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Install & Replace

Is a light switch after the light ok?

I am replacing some very old switches and outlets in my house.  One light switch in a small storage room is different from the others and I'm wondering if it is wired correctly.  The power is coming from the box to the light and the wire is spliced to connect to the light and the wire continues down to the switch.  The hot wire is connected to one side and the neutral to the other (I assume it is a 3-way switch).  I want to replace it because that particular switch is annoying, but I don't know what type of switch to use and if I even should use the same wiring?

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Posted 2012-12-30T01:59:19+0000  by joel_as joel_as

Good afternoon joel_as,


Thanks for your question and welcome to the community!


It does sound like you have a 3-way switch on your hands...but let me ask you this; was there another switch controlling the light in the storage room.


A 3-way switch works if there is another switch other than the one you are referring to controlling that light or other lights.


If there is any way you trace and find out where the other switch is, then you can see and make sure you are getting the right switch.


In fact, is there any way you can post a picture or see what connections are in the switch junction box as well as in the fixture itself. 


Please describe the connections as stated above and find out if there is another switch and we can assist you further.


Hope to hear from you soon,



Posted 2012-12-31T19:30:27+0000  by Joseph_HD_ATL

Thanks for the response.


There is no other switch in the room.  There is one other light, but it is turned on by a pull string. 


I'm most worried about the way the light and switch are wired.  The light is wired by splitting the neutral wire which is then connected to the light.  The hot and ground wire continue to the switch.  The switch only has two wires, the hot and the neutral.  Both from the same wire bunch.


The pictures show the wiring in both the switch and the light.


Is it ok to wire a light and switch this way or do I need to run new wires between the light and switch?


light box.jpg


switch box.jpg

Posted 2012-12-31T23:04:56+0000  by joel_as

It appears that the wiring is correct and that it is not a three way circuit (there is no common wire). The wiring was performed this way in order for the switch to be positioned "after" the light in essence making one of the neutral wires connecting to your fixture a hot wire.


In essense what typically would have been (switch "before" light):



H (or black)-------------- SWITCH ------------------------- H ------------------------------------ FIXTURE --------- N --------+


N (or white)-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+



you have:




N----------------------------FIXTURE------ H ------------------------------------------------------------ H ---------------------------+



it's technically correct but just a little confusing for someone when they stumble upon it. what's typically done is to wrap a little piece of electrician's tape on the hot "neutral" wire to indicate that it's live.



Posted 2013-01-03T19:10:51+0000  by racer
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