How to change a light switch

How to change a light switch

Are you looking at pictures of when you first moved in and noticed that the light switches used to be white? If you are thinking of doing a full home renovation or simply a fresh of your home’s details, don’t forget the switches. Get rid of those plastic white(ish) yellow light switches and replace them with stunning switches that suit your current home.

Perhaps, the light switch in your kitchen stopped working as it should. It no longer has a firm flick and it seems to have loosened up. It’s definitely time for a replacement. Whether you want to change your light switch for aesthetic reasons or simply want to change your old and worn out switch with one that works properly, our guide below should give you some guidance on how to replace it yourself.

old light switch

Note: Before doing your own electrical work, check the local regulations on what you are (and aren’t!) allowed to complete on your own. Also, we would recommend getting advice from a local electrician to ensure the work is completed safely.

Want to leave it to the professionals?

Are you ready to replace your light switch but something came up? Have you given it a second thought and would prefer to have a professional electrician replace your light switches? At the Handy Squad, we have a team of London electricians who can give you a helping hand.

So, if you are in Fulham and are looking for an “electrician near me” or are searching for an electrician in Islington N1 our team can help. We can reach you no matter where you are in London, so give us a call on 0800-0-12-12-12 and let us know how we can help.

Want to do it yourself?

Replacing a light switch is an easy enough job that you can complete yourself (and it will definitely give your bragging rights!). So, let’s get to it.

Tip: Not sure what is a good replacement for your current one? Turn off the electricity, unscrew your switch, take a photo of the front and back of the switch and take this photo to your local hardware store for an exact replacement. If you want a different switch design, ensure that you choose a switch that has the right wattage for the wattage in your light fixtures.

Materials needed:

  • New light switch
  • Electricity detector/tester
  • Medium terminal screwdriver
  • Small terminal screwdriver

Step 1 – Safety.

Before touching any electrical work, you MUST isolate the electricity in the specific room you will be working on. Head to your fuse box and turn off the switch on that room light. If you are unsure which one is the right one or want some peace of mind, turn off all electrics. To do this, turn off the main on/off red switch.

Step 2 – Unscrew your light switch.

Remove the screws on the light switch and pull it from the wall. Take a photo of the back of your light switch to see the positioning of the wires before disconnecting.

Step 3 – Confirm wires are no longer live.

Use an electricity detector to double-check the wires are no longer live.

Step 4 – Disconnect the wires.

Again, if you haven’t – take a photo of the wires before disconnecting. However, do not assume that the layout of the terminals is the same for your new light switch.

If you have a 1-way light switch, you will most likely have two terminals: a terminal marked as “Common”, “COM” or “C” which is for the live wire and another terminal marked as L1 which is the output for the light fixture. On some switches that do not have a common terminal, the live wire terminal will be L1 and the neutral wire terminal will be L2.

1-way light switch example
Example of 1-way light switch wiring.

You will most likely have a red (live wire) and a black wire (neutral) or a brown (live wire) and a blue wire (neutral). You will also have an earth cable (yellow and green wire) going into the earth terminal in the back.

Use a small terminal screwdriver to unscrew the wires.

Step 5 – Install the new light switch.

Get your new light switch and insert your live wire into the live wire terminal (if your light switch has a COM/COMMON/C terminal, insert it here. If not, insert it into the L1 terminal). Screw the wire into place. Then, insert the neutral wire into the other terminal and screw it.

new light switch

Installing a metal light switch?

If you are installing a metal light switch, you must take an earth cable from the back earth terminal to the front of the switch plate to ensure the switch plate is protected against electric shock.

Step 6 – Screw it in place.

Push the light switch back, ensuring that the cables will not be in the way of the screws. Then, fasten the screws into place.

Step 7 – Test.

Turn the switches on in the fuse box and test the light switch.

If you are not comfortable completing this job yourself, know that the Squad is always ready to help. Request a free quote by filling our online booking form today.




At the Handy Squad, we strongly advise that you always take safety precautions into consideration when undertaking a DIY project. We also strongly suggest that you closely read and follow the instructions, that are provided by the manufacturer, of any building materials, products or tools you use for your projects.

Our aim is to provide you with clear and correct instructions, so that you can easily complete any DIY project you desire. However, please note that the information we provide should only be used as a guideline and that some information within the text may not be entirely accurate.

When using our articles for information and advice, please note that it is your own responsibility to determine whether you are capable of undertaking and executing the task you wish to complete.

Before starting a DIY task, it is essential that you inform yourself of any existing building, gas, water and electrical works regulations. If you were to have any further concerns, we recommend that you complete additional research and/or contact the necessary professional body.

We also strongly recommend that a qualified tradesperson completes the relevant safety tests and checks on any DIY work you have completed.

The post How to change a light switch appeared first on Handy Squad Handyman London | Fast & Reliable London Handyman.

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