I am doing some minor updating in my house. Part of this is replacing
the older ivory colored switches with new white ones. This has been
very straightforward so far until I hit a switch with a pilot light.
Instead of just two wires running into it there are 3 (there are 4
terminals but one is unused). Two of the used terminals have two wires
connected to them (so five wires total are actually connected), there
is another switch in the box branching off of it. the other switch is
a single pole switch. I know one of the double wires terminals is
running to the other switch in the box, don't know where the other
goes. My guess is the doorbell transformer maybe (as the doorbell is
above it). I know how to replace the other switch in the box (do
pigtail instead of running two wires to a single terminal), but what do
I do about the switch with pilot? Now I have a few questions...
1.) What kind of switch would I get to replace the switch/pilot? Do I
need a three way switch?
2.) I assume the third termincal connector is for the pilot light, is
that correct? If so, can I just leave the extra unused wire
disconnected (using wire nut)?
I'm not sue what a pilot light is. Is it a lighted switch? Anyway, it could
be any number of things. 3 way, 4 way, single pole/double throw, or who
knows what else. I would remove the switch, search for a model number and
manufacturer. Google it to find out what you have. Then go to the supply
house and get one in the color you want. Don't change the wire config unless
you know there is a problem or have some other specific reason to do so.
Switch with pilot light are those ones that are switched from left to
right instead of up and down (the switch is sideways). Above the
switch is a red light that lights up when the switch is ON. I don't
want this type of switch anymore, I want to make it a standard switch.
The original only controls one light and is the only switch that
controls said light, so I'm pretty sure it is not 3/4 way. I'll try
pulling it and finding some sort of labeling, however it looks quite
This looks like a newer version of what I have:
You did not mention wire colors, but, there should be a black line in, a black
line out (if the circuit continues), a black load out, and a white neutral that
supplies the requirement of the pilot light. There should also be a bare copper
which is the ground, but I am assuming that you know that. :-)
The switch is a single pole, single throw.
If there is a white wire attached to the device, that is the one that would be
cut and capped. If there is not a white wire, you have a mess on your hands.
New Eagle, PA
I'll have to doublecheck the wire colors. I do remember there being
more than just 1 wire color, I think there were some black and some
white. there was a red wire going from the pilot light switch to the
other single pole switch in the box, both switches are the sole
switches for different lights. There is no ground (house is from the
50's and this part of house has not been rewired yet). Do these pilot
recepticles often follow the same wiring practices (ie is say the top
right terminal always/usually one thing, and the bottom right
always/usually something else, etc....)?
I haven't played with one of these devices for many years. Personally, I would
pull the switch/light (with the power off) and do some metering, first of the
device and then the circuits. Your biggest problem is determining which wires
are needed to complete the circuit to the controlled light.
BTW, the red wire does not belong in the box based on your descriptions. The
original electrician was probably short on quickly available wire of the proper
color and just used some red leftover from a three way installation. The fact
that the red goes to a pole on the other switch would indicate to me that it is
hot. This is/was a permissible use of red.
New Eagle, PA
From th OP's 2nd post I agree. There should be a white wire connected
to the pilot that is abandoned. There is no restriction on the use of
red wire as long as it is not neutral or ground (but some uses are less
confusing than others).
Typical connection - the pilot light has a terminal on each side of it
one terminal has a white wire to light the pilot. The switch has a
terminal on each side that connect to the switch. There is commonly a
break-off tab connecting a pilot terminal to the switched-hot terminal
on the same side; one of these terminals then wouldn't have anything
connected to it. The other switch terminal is the hot feed. As someone
else said the wire to the other switch should be the hot feed.
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