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Old 10-17-2011, 12:42 PM   #1
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Wiring a light switch


I have a timer/light switch which controls the outdoor motion sensor and patio lights. The motion sensor lights are obviously not original to the house, so I believe that the timer was probably not, either. I'm planning to remove the motion sensor lights, as we never use them, and they're wired incorrectly (loose NM cable on the outside of the house).

My first step is going to be replacing the timer switch with a regular light switch, as the timer switch is difficult to turn on and off. When I pulled out the timer switch, however, the configuration is not one I've seen before. Two cables, one with black, white, and ground; the other with black, white, ground, and red. The red wire was pigtailed to one of the two wires on the timer, the black wires are pigtailed together with the other wire on the timer. The ground wires are pigtailed together, not attached to anything.

I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do with the red wire when I put in the regular single-pole switch. I'm not an electrician, but I have replaced switches before, they're not generally this complicated. Should I just wire it the same as the timer was? Please help.

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Old 10-17-2011, 12:58 PM   #2
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Wiring a light switch


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Originally Posted by preciouschristy View Post
I have a timer/light switch which controls the outdoor motion sensor and patio lights. The motion sensor lights are obviously not original to the house, so I believe that the timer was probably not, either. I'm planning to remove the motion sensor lights, as we never use them, and they're wired incorrectly (loose NM cable on the outside of the house).

My first step is going to be replacing the timer switch with a regular light switch, as the timer switch is difficult to turn on and off. When I pulled out the timer switch, however, the configuration is not one I've seen before. Two cables, one with black, white, and ground; the other with black, white, ground, and red. The red wire was pigtailed to one of the two wires on the timer, the black wires are pigtailed together with the other wire on the timer. The ground wires are pigtailed together, not attached to anything.

I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do with the red wire when I put in the regular single-pole switch. I'm not an electrician, but I have replaced switches before, they're not generally this complicated. Should I just wire it the same as the timer was? Please help.
Turn off circuit.

Put black wires on SP switch.

Cap red.

Wire nut whites together.

Wire nut and pig tail bare wires to switch.

Replace fixture.

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Old 10-17-2011, 12:59 PM   #3
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Wiring a light switch


Just a guess, but it seems that the two black wires are power in and power out with a constant hot, maybe to the motion lights, and the red wire was a switch leg for the patio lights.

Is this the case?
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Old 10-17-2011, 01:07 PM   #4
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Wiring a light switch


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Just a guess, but it seems that the two black wires are power in and power out with a constant hot, maybe to the motion lights, and the red wire was a switch leg for the patio lights.

Is this the case?
So, you thinking the black is a feed to another light/device also. Good call.
I misread OP about timer and switch to 2 fixtures.
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Old 10-17-2011, 01:09 PM   #5
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Wiring a light switch


Not sure. I never could figure out how to work the timer, and most of the motion sensor lights have no bulbs in them, so I've only ever used it as a on/off switch. If that is true, can I still wire a regular single-pole switch the way Code05 suggests?
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Old 10-17-2011, 01:13 PM   #6
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Wiring a light switch


When you turn the timer off, does the motion lights go out also?
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Old 10-17-2011, 01:15 PM   #7
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Wiring a light switch


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So, you thinking the black is a feed to another light/device also. Good call.
I misread OP about timer and switch to 2 fixtures.
I'm thinking it might be a constant hot to the motion lights, and the red a switch leg to the patio lights.
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Old 10-17-2011, 01:17 PM   #8
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Wiring a light switch


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I'm thinking it might be a constant hot to the motion lights, and the red a switch leg to the patio lights.
Works for me.
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Old 10-17-2011, 01:19 PM   #9
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Wiring a light switch


Well- the timer has a dial and a little on/off switch at the top. When I switch the on/off switch to "on", the patio light and the one motion sensor light that has bulbs in it go on. When I switch it off, both lights go off, and the motion sensor light doesn't come back on. But since I don't know how to program the "timer" part, I have no idea when they're "supposed" to be on, but they never seem to be on except when I turn them on.
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Old 10-17-2011, 01:21 PM   #10
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Wiring a light switch


What is the red wire connected to in the fixture boxes?
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Old 10-17-2011, 01:32 PM   #11
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Wiring a light switch


It appears that the red wire is superfluous. In the fixture, it's pigtailed with all the black wires.

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