Questions tagged [switch]

For questions about switches, i.e. electrical devices used to manually open and close an electric circuit on a routine basis.

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55 votes
11 answers
82k views

When I turn down the dimmer switch on my lights, do I actually use less electricity?

My wife and I have several lights on dimmer switches throughout our home. We generally prefer the ambient lighting provided by dimmed lights. I am curious, though, if we are saving any electricity by ...
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  • 887
39 votes
4 answers
315k views

How should I rewire a miswired 3-way switch?

I have a 3 way switch that was wired incorrectly when the switches were replaced with a different color switch. Is there a methodical way for me to identify which wires represent which piece of the ...
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38 votes
5 answers
40k views

If a light bulb is dead, does it still consume electricity if the switch is in ON?

It's been a week since a light bulb in the bathroom died. I'm wondering if the bulb is dead, does it still consume electricity if the switch is in ON? The light is completely dead, no light ...
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25 votes
3 answers
7k views

Do I really need to include a wall switched lighting outlet in every room?

According to the Black & Decker Wiring book, the NEC indicates that each room should include at least one "switch-operated lighting outlet". Is that true even in rooms that have overhead ...
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  • 745
22 votes
2 answers
70k views

Lutron LED/CFL Dimmer switch turns lights off the wrong way, up is down and down is up. What's the problem?

I bought the $20 Lutron Dimmer Switch (TGCL-153PH-WH) from my local big box hardware store. It dims the Cree LED bulbs great. There is just one problem... no matter how I install the wires the switch ...
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  • 341
19 votes
4 answers
5k views

What should I do with a powered switch that seemingly does nothing?

In my house, I fortunately have a well-labeled circuit breaker. There are a few rooms that could be better named, but it's fine. As such, it's very easy to identify almost every switch and what it ...
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18 votes
5 answers
6k views

Is there a benefit to having a switch control an outlet?

In my house there is a switch in every room that controls an outlet. I’ve asked my electrician to remove that so that the outlet is always on. He says it’s safer to have a “control switch” but I can’...
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  • 325
18 votes
3 answers
1k views

First time changing switches and outlets (receptacles). Anything special I should know?

I am replacing a bunch of switches and receptacles in my house. While I understand the basics, this is pretty much my first electrical project, and I figure there must be some hidden "gotchas" or ...
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17 votes
1 answer
1k views

Is my multi-switch lighting circuit plan valid?

Is this wiring valid? If not, please explain how it could be corrected? I replaced the original diagram with this one based on corrections and clarifications recommended in the comments.
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  • 361
15 votes
1 answer
1k views

3 position light switch beeps and flashes when down

I’ve come across something I’ve never seen before and can’t find anything on the internet about. My house has a light switch by the front door that powers my exterior lights. The switch has 3 ...
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15 votes
8 answers
122k views

Should I put a dimmer switch on a ceiling fan?

I have a ceiling fan on our bedroom's vaulted ceiling. Since we don't want 7' pull-cords, the speed is stuck at full-tilt, which is no good. The fan has separate switches on the wall for lights and ...
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  • 299
15 votes
4 answers
429k views

How can I override a motion detector light?

I am going to be installing one or two motion detector lights to cover my backyard. I would like the ability to "override" the motion detector. What I mean by this is that I would like to be able to ...
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  • 1,990
14 votes
5 answers
11k views

Why would a switch be wired with its neutral connected to ground?

I'm rewiring a few bedrooms in my house and came across some interesting wiring on both of them: The wire at the bottom is the power source and the wire at the top goes up to the light/fan. Why ...
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  • 301
14 votes
7 answers
4k views

Light switch on concrete wall

My house came with a light switch installed on a concrete wall in the basement using a metal conduit, and a 1-gang metal box. Unfortunately, the light switch plate sticks out and it's easy to get ...
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13 votes
5 answers
18k views

Do I NEED to use correct colors when wiring always?

What I am wondering is if there is any code that is violated if the wrong colors are used in wiring outlets? For example, it is standard to use white as neutral and black as power but if I only had ...
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  • 640
13 votes
6 answers
13k views

Identifying Wires behind Light Switch

I am trying to upgrade my rocker switches to Smart Switches and ran into a problem identifying wires behind the old switches. It seems that the old switch is connected with a ground and 2 white ...
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  • 139
13 votes
1 answer
69k views

How can I install this programmable switch where a neutral is not present?

