I'm putting in an exhaust fan light combo using a triple rocker switch.

Do I need a separate switch leg for the light and for the fan?

There are three silver screws on one side of the switch and a black screw on the other side. That said, apparently the black screw is a common. But I thought "common" meant neutral.

So, which is the screw to get power to that switch?

  • Common does not mean neutral. That is a bastardization of the word. A common terminal means it is common to all of the of the other terminals. In the case of the switch that you have, the common feeds to power to all of the other terminals through the three switches. Therefore it is common to all the switched circuits.
    – ArchonOSX
    Apr 4, 2016 at 11:36

2 Answers 2


Depending on the switch type you feed the switch with the line side or hot/ black wire then the other side(s) are the switched legs that go to the light/fan. The neutral or white wire and ground don't go through the switch. The neutral and ground are usually pig tailed and run to the light/fan with the switched leg.12-3 or 14-3 with a ground will provide wires to run your light&fan neutral and ground there is also 12-4 & 14-4 that will allow for the 3rd device since you said triple rocker. Make sure to turn the breaker off when wiring.

  • Thanks for replying. But what do u mean the neutral and ground don't run through the switch?? The power wires neutral weres it to? And what do u mean pig tail the neutrals and grounds? Don't they all just tie together at the fan/light?
    – Nate
    Apr 4, 2016 at 6:36
  • The white and ground are not switched the ground is usually attached to the yoke on a green screw the whites coming in and going out are wire nutted together in the back of the box.
    – Ed Beal
    Apr 4, 2016 at 16:01

TRADITIONAL WAY: You will need to have (or pull) the following wires between the switch and the fan/light:

  • 1 Ground (green or bare)
  • 1 Neutral (white, sometimes gray)
  • 1 Hot (The switched-hot leg) for each thing you want to switch
  • Extra hot wires as needed

If you don't have 2 "hot" wires available, you can wire the fan and light together so they come on together under the control of one switch.

Up in the fan, ground goes to ground, neutral goes to neutral, and each of the "switched hot" wires goes to whatever it controls. I have no idea what your black and 3 silver wires are on your fan/light, those are not standard colors in USA practice, and don't resemble any modern Euro colors either. A long time ago, Europe used black for neutral. You need to consult the installation manual for that fan/light, it will tell you what the wires do.

MODERN WAY: buy a smart switch and control module specifically made for this purpose. Wire as above, but you only need one hot wire. A control module goes up in the fan/light assembly and switches power based on what the smart switch tells it to do. In this setup:

3 wires run between fan and switch: hot, neutral and ground.

Hot, neutral and ground go through the switch - however the switch taps hot and neutral via a pigtail. And ground too. Ground goes everywhere.

In the fan assembly, neutral goes to both the fan/light and control module via a pigtail. Hot goes to the control module. Switched outputs from the control module go to the fan, light, heater wires.

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