Just like we upgraded the outlets and switches in the kitchen, we decided to upgrade the foyer as well.
Before I start: DISCLAIMER! This is electrical work – what worked for our situation may be different for your situation. We did a good bit of research and watched multiple how-to videos. We cross checked the information we did find to make sure the tutorials had good information… because you never know. (By far, we are not experts on this topic.) This example that we are sharing is just one of a few different situations that we encountered just in our own home. When in doubt, hire an electrician!
Onward to the project! We had three light switch locations: one 3-gang switch (foyer light, porch light, & exterior flood light), 1-gang switch (upstairs hall light), 2-gang switch (living room dimmer light & foyer dimmer light). We also had 2 outlets. For the upgrade, we kept everything functioning as it was but we converted the 1-gang switch into a 2-gang in order to add a nightlight.
So, we thought we’d share a little bit about installing Legrand Light Switches and a night light as well!! And, to make it that much harder, why not make it a 3-way switch? Easy, right? … well, sort-of … I’ll try to walk you through it step-by-step.
First, you’ll need some items to install – the first image below is the light switches along with a plate – I think the total combination below would have been $27 (yep, they are more expensive than the standard light switches).
Here’s what one of the wall plates looks like outside of the packaging: the metal plate is attached to the wall first, then the cover aesthetic portion snaps on. (This means that you can swap out the decorative plate with a different one if you’d like.)
You’ll also need some tools for this project: A good pair of needle nose pliers go a long way… some plastic connector caps… we used a drywall saw because we did expand one box from a 1-gang to a 2-gang.
Ok, so, first things first – remove the old box and put in a better one. I’m actually serious here – at least, for us. The boxes original to the house, were the old off-white boxes that were less-than-sturdy. The color didn’t matter, of course, but they were just a little tight. Spencer installed new deeper boxes – much easier to work with (There is just more space to cram the wire in there when your done). All of the boxes we installed as replacements were “Old Work Boxes”. These boxes can be slid into the opening and you twist screws in the corner of the box which move little flaps – these flaps will secure the unit in place behind the drywall. (Regular electrical boxes can be used before drywall is installed and are nailed into the studs.)
This particular one, and the one I’ll be writing about, is a three-way switch. When you’re installing the box, be sure to put a level on it to make sure it is indeed level before tightening it down.
Even more tools you’ll need – a screwdriver (or electric screwdriver), an electric cable stripper tool of some sort, and extra wiring of the same gauge. By the way, I should note here – TURN OFF YOUR POWER to the outlet before working on it.
So, this particular combination of Legrand switches was for one switch and one night light – we wanted to be able to see our way to the kitchen at night without turning on lights. It’s super easy to make it work. First, I just have to put some wires in – neutral to neutral and hot to hot. What you see below is running white to white from the switch to the night light (be sure to read the instructions on which one is hot vs neutral).
So, below is what it looks like – you can barely see the label ‘white’ (stamped on the black plastic) which Spencer connected to the other ‘white’ – same for the black to black. Now, he did actually put electrical tape around the base of each one as he wasn’t a fan of the wires being so close to each other. While this isn’t required, it costs nearly nothing and ensures a spark can’t cross between them – worth it. By the way, this works as the two holes per area are connected … let me explain this. Where you see ‘white’ in the photograph below – notice two holes. If you run another white cable and continue it on – it will continue the current. The same for black. Thus, if we bring in the white and black from the wall (which goes to the circuit panel), then it will continue the current onto the next light. It’s like a daisy chain.
Ok, so, below is the normal installation – white wire into the white one, black into the black. BE SURE to really screw in these wires tight.
Spencer put on some more electrical tape below – there’s no reason not to be overly cautious. Also, you’ll notice the green wire from the Legrand switch plate is wired into the copper grounder. Green = grounder in most cases. This is where he used those needle nose pliers to twist the two wires together (twisting with your fingers will just rip them up) and stuck them into the yellow connector cap.
The red line (the 3-way line in most cases) was bent – for Legrand outlets & switches, it’s best to cut fresh as you want it exactly straight to go into the opening.
This one was pretty easy – Spencer put the red into the 3-way opening and screwed it in. Huge giant note on this – your 3-way switch could be *entirely* different to what we have. It really depends on how the person wired it at your house (literally). Shoot, they could have decided that ‘white’ would stand for their 3-way … they’d be wrong … but, all of the wires have the same cable inside – color is only for organizational sake (and safety). So, if you try a 3-way switch and it doesn’t work, keep trying until it does. Here’s hoping it works as easily as this one did (in another room, the wires were completely backwards to the color for us).
So, you have red to the 3-way port. Black to the black and then fed over to the nightlight. White to the white, and then fed over to the night light. The green ground at the bottom.
For these screws (below), we found it much easier to use an electric screw driver. Those screws can be really long and take forever to screw in manually.
Snap the plate on and you’re done! It’s so much nicer than what we had before!!
Here’s another switch and a lovely ‘before’ photograph:
We all love the off-beige color, I know.
This (below) is the dangerous, don’t-have-kids-nearby, phase. When doing wiring, TAKE PHOTOS. Seriously, take a photograph of each one before pulling it all apart … just incase the previous owners decided to try their hand at electrical. Or, even better, label each line with tape – SW1 Hot (switch 1, hot), SW1 N (switch 1 neutral), etc. It would not be fun to lose which one is which.
And, a nice, clean photograph below of the after for Legrand paddle switches & plate installed.
A Summary for the foyer:
We upgraded 2 outlets and 3 switches.
1-gang old work pvc outlet box – $1.96 (x2)
2-gang old work pvc outlet box – $3.80 (x2)
3-gang old work pvc outlet box – $3.85 (x1)
Legrand Adorne 1 gang wall plate in gloss white – $4.78 (x2)
Legrand Adorne 2 gang wall plate in gloss white – $7.98 (x2)
Legrand Adorne 3 gang wall plate in gloss white – $11.48 (x1)
Legrand 15 amp tamper resistant duplex outlet in white – $7.98 (x2)
Legrand 15 amp Single Pole 3 way Rocker Combination Paddle Switch in white – $5.18 (x4)
Legrand 2-Module Night Light – $17.98 (x1)
Legrand Single Pole 3 way Paddle Dimmer Switch in white – $32.98 (x2)
I will say, I don’t recall the dimmer switches being that expensive… but they might have been. Overall, what an upgrade! These look sooooo much better than the original dingy beige switches and outlets. We chose Legrand Adorne because they were so modern looking – but a less expensive upgrade (just changing to a standard white switch/outlet) could have a great impact as well. Another way to have more bang for your buck is only use the more expensive switches/outlets where it matters… where you will see them. If you know for sure an outlet will always be hidden behind a piece of furniture, then use a more common (cheaper) one.
We chose to upgrade the rooms that were the most obvious first: the kitchen (very obvious switches/outlets on the backsplash) and the first room guests will see… the foyer. Later on down the line will be the other public rooms on the main level (the living & dining room… eventually the half bath: whenever we get around to renovating it). I do think it is important to upgrade our master bedroom for us – even though it isn’t a space guests will see. Right now, I think the guest bedrooms upstairs will just get “regular” upgraded white.