How to Move a Single Pole Light Switch

During home remodeling, you may need to move a single pole light switch to a more convenient or aesthetic location. While seemingly daunting, this task can be straightforward with the right approach and tools. This guide will walk you through converting the existing switch box into a junction box and installing a new light switch.

Begin by turning off the power to the light switch. Use a voltage tester to ensure power is off at the switch location.

Remove the light switch and identify the power supply wire and the wire going to the light. This identification is crucial for the correct reconnection in the new location.

Step 1. Installing New Cabling

When relocating a single pole light switch, a crucial part of the process is installing new cabling to connect the new switch location to your home’s electrical system. This step ensures that your relocated switch functions correctly and safely.

Single Pole Light Switch Wiring Diagram

Properly selecting and installing the new cabling involves understanding the specific electrical requirements of your home and the light switch and adhering to safety standards.

In the following section, we’ll delve into the details of choosing the right cable size, routing it to the new location, and ensuring that it’s installed securely and in compliance with electrical codes.

  1. Selecting the Appropriate Cable: Determine the wire size needed based on the circuit breaker size. For a 20 amp circuit, use 12 AWG wire; for a 15 amp circuit, which is typical for home lighting, use 14 AWG wire. A 14/2 NM cable with a ground (Romex) is usually suitable for home lighting circuits.
  2. Routing to the New Location: Install a new 2-conductor cable with the ground to where you want the new light switch. Ensure proper cable routing and support.

Step 2. Installing the New Switch Box

After routing the new cabling to the desired location for your light switch, the next crucial phase is installing the new switch box. This step is foundational in ensuring that your light switch is functional, securely mounted, and compliant with safety regulations.

The process involves preparing the switch box, correctly attaching the wiring, and ensuring everything is set up for efficient operation.

  1. Securing the Cable: When stripping the sheath off the cable, extend at least 1/2 inch into the switch box. Secure the cable within 12 inches of the box and every 4 1/2 feet after that. Plastic staples are recommended for securing Romex cables, as they are less likely to damage them.
  2. Re-identifying the Neutral Wire: If you’re using a white wire as a hot wire, re-identify it with a black permanent marker or electrical tape at both ends.
  3. Wiring the New Switch: Attach the bare copper ground wire to the green screw on the light switch. Connect the re-identified hot wire and the black wire to the brass-colored screws on the light switch. Install the switch and cover plate.

Step 3. Addressing the Old Switch Box

Once the new switch and cabling are properly installed, addressing the old switch box effectively is important. This process is key to ensuring that your electrical system remains safe and functional after the relocation of your light switch.

  1. Connecting Ground Wires: In the old switch box, connect the ground wire from the new cable to the existing ground wires. If the box is metallic, connect the ground wire to the box.
  2. Completing the Circuit: Connect the black wire from the new cable to the wire going to the light. Connect the re-identified hot wire to the power supply wire.
  3. Finalizing the Old Box: Tuck the wires neatly into the box and cover it with a blank plate.

Turn the power back on and test the new light switch setup to ensure everything functions correctly. If the switch doesn’t work, check your connections again. Loose wires or incorrect connections are common culprits. Always ensure the power is off before making any adjustments.

Relocating a single pole light switch is manageable with proper preparation and careful execution. By following these steps and adhering to safety protocols, you can successfully move a light switch to a new location in your home. Remember, working with electricity requires caution, and if you’re ever in doubt, consult a professional electrician for assistance.

Mas Broto

Written by: Mas Broto

Mas Broto is a small business owner with 30 years experience in the real estate industry. He is the founder and editor of, the most comprehensive free home improvement website on the planet!