How to Wire a Switch

There are many configurations for wiring a standard switch. Much can depend on where the source of your power is located, if you are on the end of a circuit or if your switch is ahead or behind the light in question. On this site we will explain a few, but NOT all the basics of wiring a switch. We presume that you already know a little bit about electricity. So don't expect too many safety precautions, like, "Don't grab the black wire when the circuit is on!"

We have created comprehensive diagrams coupled with some instructions to help you on your way to wiring a single switch.

To navigate this site, you can click on the page you are looking for in the table of contents below or you can simply click on the "next page" link at the bottom of each page to go through the site in the manner in which it was intended. The possible configurations for wiring a switch are listed in the order of their complexity.

Switch - Light supposes that the source goes through the switch to the light, and the light is at the end of your circuit.

Light - Switch presumes just the opposite. The source comes into the light, the switch then is the last box on the circuit.

Light - Switch / Outlet shows the source coming into the light's box and then splitting between the switch and the outlet. In other words, the light is not at the end of the circuit.

Finally we show Light - Switch - Outlet. Here the source again enters at the light goes through the switch box and the circuit continues to an outlet beyond the box.

The diagrams and explanations should cover most situations that will arise in the average switch wiring job. If your job is more complicated that those described here, you may wish to contact a professional. For some humor about electrical work and remodeling check out my book How Not to Build an Addition.

Next Page: How To Wire a Switch - Switch and Light at End of Circuit


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