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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54
votes
11answers
63k 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 ...
37
votes
5answers
21k 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 ...
34
votes
3answers
258k 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 ...
18
votes
2answers
52k 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 ...
14
votes
5answers
7k 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 ...
14
votes
8answers
107k 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 ...
13
votes
5answers
10k 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 ...
12
votes
1answer
20k 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 ...
12
votes
4answers
290k 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 ...
11
votes
7answers
19k 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?
11
votes
2answers
81k 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?
11
votes
3answers
50k 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 ...
10
votes
3answers
2k 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. ...
10
votes
1answer
63k 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 ...
10
votes
2answers
952 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 ...
10
votes
3answers
755 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
146k 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. ...
9
votes
8answers
17k 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 ...
8
votes
5answers
72k 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
47k 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
21k 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
97k 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....
8
votes
1answer
76k 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. ...
8
votes
3answers
25k 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 ...
7
votes
5answers
4k 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 ...
7
votes
5answers
6k 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!
7
votes
4answers
8k views

What should I do with a double gang box if I no longer need two separate switches?

We're relocating our TV to a side of our living room that has a power outlet controlled by a wall switch. The switch is part of a double gang box (1 switch controls the porch light, the other ...
7
votes
3answers
19k 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
11k views

Should switches in a kitchen area have GFCI protection?

Do the switches on the wall and over the counter areas have to be on a GFCI protected circuit? As there is live power at the switch all the time, I would think this to be true, but I'm not sure.
7
votes
1answer
23k views

How can I remove a switch and terminate a circuit in its place?

I have a switch that used to control outdoor lighting. It no longer does any more and I'd like to just leave it off permanently. Is there an easy way I can terminate it from within the gang box? ...
7
votes
3answers
24k views

How do I install a single-pole switch w/ pilot light?

I am trying to replace a very old one-way switch with a pilot light (light comes on when the switch is on). The original switch was extremely old, and used quick-install terminals ONLY. Even worse, ...
6
votes
4answers
6k views

Dimmer switch not connected to ground

I know just the basics of electricity and am trying to replace an older dimmer switch that broke with a new very similar switch. The old switch is not connected to ground. The new switch has the ...
6
votes
3answers
2k views

Adding an outlet to an existing light switch: Can the outlet be switched along with the light?

Is it possible add an outlet to an existing light switch where the outlet is switched along with the light? The switch is not at the end of the run. So far I've only been able to find answers where ...
6
votes
4answers
138k 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
1k views

What do I need to replace 4 light switches on the same circuit?

So we have a single light in our living room that can be turned on/off from four different switches at various entrances to the living room. We're currently replacing all the switches in our house as ...
6
votes
2answers
609 views

Light Switch Neutrals: Bundle all together?

I am in the process of hooking up 2 GE Z-wave light switches. I've hooked up multiple smart switches but ironically only one has needed neutrals (these 2). They are both going in a double gang box ...
6
votes
2answers
2k views

Is masking tape left inside electrical boxes a safety concern?

Recently I replaced all of my outlets and some of my switches in my apartment. On many of them, I used masking tape or painter's tape exclusively to identify wires (but never as insulation). I left ...
6
votes
4answers
84k 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.
6
votes
2answers
5k views

What could be causing me to occasionally hear an arcing sound when toggling a switch?

Several light switches in my house occasionally (<2% of the time) make an arcing sound when being switched on or off. Occurrence is totally random and as far as I can tell, uncorrelated with ...
6
votes
4answers
25k views

How to add indicator on a light switch to indicate the outdoor 3-way light is on?

Have some carriage lights outside my garage that can be turned on from inside the house. It's common that the switch will get flipped and the lights will stay on when they're not wanted. Is there ...
6
votes
2answers
25k views

How should I wire a GFCI outlet and a switch to isolate the switch but provide GFCI protection further in the series?

I am replacing the outlets for my garbage disposal/dishwasher circuit in my kitchen. Currently on that breaker there is one non-GFCI outlet with a pigtailed switch controlling the garbage disposal and ...
6
votes
2answers
7k views

How does a three-way light switch work?

A three-way light switch allows the light to be controlled from two locations. How does this work?
6
votes
3answers
1k views

Can I use metal masonry device (switch) boxes in a stud wall?

I am installing new wiring and need to place 5 lighting switches in one location (yes, I understand the problems/issues of confusion, etc.). These will all be 3-way switches, non-dimmable. I plan on ...
6
votes
5answers
82k views

Why am I getting 50V at a light when the switch is off?

I am trying to put in a switch and a light it controls in a storage building and this is how I wired it. Click for larger view When I checked the wiring it registered 120V when the switch was on, ...
6
votes
2answers
30k 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
364 views

How can I get my Self-Destruct switches to do something?

In my house, there were some confusing panels of that had lots of switches on them, so I bought a labeling machine and put labels over all the switches in the house. There are two blank switches next ...
6
votes
1answer
4k views

How do I wire these dimmer switches? The current wiring is crazy

I've installed light switches in other parts of our house, but there is one pair of dimmers that mystifies me. One is a normal dimmer and one is supposed to be a three way dimmer, but the latter is ...
6
votes
5answers
64k 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 ...
6
votes
3answers
15k 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
49k views

Light flashes on then turns off. What do I look for?

I just moved into my first home and the light fixture in the water closet broke. I replaced the fixture with a new one, but the light only flashes on, then turns off. I checked for loose connections,...