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Old 04-18-2009, 03:50 PM   #1
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Replacing a switch wired in series?


Hello,

I bought an Intermatic Self Adjusting Wall Switch Timer. I have installed these before and it is usually a simple matter of replacing the switch.

When I pulled the switch plate off the wall, however, I found the three switches behind it are wired in series (see attached photo).



The problem is the Intermatic switch does not have the normal screws, but instead has three wires that come out and that need to be connected using screw caps.

The switch I want to replace with the timer is the first one. I am tempted to cut the wire looped around its screw and connect the two halves with the wire coming off the Intermatic switch.

Would this be safe? Is there a better way?

Thanks!

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Old 04-18-2009, 04:12 PM   #2
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Replacing a switch wired in series?


First of all your switches can't be wired like that because it makes more dollars than it does cents Remove the wires from the screws. If you have more than one wire just splice and use a wirenut

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Old 04-18-2009, 08:50 PM   #3
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Replacing a switch wired in series?


Thanks for the reply. Are you saying the builder did it this way because it is cheaper more than because it make sense? If so, that is kind of what I thought.

So before I cut anything, let me just confirm . . .

I can take the black wire that comes out of the wall, is looped around the side screw on my switch, and continues to the side screw on the switch next to it, and so on to the next, and cut it. I can then get a bigger wire nut than the one that came with a switch and connect the black wire out of the wall to both the black wire from the new timer switch and a newly cut short wire connecting the timer switch to the side screw on the switch next to it.

Sorry for the repetition, but I always err on the side of caution with electrical wiring.
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Old 04-18-2009, 09:34 PM   #4
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Replacing a switch wired in series?


Those new model Intermatic Astronomic timers are great the first models did not have that 'push the front' manual override feature.
http://www.intermatic.com/products/t...ers/st01c.aspx

Here is the Installation directions that should be included:
http://www.intermatic.com/~/media/files/intermatic/products/instructions/timers/st01c%20-%20english.ashx

The third wire red wire is only used for 3-way installs
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Old 04-18-2009, 10:03 PM   #5
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Replacing a switch wired in series?


Thanks, PaliBob.

I actually have those instructions. My problem is that the three switches in my electrical box are connected in series with a common wire looped around each switches side screw.

I am trying to figure out the best way to replace the first switch without disconnecting the other two.
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Old 04-18-2009, 10:11 PM   #6
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Replacing a switch wired in series?


Quote:
Originally Posted by bmoorhouse View Post
Thanks for the reply. Are you saying the builder did it this way because it is cheaper more than because it make sense? If so, that is kind of what I thought.

So before I cut anything, let me just confirm . . .

I can take the black wire that comes out of the wall, is looped around the side screw on my switch, and continues to the side screw on the switch next to it, and so on to the next, and cut it. I can then get a bigger wire nut than the one that came with a switch and connect the black wire out of the wall to both the black wire from the new timer switch and a newly cut short wire connecting the timer switch to the side screw on the switch next to it.

Sorry for the repetition, but I always err on the side of caution with electrical wiring.
That is correct, and the other black wire on the switch you are replacing will connect to the blue of the timer.

And just so you know, the switches are NOT wired in series, you just have a single hot wire that is looped switch to switch.
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Old 04-19-2009, 01:21 AM   #7
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Replacing a switch wired in series?


Quote:
Originally Posted by bmoorhouse View Post
Thanks, PaliBob.

I actually have those instructions. My problem is that the three switches in my electrical box are connected in series with a common wire looped around each switches side screw.

I am trying to figure out the best way to replace the first switch without disconnecting the other two.
Cut it and connect the hot back to the other switches and make a pigtail for your new timer. The way they did it is nice for a number of reasons, but you need to change it for your switch.
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Old 04-19-2009, 08:51 AM   #8
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Replacing a switch wired in series?


What you have is very common. The feed wire is left long at rough in, then the wire is stripped and connected to each screw. This is quicker than running a pigtail to the hot and each switch.
I caution you to be aware that the wire may be short between each switch, and you may not get enought to make your splice with.
If that is the case, the you will need to pigtail to each switch.
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Old 04-19-2009, 11:12 AM   #9
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Replacing a switch wired in series?


Thanks to everyone who replied. I will get the new timer wired in soon!
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Old 04-19-2009, 03:59 PM   #10
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Replacing a switch wired in series?


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Originally Posted by HouseHelper View Post
And just so you know, the switches are NOT wired in series, you just have a single hot wire that is looped switch to switch.
And FWIW, the technique is called midpoint skinning.
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Old 04-19-2009, 06:58 PM   #11
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Replacing a switch wired in series?


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.....the technique is called midpoint skinning.
Thanks I didn't know that.
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Old 04-19-2009, 07:04 PM   #12
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Replacing a switch wired in series?


Quote:
I am tempted to cut the wire looped around its screw and connect the two halves with the wire coming off the Intermatic switch.

That will work. You could also just bend the wire over tightly and wirenut onto it.

The second wire obviously goes to the light. The third wire is probably a neutral (if it's white) or a ground (if it is green or bare)

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