How do I Wire a Rotary Switch to a Floor Lamp?

Written by caroline folkenroth
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How do I Wire a Rotary Switch to a Floor Lamp?
The hot wire is the one connected to the smaller side of the plug. (Electric Plug image by JJAVA from

Installing a rotary switch for a floor lamp is a fairly simple job. These switches, also known as in-cord switches, are available at most hardware stores and home improvement centres for under £6. This job requires no previous electrical knowledge to complete. So grab your rotary switch and a few basic tools, and you'll be completing this project in no time.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Rotary switch
  • Screwdriver
  • Knife

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  1. 1

    Unplug the lamp from the outlet.

  2. 2

    Identify the hot wire on the plug. That's the one connected to the narrow blade of the plug. This is usually the smooth side of the wire. The rotary switch works simply by disrupting the flow of current through this wire.

  3. 3

    Use a small knife to cut a 3/4-inch slit between the two individual wire sheathings at the point where you want the rotary switch to separate the wires. Do not expose the wires.

  4. 4

    Cut about a 1/4 inch out of the hot wire in the middle of the separated section of wire.

  5. 5

    Open up the rotary switch by removing the small screw in the centre. Set the screw aside.

  6. 6

    Lay the wire into the inside half of the rotary switch without the dial on it. Arrange the cut hot wire facing the side with the plastic stop and the neutral wire on the other side.

  7. 7

    Put the switch housing together and fasten with the small screw.

  8. 8

    Plug the lamp into the outlet. Turn the rotary switch to make sure it works.

Tips and warnings

  • Purchase a rotary switch that is rated with the proper voltage for the light bulb used in the lamp. For example, a 75 watt bulb draws less than 1 amp on 125V, which is the current running in a residential house. Choose a switch for this bulb rated 6a for this type of current.
  • Always unplug any fixture or appliance before altering its electrical wiring.

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