I have a simple light switch I want to get hooked up but not 100% sure if it will work. The switch has 1 brass screw on each side and 1 green screw. I read that the black/red wire should go to the brass screw while the white should go to silver, however, this switch has two brass screws and I have 1 black wire and 1 white wire.

Front of Switch

Side 1 of Switch

Side 2 of Switch

Wiring of House

  • 3
    Your white is not neutral (silver screw) here. It's the unswitched hot (if wired correctly) - as such, you should mark it with black or red tape or paint to indicate that it is a hot wire. And it goes to a brass (hot) screw, as does the switched hot (which should be the black.)
    – Ecnerwal
    Jan 14, 2021 at 4:09
  • I'm wondering why there is not a ground wire visible in the box.
    – Hot Licks
    Jan 15, 2021 at 3:57
  • @HotLicks The jacket looks like it's old school braided vinyl. Probably predates ground wires.
    – Machavity
    Jan 15, 2021 at 15:40
  • @Machavity - But the plastic box suggests relatively new work.
    – Hot Licks
    Jan 15, 2021 at 18:18
  • @HotLicks licks That's not plastic - I think it's Mica. I have the same boxes in my house (1968 build).
    – Kyle B
    Jan 15, 2021 at 22:38

2 Answers 2


Switches don't have silver screws (unless they have brains inside)

Your rule about "black to brass, white to silver" is a good rule of thumb for how receptacles are wired. However, since a "dumb" lightswitch simply connects terminals to other terminals, it needs no connection to the neutral wire at all, and thus has no silver screw on it to begin with. "Smart switches" and some other devices such as many sensors and timers, though, require neutral to work so that they have a reliable source of power for their own innards.

Furthermore, prior to the 2011 NEC, electricians were freely allowed to take advantage of the fact that switches don't need neutral by running an "old style" switch loop using /2 cable as you see here. The white should be the always-hot coming down from the fixture box and the black should be the switched-hot connecting the switch to the fixture, but that rule was not always obeyed in older wiring. It doesn't matter from your standpoint, though; simply wrap the white wire with black electrical tape to denote that it's not neutral, then connect white and black each to a brass screw on the switch, button everything up, turn the breaker back on, and enjoy! (There appears to be no grounding wire in your box, so there's nothing to connect to the green ground screw on your switch.)


Simple switch loop. Standard switch (not 3-way). So black to one brass screw. White to the other brass screw. That's all. Done.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.