Basic Question!

Reply

  #1  
Old 10-03-06, 03:12 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 445
Basic Question!

Simpler question - in a standard wall switch receptacle, where does the hot wire come "IN" and where does it go "OUT"? Top or bottom of the switch?

in other words, to you connect the incoming HOT do you connect it to the top or bottom part of the receptacle?
 
Sponsored Links
  #2  
Old 10-03-06, 03:20 PM
Member
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central New York State
Posts: 13,973
A receptacle is a place where you plug in a cord for an appliance or other electrical device.

A switch is a device that controls the flow of power.

You are only going to confuse people if you mix the terms up.

A standard two way switch merely opens and closes the connection. As such it has no input or output terminal. As long as you do not use the ground terminal (green screw) for anything other than the ground wire, it makes no difference which of the two terminals you use as the input and which you use as the output.

Three way and four way switches are quite different, as are specialty switches that you may or may not also connect a neutral wire to.
 
  #3  
Old 10-03-06, 07:48 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 445
ok - sorry for the terminology mixup.

but, i have to say, what you say doesnt make sense to me....

- first, with my very first wiring project i wired a ceiling fan complete with a wall switch/contol. i took the hot line from the light switch next to the control as the input. well, the first time i wired it it up, the light switch controlled the fan switch control. i switched the wires around (top and bottom) and it worked properly. so that made me think on the fan control switch, that the order made a difference.

- second, how does the switch know where to send the power to? I mean, doesnt it have to know where the hot line is coming from and where to either send power to (when the switch is on) or not send power to (when the switch is off)? im sorry if i sound bull headed, but i dont get it. if it doesnt matter, how, then, does a switch work? I know that the toggle inside connects a circuit or breaks a circuit depending on the position of the switch.

but dont all switches/recepticles/controls have to have an inflow of power and an outflow?

sorry if im off here. but humor me :-)
 
  #4  
Old 10-03-06, 08:06 PM
Member
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: welland ontario
Posts: 5,680
You had more than two wires on the switch or swapping would have done nothing.
A normal on off switch is nothing more than a break in the wire. Imagine you have a piece of wire. Cut it in half. The switch is now off. Touch the two ends together the switch is now on. That is all a normal single poll switch does. Three way and four way switches are a different animal all together.
 
  #5  
Old 10-03-06, 08:49 PM
ddr
ddr is offline
Member
Join Date: May 2006
Location: New York City
Posts: 133
As racraft and joed mentioned, there are certain devices (such as three or four way switches and GFCI receptacles) that need to be wired in a specific way so current passes through in a given direction, but with a simple two way, single pole switch, it doesn’t matter which hot terminal you use for the feed and outgoing wire.

A two way switch doesn’t care about “direction” of current; it just does one of two things: allow current to pass from one hot terminal to the other (when the switch is in the ON position, thereby allowing current to reach the light (or whatever) or stop current from passing from one hot terminal to the other (when the switch is in the OFF position, thereby stopping current from reaching the light). It doesn’t matter if the feed goes to the top or bottom terminal; the current will pass through to the outgoing wire as long as the switch is on.

The same would apply when joining outlets along a basic circuit: the incoming hot and neutral can be attached to either the top or bottom set of hot/neutral terminals and the outgoing hot and neutral would get attached to the other set to feed the next outlet.

As for your fan switch situation, I’m a little confused by your description so I won’t say what did or didn’t happen there.

Hope this helps.
 

Last edited by ddr; 10-03-06 at 09:11 PM.
  #6  
Old 10-03-06, 09:32 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 445
Red face

ok!! i got it. sorry, just a little dense these days. but those last 2 explanations make sense to me now. hmmmmm, ok, so first thing is that it doesnt matter. i can now move on with my planning!

to give more detail on my fan switch problem....


i had an existing wall switch (for ceiling lights) that i tapped into for my new ceiling fan switch (with dimmer). so, the firs time i configured it, the ceiling fan switch was controlled by the existing switch that I tapped into (ie - the ceiling fan only worked when the ceiling lights were on). so, i chaned the point at which i tapped into the existing switch and the fan operated indepenently (the ceiling fan could be on while the ceiling lights were off).

but...after reading the above, it makes more sense....i think :-)
 
  #7  
Old 10-04-06, 05:35 AM
Member
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central New York State
Posts: 13,973
If you are trying to add a third wire to an existing switch then it matters which side of the switch you connect it to, as you have found out. One side has constant power, and the other side has switched power. So if you connect your new wire to the constant power side then it will be always on, but if you connect it to the switched side then it will only have power when the switchs is on.
 
Reply

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Display Modes