How to Identify Switch Screws or Terminals
Written by Roger
Wednesday, 10 September 2008
How to identify the correct terminals or screws to use on a switch or a receptacle.
Receptacle Screw Colors
Most receptacle now have different color screws to help you easily identify them. The green screw is for the ground wire and is connected to the round hole on the face of the receptacle. The silver screws on the side are the neutral terminals and are usually connected to the larger slot on the face of the receptacle. The gold colord screws are the hot terminals and are connected to the smaller slot the the face of the receptacle.
The Common Screw of a 3-Way Switch is the Odd Color Screw.
If you look at each of the main connection screws on a 3 way switch
you should have no problem in determining that one of the screws is
distinctly different in color or one screw is darker than the others.
That one screw that stands out from the other 2 is the common screw
connection. It is very important that the correct wire is connected to
the common screw of the 3 way switch, or the switch circuit will not
operate properly. Of the remaining 2 wires that connect to a 3 way
switch , it doesn't matter which of the remaining 2 wires connect to
which of the remaining2 screws, as long as one goes on each of the
On 4 way switches there is no common screw as such, but there are
matching pairs. you will find that of the4 main connection screws on a
4 way switch, 2 screws will match, and there will be another 2 screws
that match, one set will be distinctly different in color or darkness
than the other pair. Now the matching pair could be on one side of the
switch and the other pair could be on the other side of the switch, OR
it could be that the matching pair be on the top left and right and the
other matching pair could be on the bottom left and right.
Now when wiring the traveler wires between switches, make certain that
when connecting to the 4 wayswitch, that the 2 wires coming from the
previous switch connect to a matching pair of screws on the 4 way
switch, and the other matching pair of screws on the4 way switch
connect to the 2 wires leading to the next switch, otherwise the switch
circuit will not operate properly.
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Last Updated ( Friday, 01 May 2009 )