Many people are afraid of electrical work, even if they are generally good at DIY. There is no wonder – you need to be super careful with electricity not to cause a fire or receive a shock. Nevertheless, there are some simple wiring jobs that you can do safely on your own after taking a few essential precautions. For instance, you can learn how to wire a light switch and perform this task quite easily despite not being a professional electrician.
However, take into account that it is mostly applicable when you are dealing with a single-pole switch here – in the case of a 3-way model, things get more complicated. Single-pole variants seem to be the most popular nowadays though, so most likely you will be dealing with this type of product.
If you see that your light switch is worn out, cracked, ugly, or does not work well anymore, it is worth replacing it with a new one. You do not have to spend a lot of money on that, and you can wire it in 15 minutes, so it is one of the most accessible upgrades to your electrical wiring and the light fixture you can think of.
A crucial step in light switch wiring or doing any other repairs associated with the light fixture is turning off the electricity to the circuit you are taking care of.
Find the main electrical box and flip off the circuit breaker which is powering the light switch. If your house has a fuse box, you just need to remove the fuse. Then, take the cover plate off from the old light switch box (usually by removing two small flathead screws), and with the help of a non-contact voltage tester, check to ensure if there is no electricity flowing. If the tester does not react with a beep or light, it means the power is indeed off. For now, leave the switch wires connected.
Step by Step Guide on How to Wire a Single-Pole Light Switch
We have prepared a short guide helping you to wire a light switch on your own. First, keep in mind to prepare all the necessary materials to deal with switch wiring, namely:
- a screwdriver
- electrical tape
- a multitool
- your new single-pole switch to wire
Take a closer look at the layout of the wire. There should be two black wires, and each of them is supposed to be connected to a separate screw on the right side of the switch – they are known as terminal screws. What is more, you will probably see a ground wire that can be recognized by the green colour, attached to a screw placed on the light switch’s lower-left side.
When you familiarise yourself with the light switch wiring layout, proceed to loosen the screws attaching every terminal wire. After doing that, set the terminal wires free – you may need pliers to deal with a tight coil. Then, do the same thing with the ground wire. Finally, it should be possible to take the light switch off the wall. You can make this task more convenient by bending any annoying dangling wires.
Check the ends of the light switch wiring to see if they are not frayed. In case of any imperfections, use your wire cutters or a multitool to get rid of the damaged parts. On each length, around a half-inch of wire needs to be exposed. Why? Bear in mind that electrical wires experience stress over time which may lead to gradual weakening. For this reason, you need to make sure that when you reattach the wires to the new single-pole switch box, all the parts of the wiring that is in contact with the screws are intact.
The next thing you need to do is take your pliers or a multitool to bend each of the exposed wires to look like a round hook. You should round those wire hooks firmly enough to make them fit snugly around the screws’ curve on your new light switch.
Then, remember that the hooked ends of the wiring have to be connected to the new light switch. First, take the black wires and attach them to the terminal screws that you can see on the right. While doing that, keep the hooks oriented in a clockwise position. Next, connect the green ground wire to the screw visible on the left. In order to tighten every screw properly, needle-nose pliers may prove useful, but if you do not have them, with enough effort, you can do just fine anyway.
In order to protect the light switch from fire, wrap electrical tape around the terminal screws and the wire body. As a final step, mount the light switch box back to the wall, put the new switch plate on, and open the electrical box to turn the circuit breaker on again. And that is the end – you did it! Now, you can proceed to light switching and enjoy using your light fixture to the fullest.
The Bottom Line
Thanks to our guide, now you know how to wire a light switch that is single-poled. If you have at least basic DIY skills, you should be able to do it without too much effort. You just have to remember to be careful and not to do anything without turning the power off in the electrical box first.
Light switch wiring demands a lot of precision, so stay focused while working with it and take care of every single detail so that your light fixture can work perfectly well. If you feel you do not have enough skills, or when you have to wire a 3-way switch, it is best to contact a professional electrician. Thanks to their knowledge and experience with switch wiring, you will be certain that all the work is done safely and effectively.