to Home Improvement. Thanks for the answer; you'll have a lot of company in your feelings towards backstab switches. And, you should probably take our tour so you'll know how best to contribute here. Nov 28, 2019 at 22:38

Is it okay not to have a ground in the new light switch?

Not really great, but it is not unusual for older homes to have been wired without one. I believe that an alternative and acceptable safety "work around" in the absence of the ground would be to install GFCI breaker(s) on the circuit(s), maybe someone will comment further on that.

I loosened the screws but the wire wouldn’t come out

Those wires are connected with "stab in" type terminals. If you look closely you will see a small rectangular opening in the back of the switch, near where the wires are inserted. There is a metal tab in there that acts as a spring, holding the wire in. Gently and carefully insert a small tool (flat screwdriver) and push the metal spring inward whilst simultaneously pulling gently on the wire, to release.

  • His picture shows a bare ground wire in the back. He should use that.
    – rrauenza
    Dec 23, 2017 at 3:44
  • @ rrauenza, yes of course, I did not see that before, thanks. Dec 23, 2017 at 5:03
  • The missing ground terminal on the old switches versus what you find on new switches reflects progress in NEC and UL standards. I prefer to remove wires in stab-in-the-back devices by crushing the switch with my T&G pliers, that way nobody is tempted to put the switch back in service. Nov 28, 2019 at 22:49

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