What Are The Holes On The Back Of A Light Switch? Is That Different Than Screwing? - Electrical - DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum
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Old 08-01-2010, 10:37 AM   #1
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What are the holes on the back of a light switch? Is that different than screwing?


What are the holes on the back of a light switch for?

Is using those any different than screwing the wires in?

I am replacing a switch that has the wires going into the holes on back now. Do I need to use the holes on the new switch as well? Or can I just hold the wires down with the screws on the new switches?

TIA
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Old 08-01-2010, 10:46 AM   #2
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Using the holes is typically called "backstabbing", it's a bit easier and faster than wrapping the wire around the screw.

Electrician call these holes "Profit holes" because they are quicker to install and they loosen up over time which gives more work to electrician to fix it.

Wrap around the screw.

Be aware, better quality receptacles (spec grade or above) and GFCI's sometimes have holes on the back, but once you put the wire into this hole you need to tighten down the screw in order to lock the wire in. These holes are fine to use. What you want to avoid are the holes with a spring loaded jaw that you just slide the wire into and it holds it automatically.
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Last edited by Proby; 08-01-2010 at 10:48 AM.
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Old 08-01-2010, 10:47 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by abefroman View Post
What are the holes on the back of a light switch for?

Is using those any different than screwing the wires in?

I am replacing a switch that has the wires going into the holes on back now. Do I need to use the holes on the new switch as well? Or can I just hold the wires down with the screws on the new switches?

TIA
The holes allow faster wiring - but is it better? If you were able to release the old wire from the switch, you can use the holes in the new switch or use the two screws. Your choice.
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Old 08-01-2010, 10:49 AM   #4
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Do not use the holes, as Proby stated, they tend to come loose over time. Use the screws.
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Old 08-01-2010, 10:59 AM   #5
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Do not use the holes, as Proby stated, they tend to come loose over time. Use the screws.
Thanks!

I usually use the screws, then wrap tape around it.
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Old 08-01-2010, 11:46 AM   #6
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Some (a lot of) newer switches and receptacles have "back-wire" (as opposed to the back-stab) connections. You slide the wires under a little clamp, but tighten the screw to clamp the wire in place. Much easier than wrapping the wire around the screw, and secure - I love them.
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Old 08-01-2010, 12:56 PM   #7
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Using the push in holes is acceptable and meets code but using screws or using holes with screw down clamps inside is better.

Wires held in place directly using a screw need to be wrapped around the screw, not just run up straight against the side of the screw -- unless there are ridges that the wire slides into that keep the wire completely under the head of the screw.
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Last edited by AllanJ; 08-01-2010 at 12:59 PM.
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