I removed my dumb switch and now I'm lost. I have over the counter lights that have have the plug cut off and hard wired into reg toggle switch. Can't remember if it was single pole or 3 way. Two black wires from the lights were pigtailed to the neutral bundle. Can anyone shed light on if I neet a three way or single pole. Also why is the black (traveler I believe) pigtailed to the neutrals? I have tried combinations but nothing works. If I could at least narrow it down to single or 3way I may have a shot at it. enter image description here

  • 1
    A single pole switch will only have two screws plus maybe a green ground screw. A three way should have three screws plus ground. Do the light/s have any other wires? Pictures of the switch and light plus wires will help.
    – crip659
    Feb 11 at 17:21
  • 4
    Please include the pictures you took before removing the dumb switch.
    – JACK
    Feb 11 at 18:28
  • Can you post photos of the inside of the box in question? Feb 11 at 18:33
  • 1
    Was there another switch that also controlled the same light?
    – jay613
    Feb 11 at 19:15
  • Assuming you're in the US (likely, given wire colors), the plug shouldn't have been cut off...
    – Huesmann
    Feb 11 at 20:52

1 Answer 1


I see two black pairs, each twisted together, and a white pair, ditto. I would not do anything without checking, BUT:

That looks like one of the black wires is unswitched hot (being carried to another box by the black wire it's twisted with), while the other black pair would have been switched hot going to two controlled circuits (two lamp fixtures?).


If that guess is correct, what you need is a black "pigtail" wire going from always-hot to the switch's hot input terminal, and another black pigtail going from the other black pair to the switch's loan terminal. If the switch requires neutral (smart switches almost always do), a white pigtail should connect the switch's neutral terminal to the white pair. Finally, a pigtail should go from the bare ground wires to the switch's ground terminal, assuming it has one.

To attach the pigtails to the existing wires, lay a stripped end alongside the existing pair and put the wire nut over the three to hold them together and insulate the bare connection. Technically, twisting the wires together before applying the wire nut is supposed to be optional; I've always twisted them anyway as additional strain relief, but that can be a pain to get tight when adding a wire to an existing connection.

Note that this is probably how the switch you removed was attached, though a mechanical switch doesn't have a connection to neutral.

A photo from before you removed the old switch would help confirm this.


If I'm guessing correctly, the remaining question would be which black pair is the always-hot side vs. the switched side. A suitable meter (or a no contact voltage sensor, though I can hear "ugh" from everyone) can determine this if you make sure all the pairs are safely isolated from each other and the surroundings and turn the breaker back on long enough to do that test. Obviously turn it off again once you have that answer. I would expect the cable which enters the box from below to be the power source, but that isn't guaranteed.

Another way to check would be to open up the light fixture, find the black there, and WITH THE BREAKER STILL OFF chech for continuity between that and the black pairs. The one that is connected to the lamp is load; the other is presumably hot.

Or, better, check it both ways before connecting the switch, and do not proceed unless you have confirmed both hot and load.

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