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  • Do it yourself - How to wire a single pole switch.

       Wiring Home > Electrical > Switches and lighting > Single-pole switching
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    This section covers do it yourself wiring of a basic single-pole switch. A single-pole switch is the most basic of all electrical switching. When the switch is in the ON position, it completes the circuit and supplies power to the device. When in the OFF position, the switch disconnects power from the device. Note that only the "Hot" wire is broken by the switch, except in very old houses that may switch the neutral instead of the hot wire.

    Electric Shock Caution: To prevent severe shock or electrocution always turn the power OFF at the service panel before working with wiring.

    Never Assume the power is off! Always double check, and test the device before you begin work.

    How to replace a single pole switch.

    This is a fairly simple thing to do with only a few things to keep in mind.

    1) Turn the power off to the circuit.
    2) Double check that the power is off.
    3) Remove cover plate.
    4) Remove existing switch from the box while keeping the wires attached.
    5) If it is a single pole switch you should have 3 wires connected to it, the feed, the switch leg and the ground.
    6) Remove wires from existing switch and connect them to the new switch.
    7) Install the new switch back into the box.
    8) Replace the cover plate.
    9) Turn the power back on.
    10) Test your work.

    single pole electrical switching

    Installing a new light and switch.

    1) Determine the current for the circuit, that will determine what size cable you will use.

    2) Run your feed cable from the electrical panel to your switch location.

    3) Run your switch cable from the switch location to the light fixture or fixtures.

    4) Install an electrical box at the switch location and at every light fixture location. Make sure the box is rated for the weight of the light fixture. If you are installing a ceiling fan you will need a fan rated box .

    5) Install your light fixtures.

    6) Make your connections to the switch. Splice the white or neutral wires together. Connect the black wires to the switch terminals. Connect your ground to the switch ground terminal and the box if it is metal.

    7) Install the switch into the box.

    8) Install your cover plate.

    9) Connect your feed cable in your main electrical panel to the proper size circuit breaker, and ground/ neutral bar.

    10) Test your work.

    1) Make sure all devices and splices are in a UL listed electrical box of the proper size.

    2) Make sure you attach the ground wire to all metal boxes and all devices, with the proper ground screw.

    3) Twist wires together with pliers, before you put the wire nut on. Double check to insure that the connection is tight, and that no copper is showing.

    4) Always use the screws for termination of wires. Never use the holes in the back of a device for the connection.

    5) Switches have differant ratings, some switches may be rated for 15amps at 125 volts, while others will have higher voltage and ampere rating. Make sure you use the switch that is rated for the voltage and amperes you are using. Never exceed 80% of the ampere rating of a switch.

    6) A switch in a wet location or outside of a building shall be enclosed in a UL listed weatherproof enclosure or cabinet. Switches shall not be installed whithin wet locations in a tub or shower spaces, unless installed as part of a listed tub or shower assembly.

    If you are having problems, Play it Safe.
    Make sure you check the regulations in the National Electrical Code regarding the device you are wiring. If you are still unsure of how to properly wire the circuit you are working on, you will need to contact a qualified electrician in your area. You can also ask questions in our forum.

    Related Sections: Three Way Switches > Four Way Switches

    Related Resources:

  • National Electrical Code Handbook
  • National Electrical Codebook
  • Stallcup's Illustrated Code Changes
  • The Complete Guide to Home Wiring (Black and Decker Complete Guides Series)
  • Wiring Simplified
  • Guide to Using the National Electrical Code
  • Residential Remodeling and Repair Professional Reference
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      Back to the Top > Wiring Home > Electrical > Switches and lighting > Single-pole switching

    It is important to note that electrical codes change, and that in some areas local electrical codes are not the same as the National Electrical code. The local authority having jurisdiction in your area may have different codes than the national code. It is important to find out if your local codes differ from the national code, your local authority having jurisdiction is the final judge and jury.

    Disclaimer: You understand that you are personally responsible for your own wiring, and that you're wiring should conform to the National Electrical code. The information provided is general installation advice. We make no claims about the completeness or the accuracy of the information as it may apply to an infinite amount of field conditions. It is the responsibility of the person or persons using this information to check with all concerned parties, owners and local authorities, etc. before doing an installation. Users of this information agree to hold Wireityourself.com or any of its agents harmless form liabilities of any kind relating to the use of this information. You also agree to the terms set forth in our terms and conditions.