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Light Switch Installation Cost

Light Switch Installation Cost

National average
$125
(three-way toggle light switch without rewiring)
Low: $75

(single-pole toggle switch with one circuit, no rewiring)

High: $255

(touch control smart switch with Wi-Fi, programmable features, requiring new wiring)

Cost to install a light switch varies greatly by region (and even by zip code).
Get free estimates from electricians in your city.

The average cost of installing a light switch is $125.

In this guide

Cost factors
Prep-work
Types
Installation
Labor
Additional considerations and costs
FAQ

How much does it cost to install a light switch?

Installing a light switch is an easy and convenient project. Light switches are an obvious necessity in every home, and convenient placement can make a big difference in easily navigating in the dark.

There are quite a few different options depending on your needs. The average cost to install a three-way toggle light switch at the top and bottom of a staircase without rewiring is $125.

Cost factors

When installing a light switch you’ll need to consider all the costs associated with it. Besides a wall plate, you might also need hardware and fittings, additional wiring, or upgrades to the type of switch. The average cost to install a common toggle light switch is $75 to $255.

  • If one doesn’t already exist, a switch box, screws, and a wall plate will be needed for the installation. A light switch box ranges from $1 for a plastic box to $27 for stainless steel boxes that hold more than one switch.
  • Switches cost different amounts based on the type of switch. There are simple toggle switches you flip up and down and then there are smart switches you can program and run from your phone via Wi-Fi. The cost runs from $2 to $40 per switch.
  • If you have old wiring or an electrical panel with less than the required voltage, then you’ll need to update the electric panel to cover the additional voltage. Some panels have space for additional voltage and a new circuit and breaker will need to be added for new installations. Electricians charge by the hour for the wiring and the breaker. The average cost for an electrical circuit panel upgrade is $1,300-$3,000.
  • When relocating the switch, an electrician will need to run wiring to the new location, close up the hole at the old location, and create a new hole. With wires and labor for one switch, this costs, on average, $255.
  • If your light switch needs rewiring you will pay an additional cost of $6-$8 per linear foot of wire. For a 100-200 sq.ft. space, you would need 10-20 linear feet. For one outlet this would cost between $60 and $160.
  • An electrician might charge a higher hourly rate more if wires are less accessible or hidden behind walls.

Prep-work

While you should hire a professional to install new light switches because it requires rewiring electrical components, there are things you can do to prepare for the installation ahead of time.

  • If you are replacing an old light switch with a new one, make sure the voltage and amperage of the new light switch match the old one that is already in place.
  • Turn off power to the light switch from the breaker panel. This is usually in the basement. Breaker switches should be labeled with each room they run to. The contractor or electrician will use a voltage tester to make sure there’s no power running to the outlet before installing the new one.
  • Decide which type of switch you want to install or swap out for your old one. Knowing what type of pole and circuit the current switch uses will help you choose the best switch.
  • Before installing the light switch the contractor needs to know what type of wiring lives behind the switch. The contractor will look for a neutral wire in addition to the circuit. Older houses might not have a wire that is up to electrical code. If that is the case, as discussed in the additional considerations section, the wiring might need to be added or replaced.

Types

You might think it’s simple to choose a basic light switch for your installation, however, there are many different switches to consider based on your needs.

Toggle switches

Toggle switches turn on and off by flipping the switch to an up or down position; similarly, rocker switches rocks up and down to turn on or off. They come in single pole, double pole, three-way, and four-way options. These are the most common switches with an average price between $2 and $12.

Switch typeCharacteristicsCost

Single-pole

Controls one circuit

Two terminals turn the one circuit on or off

Controls one light from one single location

Controls a voltage of 120 volts

$2

Four-way

Similar to three-way, but with four terminals

The least common type of light switch

ex.: in larger rooms that have multiple switches and entry points

$5

Double-pole

Like a single-pole, but with four terminals

Usually found in factories

Controls larger voltage such as 240 volts

$7

Three-way

Controls one circuit from two different locations

Three terminals turn on or off with two light switches

Flipping up or down turns it on or off

$11

Rocker switch

An alternative type of toggle switch

Considered decorative as it lays flatter against the wall

Broad lever activated with a “rocking” motion

Single-pole and three-way options

$12


Dimmer switches

Dimmer switches are also known as a “selector light switches” or “dimmer controls.” They offer multiple positions for different levels of illumination. The circuit allows you to change the brightness by reducing or increasing the voltage of the bulb.