I'm trying install this programmable switch but the instructions do not match reality. The instructions refer to the existence of a black (load) cable and a white (neutral) cable supposedly coming out ...
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  • 621
12 votes
7 answers
48k views

Why do electricians prefer not to use the push-in connections on receptacles?

Why do electricians prefer not to use the back-stab or quick connect holes on switches and receptacles? If these were unreliable do you think they would be allowed by the NFPA and NEC?
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  • 161
12 votes
1 answer
22k views

How exactly does a 3-way switch work?

I just finished replacing all of the switches and outlets in my apartment, after fighting a long war with a weird 3-way switch. Needless to say, I won, but I'm still trying to grasp the concept of how ...
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  • 1,101
12 votes
5 answers
120k views

What kind of wall switch is needed for a natural gas fireplace to ignite consistently?

When we moved in, our natural gas fireplace worked well: Flick the switch & it would ignite. Years later, it started acting erratically: Sometimes, the switch worked, other times, no luck. We'd ...
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  • 1,445
12 votes
3 answers
33k views

Are all rectangular outlets, switches, and plates the same dimensions and interchangeable?

Do I need to make sure my switches, plates, and outlets are from the same manufacturer or can I mix and match? I'm referring to the rectangular decora-style and wasn't sure if there'd be slight ...
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11 votes
4 answers
3k views

Can't put screw back in toggle switch

I removed this screw from toggle switch and can't put back in. It just won't go back in. Is it possible to put it back or I was not supposed to take it out completely?
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11 votes
4 answers
3k views

Is this the kind of situation where aluminium wiring is potentially dangerous?

I recently moved into a rental that has aluminum wiring. My understanding is that the wiring itself isn't dangerous, it's just the interface between aluminum and copper where you have problems ...
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  • 734
11 votes
2 answers
124k views

Is it ok to wire light switches and lights with 12/2 cable?

It sounds like light switches and lights are usually wired with 14/2 cable. Is it okay to use 12/2 cable instead? Would I need special switches?
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  • 211
11 votes
3 answers
52k views

Convert One 3-Way Light Switch to Belkin WeMo Light Switch (Single Pole)

Our foyer chandelier has three switches that control it. I want to control it with a Belkin WeMo light switch, which specifically states is not compatible with 3-way switches/fixtures, sadly. Well, if ...
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10 votes
3 answers
4k views

Lights are flickering on and off after accidentally bumping into light switch

During the night, I accidentally bumped into my light switch, jamming it in towards itself. Now, the lights in my room will sometimes flicker on and off very quickly when after turning on the lights. ...
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  • 109
10 votes
3 answers
159k views

How can I eliminate one 3-way switch to leave just one switch on the lighting circuit it's on?

I have two sets of lights in my kitchen. At one end of the kitchen, I have a 2 Gang light switch which operates both sets of lights, and at the other end I have a single light switch which operates ...
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  • 101
10 votes
4 answers
186k views

Can I use a 3-way switch as a single-pole switch?

Can I connect a 3 way switch to be used as a single pole? I accidentally purchased a couple of them and only need to control one light each.
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10 votes
2 answers
1k views

Where can I get a switch for a 30A circuit?

I would like to add a switch to a 30A plug, but I am having trouble finding one (they are all rated at 15a/20a). Is there a reason you can't buy 30A switches or is it called something different? To ...
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10 votes
3 answers
933 views

How should I rewire this situation?

In my dinning room, I have this: There is a wire run going up through the floor from the basement. It then goes outside the wall, around a stud (or studs, I'm can't tell there is more than one), back ...
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10 votes
3 answers
66k views

How do I rewire a switched receptacle and make it permanently hot

I have a light switch that controls the top half and bottom half of a nearby receptacle. How do I disconnect this switch and make both halves of the receptacle permanently hot? There are other ...
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  • 257
9 votes
2 answers
2k views

Why’s my new outlet tripping the switch in the panel?

So I bought new outlets to replace the old ones in my house and everything was going fine until I reached the kitchen. The panel switch for this particular plug is split between two (a/b) (if that ...
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9 votes
1 answer
205k views

Is it normal to have a light switch setup using only the hot wire?

