How to Wire a Light Switch.

single pole light switch wiring

Welcome to In this tutorial, you will learn how to wire a light switch properly. Both a single pole, dimmer, and two-way switches.

Though it is the work of a licensed electrician to wire a house and switch boxes, you as a homeowner can still do some simple installations such as light switch wiring.

Wiring a light switch is one of the easiest things in electrical work, especially a single pole light switch. But for non-electricians, it’s always hard.

Below is a guide, diagrams and videos for wall switch installations in your domestic and residential homes.

Required tools and materials.

  • Screwdriver
  • Needle nose plier
  • Wire stripper
  • Utility knife


  • Light switch
  • 14/2 gauge wire
  • Wire nuts.
  • Black electrical tape

Wire colours and where to use them.

  • Black: This is a load or hot cable.
  • White: Neutral
  • Red: Used in 3 or 4-way switch wiring to connect switches together to control the lights.
  • Green cable or bare ground wire.

Note: Before you work on the electricity, always turn OFF the service panel, and also wear your glove.

How to wire a standard light switch in 3 steps

To wire a single pole light switch, follow these steps:

Step 1: Turn off the breaker

Before you work on electricity, always switch off the breaker that controls the light.

This is to rule out the chances of electric shock during the installation.

You should also put on your personal protective equipment (PPE) such as your safety glove, boot, and equally work with insulated tools.

Step 2: Connect the wires

The 14 gauge two wires come with 3 wires, one black, one white wire and a copper ground wire.

The switch also comes with three terminal screws on the side, one earth, and two hot.

  • Remove the wire coat with your utility knife and wire stripper
  • Connect the two white neutral wires together. (The neutral from the power source and the one going to the lamp holder).
  • Join the two earth wires and also connect them to the earth terminal screw of the switch
  • Connect the black wire from the power source to one of the common terminals of the switch.
  • Also, connect the black from your lamp holder to the second brown terminal to complete the wiring.

Step 3: Mount the switch on the wall

Install the switch on the metal box and tighten it with screws. Make sure the wires in the box are not trapped.

Toggle on the switch to test run your installation.

How to wire a 2-way switch

A 2-way light switch, also called staircase switches, allows you to control one light fixture from two different locations.

It is useful in staircase lighting and hallways as you can light on the bulb before climbing upstairs and also OFF it when you climb up.

The two-way switches have three screw terminals: COM, L1, and L2.

Intermediate Switch Wiring

Intermediate wiring is like two ways, but requires three switches. They are useful in staircases or big buildings where you want to control one light from three locations.

How to install a dimmer switch

How to install a dimmer switch

Dimmer installation is quite easy, it is like single-pole wiring. Dimmers usually come with three short wires, two blacks, and one earth wire.

Installation procedures

Before any installation, check the power rating of the dimmer you buy. Most of them can handle up to 600 watts.

Check the wattage of your bulbs and make sure you did not overload the dimmer.

Note: Dimmer switches don’t work on most fluorescent and LED bulbs. These lights require low-voltage dimmers.

Here are the steps to follow.

  • Turn OFF the power from your electrical panel
  • Unscrew the switch plate and also check the circuit with voltage tester to make sure it is dead.
  • Lose the switch from the switch box and pull it out.
  • Disconnect the old wires from the switch and connect the dimmer.
  • Use the connectors that come with the fixtures to connect the wires, respectively.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does it matter which wire goes where on a smart light switch?

No, it does not matter provided it is a single-pole switch with two terminals. The light switch doesn’t have neutral terminals, it’s all hot wires from the supply and then to the bulb.

What is the meaning of L1 and L2 on a light switch?

L1 and L2 means line 1 and line 2, while COM is common.

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About mariaelectricals

Hi, I am Emmanuel Nwankwo, a commercial electrician and the founder of I established this blog to share my seven years of work experience in electrical installations and repairs.