Switch Installation: How To Install A Power Switch


Electrical work can turn out to be an expensive proposition and sometimes something as simple as replacing or installing a switch may end up costing you a lot. So, instead of calling the electrician when you need to install a power switch, maybe next time you could try to replace or install a switch yourself. However, be advised, this is not everyone’s cup of tea so do not attempt to undertake a switch installation if you are no good with electrical work and have no idea what you are doing. Here is some basic information you will find handy if you are considering installing a power switch by yourself.

Types Of Electrical Switches

Before you undertake a switch installation, it is important you understand and know about the various types of power switches.

Toggle Switch

This is the most basic type of electric switch that you usually see everywhere. It toggles up and down and hence that is how it gets its name.

Rocker Switch
This switch operates like a teeter-totter and has a pad that is high on the top or bottom. These switches are more expensive than the toggle switches.

Dimmer Switch
Dimmer switches are the more fancy variety of power switches which instead of turning the power on or off dim the strength of the light or fan for example. There are different types of dimmer switches depending on what your purpose is.

Now that you know the various types of switches, here are some tips to help you with your switch installation.

Installing The Electrical Switch

  • Ensure the power is off. You can do this by switching off the circuit breaker or simply removing the fuse. Attempting to install a switch without switching the power off is very dangerous so if you do not know how to turn the power off, you should ask someone how to do it rather than taking the risk.
  • After this, start unscrewing the switch pad and remove it to reveal the electric box underneath. Remove the old switch by detaching all the wires attached to it with a pair of pliers. Sometimes pliers may not work in which case you might have to cut off the wires to remove the old switch before you install the new power switch.
  • Once you get rid of the old switch, you must start connecting the wires to your new switch. Your switch may be single pole, two way, three way or even four-way and depending on what type of switch installation you are attempting, your wiring will differ. Obviously a single pole will be simpler, with only a couple of wires but a three way switch installation will involve figuring out and connecting a larger number of wires.
  • Once you have connected all the wires, push the wires back into the box and attach your new switch to the electric box. Put the switch pad back on and screw it back in place.

Once everything is done, turn the power back on and turn the switch on to check on your switch installation handiwork. If for some reason, it is not working, do not attempt to unscrew it right away but make sure you turn the power back off again before you try to figure out what is wrong.

Dimmer switches are slightly more complicated and the wiring is different.