How to: Wire a Light Switch

There are many ways to control and automate your lights with SmartThings. If you choose to control your overhead lighting with smart switches or dimmers, you’ll either want to hire an electrician to install the switch, or wire the light yourself.

To help guide you through wiring a light switch yourself, we wanted to highlight a great post from the SmartThings Community posted by “sidjohn1.” Hope you find this useful!


“So you want an automated hardwired light switch, but you’re not sure where to start. Well you’re in the right place. The most common requirement of any hardwired automated light switch is a neutral wire. Yes, there are a few…(read very, very, very few) switches that don’t require a neutral, but those will limit you to incandescent only. For those of us using LED, Fluorescent or some other energy efficient bulbs under 20w a neutral is REQUIRED!

So what does this look like?
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This is a diagram of a switch with the neutral run directly to the light. This is not good for automated hardwired light switchs and i would HIGHLY recommend that if you want to automate the light, contact an electrician and have them pull a neutral for you. It’s not as expensive as you think and will save you lots of frustration.

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This is a diagram of a switch with a neutral. The black “hot” connection is broken to turn the light on/off, the white “neutral” connection completes the circuit. The bare (hopefully) solid copper wire is the ground. It protects from static build up and from electrical insulation failure, in short it’s only job is to make your home safer. If this is what you see when you remove your wall plate you are a go for hardwired automated light switchs. YAY!

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This is a diagram of what you’re automated hardwired light switch should generally look like when you are done. Yes there will be some slight differences on weather or not to pigtail (a short wire that leads from the switch to the yellow caps) the load and/or line but your ground and neutral should ALWAYS be pigtailed.

Ultimately, if any of this makes you feel uncomfortable or the wiring diagrams makes your eyes cross… CALL YOUR LOCAL ELECTRICIAN! They are there to help! Bad wiring causes fires and other glitchy weirdness you don’t want in your home. If connecting 4-5 wires excites your happy place, the term “pigtail” makes you giggle and electrical tape is your friend then… Let’s Get Wired Up!

I hope this help those on the fence…. enjoy!” sidjohn1

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  • Brian Beaird

    Very nicely done. Love the diagrams. Wish I could have read this a month ago before figuring it all out myself the hard way.

  • scott

    I’m having trouble pairing the in-wall paddle switch to the hub even with all the proper wiring completed. Is there any new suggestion?

  • Koob

    None of the pictures on this guide loads….

  • johnfoliot

    Echoing Koob – none of the images are showing. Anyone over there able to fix this?

  • John Brian Silverio

    Please update with the photos.

  • Samantha Yee

    Yeah these are very informative! Just a tip, some people may not understand the diagrams, or really have no idea on how to do electrical stuff. As this may be dangerous too, i suggest that if u really dont know what to do, seek professional help. :)

  • As a professional electrician, I highly recommend hiring an electrician in all circumstances, as we know how to avoid fires, and can get the job done right very quickly and efficiently. For those who are still big into DIY, at least wear a good set of electrician gloves, to prevent shock, and do some research on electrical fire prevention.

  • Lincogn Grp

    Yoswit launches a Smart Wall Switch without requiring neutral wire. Please see their campaign in Kickstarter https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/yoswit/yoswit-reinvented-smart-wall-switch. This will also support SmartThings in the development milestone!

    • VaricoseVain

      You can’t “launch” a product until you actually have a product to launch. Yoswit launched a kickstarter campaign, not a wall switch. When I can whip out a credit card and get one delivered to my house in a day or two, then you can talk about it being launched.

      • Lincogn Grp

        We have launched and sold the switch for over two years. The new campaign is for the v2 version of the switch. and yes it’s not working with SmartThings so far but it will soon..

  • Ringo Ueda

    Why don’t you try Yoswit? It doesn’t even need a neutral wire
    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/yoswit/yoswit-reinvented-smart-wall-switch?token=5cb109ad

    • VaricoseVain

      Why don’t I try Yoswit? How about because it doesn’t exist. Why don’t you try making recommendations of products that actually exist? Oh, that’s because you’re actually here to promote the kickstarter, not to contribute to a meaningful discussion.

  • Joe Genshlea

    We had a handy man install some containers w/LEDs a while back I think he wired up like the top diagram. Is there a way to confirm? ( I tried calling him, no answer).

  • Shuan Paul

    Great post. Wiring diagram is very simple to understand.

  • Anuj Singh

    I feel satisfied after finding this one.switch manufacturer

  • Jilli Smith

    The technique you have given here is really working well as well it’s simple. I have tried myself as well. Buy I recommend people to don’t do any electrical work by yourself. It’s dangerous. Hire an electrician Sydney or from your nearby area for safe electrical solution.

  • Rick

    I am replacing an earlier model timer switch which I installed years ago with no issue. I only have a black and white into the box and want to install a switch that is requesting a line/load and neutral combination. Can this be done without having an electrician pull a neutral?

    • Santiago Rojas Bukovac

      i m in the same problem =(

  • Lisa Graf

    This is great in its simplicity. What if there is also an additional red wire coming from the same wire bundle? Could this be the line from the fixture?

  • mdubur

    Thanks, just the picture I was looking for ! Got my smart switch working in my old house.