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Old 01-04-2010, 10:10 AM   #1
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2 lights 1 switch


Did a pretty big electrical re-do over the weekend and I am stuck on one last bit. Have not been able to find the answer yet. Here is the situation.

I have 2 lights and one switch. I need the one switch to operate both lights. Sure it would be easy if I could run the power source to the switch first but for many reasons I can not. My wiring goes as follows:
Source => Light 1 => Light 2 => Switch.

Right now everything is Romex 12/2. I would love to keep the 12/2 but if necessary I can install 12/3. Just hoping not to have to run more cable. I can figure out Source => light => switch but adding that 2nd light in between is driving me insane. I have not been able to figure out the wiring.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks

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Old 01-04-2010, 10:30 AM   #2
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2 lights 1 switch


Maybe some of the more experienced guys have a better option, but it seems to me that you'd need 12/3 between the two lights, see this quick diagram I made. You would need to recode the white wire in the switch loop to hot with electrical tape, since a white wire is not allowed to be hot.

Keep in mind if this switch does (or ever will) need a neutral connector (timer, pilot, motion sensor), then you will need to run 12/3 between the switch and the light.


Edited image with proper switch wiring (thanks Joed):


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Last edited by secutanudu; 01-04-2010 at 08:32 PM.
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Old 01-04-2010, 10:39 AM   #3
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2 lights 1 switch


Yeah that's about what I had drawn out as well. Was hoping to avoid that though. Anyone else have a solution?

Thanks btw for at least confirming what I thought was the only answer.
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Old 01-04-2010, 10:52 AM   #4
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2 lights 1 switch


No problem. I hope someone has a solution that will prevent you from having to run new wiring.

One other (more expensive) option might be to install wireless switches like X-10 or Insteon.
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Old 01-04-2010, 10:55 AM   #5
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2 lights 1 switch


You need to change the wiring. There is no way to make it work with that wiring and 12/2. If you ran power and switch to the same fixture or to the switch first, then 12/2 will work.

Alos that drawing is not to code. The switched power from the switch to the light needs to be the black wire. Unswitched ower to the switch needs to be the white wire.

the drawing has been altered. It now to code.
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Last edited by joed; 01-04-2010 at 12:46 PM.
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Old 01-04-2010, 11:00 AM   #6
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2 lights 1 switch


Oh - I didn't realize there was a code issue there (obviously). What's the reasoning behind that? Just to make it standard as to which is the incoming hot and which is switched?

I just fixed the diagram and edited the one above to reflect it (in case anyone else looks at it).
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Old 01-04-2010, 11:04 AM   #7
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2 lights 1 switch


The reasoning I have been told is that you will always have only one white wire to connected to the fixture. No question where it goes. The switched conductor will be black or red most of the time, but it could be other colours. Just not white or grey.
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Old 01-04-2010, 11:10 AM   #8
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2 lights 1 switch


Damn that was some quick posting. I barely remember what the old diagram looks like. But it makes sense in order to keep things cleaner. esp. when you are all ready coding the white wire black from the switch. No need to confuse things more at the fixture.

Thanks for the help. Guess I'll be pulling some 12/3 cable later tonight. Luckily my attic lights are on a different circuit so I don't have to work in the dark.
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Old 01-04-2010, 11:18 AM   #9
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2 lights 1 switch


The issue with the diagram were that the black and re-coded white wires going to the switch were reversed. I didn't know there was a "right" way to do it (since it will work the same both ways).

Have fun with your wire pulling
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Old 01-04-2010, 11:55 AM   #10
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2 lights 1 switch


Quote:
Originally Posted by secutanudu View Post
Oh - I didn't realize there was a code issue there (obviously). What's the reasoning behind that? Just to make it standard as to which is the incoming hot and which is switched?

I just fixed the diagram and edited the one above to reflect it (in case anyone else looks at it).
The required reidentification of switch loops is a recent addition to the NEC (1999 maybe?). Prior to that time, the code read that for single pole, 3way and 4way switch loops, the white conductor of a multiconductor cable could be used for the supply conductor to the switch but not as a return conductor from the switch and that reidentification was not required (1996NEC 200-7 Excep 2). Under these rules, the only wires available to connect to the fixture would be the white (neutral) and switched hot (black or red).
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Old 01-04-2010, 06:49 PM   #11
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2 lights 1 switch


One way to avoid having to go out and buy some 12-3 cable --

1. Connect everything up to get light #2 working and leave light #1 disconnected (ignore the red line in the diagram above).

2. Then add a 2 wire cable from light #2 (neutral and switched hot) to light #1 to get light #1 working.

Using this method, light #1's neutral is connected to the new cable coming back from light #2 and not to the white wires originally in the box.

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Last edited by AllanJ; 01-04-2010 at 06:52 PM.
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