To finish installing a new light switch I had to buy some 14 AWG wire to pigtail from the neutral wires to the terminal on the switch because the switch I have requires neutral but the one I’m replacing did not. When i got home from Lowe’s I realized the wire I bought is stranded. Is this ok to use?

  • What make and model is the switch you're putting in? – ThreePhaseEel Sep 10 '18 at 2:18
  • GE z wave 14294 – ATGoldy Sep 10 '18 at 4:39
  • 1
    The stranded wire will be fine. Twist the stranded end of the wire before wirenutting/clamping it together with the solid wire. I'm assuming that it is copper wire, being joined to copper wire with a clamping connector like a wirenut. If you're using stab-in connectors, you'll need to use solid wire instead. – Craig Sep 10 '18 at 8:23
  • Got it. Thanks. It’s not a stab in connector. The switch terminal has a hole where you stick in the wire and then you turn a screw to lock it in there. – ATGoldy Sep 10 '18 at 13:21
  • Perfect, that's a clamp connector. Just cinch it down nice and tight (but not so tight that you strip the threads). Loose electrical connections lead to heat and/or spark, which leads to fires. – Craig Sep 11 '18 at 2:49

The screw terminals on standard switches are easy to wire with solid wire, more difficult with stranded.

It's easy to make a loop in solid wire that fits nicely under the screw head. With stranded you have to wrap the wire around the terminal and tighen it without it coming out from under the screw head.

Me? I'd hunt up a scrap of solid for the pigtails if at all possible, but I would not make a trip to the store if all I had was stranded.

The push in (aka "backstab") terminals on standard inexpensive switches are for solid wire only, and most agree that they are marginal at best with solid wire. With stranded wire, totally unacceptable.


This switch does not have the usual terminals

The terminals on this switch accept the wire like a backstab, but they are not a simple push in; there's a pressure plate inside the switch that applies pressure to the wire when you tighten the screw, similar to the mechanism on most breakers. It's easier to use and makes a better connection than a regular screw terminal with either solid or stranded wire.

GE Switch Terminals

In fact, I'd go as far as to say this type of terminal makes a better connection with stranded wire than with solid.

Now at the other end of the pigtail,

where you're splicing to the existing solid wires - it can be tricky to get a really good splice with a mix of solid and stranded, especially if you try to pre-twist the wires before putting on a wire nut. With push-in type connectors, it's easy to mix solid and stranded.

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