Updating electrical switches

andy t

NES Member
Rating - 100%
37   0   0
Joined
May 29, 2006
Messages
1,154
Likes
39
Location
Essex County
Right now I have simple $0.5 single/double pole flip up/down electrical switches. I am thinking of updating them to something new. Doesn't have to be smart, but look newer - possibly a flat switch. Any suggestions or just pick one with decent reviews from Amazon?
 

new guy

NES Member
Rating - 100%
57   0   0
Joined
Dec 7, 2009
Messages
20,967
Likes
14,564
Love my decora style switches. So much easier to use (with a hand, elbow, shoulder, forehead, etc.) than the ones that look like little penises. Why not use them?

Man I hope you don't have a compelling answer because I don't feel like doing my whole house over again. [laugh]
 
Rating - 100%
11   0   0
Joined
Jul 27, 2011
Messages
764
Likes
438
Location
Quincy
I love those flat Leviton Decora switches. No problems at all, and they make the house look 1000% better compared to old toggle switches.
 

Dennis in MA

NES Member
Rating - 100%
24   0   0
Joined
Feb 12, 2007
Messages
15,844
Likes
7,323
Always stand in a bucket of water and be sure to grab both sides of the switch to hold it securely. ;)

Swapping out a switch is so easy I can do it. Just don't think. Swap the wires exactly the same - like you're changing the plug wires on your car. One time I pulled it apart and said, "this must be wired wrong." So I reconfigured it. Shockingly (no pun intended), it didn't work. LOL. Put it back - BAM! Light worked! Clearly I had no idea which was the hot and which was going to the fixture. LOL
 

1903Collector

NES Member
Rating - 100%
71   0   0
Joined
Jan 24, 2007
Messages
3,812
Likes
521
Location
Armpit region
Go to Home Depot or Lowe's, get a box of 10 for like $15-$20 bucks. Home Depot sells Leviton and Lowes sells Hubble I think, both are good. Three way's are a bit more.
 

Dennis in MA

NES Member
Rating - 100%
24   0   0
Joined
Feb 12, 2007
Messages
15,844
Likes
7,323
I love 1st world problems!

If you ever wonder why most of the
planet hates us? Read this thread.
And if red-blooded Americans didn't dispose of things as often as they did, a greater % of those 3rd-world countries would be more hell-holier than they currently are. As much as you might hate King Consumer, without him consuming, NO ONE eats.
 

new guy

NES Member
Rating - 100%
57   0   0
Joined
Dec 7, 2009
Messages
20,967
Likes
14,564
Swapping out a switch is so easy I can do it. Just don't think. Swap the wires exactly the same - like you're changing the plug wires on your car. One time I pulled it apart and said, "this must be wired wrong." So I reconfigured it. Shockingly (no pun intended), it didn't work. LOL. Put it back - BAM! Light worked! Clearly I had no idea which was the hot and which was going to the fixture. LOL
I thought this until I realized that half of the boxes/wires in my house weren't a direct match with what I was swapping in. I figured it out though. No fires yet, and I discovered a new hobby (wiring) in the process!
 
Last edited:

JDL

NES Member
Rating - 100%
1   0   0
Joined
Jan 16, 2015
Messages
1,078
Likes
604
Location
Wilbraham, MA
Once you replace all the switches you will.have to replace all.the outlets to match . This project will seem to go on forever. Stop now in the
thinking/planning stage . Save your self some money and wasted time and don't try to fix something that isent broken .
 

new guy

NES Member
Rating - 100%
57   0   0
Joined
Dec 7, 2009
Messages
20,967
Likes
14,564
Once you replace all the switches you will.have to replace all.the outlets to match . This project will seem to go on forever. Stop now in the
thinking/planning stage . Save your self some money and wasted time and don't try to fix something that isent broken .
Meh. It's a cheap and easy DIY update to your house that you can do a room at a time in your free time. Those old style penis switches look older and more antiquated by the year. Besides, happy wife... :)
 

PaulR

NES Member
Rating - 100%
5   0   0
Joined
Aug 15, 2011
Messages
7,312
Likes
2,982
Location
Western MASS
Thread Hijack: Can a non-electrician type easily install motion sensing switches in place of the old toggles? Thanks.
 
  • Like
Reactions: AHM
Rating - 100%
11   0   0
Joined
Jul 27, 2011
Messages
764
Likes
438
Location
Quincy
Thread Hijack: Can a non-electrician type easily install motion sensing switches in place of the old toggles? Thanks.
It depends . . . on your abilities as a non-electrician, existing wiring conditions, etc. Motion sensing switches typically will require a ground wire to work.
 

