How to wire a double light switch

Updated February 21, 2017

You may want switches for two lights located together in certain parts of your home, such as the bottom of a stairway or a double-bay garage. With some basic tools, you can easily do the wiring yourself, whether you are replacing an old switch or adding a new circuit.

Go to the service panel and turn off power to the circuit you will be working on. Return to the old switch and remove the cover. Check all wires for current with your voltage tester. If there is a white wire connected to the side of the switch with one connection--with or without black tape wrapped around it--it is your hot feed. If the white wire bypasses the switch, the black wire on the side of the switch with the single connection is your hot feed, and the wires on the other side go to the lights.

Loosen the screws on the old switch and remove the wires one at a time, carefully marking with tape the wire that carries the hot feed. Remove the switch.

Using your pliers and screwdriver, attach the hot feed to the hot connection on the new switch. Connect the red or black wires that run to the lights to the other side of the switch.

Connect the green screw on the switch to the free bare wire that was connected to the old switch. If there isn't one, cut a small piece of bare wire and connect it from the screw to the other bare cables in the box. Check the insulated connectors to make sure they are securely fastened. Attach the switch to the box.


If you have a different situation than described above, here are some key points to remember: The hot feed from the service panel always goes to the side of the switch with one connection, and the white wire from the service panel connects to the white wires coming from the lights. The black or red cables coming from the lights connect to the side of the switch opposite the hot feed.

Things You'll Need

  • Double switch
  • Voltage tester
  • Screwdriver
  • Wire cutter
  • Wire stripper
  • Insulated wire connectors
  • Pliers
  • Black electrical tape
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About the Author

Etienne Caron teaches English to speakers of other languages and has been writing for Demand Studios since 2009. He graduated from Westfield State College in 1993 with a bachelor's degree in regional planning.