A light switch is a basic part of any home and learning how to connect it correctly is important. Whether you want to replace a broken or damaged switch or just get a dimmer, wiring it correctly will ensure that your lighting system works properly.
How to Wire a Light With a Switch
The first step is to disconnect the power from your house by turning off the breaker at the main panel. This will free up the circuit and allow you to safely remove any old wires from the switch box.
Next, you will need to remove the cover plate from the switch. This will open up the electrical box and let you see all the wires inside.
After you have removed the cover plate, you can begin removing the old switch from the wall (Image 1). Use a screwdriver to loosen the screws that hold it in place. You can also use pliers to unscrew it from the terminal wires if needed.
Once the switch is removed from the wall, you will need to examine the wires for any signs of fraying or damage. If you notice any parts that are worn out or degraded, cut them off with a multi-tool or wire cutters. Leave about a half inch of wire bare on each length.
How to Wire a Standard Switch
A standard switch has three wires: one is hot or “hot” which will be connected directly to the fixture, the other is neutral and the third is the ground or “grounded” which will connect to the switch box. These wires will be attached to the switch using a brass screw or green screw depending on your home’s electrical wiring.
Regardless of the type of wire, they should all be labeled in a color code that is according to the National Electric Code (NEC) and International Electrical Code (IEC). This helps the electrician in completing the circuit.
For example, in the US, a single pole switch is black and white with a copper screw terminal and a green ground lug. This means that the black and white wires are “hot” when they are connected to the switch, while the copper wire is grounding the switch.
The bare copper wire is called the “ground” or “neutral” wire. This is the wire that goes from the switch to the light and completes the circuit.
When you are connecting multiple lights to one switch, you will need to run a separate wire for each light location. These wires are typically two-wire cables that connect to a screw in the switch box.
Once you have a separate wire for each light, it is time to install your new switch. Unscrew the old switch from the electrical box, then replace it with your new one. Make sure that your new switch is level and not too close to any other switches in the electrical box.
After installing your new switch, you will need to test the wires and make sure that they are all firmly connected to their respective terminals. Then, you can flip the switch on and test it again to make sure that the lights work properly. If they do not, you may need to rewire your switches or the circuit may need to be adjusted.