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How to Install Rocker Switches for Inside Lights

Kevin McDermott

"Rocker switch" is generally the term used in electronics to describe the small, lighted switches that control low-voltage electronic components. The wide variety of home light switches today also includes a style called a rocker switch, which has a similar look but is a different thing.

Install Rocker Switches for Inside Lights

It's the same size as a standard toggle light switch and is designed to be wired the same way. The advantage is ease of use; the wide, flat rocker switch is easier to find in the dark than a toggle, and all you have to do is press it (as opposed to flipping it up or down).

  1. Turn off the power to the existing switch at the fuse box.

  2. Remove the plate cover by taking out the screws at the top and bottom. Unscrew the toggle switch by taking out the two mounting screws. Pull it out from the wall. It should be connected to two black wires looped around two receiving screws on the side of the switch. Disconnect the wires by unscrewing the receiving screws and slipping the wires off them.

  3. Hold your new rocker switch in front of the electrical box, making certain that the indicator arrow on the unit is pointing up, so you don't have it upside down. Slip the two black wires around the two receiving screws on the sides as it was wired before. Tighten them both, and wrap a piece of electrician's tape around the side of the switch to cover the connections.

  4. Press the switch into the box and secure it there with the provided mounting screws, putting them through the receiving holes on the electrical box as the previous switch was wired. Cover the switch with the new plate that fits it, and secure it with the provided screws. Turn the power back on.

  5. Tip

    If the old toggle switch was part of a three-way system in which one light could be controlled by two different switches, you'll have to get a three-way rocker switch. It will have an extra securing screw for you to connect the red wire that should be in the three-way circuit. Connect it the same way the toggle switch was connected.


    Never work on a switch when the power is on.