Using energy-saving programmable switches and dimmers instead of manual toggle switches can help you save money on energy costs. Dimming light bulbs, for example, reduces the output and wattage. The average price for a dimmer ranges between $7 and $23.

Dimmer switches work with most halogen and incandescent light bulbs as long as they are rated for the same wattage and voltage as the electrical switch. Some new bulbs will say they are specifically compatible with dimmer switches.

There’s a variety of dimmer switches to choose from:

Switch typeCharacteristicsCost

Rotary dimmer

Most common

Rotating the knob allows you to turn the light brighter or dimmer

$7

Sliding dimmer

Instead of rotating, slides up and down or side to side to change brightness

Sometimes has an on/off toggle button

$12

Switch dimmer

Looks like a single-pole toggle switch

Has a smaller, less prominent slider next to the toggle switch

The best option for setting brightness and leaving it

$23


Smart switches

Smart switches are usually rocker switches or button controls. They include Wi-Fi options and programmable options, often allowing you to control them from your smart device. They also come in single-pole or three-way options. The switch usually comes in a rocker style or touch style. The average price for a smart switch is between $20 and $30.

TypeCharacteristicsCost

Amazon Alexa- or Google Home-Integrated

Integrates with Amazon Alexa or Google Home

In-wall timer

Remote Wi-Fi control from a smartphone

No hub needed

$20

Dimmer switch

Works wirelessly to control, adjust, and schedule brightness and on/off controls

Allows control from your smartphone when not home

Some are Amazon Alexa Compatible with Alexa hub

$30

Smart switch with multiple controls

For use with lights, ceiling fixtures, and other plugged in fixtures

Control from your smartphone

Automatic adjustment to the sunrise and sunset

Includes timer settings for when you are away

$30

Touch control lighted switch

Turns on and off with a touch

Lighted for easy seeing

Compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant to turn lights off with your voice

Control remotely from a smartphone

$40


Installation

Installing a single light switch is a relatively easy and quick process if rewiring is not needed. First, the electrician will shut off the current to the room where the light switch is or will be located. He will remove the switch cover plate and then test the wires connected to the switch with a non-contact voltage tester to make sure they are not live. If the tester lights up, the switch is still live. Once he knows the wires are dead, he will unscrew the old switch, pull it from the switch box nestled in the wall, loosen the terminal screws, and unhook the wires.

If the wires have rough ends or damage the electrician will clip off the damaged areas and then strip a ½-inch of the insulation to expose the wire, create a hook in the exposed wire, wrap it around the new terminal screws on the new switch, push the new switch back into the box, and replace the wall cover. Lastly, he will turn the power back on and check it again with the voltage tester to make sure it’s working. The entire process, without replacing wires, is very quick, about 15 minutes for one switch.

Labor

Unless you are a licensed electrician, or you thoroughly understand electrical code, you should not perform this job by yourself. It is dangerous to play around with electrical components if you don’t know what you’re doing due to the risk of accidental electrocution.

Electricians usually charge by the hour. They will usually charge a minimum fee for one hour, however, some may provide a free estimate and not charge you until they perform the installation. Even if a simple replacement only takes an electrician a few minutes, some of them may still charge you for the hour, that is why you may want to consider adding on multiple switches or other projects to increase the value. They may then provide an entire project price rather than charge by the hour. They may give an estimate or project price if you have more than one light switch to install. Electricians charge either by the hour $65-$85 per hour, or by the project, which can cost anywhere from $200-$750.

Prices in some states are more competitive than others, such as in a larger metropolis where more electricians work compared to rural areas where there are fewer. Prices are also considerably higher in cities like New York, Boston, and Philadelphia than they might be in Texas or Florida.

Additional considerations and costs

Be aware of the following additional costs and considerations before installing or replacing a light switch.