Garys

NES Member
Rating - 100%
72   0   0
Joined
Oct 19, 2005
Messages
18,011
Likes
2,551
Location
Stoughton
I did this over the course of several months, although I think there are still a couple of little used ones that I missed. I also spent about three hours mapping out what each of the circuit breakers controls. No more flipping switches until the right lights go out. In the process, I discovered that I have one circuit breaker that apparently does nothing. Well it works, but I don't know that there is anything on it.

Once you replace all the switches you will.have to replace all.the outlets to match . This project will seem to go on forever. Stop now in the
thinking/planning stage . Save your self some money and wasted time and don't try to fix something that isent broken .
 

AHM

NES Member
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
Joined
Dec 30, 2013
Messages
5,846
Likes
2,975
Swapping out a switch is so easy I can do it. Just don't think. Swap the wires exactly the same - like you're changing the plug wires on your car. One time I pulled it apart and said, "this must be wired wrong." So I reconfigured it. Shockingly (no pun intended), it didn't work. LOL. Put it back - BAM! Light worked! Clearly I had no idea which was the hot and which was going to the fixture. LOL
Only On NES Dept.​

Thread Hijack: Can a non-electrician type easily install motion sensing switches in place of the old toggles? Thanks.

Should I get a permit before installing my new switches?
Switch, shovel, shut up.
 

mac1911

NES Member
Rating - 100%
65   0   0
Joined
Dec 26, 2008
Messages
26,548
Likes
3,955
I been updating my switches and receptacles room by room over the years.
Few tips: make sure by all the switch/receptacles/cover plates you need plus extra. I did a few rooms and then a few years later I could not find the same style and also the white was not the same white anymore.
I believe I went with leviton? Although I bought ones that both physically felt and looked better constructed.

I also recommend a tester both a “wiggy” type (thats what my dad called the basic tester) and one of these.
I was having odd issues and found some sketchy wire work along with a live wire going no where just tossed up on the drop ceiling stuffed in a recess.
Fun stuff. One of these helped me find several problems
View: https://youtu.be/AvLf-xPCg-U
 

sbi

NES Member
Rating - 100%
5   0   0
Joined
Feb 17, 2013
Messages
2,606
Likes
945
Swapping out a switch is so easy I can do it.
Tell this to the idiot electrical inspector in Waltham who insisted I get my electrician to replace a standard receptacle with a GFCI one for the hood (way more than 6 ft from the sink, as the law says; he just woke up that morning decided to make someone's life harder) or else he would not sign my permit (even though homeowners are allowed to do electrical work in MA per the state chief electrical inspector). I hate government dickheads.
 

drgrant

Moderator
NES Member
Rating - 100%
59   0   0
Joined
Mar 21, 2006
Messages
66,751
Likes
23,214
IMHO get the leviton commercial grade decoras, they don't cost much more money than the flint ones and maybe its my imagination but they seem more robust than the
cheap ones, assuming they still have distinct product lines.

-Mike
 

Spanz

NES Member
Rating - 100%
1   0   0
Joined
Feb 25, 2009
Messages
28,993
Likes
13,893
Nikola Tesla invented a way to send electrical power thru the air without the need for any stinkin' wires.
be like Tesla.
 

TC McQuade

NES Member
Rating - 100%
23   0   0
Joined
Feb 6, 2014
Messages
1,498
Likes
681
Location
East Coast USA
Thread Hijack: Can a non-electrician type easily install motion sensing switches in place of the old toggles? Thanks.
I read that as saying easily install motion sensing switches in place of old toilets. And couldn't figure out what you were talking about. Oh well now I get it.


Maybe that's why i shouldn't replace switches
 

drgrant

Moderator
NES Member
Rating - 100%
59   0   0
Joined
Mar 21, 2006
Messages
66,751
Likes
23,214
Another fun thing that I like to use.... get a voltage detector (one of those things that buzzes when its near high voltage AC) test it before each use (hold it near a live circuit or even a lamp cord and make sure it sounds) and know how to use it. Even though you think you've shut off the mains, you can use it to verify "yes this circuit is actually not hot anymore". It's easy to get confused, flick a wrong breaker, or think that you flipped the right one and something is still hot, etc. It's a cheap safety tool. And always test it before use... if left idle long enough, the batteries can die and they'll stop chirping.

-Mike
 
Top Bottom