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Behind a 2 gang wall plate, there are 2 single pole switches. I am trying to swap the left one out with a Kasa smart wi-fi light switch.

The problem is, the black wire that connects to the bottom terminal of the switch I want to replace does not end and it kind of loops into the other switch's bottom terminal. I tried a wire nut but couldn't get it to fit since that "loop" area is too thick.

Can I cut this "loop" and use a wire nut to connect the black wire from the box, the black wire from the Kasa switch and the now-cutoff black wire that connects to the other switch?

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  • Never seen the yoke "ears" used that way to get a switch to sit flush in a poorly cut drywall hole. Clever. With the time he took to do that, the electrician could have made a pigtail.
    – Chris O
    Feb 10, 2023 at 20:19

2 Answers 2

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I would make sure the power was off first, but there is no reason not to cut to use a wire nut.

It was done this way to save a wire nut.

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    Just did that and it works! Thank you for confirming that I can do it this way!
    – dank
    Feb 10, 2023 at 19:49
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The existing black wire is using a lazy way of chaining to a second switch. The proper ways are:

  • Use a wire nut to connect the incoming wire and a short wire to each switch (pigtails)
  • Use a switch that allows for two wires under each screw. Note that this requires a step up from the absolute cheapest switches, so most people who have the original switches put in by the builder (builders tend to be penny-pinchers because an extra $2 per switch x 25 switches = $50 less profit on the house) can't do that.

Each wire should have at least 6" from where it enters the box to the end where it attaches to a wire nut or switch or receptacle. If cutting the wire at the current bare spot will leave 6" then you can cut it there and use a wire nut to connect it to pigtails to the two switches. If cutting the wire at the current bare spot would leave it shorter than 6", tape over it really well with black electrical tape and use the end that is currently on the other switch with a wire nut and two pigtails to the two switches.

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  • Sanity check: Are you saying that one shouldn't take advantage of the two tied-together screw terminals typically on each side of the switch to connect the outgoing unswitched power? I can see arguments for avoiding that, but sometimes it's tempting.
    – keshlam
    Feb 10, 2023 at 20:58
  • @keshlam On all switches that I have personally seen (but I haven't seen them all...) there are exactly the number of screws needed for the switch itself. Typically that is: 3 for a plain switch (hot, switched hot, ground), 4 for a 3-way switch (common, 2 x traveller, ground), 5 for a 4-way switch (2 x 2 x traveller, ground). A receptacle, with some exceptions (e.g., USB, some "smart" things) will have two hot and two neutral and 1 ground, so that you can either use the second set of hot/neutral to chain to the next device or split for a 1/2-switched or MWBC usage. But not switches. Feb 10, 2023 at 21:22
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    .... Ah. I was undoubtedly misremembering; I thought I remembered a switch that, like a receptacle, had multiple screws on both hot and load sides.
    – keshlam
    Feb 10, 2023 at 22:34
  • @keshlam With receptacles there is a good reason - not to have to have different SKUs for 1/2-switched & MWBC, plus an awful lot of receptacles are daisy-chained. With switches, most of the time I see the chaining is switch to fixture to fixture, so the only gain is to share the hot with another switch (only recently has neutral entered the picture with switches, and still only with smart switches). Feb 11, 2023 at 23:53
  • Makes sense; I sit corrected.
    – keshlam
    Feb 11, 2023 at 23:56

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