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I'm trying to install a dimmer switch (single pole) in a 4 gang box. In the current set up, I have two black wires attached to the SAME screw (one of those wires is from the back of the box, while the other wire is coming from the light switch directly beside it (it seems that all the switches have a black wire that is looped from the one beside it).

In addition to the 2 black wires I have an orange wire going directly into the switch, which I have now learned I need to use the end of an extremely small screwdriver to press into the hole to release it. I'm not sure what to do with the orange wire.

The box is metal, and there's a copper ground wire screwed to the back of the box. The dimmer switch I want to install has 2 black wires and one green wire. I was going to cap one black wire from the dimmer to one of the blacks from the switch, repeat this step with the other black wire, then take the green wire from the new dimmer and attach it to the green screw. Is that right? and if so what do I do with the orange wire?

1 Answer 1


The loop in the black wire is normal when electricians are running a hot wire from device to device. It saves them time and is really safer since it involves fewer wire nuts.

The orange wire is the wire that is going to the light. The power enters the switch where the black wire is looped over the screw, and exits to the light through the orange wire.

Yes, attach the green wire to the green screw. But, you need to wire the blacks from the switch differently. One switch black is for the incoming power, and the other is for the exiting power. So, one needs to be connected to the same black that is connected to the old switch; and one needs to be connected to the orange.

I would, with the power off at the circuit breaker panel, and after testing to make sure the black at the switch is not hot, cut the existing black to form two separate wires and strip the ends appropriately. Then I would connect one of the black wires from the new switch to these two wires with a wire nut. After that, connect the other black for the new switch to the orange with a wire nut. That should do it, and your dimmer should now work. Good luck, and be careful!

PS: I personally use a Fluke 1AC-A1-II Volt-Alert AC Non-Contact Voltage Tester to verify or locate hot wires and love it. You might want to check it out for the future. Its inexpensive too. Note: I have no personal connection to Fluke; I just think good products like this are worth spreading the word about.

  • There are other brands of non-contact voltage (NCV) detector that are worth considering e.g. Extech. Commented Nov 26, 2013 at 15:46
  • Thanks for the great advice and the quick answer. I installed the new dimmer today and it works perfectly. I had a slight buzzing noise at first, but I think that may have been an issue with the light bulb. I'm not sure what type they had in there, but my dimmer is for incandescent and halogen so changing the original bulb to a halogen took the buzzing away. THANKS AGAIN!
    – Kelly
    Commented Nov 27, 2013 at 7:17
  • Just to add some information, dimmers won't work for LED bulbs.
    – Javier
    Commented Nov 27, 2013 at 13:06
  • @Javier Some LED bulbs work with conventional dimmers, some require special dimmers and some cannot be dimmed. The bulb's packaging should indicate whitch type it is.
    – bib
    Commented Nov 27, 2013 at 17:08

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