I'm replacing a smart light switch with a regular rocker switch. It looks like the previous owners had a neutral wire pulled down for the smart switch, making a total of 2 black wires, 1 white (connected to neutral), and 1 bare copper (I assume ground). The rocker switch only has 3 inputs, can I safely ignore the neutral wire?

Also, does it matter which black wire goes in which backstab connector?

Edit, pictures:

  • 4
    "does it matter which black wire goes in which backstab connector" - Yes it does. None of the wires go in any of the backstab connectors. Use the screws on the sides to connect the wires.
    – brhans
    Commented Jul 23, 2018 at 15:03
  • Got it, but does it matter which of the black wires go on which screw?
    – jayjyli
    Commented Jul 23, 2018 at 17:58

2 Answers 2


For an ordinary single pole switch, it doesn't matter which brass screw gets which wire

A single-pole switch just opens and closes a circuit -- it has no sense of polarity or "line/load" requirements. As a result, the two brass screws on a standard snap switch are interchangeable with each other.

The neutral is easy to handle

A dumb light switch has no use for the neutral, so you simply need cap off the existing neutral pigtail with a wirenut.

P.S. your wires are in cables

What you see in the back of your box is a typical North American wiring practice in a house -- two two-wire-plus-ground NM cables entering the (plastic) box via built-in cable clamps that grip the cable sheathes, with one cable being fed from an always-hot power source and the other passing switched-hot off to the fixture, while neutral passes through the box without stopping.

Don't forget to attach the bare grounding pigtail to the green screw on the switch, by the way.


Found this video from Leviton that shows wiring with the setup I had (minus the white neutral). Sounds like it doesn't matter, but I set it up the way they showed anyway, with the hot wire up top and the load on the bottom. Used a multimeter to confirm which one is which, and covered up the screwed with electrical tape for safety.

This worked, and I imagine the only difference it makes is which position of the rocker becomes the 'on' position, but I haven't tested it the other way myself.

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