  • Although you don’t need a permit to install a light switch, some municipalities require you to get a permit to install new electrical circuits. For example, if you need a new breaker box and wiring you may need a permit. Check with your local, state, or city requirements before performing any work. Licensed electricians will know whether a permit is required in your area or not.
  • Changing a light switch is generally not a DIY project. If you must do it yourself, make sure the breaker is off and use a voltage checker to verify the circuit is dead before you proceed. Also, consider wearing a grounding bracelet or unit in case you do get zapped. Rubber-soled shoes and tools with rubber grip are also important for safety.
  • Purchasing your own switches and materials may save you money, as contractors and electricians often mark up the price of materials. If a switch is $5 and the electrician marks up the price by 15%, you will pay an additional $0.75 per switch.
  • In older homes and buildings, switches may not be grounded. Current code requires any new installations to be grounded, but older switches don’t need updates if you are only replacing the switch and not the wiring. Self-contained light switch boxes comply with code and have their own grounded connections. Not every light switch requires a grounding, but having one in each room is a good idea. This prevents the circuit from overloading the entire house.
  • A transfer switch is needed on an electrical panel if you have a standby generator. It’s installed on an electrical panel and transfers the circuit from one load to the other by flipping the transfer switch to the generator. This is usually to keep the power on when there is a power outage of some sort. You should only need one transfer switch in your home; it costs about $250 for a residential switch. Labor to install this switch is between $200 and $400.
  • If your light switches are old or worn down, replacing them with newer programmable switches will help with energy costs. And if you are trying to sell your home you will get more return on your investment with new light switches.
  • If a light switch is unused, it may or may not be dangerous. Unused light switches may have old or torn wiring behind them, creating sparks if they’re accidentally turned on. Make sure the wires running to the switch are inactive. If the switch has its own circuit you can turn the circuit off and then use a voltage checker to see if they are active or not. If they are connected to a circuit that runs other switches, you can unscrew the wires from the switch and cap them to inactivate the switch. Consider covering it with a plain plate to keep anyone from using it accidentally.
  • A combination switch and outlet co-locates a switch with a power outlet. These types of switches are great for kitchens. The outlet can be a standard plug or include USB charging ports for smartphones and tablets, though the latter are both more expensive than average and harder to come by. The average price is $13.
  • Photoelectric switches contain a sensor 1 that automatically turns lights on and off at dusk and dawn. This is great for those who don’t want to remember to set a timer, such as when you go on vacation. There are indoor and outdoor options. The average price is $9.

FAQ

  • How much does it cost to have an electrician install a light fixture?

It costs between $75 and $255 on average.

  • How much does it cost to install a new electrical outlet?

Installing a new electrical outlet costs from $200-$750 on average.

  • Do you need an electrician to replace a light switch?

You should hire an electrician who understands the electrical code and is licensed to perform these tasks.

  • How much does an electrician charge to replace an outlet?

An electrician charges between $65 and $85 per hour on average.

  • Does it matter which wire goes where on a light switch?

Yes, some wires are for turning on and off and some are for grounding the light.

  • What happens if you wire a light switch wrong?

The light switch will not work properly and you could blow a fuse.

  • How is a light switch wired?

There are two or more terminal points on the back of the light switch that the wires are screwed into.

  • Can a light switch go bad?

Yes, light switches can become old and worn or stop working.

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Remodeling Terms Cheat Sheet

Definitions in laymen's terms, cost considerations, pictures and things you need to know.
See full cheat sheet.
glossary term picture Sensor 1 Sensor: Device that responds to a physical event or change in the environment by emitting an output signal

Cost to install a light switch varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

Light switch next to a wooden door

Labor cost by city and zip code

Compared to national average
Akron, OH
-6%
Albany, OR
-13%
Amarillo, TX
-15%
Arlington, TX
+6%
Athens, GA
-9%
Atlanta, GA
+24%
Austin, TX
+13%
Baton Rouge, LA
+19%
Bronx, NY
+32%
Brooklyn, NY
+16%
Buffalo, NY
-1%
Charleston, SC
-1%
Chesapeake, VA
-6%
Chicago, IL
+40%
Chula Vista, CA
+8%
Cleveland, OH
+7%
Colorado Springs, CO
-3%
Conroe, TX
+21%
Dallas, TX
+10%
Dayton, OH
-7%
Denver, CO
+1%
Dracut, MA
+36%
Fort Lauderdale, FL
+2%
Fort Wayne, IN
-7%
Fort Worth, TX
+6%
Frisco, TX
+23%
Garland, TX
+8%
Goleta, CA
+5%
Houston, TX
+24%
Humble, TX
+16%
Indianapolis, IN
+6%
Irving, TX
+10%
Keller, TX
+20%
Kissimmee, FL
-20%
Knoxville, TN
+10%
Las Vegas, NV
+7%
Leesburg, VA
+10%
Lithia, FL
+10%
Los Angeles, CA
+11%
Louisville, KY
-7%
Marysville, OH
-15%
Maryville, TN
-15%
Mckinney, TX
+23%
Memphis, TN
+11%
Miami, FL
+1%
Modesto, CA
-12%
New York, NY
+77%
Orlando, FL
+2%
Philadelphia, PA
+40%
Phoenix, AZ
0%
Labor cost in your zip code
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Methodology and sources