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elchildress 12-31-2011 12:49 AM

1 source 3 separate switches
I'm roughing in the wiring for my basement and I have done it all except I've encountered one issue that has me scratching my head. Perhaps I've stared at it too much. Here is the situation.

I have 9 cans on 1 circuit, with 3 separate switches controlling 3 different sets. In other words, switch 1 controls cans 1-3. Switch 2 controls cans 4-6. Switch 3 controls cans 7-9. Switch 1 and 2 are in the same gang at the bottom of the basement stairs. Switch 3 is 25 feet away. I'm not doing any kind of 3-way. What is perplexing me is how to tie them together.

Switch 3 is closest to the panel, literally 8 ft, so my home run will come from it. However, I can't figure out how to tie in the rest of the circuit. Do I need to run a line from S3 to S1/S2? Do I tie cans 6 and 7 together? Do I run can 6 to S3?

The other 5 circuits are done, but I can't figure this one out.


darlingm 12-31-2011 01:48 AM

There are many ways to wire a switch & light.

I'm assuming that you're running everything by the switch first, since you said it's near the panel.

One way to do the circuit you're talking about is illustrated below.

For the hot wires, the key is to get unswitched (always on) electricity to one leg of the switches. Then, from the other switch leg, you can branch out to the 3 lights that switch controls. You can do this by running one cable to the first light, and junctioning a new cable to the next light, or if you desired, you could run a cable from each light to the switch. (However, then you're going to have a ton of wires in the switch boxes, and you'd probably have to get oversized boxes to accomedate it.)

For the neutral wires, the key is to never switch it.

You could accomplish all this by running 14/2 with ground cable, assuming you're on a 15A breaker. A 14/2g cable from: the panel to the first switch box (2 gang, 2 switches); the first switch box to the second switch box; the first switch to the 1st light; the 1st light to the 2nd light; the 2nd light to the 3rd light; the second switch to the 4th light; the 4th light to the 5th light; the 5th light to the 6th light; the third switch to the 7th light; the 7th light to the 8th light; and the 8th light to the 9th light.

Again, this is only one way to do it, and might not fit with how you were going to go. Hope it helps!

If you do it this way, you have a neutral at each switch, so you're even NEC 2011 compliant. (NOTE: the neutrals need to be uninterrupted, never switched.)

I left the grounds out of the diagram to simplify it, but they're extremely important. In each box (switch box and light box), you need to tie all the grounds together that are in that box. (In the box with two switches, all the grounds are tied together.) If any of the boxes are a metal box, you need to use a short ground wire and screw it into the box with a green grounding screw also.

So, in short... you want to run a cable from the first switch to the box that contains the second and third switches. In the first switch box, you need this cable to tie into the neutral and the source hot, before it's switched. You need to keep cans 6 and 7 separate since they're on different switches, and you need to keep can 6 and switch three separate since they're different parts of the circuit.

jbfan 12-31-2011 09:04 AM

Good job with the diagram darlingm!!!

elchildress 12-31-2011 09:51 AM

Thanks much. That's what I suspected but needed confirmation and after wiring 5 other circuits, I think my brain was just fried (no pun intended).

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