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Okay, so I put in a new Wifi Light Switch. The box was metal and tiny, while the switch was big and all of the screws were on the bottom of the switch. Why did it spark and blow up? Was it because all four screws hit the box? I just want to know, because I am going to get a plastic box replacement, and i want to know if that's all I need to do to assure it never happens again.

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    Which brand Wifi Light Switch? – Wayfaring Stranger Apr 5 at 2:55
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    Where country are you in? Is the WiFi switch UL listed? Can you post pictures? – manassehkatz Apr 5 at 2:59
  • It was a Nexete Smart Wifi Touch Switch. – Andrew Apr 5 at 3:38
  • Can you post a photo of the inside of the box, please? – ThreePhaseEel Apr 5 at 3:47
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    @JPhi1618, those screws aren't for putting wires under -- you put the wires through the holes in the back, then tighten the screws to clamp a plate down on them, just like modern back-wire receptacles. It looks different than a standard switch, but there's really nothing wrong with this wiring method. – Nate Strickland Apr 5 at 18:36
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Don't downgrade to a plastic box. Metal boxes are better and what's more, they are often essential in distributing grounding to other boxes. Further in some cities (e.g. Chicago) they are required by Code.

The purpose of a box is to provide grounding and fire protection, and metal boxes do that better than plastic ones in all respects. Plastic boxes exist to be cheap, so builders can save $20 per house.

Metal boxes also allow there to be fewer (or no!) ground wires in the box. For instance this smart switch doesn't need a ground wire since it can ground via the yoke and screws.

This is a quality product with an ETL listing (equivalent to UL listed). Bad designs just won't clear that listing process, so I don't buy "all 4 screws bottomed out on the box". Far more likely:

  • A wayward bare ground wire in the box touched one of the screws (feels unlikely)
  • Wires were over-stripped, leaving bare length sticking out. This contacted a ground wire.

The screw issue could be annulled with a couple layers of electrical tape across them. That's how you solve that problem (if it even is a problem).

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    More builder bashing. It's basic economics--the consumer buys the cheaper house, all visible features being equal. That's not the builder's fault. Have you tried to sell homes up against "square foot builders"? It's not easy. That aside, it costs a lot more than $20 to install metal. There's a lot more labor involved. It might amount to many $hundreds. – isherwood Apr 5 at 20:44

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