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    How to wire a light switch

    Why you should leave this job to an electrician

    Alex | Oneflare

    When you venture into a hardware store, you will find many types of lighting, appliances, and things that you need to do a wiring job. This might give you the idea that you can do these things yourself without hiring a professional, but you would be mistaken in most cases. There are strict laws against doing any wiring in Australia unless you are a licenced tradie. For knowledge purposes only, here is how to do light switch wiring. 

    Australian laws surrounding wiring a light switch 

    Although there are different regulations in each state about what types of electrical work you are allowed to do yourself and when you must hire a professional, there are some laws that apply in any part of Australia. A licenced tradie must perform any work that involves hooking up wiring to the system, and in some cases, they are required to give you a certificate that the work complies with all local laws. There are some good reasons for this: the potential for electrocution and the other is a fire risk. If you are caught performing DIY electrical wiring in Australia, you could face fines anywhere from $40,000 to $600,000, and you could face up to five years in prison. 

    Source: Shutterstock

    Materials and tools

    We do not promote wiring a light switch in Australia, but it is good general knowledge to know how it is done. If you were to wire a light switch, here are some materials and tools that you would need. 

    • A new light switch that is the proper size and type for your project. Consider Clipsal switches available at Bunnings. There’s a range of high-quality switches that are designed for durability and easy installation.
    • Safety Gloves 
    • Safety Glasses
    • Pliers
    • Utility Knife
    • Measuring Tape
    • Screwdriver
    • Multimeter voltage tester

    Contact local electricians

    How to wire a light switch 

    When wiring light switches in Australia, follow safety protocols. Before changing a light fitting, turn off the power supply to the circuit. Use wire connectors or wire nuts to cap live electrical wires safely. When connecting new wires, match the colors to ensure correct polarity.

    There are several steps involved in wiring a light switch, and these are presented for educational purposes only. If you are not a licenced electrician, you should not attempt this yourself. Here is what you can expect your tradie to do when they replace your light switch. 

    1. Cut off the power: The first thing your electrician will do is to cut off the power. Then, they will use a multimeter to make sure the circuits are off. Sometimes, a short can cause a circuit to be still live even when it should have been turned off. 
    2. Remove the cover: Next, the electrician will loosen the screws that hold the light switch in place and remove the cover. 
    3. Identify the wiring: There are several different ways to wire a light switch, including the two-way switching method and loop at the switch method. In older homes, not all wiring might have been done according to modern standards, so the electrician’s first task is to identify how everything is hooked up. They will need to identify the positive, neutral, and ground wires. 
    4. Disconnect the old wiring: Before disconnecting the old wiring, many will take a picture of the setup. Next, the feeder cable and switch wires will be disconnected. 
    5. Re-terminating the wires: Next, the electrician will clip any wire ends that appear frayed or damaged and remove the wire covering in the proper amount. It is important to know exactly how much of the cover to remove because removing too much can cause a fire hazard. 
    6. Connecting the new wires: Next, the electrician will hook up the new wires. It is extremely important to know which wire is which. Hooking them up incorrectly will cause the light not to work, at best, but it can also cause a fire. 
    7. Replacing the wires and installing the new switch: All of the wires will be pushed into the junction box, and the light switch will be placed into the junction box. The screws that hold it in place will be installed. Even this step must be done carefully, as you do not want any wires touching the wrong thing, crossing, becoming stretched, or crimping. 
    8. Replace the cover: Next, the cover is screwed back into place, and the power will be turned back on. Once the power is on, the electrician will check the circuit with a multimeter to make sure everything is at the proper voltage and that there are no problems.
    Source: Quick Connect Electrical Services

    How to hire an electrician

    As you can see, even though the process of wiring a light switch yourself is relatively simple, many fine details are necessary to do the job safely. The $200 or so to hire an electrician to install a light switch is much less than the fines or danger of doing it yourself. Here are a few tips for hiring a tradie who will do the job professionally and in accordance with all applicable building codes and laws. 

    • Research and know your local requirements before hiring a professional.
    • Several different certificates and training levels exist, so you should make sure your technician has the proper certifications for the job.
    • When the job is complete, make sure your technician gives you any necessary certificates with other records for your home. 
    • Always get at least three quotes for the job, but price should not be your primary concern because of the safety issues involved.
    • Compare quotes because any that are exceptionally low might raise red flags. 
    • Get references and read reviews online.
    • Go through a services portal that lists vetted service providers in your area.
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