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Switching Light Switches

I don't know how you guys feel, but I loveeee paddle switches way more than your standard switch. So this weekend I took on the task of replacing most of the switches on our main level. This is a super easy task - so if you've ever wondered how to do it, here is how I do it. I will preface this by saying I am NOT an electrician. So d

o this at your own risk. I feel pretty confident on how to replace light switches - and fixtures, but that's about where my electrical expertise runs out. I am going to try to explain this in a way that would makes sense if you've never done it before. I feel like a lot of tutorials have all the info - but it doesn't make sense unless you know electrical language.

Here's how:

Make sure the power is turned off! You do not want to mess with a live wire - it helps if your circuit breakers are labeled, but if they aren't it's a guessing game. I use a voltage tester after turning off the breaker just to make sure that there's no power running to the switch I'm going to replace.

You can get one at your local hardware store - or on amazon:

There are 3 main types of switches but here's how I think about it:

  1. A singe switch that controls a single light - Use a standard single pole light switch

  2. A single light controlled by 2 switches - A 3 way light switch

  3. A single light controlled by 3+ plus switches - 1 four way light switch and 3 way light switches

It's pretty easy to tell when you go to replace your switch which kind it is that you're replacing. If it has 2 wires - it's a single pole, if it has 3 wires- it's a 3 way switch - if it has 4 wires it's a 4 way light switch.

This is a 3 way light switch - has 3 wires running to it. If it has 2 wires running to it - it's a standard switch for 1 light. 4 wires - 4 way light switch. Make sense?

I like to take a photo of the switch before I replace it - this can be helpful to reference if you get stuck doing the new switch.

Other helpful info: If there were push in wires - you'll need a little screwdriver to release the wires from the old switch before being able to remove them. If not - you can just unwrap them! You can use some pliers to straighten the wires to be able to push them into the new switches. If you have any questions - let me know in the comments!

Don't forget to switch cover plates!

Here are the light switches I used:

Single Pole - 1 switch controls 1 light:

3 Way Switch - Light controlled by 2 switches

4 Way Switch - Need ONE of these if your light is controlled by 3 or more switches - the rest of the switches would be 3 way switches

Hope that's helpful! Thanks for reading!


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