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Old 07-24-2011, 08:19 AM   #1
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Light Switch With 5 Wires, Black, White, Red, Wtf?


This is a light switch in my basement, it only controls one light out of the 4 down there, I need to replace this switch, it sparks badly and heats up fast, I've never seen anything like this though, what kind of switch is this and whats up with the red wire??
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Old 07-24-2011, 09:15 AM   #2
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Light Switch With 5 Wires, Black, White, Red, Wtf?


I assume the red wire would be a traveler. is the switch at the top of the stairs? and is there another switch somewhere near that operates the same fixture?

and is that knob and tube coming into that box?

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Old 07-24-2011, 09:27 AM   #3
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Light Switch With 5 Wires, Black, White, Red, Wtf?


I’ve not seen a switch like that before, but I don’t think it’s a 3 way switch. Looks like either power comes in on the black on the right with a constant feed to the black on the left and goes out the red when the switch is on, or comes in on the red and leaves the 2 blacks when the switch is on. The whites could be a constant connection via the yoke.
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Old 07-24-2011, 10:01 AM   #4
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Light Switch With 5 Wires, Black, White, Red, Wtf?


I think it's time you identify each wire as to which is the line feed, line neutral, the load feed, and the load neutral. In you second photo the red wire appears to be tied into a black wire so now I'm wondering if the red is not tied into a black "feed" wire which goes back to what "SD515" said, it could be feeding from the red wire.
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Old 07-24-2011, 10:05 AM   #5
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Light Switch With 5 Wires, Black, White, Red, Wtf?


Geez, I had to go back and look at the photo's really close again. Now it appears that the neutral is switched, the black wire at the top is "passed-through" via the little bus bar thingy, and the red is just connected to a screw which does not appear to be connected to anything. But I still have the question as to which way the feed runs and what is the red wire for, and/or is it "HOT".
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Old 07-24-2011, 10:16 AM   #6
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Light Switch With 5 Wires, Black, White, Red, Wtf?


My first guess is that power comes to the switch via the cable on the right. Feeds through the ‘busbar’ out the black, which in turn feeds the octagon constant power. The red being switched, to control the white romex cable at the octagon, because obviously the white romex was added later. My guess is it’s the light someone added later.

Just a guess. And you’re right Thurman, the wires need to be identified before proceeding further.
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Old 07-24-2011, 10:30 AM   #7
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Light Switch With 5 Wires, Black, White, Red, Wtf?


Quote:
Originally Posted by 1910NE View Post
I assume the red wire would be a traveler. is the switch at the top of the stairs? and is there another switch somewhere near that operates the same fixture?

and is that knob and tube coming into that box?
that is the one and only switch for that light, and thats an old knob, none of it is live or connected anymore
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Old 07-24-2011, 10:37 AM   #8
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Light Switch With 5 Wires, Black, White, Red, Wtf?


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Originally Posted by Thurman View Post
Geez, I had to go back and look at the photo's really close again. Now it appears that the neutral is switched, the black wire at the top is "passed-through" via the little bus bar thingy, and the red is just connected to a screw which does not appear to be connected to anything. But I still have the question as to which way the feed runs and what is the red wire for, and/or is it "HOT".
Ok, I just checked with a volt meter, the top 2 blacks are a constant hot, the 2 whites never have power, the red wire becomes hot when the switch is flipped on
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Old 07-24-2011, 10:29 PM   #9
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Light Switch With 5 Wires, Black, White, Red, Wtf?


Quote:
Originally Posted by SD515 View Post
I’ve not seen a switch like that before, but I don’t think it’s a 3 way switch. Looks like either power comes in on the black on the right with a constant feed to the black on the left and goes out the red when the switch is on, or comes in on the red and leaves the 2 blacks when the switch is on. The whites could be a constant connection via the yoke.
Just give you a head up I have see it before that is a surface mounted switch something you see in the Barn or surface mounted cables { those item is getting super rare now I know one company still make it but getting limited } { that in NA side but in France it pretty common item we get them pretty frequent }

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Old 07-24-2011, 10:48 PM   #10
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Light Switch With 5 Wires, Black, White, Red, Wtf?


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Ok, I just checked with a volt meter, the top 2 blacks are a constant hot, the 2 whites never have power, the red wire becomes hot when the switch is flipped on
This is a surface mounted switch and I sold quite a few when I was working in the family hardware store in the early '70s. As French said, they are quite rare now.
If the flash were turned off and the focus a little better, you'd see this works as mentioned above. The red is the switched hot. The pass through is also connected to the switch. The whites are connect to the switch strap similar to the the white being on the shell of a porcelain fixture.
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Old 07-25-2011, 06:22 AM   #11
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Light Switch With 5 Wires, Black, White, Red, Wtf?


Any idea where I can get one from? Or Is their a way to rewire it to make it fit a modern switch?
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Old 07-25-2011, 08:44 AM   #12
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Light Switch With 5 Wires, Black, White, Red, Wtf?


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Any idea where I can get one from? Or Is their a way to rewire it to make it fit a modern switch?
Unless you could find one in a second hand store, you may have to resort to a new switch. The problem will be wire length. These were wired-to-fit so there is no extra length to use inside a switch box. If you could pull a new cable to the light and mount a handy box about two inches to the right then you'd be OK
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Old 07-25-2011, 09:49 AM   #13
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Light Switch With 5 Wires, Black, White, Red, Wtf?


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Old 07-25-2011, 08:35 PM   #14
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Light Switch With 5 Wires, Black, White, Red, Wtf?


So in theory, if I connect the 2 whites with a wire nut, pig tail wire the 2 blacks to the new switch on the top terminal and connect the red wire to the bottom terminal it should work then? (provided i have enough wire length)
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Old 07-25-2011, 08:38 PM   #15
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Light Switch With 5 Wires, Black, White, Red, Wtf?


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Originally Posted by ts46176 View Post
So in theory, if I connect the 2 whites with a wire nut, pig tail wire the 2 blacks to the new switch on the top terminal and connect the red wire to the bottom terminal it should work then? (provided i have enough wire length)
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