Sign In to join the community | Help
Heating & Cooling


Light switch wiring question

I just replaced a light switch and I ran into a situation where I didn't have enough terminals. The switch had 3 terminals but I had 4 wires. I put the 2 white wires on the same terminal. Everything seems to work fine, but then I found an article that said to never do that and instead make a pigtail. I was wondering what the reason is for that? (Two Wires, One Terminal)

Not what you were looking for ? Try posting a question
Posted 2012-04-03T17:08:57+0000  by ksieburg ksieburg

Hello ksieburg.


The reason for pigtails is to get the best possible connection.  A single wire stripped and "c" shaped to conform to the screw shaft allows the screw to be uniformly tightened down on the wire.  Putting multiple wires on one switch or outlet terminal is just asking for a bad connection.  Pigtails also can be used to extend a wire that has become too short.  Three wire circuits also need pigtails, but that's another story.  Let's just say that it's common practice to splice wires and run a pigtail rather than to try and join everything at the receptacle.


I am puzzled by your comment on using 2 white wires on a switch.  Normally all wires run in conduit to a switch will either be power wires, (any color EXCEPT white, green or bare), plus one ground, (green or bare).  Normally wires in a cable could have ONE white wire acting as a power lead if it is properly marked as such using tape.  Since you say all works fine, I remain puzzled.





Best Answer

Posted 2012-04-03T20:01:26+0000  by Chris_HD_CHI

Thanks Newf, I think you are right that this is an odd setup. Mainly because today the switch suddenly stopped working. I am going to put it in a pigtail tonight and just run the one wire. Hopefully that will fix it. It's good to know the reason why this is preferred, so thanks.

Posted 2012-04-04T13:51:25+0000  by ksieburg

You're welcome ksieburg.


Let us know how this works out.  We are glad to have you join the forum. Please keep us updated on your projects and feel free to join in helping others.






Posted 2012-04-06T12:27:38+0000  by Chris_HD_CHI
Not what you were looking for ? Try posting a question