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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,

I am replacing a outside patio light switch with a timer that automatically turns them on and off. At my old house this was an easy task because there were two live wires and the ground was colored green and it was also screwed into the green screw. Well, I'm not so lucky with my new house. All three wires are black. The other problem is that there is no green screw on the switch. So I can't figure out which of the three wires is the ground. I have tried looking for these switches at Lowes and Home Depot with no luck. I tried looking up the brand of switch online for a wiring diagram as well. Maybe you can help me. Which of these three wires is the ground?

THanks
Longboardluv
 

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This looks like a three way switch, meaning that none of the three wires is the ground. I will leave it to the pros to discuss what you can do to rewire your circuit to control the light the way you want to.
 

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Your ground is the bare copper wire.Looks like i can see it in 3rd pic.The two blacks are feed (120volts )and the other is going to other switch to feed it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
in the third pic that is not a bare copper wire. It is paint on top of a black coating. I am attaching two more pics. You can see that that bottom wire goes directly to the bottom of the other switch. The right side switch is one of two that control a interior chandelier.
 

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you do not have a ground wire connected to the switches. in pic 3 you can see an EGC (equipment grounding conductor; aka; ground)

in between the white and black wires in the background. Is that attached to anything and where is that wire coming from?

.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·

in the picture above I tired to get all three wires in the shot.

I need to give a little more info. The left switch actually turns on a patio light and two lights by our garage. So i believe that wires coming from the bottom of the box could be the garage lights and the ones coming from the top left could be the patio light. This would make the top right wires the chandelier. All three sets of wires have a bare copper wire that all are tied together with the red twister in the bottom of the picture. All three sets of wires have a white wire that are all tied together with the red twister in the top of the picture. Just another note, the top right one from the chandelier has four wires coming out of it but the bottom and top right only have 3 wires.
 

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On the first switch ,the one on the left in the first picture, the top wire is to the light, the two bottom wires- one is power the other is a power jumper to the next switch. You should wire nut those two along with a pigtail to connect to the new switch. A pig tail should be added to the bare copper wires nutted together and that pigtail tied to the ground screw on the switch. All the connections should be done on the screws. The other switch appears to be a 3-way with the jumper from switch one on the common and two travelers.
 

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Some switches, like yours, do not have ground terminals.

Put your timer grounds under the red wirenut on the bare wires.
 

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ID'ing [type of] Switch & installation

[This looks like a three way switch, meaning that none of the three wires is the ground.] I will leave it to the pros to discuss what you can do to rewire your circuit to control the light the way you want to.
I will agree with the Second part of your sentence. i.e. That there is no Ground/ed wire in sight. The First part, that this is a 3-way switch is incorrect. It's a Single Pole switch. What we have here is either a switch that controls two loads. Or it feeds a line downstream. But one of the posters observed another problem (with this Toggle switch) That there is no Ground Terminal! So. This wiring method is not within the requirements of the NEC!:confused1:
 

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Some switches, like yours, do not have ground terminals.

[Put your timer grounds under the red wirenut on the bare wires.]
...But then we will have a Grounded Neutral. I guess in some cases we have no choice! It'll work. But it's not up to specs.:yes::no:
 

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I will agree with the Second part of your sentence. i.e. That there is no Ground/ed wire in sight.
Sure there is. The white wires under the wire nut are the neutrals (grounded conductors).
The bare wires under the wire nut are the grounding conductors.


But one of the posters observed another problem (with this Toggle switch) That there is no Ground Terminal! So. This wiring method is not within the requirements of the NEC!:confused1:
Not so fast. Grounding the yokes of switches was not always code required. How do you know how old this installation is?


...But then we will have a Grounded Neutral. I guess in some cases we have no choice! It'll work. But it's not up to specs.
YES, there is ALWAYS a choice. And in this case the choice is to use the grounds.
Connecting the ground to the neutral in a case like this is not only non-complaint it is downright dangerous and stupid.
And please do not tell me anything about them being connected to the same place in the panel. This is a completely irrelevant point.
 

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Sure there is. The white wires under the wire nut are the neutrals (grounded conductors).
The bare wires under the wire nut are the grounding conductors.


Not so fast. Grounding the yokes of switches was not always code required. How do you know how old this installation is?


YES, there is ALWAYS a choice.[ And in this case the choice is to use the grounds.
Connecting the ground to the neutral in a case like this is not only non-complaint it is downright dangerous and stupid.
And please do not tell me anything about them being connected to the same place in the panel.] This is a completely irrelevant point.
Let me clarify. Since the timer needs a NEUTRAL (beside a Ground) to satisfy the NEUTRAL wire. And there is no NEUTRAL conductor in the box, my understanding was that it was suggested to use the GROUNDED lead as a NEUTRAL. Hence I pointed out that it might work but is not up to specs. On the question of knowing the difference bet. a Grounded Neutral in a panel (which is required) and anywhere else (which is dangerous). Man o man... Do I know that. I deal w. such situations almost on a daily basis!!!:no:Don't :drink:Drink and :yes:Drive!!!
 

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Actually there are both grounding conductors (grounds) and grounded conductors (neutrals) in that box.
See the bare wires spliced and the white wires spliced?
 

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Actually there are neutrals in the box. Those are the three white wires wire nutted together. If he need a neutral he would just add anther white pigtail to the white wires with the red wire nut.
 

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Heh heh. The poor guy simply asked:

Which of these three wires is the ground?

Instead of answering "None of them. The ground is the bare wire(s)" it spinns of to 3 ways, neutrals, bootlegged grounds and DUI's :laughing:

Good times.
 
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