I was changing the light switches around the house when I came upon this setup. The two switches to the right are all wired using the hot wire (black) from the two electrical wires on the back panel. ...
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9 votes
8 answers
20k views

Home light switch circuit with 5 switches

I am new to the amazing world of electronics and am starting out small. I think... Early 2010, the wife and I bought a house that was built in 1979. Now I started replacing light switches and ...
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  • 191
9 votes
1 answer
30k views

How do you weatherproof a light switch?

I have a switch that I would like to put in a workshop in a potentially damp location. It's not going to be outside in the rain, but it's entirely possible that at some point water might get splashed ...
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  • 13.7k
8 votes
2 answers
4k views

Which wire goes to which terminal on this single pole switch?

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 ...
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8 votes
2 answers
2k views

Can I use green wire in a residential wall box?

This is a 1985 home wired with typical NM-B wire and plastic wall boxes. I have a few light switches around the house that have no ground connection. There are ground wires in the box, but the ...
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  • 341
8 votes
4 answers
154k views

How can I install a light fixture in the ceiling of a finished room?

In my dining room, I would like to install a ceiling light in the center of the room. This room is on the ground floor of a colonial two-story, so there is no attic access into the ceiling; my work ...
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  • 183
8 votes
1 answer
65k views

What type of wire should I run when updating a ceiling fan?

I started to change out my ceiling fan and noticed the support brace is actually laying on the drywall and not firmly attached to a beam. I also noticed the new fan has a blue wire where the wiring in ...
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8 votes
2 answers
122k views

How do I replace this dimmer switch to a conventional switch?

I want to replace the dimmer switch in my kitchen with a conventional light switch. However I could use a little guidance. I understand the two black wires are the hot wires, and the green is ground....
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8 votes
2 answers
47k views

Why does voltage still exists when a circuit is broken by a 3-way switch?

My parents got a ceiling light for my parents for Christmas, which I was tasked with installing. I don't know why I bothered to check the voltage before putting the new fixture on (and after taking ...
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  • 3,736
8 votes
1 answer
90k views

How do I wire a GFCI/Switch Combo?

I'm replacing an old GFCI/Switch combo. In the old one there are two wires coming into the line side, a hot wire and a neutral. On the load side there is one wire leading up to the lighting fixture. ...
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8 votes
5 answers
136k views

Wall Outlet with three sets of wires!

have another issue with another outlet in this very improperly done house I just bought. During my slow replacing of all the wall outlets, I came across this new one which has me baffled on how to ...
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7 votes
5 answers
6k views

When a 15-amp breaker switch seems to be sending too much power

I am doing some wiring from a subpanel. The main panel is sending power via 3-way wiring (3 plus a ground) to the subpanel. This subpanel is intended for both 220 and 110 volt add-ons. I have a 110 ...
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7 votes
6 answers
2k views

How to reverse a three way switch?

I have a set of lights that are controlled by two different switches. Flipping either switch at any time always changes the state of the lights (on to off or off to on). I have OCD and so I want both ...
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  • 249
7 votes
5 answers
9k views

How to turn a pump on or off from any of 12 switches

I have a water pump at my home that I want to connect to 12 switches, so that each one of them can turn the water-pump on/off. Can it be done? Thank you!
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  • 73
7 votes
4 answers
3k views

Can 12 gauge wire be inserted into 14 gauge switch connector sockets?

Is it safe for a 12 gauge wire to be inserted into the 14 gauge slot on a light switch? I moved recently and was changing some light switches and noticed that several of the lights are wired this way. ...
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7 votes
2 answers
3k views

Is this asbestos wiring insulation? [duplicate]

I just found this wire while changing the light switches at a house I bought (built in 1960). The long "fiber" on the left looks awfully suspicious, is this asbestos? Thanks
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  • 87
7 votes
3 answers
45k views

20 amp Circuit, 15 amp switch that controls receptacles ok?

I have a 20 amp circuit in my home (the breaker is 20 amps). On that circuit there is a light switch rated for 15 amps that controls three 15 amp receptacles. Is the 15 amp switch ok, or should it be ...
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7 votes
2 answers
1k views

How do I install a light socket in the middle of a power line with a switch?

I am replacing a light fixture in the middle of a circuit. Power flows into the fixture from the circuit breaker and out of the fixture to other lights and whatnot. There's also a switch attached. I ...
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