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Two regular light switches, but black wire and blue wire switched

Two regular light switches, but black wire and blue wire switched

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  #1  
Old 02-23-05, 08:00 PM
Sawdustguy
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Two regular light switches, but black wire and blue wire switched

I just replaced two wall switches. Two wires, black and blue.

On the one switch, the black wire was going to the top screw. On the other switch, the blue wire was going to the top screw.

What confuses me is that are wall switches interchangeable with the screws?

Let me see how I can explain this without confusing myself....

The black wire "top screw on the one switch is tied with others in a wire nut in the box. The blue wire on the other switch "Bottom Screw" is within that wire nut in the box. Why and how come? The interchange was successful, but I don't see how it could work unless it doesn't matter what wire goes to what screw on a wall switch.
 
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  #2  
Old 02-24-05, 04:24 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central New York State
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A two way wall switch has two screw terminals (there is also a ground screw, but we're not concerned with it, as it has no effect on the on/off operation of the switch). depending on the make of the switch, these two screws may be on the same side or op opposite sides of the switch.

When the switch is in the on position, there is an electrical connection between the two terminals. When the switch is in the off position that electrical connection is broken.

It makes no difference how you connect up the two wires to those two terminals.

Three way switches (3 terminals) and four way switches (4 terminals) are quite different. If you connect those switches up incorrectly then your circuit won't work at all, or will work improperly.
 
  #3  
Old 02-24-05, 07:05 AM
Sawdustguy
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Thanks Racraft! I was a bit baffled as to how it could work, but I guess if it doesn't matter what wire goes to what screw "Screws on same side and same color", then it is what it is. They're both gold colored screws.

Now, another question,

On a standard wall plug-in wall outlet that is kinda round in shape. There were two wires. One white, One Black. The black went to the gold screw, the white went to the silver screw. With the black wire, does it matter if you put it on the right or left gold screw and same with the white wire on the silver screw, does it matter which screw on the silver side?

There is also that tab too, for what reasons would you break off that tab?
 
  #4  
Old 02-24-05, 07:21 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central New York State
Posts: 13,973
Your terminology about right and left gold screw doesn't make sense for a typical duplex receptacle, but no matter.

You will see that there is a tab between the "plate" behind the two gold screws, and a tab between the "plate" behind the two silver screws.

The tab is used when you want to separate the top plug from the bottom plug. Typically only the tab on the hot side is broken off. An example would be when you want half the receptacle to be switched and other half to be always hot. In this case there would be a switched hot to one of the gold screws, and an always hot wire to the other gold screw, and the tab is broken. The tab on the silver side of the receptacle would not be broken in this case.

As long as the tabs are intact, it does not matter to which gold screw you attach the hot wire and to which silver screw you attach the neutral wire. If you have an additional wire to carry the circuit to another receptacle then you can attach one black wire to each gold screw and one white wire to each silver screw.
 
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