Replacing Light Switch Help

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Old 08-19-13, 08:07 AM
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Replacing Light Switch Help

This should be pretty straight forward, but I run into trouble due to color of my existing wiring. I want to replace the light switch that controls the outside lights (3 of them) with one that has a timer. This single pole switch is in a box with a 3 way switch that controls the foyer light.

The current switch has the two hot wires (blue) connected to same screw then running off into conduit in two seperate directions. The orange wire connects to a bundle of other orange wires in the box. No other wires are connected to this switch.

The pictures show what I am dealing with. I believe I need the blue, black, and possibly white on the new switch, but not 100% certain how to connect them. Blue and Black to the existing Blues and White to the existing Orange.

I have a call out to my electrician, but he's busy with bigger jobs this summer. Good from him!

Much thanks.
 
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Old 08-19-13, 03:29 PM
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The current switch has the two hot wires (blue) connected to same screw then running off into conduit in two seperate directions. The orange wire connects to a bundle of other orange wires in the box. No other wires are connected to this switch.

The pictures show what I am dealing with. I believe I need the blue, black, and possibly white on the new switch, but not 100% certain how to connect them. Blue and Black to the existing Blues and White to the existing Orange.
Your pictures show one blue wire with a short piece of insulation removed where it is connected to one of the terminals on your existing on/off switch, and one yellow wire connecting the other switch terminal to a multi-wire splice of yellow wires.

Read the instructions that came with your timer. They will likely tell you that one of the wires on your timer, probably the black wire, needs to be connected to power in. Another, either red or blue, needs to be connected to power out (load[s]), and the other one of those two - the blue or the red - is only needed if you're wiring it as a 3-way control. The green wire is ground. It needs to be connected with a green ground screw to the metal switch box.

That leaves the white wire. It needs to be connected to neutral for the timer to work. Do you have neutral in that box? I didn't see any white wires in your picture.

The yellow wire is likely to be the power in, but you will need to test the wires with an analog (preferably) multimeter to be sure. If you don't have neutral you will have to use a different timer.
 
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Old 08-19-13, 06:12 PM
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Very helpful.

I do have a bundle of white wires in the back of the box. How can I determine they are neutral?

For the new switch Black is hot/live wire of the line and Blue the hot/live wire of load.

Appears I need to get a multimeter to test the existing wires to determine which is which. Can you tell me what I look for when testing to determine which is power in vs power out?

Much thanks!
 
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Old 08-19-13, 06:49 PM
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I do have a bundle of white wires in the back of the box. How can I determine they are neutral?
It's almost a given if there are two or more connected to each other. But two tests using a multimeter are with all whites connected* measured to ground ~0 volts and measured to a known hot ~120 volts.

*It is written as "all whites connected" because if separated only one will give a true reading, line white.
 
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Old 08-19-13, 08:59 PM
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Question on grounding; Where exactly in the metal box is the grounding screw? There are two, lower left and upper right, not green and with no grounds currently connected. Do I need a special screw? Also in the pic you can sorta see the bundled white wires jammed in the back.
 
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Old 08-19-13, 09:21 PM
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Normally you would install a green ground screw in the back of the box. It appears that your box is on cement and a ground screw in the back would not be effective. Newer style boxes have a raised section in the box for the ground screw.....yours does not.

I would attach the green from your timer to the screw visible in the picture. A crimp on terminal would make it much easier to work with.

The white connection in the back of your box is neutral.
It appears you may have two circuits present in that box. That means you need to make sure both circuits are off before opening the neutral connection.

The black of the timer goes to the blue connection on the switch now.
The blue of the timer goes to the yellow wire on the switch. Looks like yellow.... not orange.
The white of the timer goes to the whites.
And of course....the ground.
 
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Old 08-20-13, 07:21 AM
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Much thanks! Looks like one more trip to Home Depot for a crimp on terminal.

Just looking at the timer switch and electrical box last night I am not sure it will fit in the space. Much larger then the current rocker switch obviously. At least I will know how to do it either way.
 
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Old 08-20-13, 01:35 PM
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If you move the sets of wires to the sides you should have enough room. I'm curious: That looks like a 1900 box with an extension ring that's also a 2-gang device ring. Is that what it is?
 

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Old 08-20-13, 02:36 PM
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Yes, that is what I am seeing. The house was built new in 2003. This box is at the front door and contains the switch for the outside lights (single pole) and the foyer. The foyer is a three way switch as it can be controlled from here and one other location.

There are a lot of wires coming into the box that is for sure.
 
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Old 08-20-13, 04:47 PM
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And the box is 3" deep. Just fold the wires out of the way.
 
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