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What Is A Switch Loop & How Does It Work?

Electrical & Lighting
By on May 9, 2018
What Is A Switch Loop & How Does It Work?

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We turn lights on and off every day without giving it a second thought. When it doesn’t go on, the culprit is often a bad light bulb. Other times, specifically with light fixtures, it could be the switch loop.

See everything you wanted to know about switch loops below. As always, if you need assistance with any electrical project, ImproveNet can help you find the best electricians near you.

What Is A Switch Loop?

In layman’s terms, a switch loop is another term for a wiring circuit created to connect a light fixture to a wall switch. Instead of pulling a cord every time you want to turn the light on or off, you flip a switch or push a button to activate the light.

When Does A Switch Loop Occur?

A switch loop occurs when both the switch at the end of a circuit or an incoming cable and a neutral become hot leads and connect to a terminal.

How Does Electrical Switch Wiring Work?

In a switch loop, the hot and neutral wires arrive at the light fixture before reaching the switch. If you simply connected the wires from the light to the switch, the light would always be on. Instead, we use a switch loop wiring pattern to control when you want the light on and off.

How Do You Make A Switch Loop?

To make a switch loop, connect the incoming hot (black) wire to the white neutral wire that runs to the switch. Mark the white wire at each end with black tape or black paint to indicate it is hot. Next, the incoming white neutral wire is attached to the light fixture, as usual, and the black wire from the switch is connected to the light fixture. With this, the hot wire initially bypasses the fixture, then loops through the switch and back to the fixture.

What Is A Switch Leg?

The switch leg, also known as the hot (black) wire described above, is the wire that actually turns the light on. It sends the electricity to the light fixture.

Find An Electrician

As you can see, switch loops don’t only provide convenience, but also improve our home design, hiding those ugly fan and light fixture cords. However, fixing or installing switch loops can be tricky and dangerous. If your light fixture or electricity is causing problems, use ImproveNet to find the most reliable electricians in your town.

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