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How to Wire a Multi Function Stack Switch
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The Wiring Configurations for a Multi Function Stack Switch: Stack switches are great when two or more switches are needed in one space but there are tricky to wire. Stack switches can be wire a few different ways depending on the wiring configuration.
Electrical Wiring for a Stack Switch
Electrical Wiring Question: I moved into a house that has a garbage disposal unit connected under the sink and the ON and OFF switch that is nearby. The previous owner had changed the switch to a two rocker stack switch to add a light with the neutral screwed to the switch box. Now I want to add another separate light controlled from the same location so I purchased a three stack rocker switch to control the three devices. Power comes from the outlet where the disposal is plugged into. The diagram shows power attaching to one side and then connecting individually to the three devices. Do I have to re-wire everything to conform to that wiring diagram. The way it is now, I can get either the two lights or the disposal to work, but not all three together. What I have to do?
This home electrical repairs question came from: Jaime, from San Juan.
Additional Comments: Excellent website. I learned a few tricks browsing thru your answers. I’ll keep it handy from now on.
Thanks for your electrical troubleshooting question Jaime.
The Wiring Configurations for a Multi Function Stack Switch
Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced.
Tools Required: Basic Electricians Pouch Hand Tools and Voltage Tester.
Estimated Time: Depends on personal level experience and ability to work with tools.
Precaution: Identify the circuits, turn each circuit OFF and Tag them with a Note before working with the stack switch wiring.
Notice: Installing additional fixture wiring should be done with a permit and be inspected.
Stack switches are great when two or more switches are needed in one space but there are tricky to wire.
Stack switches can be wire a few different ways depending on the wiring configuration. If there is only one power source that will power the separately controlled lights or devices then the single power feed wire attaches to one side of the stack switch where there is typically a bridge or metal link enabling all of the switches to share the single power source. If there is more than one power source then the bridge must be removed to enable the separate power sources to attach to the appropriate screw on the power side of the stack switch. The wiring leading to the separately controlled devices is then attached to the opposite side of the stack switch. The stack switch should be grounded with the circuit ground wire or with a grounded metal switch box. Stack switches are typically available in the toggle switch style or the flat rocker type or decorative style switches. The amperage rating of the stack switch will be either 15 amp for number 14 AWG copper wire or 20 amp for 12 AWG copper wire. Garbage disposals require a lot of power to operate and a 20 amp rated switch will last longer than a 15 amp rated switch.
VERY IMPORTANT ABOUT NEUTRAL AND GROUND WIRES
This question described what leads me to believe that a neutral wire is attached to what may be a grounded metal switch box. If this is true then this is not safe and should be removed and the correct wiring provided with a separate insulated neutral wire for the circuit. If this is not true and the white wire is a jumper wire from the switch ground to the grounded metal switch box then the white wire is being used for a ground wire and will need to be colored green with green electrical tape or a green permanent marker. The bottom line or concern here is that a ground source or ground wire can not be used for a neutral wire – this practice is highly dangerous and can produce electrical shock hazard conditions in the home electrical wiring system. If you are unsure about the wiring then please consult a licensed electrician who will make the appropriate checks and wring adjustments as necessary for a safe connection and operation.
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