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A light switch is a mechanical device that controls the flow of electricity. It can be used to turn on a light bulb or ceiling fan, and it can also be used to control other electrical devices, such as lamps, motors, or even televisions. A light switch is an important part of any electrical circuit, so it's worth understanding how they work and what the different types are.
A basic light switch has two screw terminals and a ground terminal. One of the screw terminals connects to the hot wire from the power source (the wire leading from your service panel or outlet), while the other connects to the load, such as a light bulb. The circuit's grounding wire is usually attached to the green grounding screw on the switch.
You can replace an old light switch by disconnecting the wires that go into the fixture and connecting them to the new switch. This can be done safely with a pair of wire strippers and some practice. If you're not sure what to do, take a picture of the existing wiring before you disconnect it to help you remember how they go together when you're connecting them.
Depending on your wiring scheme, you might be able to use a pigtail to connect the new switch to the existing circuit. This method will allow you to use a shorter length of wire and reduce the risk of tripping over a long, heavy cable. If you're not using a pigtail, then you'll need to make a splice between the new wire and the existing one.
Color Code: A light switch circuit should be color coded to avoid confusion between wires and switches, and to ensure proper operation. In many cases, the color of the wires is dictated by the NEC, but in some instances, you may need to use a more complicated color coding scheme for specific reasons. For example, a circuit that runs between two switches or between the first switch and the panel needs to be black, while a circuit that runs between a light and a wall switch might need to be red.
If your circuit is color coded correctly, the incoming and outgoing wires should all look the same. That's because when the circuit is operating, a current flows from the panel to the light, and back again.
Then, when you flip the switch to the "off" position, that breaks the circuit and interrupts the current. The electrons that were circulating through the circuit are no longer flowing through the switch, so they can't reach the load.
A light switch can be made from several materials, including porcelain in the surface-mounted version, bakelite and ebonite in the rocker or toggle style, and modern plastics like Polycarbonate. The material that you choose for your new switch depends on the application, but it should be fire resistant and easy to clean.